DC Comics news show DC Daily treated its comic-obsessed viewers to the costume that would have been worn by Nicolas Cage in the aborted Superman Lives film.
Warner Bros. began developing the film in the mid-’90s with Kevin Smith writing the original screenplay. Producer Jon Peters ensured that Smith’s draft featured a Superman who didn’t fly or wear his trademark red and blue Superman costume, making a more modern and tangible superhero.
All versions of the movie were loosely based on “The Death of Superman” storyline from the comics. The main villain was the alien supercomputer, Brainiac, and he had a plot to kill Superman by simultaneously blocking out the sun and unleashing Doomsday on Metropolis. The plot works, and Superman is killed. Later in the movie, he is resurrected by K, who acts as his temporary costume, and artificially produces all of his powers.
Tim Burton later signed on as director and cast Cage in the title role. “I would offer that the movie that Tim and I would have made, in your imagination, is more powerful than any of the Superman movies,” Cage told EW in the past. “I didn’t even have to make the movie and we all know what that movie would have been in your imagination. That is the Superman. That is the movie. Even though you never saw it — it is the Superman.”
Subsequent years have seen plenty of leaked behind-the-scenes photos and videos detailing what the film may have looked like. In 2015, the late Jon Schnepp released a documentary, The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, chronicling the events leading to the project’s cancellation.
DC Daily host Tiffany Smith said the unveiling is “the first time it’s ever left the Warner archives.”
The Superman costume displays many 1990s fads including the exaggerated musculature resembling the Batman costumes of Joel Schumacher’s films. Currently the Superman costume has not been displayed with Superman’s iconic red cape and matching briefs in the video but set photos from the production show these classic Superman elements were not going to be forgotten even in this futuristic reboot.
Nicholas Cage summed up the loss of the project as “I would’ve loved to have seen it, but I feel that in many ways, it was sort of a win-win because of the power of the imagination,” he said to Yahoo!. “I think people can actually see the movie in their minds now and imagine it and in many ways that might resonate more deeply than the finished project.”