The history of filmmaking is littered with what ifs. What if Tom Selleck played Indiana Jones? What if Sylvester Stallone was cast as Hans Solo? The greatest one perhaps is: What if Nicolas Cage was Superman? The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? tracks the story of the pre-production of Tim Burton’s take on the ‘all-American’ golden boy, leaving you pining for the loss of a film which surely would have been epic.
Jon Schnepp’s documentary talks to all the major players behind the project, including Burton himself, producer Jon Peters, all the screenwriters (including Kevin Smith), studio heads and the creative talents charged with turning the vision into reality. It’s stuffed full of great concept designs, test footage and engaging interviews. Schnepp does a brilliant job of telling the timeline of the tale through these interviews, cutting between players as the development progressed.
Burton’s take on Superman is fascinating, playing up the alien theme; totally at odds with the flash and mostly soullessly clean superhero franchises we have today. It’s so frustrating to imagine what might have been instead of the sterile re-boots which followed in its wake. Nic Cage is perfect casting as his Superman and the avant-garde and imaginative sets and concept designs would have made for an unforgettable movie experience. Superman Lives is up there with Jodorowsky’s Dune as one of the greatest films never made and the undoubted success of both would have changed the playing field for what followed. The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? does a brilliant job of retelling the story in an imaginative, entertaining and fun way.
The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened? is available to buy on Blu-ray, DVD or digitally from their website now.