Billy's Film Reviews.

A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!

The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? – 2015


★ ½

Release: 2015

Directed By: Jon Schnepp

Written By: Jon Schnepp

Starring: Nicholas Cage, Tim Burton, Kevin Smith

Running Time: 104 Minutes

The opening dialogue in John Schnepp’s The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? is very timely when observing the ethos of 2015.
He addresses how nerds rule the world, particularly in the pop-culture industry, alluding to the multi-billion dollar behemoths known as comic book movies of Marvel and DC. It’s fascinating to reflect on what could have been, particularly when observing casting choices, narrative ideas and ludicrous concepts that never blossomed into their final form, but few can compare with the insane idea of a Nicholas Cage Superman film directed by Tim Burton.
Had the film in question, Superman Lives been made, who knows what would have happened to the immensely sought-after, powerhouse genre of today.

Following the incredible success of the redefinition of Batman, there was a time where Tim Burton could do no wrong. Today, we’re preparing for the unthinkable Batman v Superman, however the link between DC’s mightiest heroes was well into its genesis long before 2015.

Nic-Cage-in-The-Death-of-Superman-Lives-What-HappenedBurton made the character of Batman a darker, grittier individual with some forceful aggression. Furthermore, Burton allowed the character to run wild in his rightful world, at night. What was in store for the iconic characters of Superman and Clark Kent however, was simply unbelievable.
In what would have undoubtedly been the most infamous outing for The Man of Steel, Superman Lives would have told the story of a different Superman.
This was a Superman that did not fly, didn’t wear a suit and fought a giant spider whilst galavanting around in a galactic, surrealist nightmare.

it is in the very nature of comic books to take a beloved hero to new and fantastical places as there really aren’t any boundaries. In what could very well have been the commercial death of Superman, cinematically speaking least, there is a constant morbid curiosity regarding the story itself.
What appears somewhat lacking within the documentary is the thorough exploration of native beats and chapters within the proposed story of Superman Lives.

Amongst the various interviews with the likes of Tim Burton, Kevin Smith, Dan Gilroy and John Peters, we as an audience learn a lot about the background of the film and individuals involved in the process, but not as much about the core story at hand. The archival footage of a suited Nicholas Cage is a brilliant insight into the stage of which the film had reached, however to hear the three act layout of the story in full would have provided a lot more understanding and interest to the overall idea.

Some of the figures and facts to emerge from the interviews are simply staggering. Not only would the film be a $300Million investment, the immense pressure, confusion and absurdity surrounding the entire project paints a very perplexing picture about a certain era of filmmaking.

Jon-Schnepp-and-Jon-Peters-in-The-Death-of-Superman-Lives-What-HappenedThroughout the documentary, Schnepp’s interviews begin to make producer John Peters appear a rather villainous fellow. Through his questionable thought processes, powerful presence and manner over the phone, on top of word of mouth, we see it for ourselves.
Although fundamentally denying his the aforementioned tweaks to Cage’s Superman, one can assume he would have had a strong input on the matter at the time.

A lesser-known superhero picture to emerge in 2015, Jon Schnepp’s The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? offers some intriguing insights into one of the most infamous films that could have been, and so nearly was.
It arrives a very pivotal point in time for the comic book movie world, and generates some thought into whether or not we’d have still ended up where we are today.
Created on a crowd-funded shoestring budget, Schnepp has investigated a truly interesting story about the greatest hero of our time, and the character he was scheduled to play…


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