What if Superman Lived?

The movie that never was
May 04, 2009
What if Article #3
What if the Superman Lives movie had been made?

In 1996, Kevin Smith proposed making a Superman movie to Jon Peters and a year later he wrote a script, based on the Death and Return of Superman series, titled "Superman Lives."

Peters approved the script under 3 odd conditions which Kevin Smith loosely followd-
1. That Superman wear an all black suit
2. That Superman not fly in the movie
3. Superman fights a Spider like creature in the end

The Script can be read here-

Tim Burton was attached to direct the film and 30 million dollars was invested into the project. However, Superman Lives was dropped mainly due to creative differences with Peters. Burton went on to direct Sleepy Hollow instead and he said that he wasted an entire year with Superman Lives. There was also a falling out between Kevin Smith and Tim Burton.

Here's how the movie was (would have been) cast-

Superman- Nicholas Cage

Lex Luther- Kevin Spacey
Brainiac- Tim Allen
Lois Lane- Courtney Cox
Jimmy Olsen- Chris Rock

Before I go dive into the What If scenario, I'll go over the plot of the movie.

Brainiac's skull ship is cruising through space when it picks up a transmission sent by Lex Luther. Brainiac is accompanied by his robotic henchman L-Ron. Lex is looking for extraterrestial help in defeating Superman. Brainiac, who's mission is to absorb the technology possessed by the Eradicator (an A.I. entity in the form of the ship that brought Kal-el to Earth), heads to our planet.

Back on Earth, Superman foils a hostage situation which was orchestrated by Deadshot

Brainiac and Luthor meet at Lexcorp and they agree to work together to defeat their common enemy- Superman. The two come up with the ShadowCaster, a large net-like shield that when put into space, it blocks out the sunlight which ofcourse give Superman his powers. Luthor lends his technology and the ShadowCaster becomes operational.
Superman ask Lois to marry him but he gets rejected. He feels weakened but he comes to investigate a crash landing in Metropolis. He confronts Doomsday who was sent by Brainiac.

Superman and Doomsday fight it out until they "kill" each other.
Superman is declared to be deceased and they hold a funeral for him in which there is a guest appearance made by no other than Batman!
Superman's body ends up at the Fortress of Solitude where it is being revived by the Eradicator. Superman has a dream sequence where talks with his father and learns that the Eradicator was programmed for this very occasion.

During Superman's absence, Lex Luthor tries to make Brainiac the new "hero" of Earth. Using a hologram to display an Alien fleet, Lex deceives the public into thinking that the ShadowCaster is hiding Earth from an Alien armada. Lex even sports a ridiculous shirt with, "I'm a maniac for Brainiac" on it. Lois and Jimmy Olsen are skeptical.
Back in Antartica, Superman is back on his feet and the Eradicator transforms into a suit of armor which simulates Superman's original powers.The new suit is a black and silver model.
Superman then meets Brainiac

Lois and Jimmy disable the hologram generating which reveals to the public that the armada was a hoax. Superman then shows up in the Eradicator suit. In his overconfidence, Brainiac inadvertantly reveals how to destroy the ShadowCaster. Superman then flies into space.

The Eradicator sacrifices itself to take out the ShadowCaster System. With the sunlight reaching Earth once more, Superman has his powers back.
Brainiac is pissed, he morphs into like a mechanical spider and then it's time to rumble

Now for the What if section in which I'll list how things would be different if Superman Lives was made-

1. Several DC movie franchises are born-
The theatrical success of Superman Lives spawned a whole series of Superman movies starring Nicholas Cage. The cameo played by Batman in the movie, set the stage for Batman's own reboot. Other projects such as Green Lantern, Flash, and WonderWoman all make it onto the big screen.

2. Marvel takes 2nd place-
Although Spider-Man was a hit, it was in the shadow of the Superman Lives movie which managed to capture a large following and devotion to DC. Thus, Marvel releases only a few big budget movies and acts conservatively. One good thing about Marvel not taking any risks is that they make sure that the first Hulk movie kicks ass!

3. Tim Burton's alternate filmography-
Burton stays devoted to the Superman movies which prevents him pursuing other projects such as Sleepy Hollow. Burton directs different movies than in real life in between the Superman sequels due to scheduling conflicts. One can only wonder what he would have come up.

4. Spread of Scientology-
No, seriously! With Brainiac's mechanical assistant L-Ron named after the founder of scientology, and the success of the movie, scientology tries to appeal to the masses with some success. Tom Cruise then becomes an avid collector of Superman comics.


5. A Superman game that doesn't suck-
Nah, who am I kidding? Like always, video game developers release a crappy game after the theatrical release of a major blockbuster. But sort of like the Batman Arkham Asylum game, the Superman hype pushes for the development of finally an awesome Superman videogame.
*I would argue that The Death and Return of Superman Game (for SNES and Genesis) was really good

In Conclusion-

Many people were disappointed with the highly anticipated Superman Returns movie. It broke a lot of Superman fans' hearts and it turned the man of steel himself into a joke. It's easy to be nostalgic for the Superman Lives movie which I think would have performed better and would have been a much more enjoyable film.

I think that we owe the protector of Earth a decent film about him. For generations, Superman has inspired people with his heroic virtues and benevolence towards humanity. I think it's time that we give something back to the man in red and blue.
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