Remember the summer of 1998? Bill Clinton admitted that he did indeed have sexual relations with that woman, Monica Lewinsky. Japan launched a space probe to Mars. Tim Burton’s dark, controversial take on Superman hit theatres, raking in huge box office returns and rave reviews. Oops, nope—wait a second—that last one didn’t happen. Tim Burton never directed a Superman film, Nicholas Cage never starred in one, and Kevin Smith’s script for Superman Lives died despite the $30 million Warner Bros. had dumped into the project before production had even begun.
Maybe you’ve seen the photos of Cage in his Man Of Steel costume—they’re evidence of just how far into pre-production the team had gotten before the studio pulled the plug. So why, when comic book-based superhero movies are usually solid money-makers at the box office, did Warner Bros. cancel the project? Filmmaker Jon Schnepp (Venture Bros., Metalocalypse) plans on finding out. He’s running a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds for The Death of Superman Lives, a documentary he hopes will discover what happened to Burton’s movie.
“If Superman Lives had come out, I think it would have been a giant hit,” said Schnepp, speaking to the Huffington Post. “This movie would have been a departure and completely different from what we’re used to from Superman and superhero lore,” adding “I want to find out why this was stopped, because I think it was a great idea.” His goal is to sit down with Burton, Cage, and Smith and have them tell their stories on camera.
But Schnepp also has his own theories about what happened (call it a jumping off point for The Death of Superman Lives)—he lays part of the blame at the feet of Joel Schumacher’s George Clooney-starring Batman and Robin. According to Schnepp, Shumacher’s movie “f**ked sh*t up,” for the entire genre. Citing the film’s poor reception from both fans and critics, Schnepp says “It kicked every comic book in the f**king balls.” Damn. Clooney’s foot must have been so tired.