Superman lives! Or at least he will if a crazy new rumour for the upcoming The Flash movie is to be believed. Starring Ezra Miller as titular scarlet speedster Barry Allen, the DC Comics superhero blockbuster is already looking pretty crazy as not only will Ben Affleck be reprising his role as Batman for one last time, but through the power of the multiverse, Michael Keaton’s own classic Batman from the 1990s Tim Burton movies will be brought into the wider DCEU. But why stop with just two Batmen?
According to the rumour from FandomWire, WB and director Andy Muschietti have also approached previous Batman actors Christian Bale, George Clooney, Val Kilmer to reprise their respective Dark Knights, with Batman & Robin’s Chris O’Donnell reportedly also wanted back as the Boy Wonder. We’ve seen variations of this rumour before, but that’s not the most interesting part of FandomWire’s report. According to their sources, WB also wants to get Nicolas Cage to reprise his role as Superman from Tim Burton’s aborted, nearly legendary Superman Lives movie.
For those of you who don’t know the story, following the massive success of the Death of Superman comic book arc, WB decided to cash in and get a new Superman movie made, with producer Jon Peters given the task. Except Peters had no damn clue how to make a Superman movie or what should be in it, more interested in selling toys to kids than anything else. After a few terrible scripts, none other than Kevin Smith would give a very solid pitch… only to have Peters mangle it with a bunch of nonsense like random fights with polar bears, making Brainiac a giant mechanical spider, and introducing a robot sidekick character he called a “gay R2-D2 with attitude”.
After going through many iterations of the script and potential filmmakers, Batman and Batman Returns director Tim Burton signed on with Cage, a hardcore comic book geek, tapped to star. The likes of Kevin Spacey, Christopher Walken, Julianne Moore, Sandra Bullock, Chris Rock and more were all approached for various roles. As issues with the script were still being worked out (Burton wanted to rework most of it), Superman Lives was set to start filming in 1998. Pre-production kicked off with Burton and Cage doing several costume test, but the script – which dealt with Superman dying and being reborn and had a huge scope – was deemed too expensive despite several rewrites.
WB would put the film on hold to try to work out the issues, but Burton would instead leave to direct Sleepy Hollow. Peters offered the director’s chair to everybody from Michael Bay to Bret Ratner to Oliver Stone, with everybody turning it down. After a few years of being in limbo, Cage also left the production with Peters offering the job to Will Smith who had concerns playing a traditionally white character (Smith would end up working with Peters on Wild Wild West which actually featured the producers’ giant robot spider idea). Eventually, the whole thing fell apart and all we had to show for it were some really goofy looking still photos of Cage in a suit.
Eventually, filmmaker Jon Schnepp would track down all the behind-the-scenes footage while speaking to everybody involved and produce the utterly brilliant 2015 documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? (which I heavily recommend you guys watch). This gave us the best look yet at the movie that could have been and you know what? I think Cage’s Superman actually looked like the most accurate comic page to screen adaptation I’ve ever seen of a superhero, just through how his costume nailed that artistic exaggeration of musculature while still being practical to move in.
And if this rumour from FandomWire actually has some merit (and Cage can get back in shape) we may actually get to see him in action as the Man of Steel. As previously reported, The Flash will be adapting the Flashpoint story arc which sees Barry Allen using the Speed Force to travel back in time to prevent his mother’s murder but in so doing he inadvertently creates and alternate universe version of the present timeline with massive difference. As he travels to this new timeline though, he will reportedly move through other universes within this new multiverse, each of them corresponding to the various DC Comics movie and TV iterations of the past, running into Cage’s Superman as well as all the other Batmen.
We’ve already seen an adaptation of Flashpoint on The CW’s Flash TV series with Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen. That show also had Miller’s Barry Allen cameo in the series during the multiverse-destroying Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, and now it sounds like the favour is being returned with Gustin reportedly also signing on to cameo in the Flash movie. We probably shouldn’t expect more from these additions that fleeting cameos similar to what The CW actually did in the Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover, but this is still pretty cool. IF it’s all true, of course. With The Flash set for release in June 2022, it will probably still be a while beforewe can get any official confirmation.
Last Updated: September 22, 2020