In this week's Empire Podcast - which you should download as soon as possible, incidentally - there's an extended interview with the man-cum-myth that is Nic Cage in honour of his latest, The Frozen Ground. In it, the part-time vampire touches on everything from snake fighting to Daffy Duck, as well as Tim Burton's aborted attempt at a Superman movie, Superman Lives.
Below is the transcription of a brief portion of the interview to wet your whistle, but be sure to listen to the whole thing as Cage really is on top form. Incidentally, if you aren't already in the know, Superman Lives was a Super-project planned by Tim Burton in the '90s, written by Kevin Smith and set to star Nic Cage, that was eventually cancelled after a series of difficulties.
Wardrobe images of The Man Who Would Be Kal-El emerged in 2009, which provoked nigh-on disbelief from fans, but remain a tantalising taste of what might have been, Doomsday and Brainiac and all. So with that in mind, here's Cage himself on comic book movies, then his memories of the project that never came to pass.
"What’s interesting about [comic book movies] is that people have attached words to me like ‘comic book geek’ or ‘comic book nerd’ or this, that or the other, but the truth of the matter is that I’m loyal to my childhood. I grew up reading comic books – they’re how I learnt to read – and they stimulated my imagination… in a shamanic way, even, and I had no doubt that when the time came, with the technology [required], that those comic books would translate into some of the greatest entertainment the world has ever seen, and lo and behold, it’s a multi-billion dollar industry, so how big of a nerd can I be?"
How do you feel about the project now?
"Tim [Burton] is a genius. He’s a great artist, and I’m sure he would have done something really magnificent with the story of Superman, and I knew I was going to go towards something quite unique and different than anything you’ve seen with Superman, but having said that, in a way it was a win-win for me that it didn’t work out, because the power of the imagination [allows you to] imagine what that might have been like. That might be even more powerful than the finished product, so I think it worked out."
What was your reaction when the wardrobe images leaked online?
"There were two images, and there is truth in both. First of all, the first image looked terrible, and the second image looked pretty good. That was a pretty good suit, I’ve got to say. The problem is that it’s unfairly judged. I don’t know who got a hold of it – who in wardrobe who or in the studio or whatever – and leaked it. I don’t understand it. I thought there were laws against this sort of thing, but it's not being judged fairly because you have the lighting that Tim does, or the set, or the shade, or all of that built up. You’ve just got a stark wardrobe shot that’s not given any affection."
What would have been Tim Burtons’s take on it? A much more fantastical version of the Superman story than we're used to?
"Which is what I like. Tim can invent worlds. We’re talking about another planet – what would that planet have looked like? The characters… what would they have been about? Tim’s a great artist, and he draws these characters, going into other dimensions and pulling things back for us to behold and that movie would have lent itself to that."
The Frozen Ground is out now. Superman Lives is not out now, alas.