THE DEATH OF SUPERMAN LIVES; WHAT HAPPENED? Trailer Offers Amazing Glimpse Into What Could Have Been

     July 25, 2014


Superman Lives is one of the great (or not-so-great) lost movies of Hollywood.  Back in the mid-90’s Tim Burton came onboard the project alongside star Nicolas Cage and screenwriter Kevin Smith.  They actually got pretty far along in development (you’ve no doubt seen Cage’s infamous photo in the costume) before the whole thing fell apart.  Now, filmmaker Jon Schnepp is attempting to brave the waters and figure out what happened with his upcoming documentary, The Death of Superman Lives; What Happened?

The trailer for the film was unveiled last night at the San Diego Comic-Con and is actually pretty great, featuring many of the key players (no Cage though) in the debacle. Hit the jump for the The Death of Superman Lives; What Happened trailer and to find out more on how this intriguing film can become a reality.

As you can see, Superman Lives was going to be an incredibly weird film.  It looks like it was intent on playing up the alien angle to an even greater degree than last year’s Man of Steel did (Russell Crowe and his dragons don’t have anything on the creature mockups we see here).  Tim Burton doesn’t seem to be especially fond of this period in his career, while Kevin Smith is pretty much just being Kevin Smith.  I’m sad that this film never happened as it could have been one of those all-time amazingly entertaining disasters.

Schnepp has launched a FanBack campaign to help finish the project.  In his own words:

We are in the Post Production and Finishing Phase of this Feature Film. We need additional money to finish Editing, create Animations, and all Final Post Production Additions. My stretch goal remains making some of the Recreation Scenes that were never funded. Please help by donating to this Finishing Fundraiser for completing “The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?”


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  • jack

    Thank God this didn’t happen…although that footage of Cage in costume landing is pretty cool

    • Agent777

      Hey if Batman & Robin can exist, this should exist. Besides it would not have been worse than the third and fourth Reeves film. It surly would of been more entertaining than Singer’s.

      • Getting better

        I’m in total agreement. This doc. has been in development for a long time, so it’s great Burton got involved. Didn’t see him in the earlier trailer.

        This movie has gotten so much talk that I hope that Burton gets to at least make the animated version of this movie. Since, a lot of the creative aspect was made through a lot of people and through a lot of time. An animated movie would have great depth with all the details they’ve already put into the creation of the movie.

      • Agent777

        Or stop motion, Burton style.

  • jack

    Thank God this didn’t happen…although that footage of Cage in costume landing is pretty cool

  • Kal-El

    Is it just me or is the sound mixing for this trailer terrible

    • TigerFIST

      What an asshole thing to say.

    • jj

      yes. the sound mix and editing is terrible

    • milo

      Absolutely. To be really specific, it sounds like much of the footage was recorded to two video tracks from two separate mics (lav and boom, or one of those and the built in mic on a camera). And then they used both tracks panned hard left and right, when they should have picked the better of the two tracks and just used that panned center. You hear that pretty often in web videos but for a real documentary (and trailer) they should get a real audio guy to work on it who would never make that mistake.

      The mix itself is pretty bad too. When Burton is talking near the start the music comes up and practically drowns him out, I actually thought they were going for an intentional joke of him about to say some amazing revealing thing but then making it inaudible…but no, it was just terrible mixing.

      I know they’re on a tight budget but there are certain minimal standards a film should meet. Just hire a sound guy, it’s not that expensive and it’s really important to be able to hear and understand what the people are saying.

  • DNAsplitter

    Would be very interested to have seen how this would have been recieved – both in the short term and long term. Would it have developed a cult like following years later? Or would it have been laughed at for going in a such a different and radical direction? The idea of a shared universe w Burton’s Batman films is interesting though. Would have been cool to have seen that put together and I’m sure the visuals would have been amazing/unique for their time as Burton was still on top of his game back then (he started to drop in quality w Charlie & the Chocolate Factory IMO). Glad someone brought this up to light as we’ve only really heard rumors, and interview w Kevin Smith w leaked photos of Cage in suit. Excited for when this gets released.

    • Vulcan

      Well, the script involved a sassy gay robot, a space dog, Brainiac and Lex Luthor merging bodies and souls becoming one, a fight with polar bears, and a climatic battle with a giant spider (which was eventually realized in Wild Wild West) so I would think it would be safe to say that it would of been terrible.

      • DNAsplitter

        Superman went Polarbearing? Isn’t that a hate crime?
        In all seriousness I heard those same rumors but maybe this documentary will actually shed some light of how much was actually true and how much was just thoughts of a producer before the script was finalized. Would be interesting to see. Actually the giant spider idea fits Superman better than Wild Wild West IMO – not that it’s a good idea to begin with.

      • Vulcan

        Here’s a good article about it.
        And Smith has talked about it in other articles and interviews about Jon Peter’s idiotic demands. Smith said that when Wild Wild West came out, he said “the son of a bitch finally got his damned giant spider. And it was terrible.”

