|Actual Teaser Poster|
In the mid-90s, Warner Bros. saw the success of their Batman franchise and wanted to revive Superman for a modern audience, so they hired filmmaker Kevin Smith of Clerks fame to write the film that came to be known as Superman Lives. The idea of the film was not very much different than what it seems that Zack Snyder is actually doing with The Man of Steel, hitting theaters in 2013. The idea was to make a contemporary Superman, because somehow the character of Superman had lost touch with the cynical society of the 1990s, so their goal was to make an edgier, more grounded Superman tale that was loosely based on the "Death of Superman" storyline from the early '90s. (Don't believe how close it came to reality, the poster on the upper right that was in movie theaters Summer of 1997 teasing the movie to come out the following year).
|Nic Cage's costume fitting for the film|
|Cage in Chris Reeves' costume|
While I am not a big fan of Nicholas Cage, I have to be honest and say that in some weird sort of second Earth, I can picture Cage as Superman, and especially as Clark Kent. The bumbling everyman he played in National Treasure very well might have been how he would have played a more dialed down and realistic Clark Kent, and who is to say that Cage couldn't have pulled off Superman. Imagine that same role with a little more confidence and the same morals and you'd have a really nice, likable hero who isn't as goodie-good as Christopher Reeves was, but not as dark as Christian Bale's Batman, a perfect balance for a slightly less sentimental take on the character.
|Cox from the '90s|
|Spacey as Luthor|
|Concept art of Costume|
|Concept art of Supes vs. Brainiac|
|Concept art of Doomsday|
I feel the follow-up to Batman & Robin, Batman Triumphant would have more than likely been made if Superman had been successful, simply to keep up the DC brand name and to possibly pave the way for the much desired Batman/Superman crossover film that has been toyed with since the late '90s. In fact, had Superman Lives been successful, it would have not been out of the realm of possibilities that instead of Batman Triumphant we may have just seen a straight up Batman/Superman crossover as the sequel, after all both film series were being produced by the same producer, Jon Peters. Just seeing how well The Avengers is tracking in terms of predicted box office, the idea of a crossover, putting two mega characters into one movie is a big money kind of idea, and it would have more than likely done huge business at the box office.
|Batman & Superman|
The big thing is, I really think that Superman Lives would have at least made back its budget and with the Hollywood studios so sequel crazy in the late '90s a sequel would have been made just to cash in on the property. So what about things like Smallville, Superman Returns, and The Man of Steel coming out next year?
There really isn't any indication to say that Smallville would have been affected, seeing as it was a TV show, but it's pretty obvious that Bryan Singer's Superman Returns (made in 2006, and which I am a fan of by the way) would have never been made. Regardless of your feelings toward that movie, the fact that it was a sequel to the Christoher Reeves' movies and that it detailed a similar storyline to Superman Lives featuring the death and resurrection of Superman, that movie would have never been made. As well, WB would have probably not been so desperate to get a Superman movie made in the 2000s, that when the first filmmaker with a huge passion for the project came in and pitched his idea, they would make it no matter how much it cost -- since Superman Lives would have probably spawned a series of films similar to the Batman series. And as for The Man of Steel, well it may exist in some capacity, because it is safe to assume that by 2012 in the world of Superman Lives' existence, that franchise would have already imploded and WB would have been gunning for a reboot. I think one of the biggest things that could have been affected though, is not just Superman films, but all superhero films.
|Superman Returns poster|
Ultimately, if Superman Lives had been made it would have caused a domino effect that would have drastically changed the cinematic landscape of the last decade and a half, no matter what films would still exist and what wouldn't, it would be different because not every film released since then would have seen the light of day. While there is no way of knowing for sure what movies would be different or wouldn't exist, the point still remains. Even still, the legacy that Superman Lives leaves behind is one of missed opportunities and potential success. There will always be that lingering question of what could have been.