Tim Burton Dreamt of a Sci-Fi Superman

Tim Burton Dreamt of a Sci-Fi Superman

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Tim Burton's take on a Superman movie was killed, but costume shots of his metallic, sci-fi Superman survive.

In the late 1990s, a film called Superman Lives went through many phases and changes until it eventually died off. It all began with a script written by Kevin Smith, but Tim Burton was later brought in to create his own version of the Man of Steel. After creating two genuinely great Batman films, Superman Lives should have been a home-run with Burton at the helm, right? Maybe not, as we see through new costume shots of Burton's Superman.

Special effects artist Steve Johnson posted the new photos that show multiple versions of Burton's Superman costume, meant to be filled by Nicolas Cage, and it really isn't your father's Superman. Gone are the red and blue tights, which are replaced by a metallic armored suit, another with electric veins, and more.

Superman Lives had its script re-written multiple times, but it's said to have revolved around the Death and Return of Superman, a storyline in which a monster named Doomsday nearly kills Superman. The hero turned out not to be dead, but totally depleted of energy, and he has to replenish it through a special suit. These shots could have been designed around that concept, but they still don't really feel like Superman at all.

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One of them even looks like a figure skating outfit to me. I don't want to be too harsh on these costumes as they are just concepts, but I really can't imagine a movie ever happening where Supes ditches the red and blue for black and gold. Zack Snyder is directing an upcoming Superman film that will deviate from what was done with Superman Returns, but will likely remain faithful to the original Superman and not make him glow.

More photos are available on the SteveJohnsonFX Facebook page.

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The fact that this died on the operating makes you entertain the idea that there might be a benevolent god out there somewhere. Then immediatly question why batman and robin was allowed to happen.

that...

that would have been pretty badass, I would have seriously gone and watch it 5 times, in a row =P

though, for some reason, the metallic suit up there reminds me of MGS4 Raiden

No. Just...no. And isn't a "Sci-Fi Superman" a little redundant? I mean, he's an alien from another planet.

That looks horrible. Makes me wonder if maybe Tim Burton's impressive creative mind died earlier than I thought.

Alien crashes to earth, develops super powers and protects the planet from all sorts of other aliens and supernatural beings.

Stop me at the point where I'm not talking about sci-fi.

Wow that's fugly

It's like if you got a fish high on weed and then made it sick and got it to describe the shape and colours of its own vomit

Thank God this never happened. Tim Burton needs to keep his hands off of movies and reboots.

calling TB's Batman movies genuinely great seems a bit generous.

hyperdrachen:
The fact that this died on the operating makes you entertain the idea that there might be a benevolent god out there somewhere. Then immediatly question why batman and robin was allowed to happen.

The director had a credit card with no spending restrictions.

I want one.

Check out Kevin Smith's Q&A sessions regarding the whole Superman scripting episode, SO funny and entertaining, a real insight into the ego's and...lets not mince words...fucktards that populate Hollywood.

The thing is...thats accurate. You cant imagine it, but in the book, he wears a special black suit to absorb sunlight so he can come "back to life" Its not permanent.

Hes dead afterall, kinda suiting that he wears black when hes "dead"

Dont worry, he puts the original costume back on when he comes back. I think it could of been awesome. I mean, post-batman pre-nightmare before christmas Tim Burton making a deep movie about superman? You guys LIKED the superman sequels? lol

Hmm, one thing I can't help but wonder, what is a non Sci-Fi Superman like?
As far as I can tell all the ones sofar have been in the same kettle...

God that just looks odd, WAY too much detail, I can barely make out anything on it.

whether you like it or not, Burton always seems to enjoy butchering the source material (remember the whole "joker killed batman's parents" angle?), only this time it seems he took it a bit too far.

At least theres a little less... Nipple... on it :\

It's Time Burton! Get your fucking story straight! He'd have hired Johnney Depp, not Nicholas Cage XD

icyneesan:
At least theres a little less... Nipple... on it :\

that's true, I like this because as it is a predesigned metallic suit (and not a freaking skin-tight leotard) you dont have to see his mantits or even the pair of socks in his not-underwear (it's kinda redundant, considering he wears the "underwear" OVER the actual clothing)

righthanded:
calling TB's Batman movies genuinely great seems a bit generous.

They haven't aged well in fact they're kinda not good. They were nice if you were young and didn't notice all the huge flaws. In fact Dark Knight partly seems to be a referendum on Burton's films.

teh_Canape:

icyneesan:
At least theres a little less... Nipple... on it :\

that's true, I like this because as it is a predesigned metallic suit (and not a freaking skin-tight leotard) you dont have to see his mantits or even the pair of socks in his not-underwear (it's kinda redundant, considering he wears the "underwear" OVER the actual clothing)

Yeah, but all super heroes do it. I guess it just required by law or something.

Looked through the album, and one of the outfits looks like a semi-transparent version of the Nano-Suit from Crysis, interesting.

Looks awful, at least have the same colours!

But tbh, I'm reading the script right now and it doesn't fare much better.

Who cares? The death-knell of many comic adaptations has been slavish attention to appearance and lore, but with no attention to characterisation and themes. And whether you're talking about a comic or a film, it's the characterisation and themes that make it worthwhile. Even within the comics, costumes, names and appearances change regularly - 'accuracy' on those details usually means meeting whatever image was presented in the last film, or the comics during the silver age, rather than the character's current depiction in the comics. How many 'die-hard fans' of the Batman film would rage if it had Dick Grayson as Batman (now that Bruce Wayne has been pwned by Darkseid and killed/stranded in prehistoric earth) and Bruce's son as Robin, as is the case in the current continuity?