      • Lex Walker

        Smith telling the entirety of this story from start to finish is hilarious in his “An Evening with Kevin Smith” special. It’s genuinely the funniest bit in it, and it goes for a solid 7 minutes from Beetlejuice in Hawaii, the polar bearing, to the giant spider, etc. So funny.

      • JLA

        Name a producer with worse ideas than Jon Peters….you can’t

      • Agent777

        That interview just reminds of why Smith is a limited film director. Peter’s (thought somewhat wacky) is at least describing things from a Superman comic. Why wouldn’t Braniac fighting polar bears look cool? Superman has a themed dog, so why not give Lex one that hates him?

        And on the record, I was in six grade when Wild Wild West came out, and that spider was fucking cool as shit.

      • Grayden

        Superman kinda did fight a giant spider-like thing in MOS. The World Engine thing with the odd tentacles he destroyed was vaguely spider-like

      • Agent777

        You just described man of the plot elements of Alan Moore’s Superman comic… so it would of been fucking amazing.

        Read “Whatever Happeend to the Man of Tomorow” by Alan Moore. This would of been amazing.

      • lord jim

        tim burton has never been about the plot, like silent movies (especially his batman movies) they still work when you turn off the dialogue and just listen to the batman returns he even uses the light like if it was a black and white expressionist movie, it might be the only arthouse superhero movie that´s ever been done, and while i don´t know about superman it certainly does fit the bat.

  • JD7

    As dumb as Nic Cage would have looked, I have to say the idea of Brainiac being a head with spider legs and being in the sewer…that creeps me out just thinking about it.

    • dolphin558

      Just imagine him yelling to his underlings “Use your brains, people!” That would have been awesome eh?

    • MJ

      Completely stolen from Stephen King’s “It”

  • Person

    Thank God this didn’t happen. Burton would eventually do Planet of the Apes anyway… one temporary franchise-destroyer is enough for a career.

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  • Vulcan

    I know what happened to Superman Lives, Jon Peters is what happened. He demanded that Smith include in his script: a black superman suit, a fight with polar bears, a cute space dog that could be sold as a toy, a sassy gay robot, and a climatic battle with a giant spider. His mismanagement drove Smith and Burton away from the project. Peters later did the same thing with the Sandman movie, and demanded that a giant spider would be included in the third act (Neil Gaiman said that the script was the worst thing he ever read). He finally got his giant spider in Wild Wild West that he produced.
    He later admitted that he didn’t understand Superman, when was trying to turn the property into something it wasn’t. Because he technically owned the film rights, WB had to include him as a producer for Superman Returns and Man of Steel, but they wouldn’t allow him to be involved creatively.
    The trailer for this doesn’t mention anything about Peters, but he is a major reason of why the film failed, and would of sucked.

    • fatboy35

      Amen! I hope this film skewers him!

  • appolox

    Other than Nic Cage it seems like this movie might have actually been pretty good.

  • suave

    DISTURBING and completely misguided, awful awful awful

  • MJ

    Superman mashed up with The Man who Fell to Earth and Beattlejuice.

    Would have gloriously bad….a move so legendarily bad and overly ambitious that we’d still be talking about today.

    PS: I like Keven Smith, becuase he proves that many of us fanboys, if we just lucked into being in the right place at the right time, could be making movies…talent is really not that important.

    He’s paved the way for the Ocris and the Kurtzmans.

  • Crimsonfury

    Kevin Smith should just stick to low budget “comedies”… I put that in quotes because his movies aren’t really funny. That’s why they don’t sell well ever…

    Queue the fanboy rage……….

  • Robby Richmond

    Tim Burton, what a snide, pathetic mingebiscuit of a man.

    • lord jim

      really, because you don´t like his movies?you are the one who´s acting pathetic here, just saying.

      • Robby Richmond

        Lol. Do some research, try reading something asides from Reddit.
        He’s not well liked by many people.

      • DEADP00L

        Why? Because he’s not into children?

    • DEADP00L

      Dude he is the ONLY reason why Batman became what he is today. Had it not been for the Darker scheme Burton envisioned all we’d get was the 60′s version and I am sorry, but that’s just not Batman.

      Tim Burton factually SAVED Batman.

      • Agent777


      • Robby Richmond

        Lol. Good Frank Miller, Burton saved Batman? give me a break you nit wit.

      • DEADP00L

        Movie wise? Yes he did. Burton was the one that brought the darker Batman, WB and DC were uneasy about it because while the comics were dark, the TV shows and movies until burton were all very campy and they were intimidated by how the audience would take a gothic styled Gotham and dark batman. Had it not been for Burton we NEVER would have gotten the amazing musical score, or the animated series either.

      • Robby Richmond

        Dumbest. Reply. Ever.

      • DEADP00L


  • demonicstrawberry

    So glad this thing was choked to death in its infancy.

    • lord jim

      good to know but why , nobody forces you to watch a movie, and if superman 4 didn´t kill superman nothing can.

  • DEADP00L

    OMG…Tim Burton would have nailed it….except for the nic cage part…but the Batman cameo?!

    WWWWHHHYYYY did this not happen?!

  • Strong Enough

    I thought everyone knew that pic of Cage is fake?

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