Tim Burton might be on a pause from work right now because of the strikes. But with his long-anticipated ‘Beetlejuice’ sequelwaiting to be completed despite being 99% done, that isn’t stopping him dropping opinions.
In that talk about ‘Beetlejuice’, he also covered the use of AI to create Burton-esque versions of Disney characters. He’s not, as you might suspect, a fan. And he referenced the technology again in an interview with the British Film Institute that touched on one of his great unmade movies, ‘Superman Lives’
Related Article: ‘Beetlejuice 2’ was “99% done” Before the Strikes Shut Down Filming, Says Director Tim Burton
What was the story of ‘Superman Lives’?
In 1998, Burton was getting ready to shoot a new version of Superman called ‘Superman Lives’ with Nicolas Cage as the Man of Steel. The director had spent two years in extensive pre-production and had gotten to the point of shooting tests of Cage in character in his suit (images of which didn’t officially emerge until 2009) when studio Warner Bros. pulled the plug on the movie due to creative differences.
Here’s what Nic Cage told Empire about the planned movie (and its director) back in 2013:
“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.”
And for Burton, he has no regrets about the failed project, as he revealed in the BFI piece:
“I will say this: when you work that long on a project and it doesn’t happen, it affects you for the rest of your life. Because you get passionate about things, and each thing is an unknown journey, and it wasn’t there yet. But it’s one of those experiences that never leaves you, a little bit.”
That said, he’s not pleased that a version of Cage’s Superman –– played by the actor himself –– showed up in ‘The Flash’s big, climactic parallel worlds-collide scene.
Burton on the use of Cage’s Superman in ‘The Flash’
The big scene, which used a mo-capped Cage briefly shown, also has CG versions of classic Superman and Flash characters, such as Christopher Reeves’ Supes and Helen Slater as Supergirl, forms part of a moment where the boundaries between realities start breaking down when Ezra Miller’s Barry Allen tries to change the space-time continuum.
You get the feeling Burton would want to wind time back and stop the decision to have Cage appear…
“This is why I think I’m over it with the studio. They can take what you did, ‘Batman‘ or whatever, and culturally misappropriate it, or whatever you want to call it. Even though you’re a slave of Disney or Warner Brothers, they can do whatever they want. So, in my latter years of life, I’m in quiet revolt against all this.”