The hero's costume, name, powers and origin shouldn't be automatically replicated. The writer and director should take into account that film and comics are very different media, and whilst modern audiences are a lot more familiar with the details of the comics than they were during the 80s, they're going to have to change some of the superficial details in order to preserve the themes. Some of the characters that are 'OMG-AWESOME' to many of the comic fans simply won't work in film. Bane and Doomsday are popular because they defeated Batman and Superman respectively, but they'd have no appeal as film characters. There is a reason why Bane has been awful in every film/TV version - forget about the 'OMG IN ONE OF THE COMICS HE WAS DRAWN BEATING BATMAN!!!' for a moment, and think about how he would work in a film script. He's a big strong guy, who thinks and is cunning...and stuff... - yep, in a film (where you need to show rather than tell) he's basically the most vanilla villain you could think of. Doomsday would be worse - all he can do is hit things, and that really doesn't make for a great film - you'd be better off watching a decent boxing match.

Moreover, neither character would convey any sense of a real threat. The audience already knows that the hero will fight the villain a few times. The audience also already knows that the villain will get the upper hand for a while, maybe even seriously wound the hero, but that when they fight at the end of the film the hero will win. Big-strong-punchy villains simply don't present any threat in a film - they're just there for the special effects guys to blow some money on and provide the audience a few minutes of visual spectacle to give them a 'time-out' from the plot. A film needs a villain that can be given complex characterisation - such as the Joker's embodiment of anarchy, where a major plot arc can be devoted to the question of what the hell motivates him. Punchy-villains like Bane and Doomsday can't corrupt the heroic D.A. into a fellow embodiment of chaos, they can't question the legitimacy of the hero's moral high ground, they can't drive a mystery for the plot to revolve around. If you want them to have the same 'threat' that they possess in the comics, you need to change them into something that be threatening on film, even if it means abandoning the superficial details.

Take three of the greatest mainstream comic adaptations of recent decades (I'm not including the more offbeat comics, like Sin City or the Crow, as they're a different genre entirely) - X-Men (1 and 2), and the Burton and the Nolan versions of Batman (Batman 1,2, Batman Begins, The Dark Knight). All of them changed the superficial details drastically. Especially the X-Men. The line-up of heroes is drastically altered, personalities are different, ages are massively different (e.g. Rogue as a teenager,Iceman, one of the original X-Men, a teenager, Wolverine in the same lineup as the first-gen characters, just for a start), and their powers are changed or limited. BUT it captured the THEMES - the Malcolm X v Martin Luther King symbolism, the notion of victims of racial hate struggling between pacifism and revolution, the sense of the characters as outsiders largely tormented by their 'powers' - that's what makes something a great adaptation. Not whether the costume looks like the one in the comics, or whether a guy shoots electricity instead of fire.

Azrael the Cat:
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Thank you. Thank you so much for writing this.

OT: I think the headline for this news piece is rather inaccurate and puts all the wrong ideas into the readers head.

Tim Burton didn't dream up Superman Lives. The studio did. They decided to make a new Superman film and noticed that The Death and Return of Superman had been released recently and was having a big impact on the comic book world and decided to do something based around it. It was the studio who decided to redesign Superman to appeal to a new generation, though admittedly, it was probably Burton that redesigned him. However, all of this was overseen by the toy companies, who were ultimately the ones who controlled the direction of the project, trying to find ways to merchandise everything, demanding that Superman fly in his own spaceship at some part of the film, etc. Some months in Burton stated that things had gotten so out of control that he hated working on the project and the only reason he stayed was due to his last film (Mars Attack) being a commercial failure so he needed to make a sure-fire hit and in the end, he left anyway.

A fews years into development, when The Death and Return of Superman had lost it's momentum,the studio decided to scrap the resurrection plot and go for a full on reboot. The premise for this film was not dreamt up by Burton either. The script that retold Superman's origins, having Krypton not blown up, his parents still alive and Lex Luthor as a Kryptonian that knows Kung-Fu was thought up and writtrn by, I believe, Kevin Smith, though it could've been someone else.

Further more, to describe the film as being different from already established Superman themes and storylines by calling it "Sci-Fi" is silly. Superman is already sci-fi. I mean he's an alien refugee that travelled across the stars to arrive on planet Earth. How is that not science fiction?

the last paragraph explains the purpose of the suit clearly enough. I would have seriously watched that movie. considering you have Tim and Nick at the helm.

Seems to me that this might have been an incorporation of Electric Blue Superman
http://forums.comicbookresources.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=27441&d=1151971239

Anti-Robot Man:
Seems to me that this might have been an incorporation of Electric Blue Superman
http://forums.comicbookresources.com/attachment.php?attachmentid=27441&d=1151971239

Except electric Blue came AFTER these designs.

hansari:

hyperdrachen:
The fact that this died on the operating makes you entertain the idea that there might be a benevolent god out there somewhere. Then immediatly question why batman and robin was allowed to happen.

The director had a credit card with no spending restrictions.

I think I died a little on the inside after watching that clip...

Why... would Batman... have a credit card...? Why did that seem like a good idea?

OT: I'm not sure what is sadder. That they almost made that movie. Or that I probably would have watched it back then. (Just like I did Batman and Robin)

[describing Tim Burton reaction]
Kevin: He said "Anybody who knows me knows I would never read a comic book." Which to me, explains fuckin Batman.

God a Tim Burton movie sounds fucking horrible. Super Emo Man! -.-;

 

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