This fear of the unknown that Tim Burton's Superman Lives still stirs up is hilarious to me. The claim that it's so much like Batman is so absurd. I have read the 1997 script by Wesley Strick that Tim Burton wanted to film. It would have been radically different than any Batman movie ever made and any Superman movie ever made before. In 1988 and 1989 Batman fans also feared that Tim Burton's Batman, especially with skinny comedian Michael Keaton as Batman/Bruce Wayne, and music by Prince, would have destroyed Batman on film before it even got restarted.
"The caped crusader may turn out to be a wimp," said the Wall Street Journal in 1988. http://www.timburtoncollective.com/articles/bat7.html
If Burton's Batman had never been made then Keaton as Batman would still be thought of as a horrible idea for a movie, with comments like "Thank God that abomination didn't get made. Was that suppose to be a comedy? Epic FAILz. Dude that woulda sucked. WTF was they thinkin? was burton smokin crack? That aint Batman. lol Batwimp" etc. But Warners let Burton make that big budgeted movie, and it ended up being the huge success of the year, surprising everyone. Micheal Keaton became recognized as an impressive character actor with a range, that kind of range is also what appealed to Burton the idea of Nic Cage as Superman/Clark Kent.
In his book Burton on Burton, Tim Burton explained, "I was excited to be working with Nic because the way we were thinking about it, it would be the first time you would believe that nobody could recognize Clark Kent as Superman - that Nic could physically change his persona, so it wouldn't be as simplistic. Without doing make up or anything, Nic is the kind of actor who can pull something like that off. And we were talking to Kevin Spacey for Lex Luthor - he was perfect.
So the idea was you have this great actor and you, the audience, can understand him as a character. That's what intrigued me about it. And technically you could go to another level now - you wouldn't have to hang the guy from ****ing wires. The flying was terrible in those movies. Even seeing them at the time - I wasn't in movies - I was going, 'I don't know about this...' You could do that better, no problem.
It was called Superman Lives. I was pushing for it to be called Superman. I always hated those titles like Batman Forever. I thought, 'Batman Forever, that sounds like a tattoo somebody would get when their on drugs or something,' or something some kid would write in the yearbook to somebody else. I have high problems with some of those titles.
On the last Batman they did (Joel Schumacher's Batman & Robin), I remember them thinking that it was so great, and I think they were taken aback when it got dissed so much. So, all of a sudden, Warners was getting bad press like they had destroyed a franchise. I think they were feeling the heat of that, since the overriding factor in Hollywood is fear - decisions are based on fear most of the time. And I think they were fearful that they were going to **** up another franchise. The way they saw it was, 'We don't want to do this unless it's going to be right.' And I didn't want to go into this unless it was going to be right either, because it's Superman. It's too much of a target.
Also, my original fear came true. I had thought, 'Okay, Jon Peters is producing. I've dealt with Jon before on Batman, and it was a nightmare, but I did it. So therefore I can probably deal with it again.' But this wasn't the case. I remember at one point saying to Warners, 'You've got three things here. You've got me, you've got Jon Peters, and you've got Warner Bros. And I can imagine a situation like one of those Spaghetti Western gunfights, where three people stare at each other for twenty minutes because they've each got different ideas.' And that turned out to be the case. The truth of the matter is, if it ever had a chance of ever getting done, then Warners should have got rid of me or Jon, and let me or Jon make the film. Jon had his own ideas, Warners had its own fears, and I had my own thoughts. And Jon, he's like a whirlwind, its like trying to control the weather. It's a very difficult energy to deal with. And I basically wasted a year.
It was terrible because you think you're working on something and you're not, and you realize at the end of it all that it's a load of crap, because you're having all of these meetings and you're kind of working in a vacuum. It's one thing to work on something to make it better, and it's another thing just to spin you're wheels. It's fine if you get something done, but to go that hard and that long and not get anything done is just devastating, because really I'm in it to make things. I'm not in it to have these ******** meetings. Part of the joy is 'doing', and I spent a year not 'doing'."
In the May 16 1997 edition of Entertainment Weekly, Kevin Smith says Nicholas Cage would be a fine Superman and "his hairline can be fixed."
Cage was indeed reportedly going to wear a Superman wig to fix his hairline for Superman.
Excerpt from Superman vs. Hollywood:
Christopher Reeve also wore Superman wigs.
Kevin Spacey as Luthor was originally Tim Burton's idea for Superman Lives.
Kevin Spacey said, "I went in to meet Tim Burton, 10 or 11 years ago when Tim was going to do it. And apparently Tim wanted me to play the Lex Luther part but I never read a script."
Courtney Cox was going to be Lois Lane in Superman Lives.
This would have been how Metropolis would have looked, that's the Daily Planet building. Which is appropriately different and lighter for Superman than the Gothic architecture of Gotham City in Tim Burton's Batman
Unlike Gotham City in Tim Burton's Batman
and Batman Returns
which is mostly sets and miniatures at Pinewood Studios, Warner Studios and Universal Studios, Metropolis in Tim Burton's Superman Live
was going to be filmed on location in an actual city - Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, using actual existing buildings for the Daily Planet and the LexCorp Tower.
Tim Burton chose Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's City-County Building to be the Daily Planet in Superman Lives
The entrance of the Daily Planet on this concept art is a match with Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania's City-County Building, but the City-County Building is not a huge skyscraper so Burton must have planed to use a long miniature with the Daily Planet globe that sits on top of the building for the full shots of the Daily Planet. Warner Studios sound stages were reserved.
Tim Burton chose the huge glass-exterior Philip Johnson-designed PPG Place building in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to be Lex Luthor's LexCorp Tower in Superman Lives
Chris Rock was going to be Jimmy Olsen. Comics2Film reported that Jack Larson, who played Jimmy Olsen on the George Reeves Superman TV show in the 1950s, expressed interest in playing Perry White because he was a huge fan of Chris Rock. Rumors flew of Tim Allen, who had originally been considered by Jon Peters for Luthor, possibly playing Brainiac or Jim Carrey. Tim Allen said he'd love to try his comedy chops in the role of Brainiac, the villain in Tim Burton's Superman, starring Nicolas Cage. "They immediately say Jim Carrey, but I wouldn't mind trying that." http://jam.canoe.ca/Movies/Artists/A...07/756335.html
Jim Carrey or Tim Allen as Brainiac sounds like Jon Peters' ideas. Brainiac was going to be either an Animatronical mechanised puppet by Stan Winston or Computer-generated with Kevin Spacey doing the voice. AICN reported that Kevin Spacey would play both Brainiac and Luthor, in a dual role. (This could actually lead credence to the rumors of Brainiac as a robot -- Spacey could voice the character -- and the merging of Brainiac and Luthor as "Luthiac", which is somewhat similar to the occurrence in "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?")