The Flash: Nicolas Cage’s Superman Explained

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  • Why Did ‘Superman Lives’ Fail?
  • Did Nicholas Cage Ever Play Superman Again?

Despite the lack of relative success at the box office, The Flash is a decent superhero movie in its own right. One of the things that people did like about the movie, though not everyone did like even this, was the incredibly abundant cameos.

Related: The Flash: Best Characters In The Movie

One of the most surprising cameos was definitely Nicholas Cage’s return to the role of the Man of Steel, in which he was seemingly having a showdown with a massive spider.

Why Did ‘Superman Lives’ Fail?

The mystery of Nicholas Cage’s Superman isn’t exactly shrouded in mist, it’s actually the subject of a documentary, The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened.

There are many reasons why the movie couldn’t get off the ground. The biggest one has to be the development hell it went through, though another one is budget constraints at the studio, which led to the entire project being axed despite having already cost millions of dollars.

Kevin Smith’s Role

Kevin Smith

By Kevin Smith’s retelling of the story in his podcast, he was approached by Warner Brothers to write a script for the epic comeback of the caped hero onto the big screen in 1996. After the commercial success of Michael Keaton’s Batman in 1989, the studio was eager to bring another superhero movie to the public.

According to Smith, the studio wanted to include different elements in this particular retelling. They wanted Superman to lose his powers, and they wanted Brainiac to be the main villain, among other things. Smith’s screenplay included some interesting elements, such as the fact that Superman would lose his powers, he wouldn’t wear his usual costume, and he would fight a giant spider at the end of the movie.

Nicholas Cage and Tim Burton

Tim Burton and Nicholas Cage's Superman

When it came to the casting of the movie, Smith’s choice for Superman was, interestingly, Ben Affleck. It’s hard to see the venerated actor play any superhero other than Batman, but the selection made sense at the time. However, Smith wasn’t the director of the movie, Tim Burton was, well, at least later on.

As the star of the titular movie, Nicholas Cage disagreed with the choice of Renny Harlin as the helm of the project. In part because of his recommendation and in part because of the massive success of his Batman reboot, Tim Burton was finalized as the director.

Related: The Flash Post Credit Scene Explained

Kevin Smith had his reservations about Tim Burton being the director. The two came to a head, leading to a Kevin getting booted from the project. Tim Burton cast Chris Rock as Jimmy Olsen, Sandra Bullock as Lois Lane, and Christopher Walken as Brainiac. The prospect of a Batman cameo wasn’t off the table either, which could’ve perhaps jump-started the DCU, leading us down a much different path.

After going through multiple iterations and different screenplays with various screenwriters such as Wesley Strick and Dan Gilroy, the project was ground to a halt by the studio, claiming worries over the quality of the script. It was meant to be renewed that year.

The Project’s Shut Down

Warner Bros. Logo

Different people gave different accounts of the exact circumstances, though the majority consensus is that Superman Lives was slated to continue production within the same year, with Nicholas Cage as the lead. However, due to budgetary constraints and multiple box office failures, Warner Brothers couldn’t bear the burden of Kal-El’s legend and axed the project entirely.

Did Nicholas Cage Ever Play Superman Again?

Nicholas Cage as Superman's Voice Actor in Teen Titans Go! To The Movies

After the monumental failure of Superman Lives, Nicholas Cage went on playing different characters in movies and series. He never got to play as the last Kryptonian, or at least not a live-action version of him.

In Teen Titans Go! To The Movies, Nicholas Cage made a surprising cameo as the voice actor for the Man of Steel. Teen Titan Go! is well known for its flippant attitude and willingness to throw whatever it wants at the audience, but even then, Nicholas’ appearance was completely unexpected. Later in the year, Nicholas returned to the voice acting scene as the voice of Spider-Noir in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.

In The Flash’s climax sequence, Nicholas Cage’s Superman finally graced the big screen in all his glory. He was seen in one of the alternate timelines as he was fighting a giant spider, just as it was meant to be in Kevin Smith’s first script. His cameo was leaked by the Director of The Flash, Andy Muschietti, prior to release.

Though Andy has expressed that it wasn’t on purpose, however, cynical critics have pointed out that he must have been doing everything in his power to overshadow the legal proceedings that implicated the star of the movie, Ezra Miller.

Next: The Flash: Who Killed Barry Allen’s Mother?