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Exclusive: Nic Cage Talks Tim Burton's Superman Lives
The potential Kal-El on those leaked wardrobe shots and more...

19 July 2013  |  Written by Ali Plumb  

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Nicolas Cage

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.

Nicolas Cage Superman Lives outfit

"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.

P.S. You can check out our podcast photo gallery here and subscribe to the Empire Podcast via our iTunes page or this handy RSS feed.

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Your Comments

burtons superman
I'd love to see tim burton's superman,i loved his original batman with michael keaton,his imagined worlds always complement the characters,were as nolan's batman and superman were good i think we're a little dull. More

Posted by movienut1 at 00:54 on 21 July 2013 | Report This Post

Smith didn't colaborate with Burton If you watch this hilarious interview with Smith you'll see Smith wrote a few drafts after some hilarious meetings with executives...then Burton took over and binned Smith's scripts and started his own project....alas, no killer polar bears or giant spiders at the fortress of solitude More

Posted by Hector26 at 15:52 on 20 July 2013 | Report This Post

Cool suit
How much I love hearing about different people's take on how they would do superman. Tim burton may or may not have done a good film but I really can't imagine nic cage as kal-el how ever I do think that the suit does look kinda cool. But cavill to me is a much better choice for the lead role and I love man of steels new direction More

Posted by chrisharvey1551 at 11:21 on 20 July 2013 | Report This Post

One of my first posts on Empire Forum almost 10 yrs ago was suggesting Mr Cage play Superman :) It would appease the po faced fans or cinema intelligentia but it would be ludicrous stupid fun. More

Posted by borstal at 08:33 on 20 July 2013 | Report This Post

Just can't picture Cage as Superman
I never could. I like him and I've enjoyed all his movies, even Bangkok Dangerous, but Nic Cage as Superman? Sorry. My mind just can't make that suspension of disbelief. Thank God that didn't happen. I enjoyed Henry Cavill in Man of Steel. The updated costume fit the context of the movie. Funny, I wonder whether the same people complaining about that also complained about Brandon Routh's costume in 'Superman Returns'? You can't please everyone. More

Posted by coyoteone at 16:41 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

Nic Cage rocks, doesn't he?
... he's a bit strange to some but not to me. I think he's just comfortable being himself and if that seems kooky to the conservative crowd then that's okay too. Now I want to watch Bad Lieutenant again. Sweet. More

Posted by Nicky C at 15:16 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

I'll get slaughtered for saying this...
...but I think that costume, even in poor lighting, looks a darn sight better than the dreary Snyder/Nolan suit we ended up with. The red shorts/pants work perfectly, despite Snyder rejecting them for being too 'old fashioned.' More

Posted by Garth_Marenghi at 15:13 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

Mr Cage makes a great point "Tim can invent worlds.!" . Something sadly missing recently, its easier to throw them into 'real life' city and call in a modernization of the character! when its rather more just unimaginative and lazy! More

Posted by Dannybohy at 11:53 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

loL! I would still have loved to see a Tim Burton Superman! More

Posted by Dannybohy at 11:47 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

Without a doubt the best part would have been where Superman fought the giant spider in the third act ;) More

Posted by jmebaby25 at 11:28 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

Like him or loath him, Nic Cage is clearly bonkers!! More

Posted by darthmhall101 at 11:27 on 19 July 2013 | Report This Post

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