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Superman Lives
Burton S
Release Date: 1998
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Superman Lives is the title for a canceled Superman movie intended for production during the late 1990s. The movie featured Brainiac at the main villain, Lex Luthor in a supporting role and new version of Doomsday. The project was, however, scrapped[1] due to the string of box office bombs WB had in 1997/98, primarily Batman & Robin.


The movie is based on "The Death of Superman" storyline from the comics. The main villain was the alien supercomputer, Brainiac, and he had a plot to kill Superman by simultaneously blotting out the sun and unleashing Doomsday on metropolis. The plot works, and Superman is killed.

Later in the movie, he is resurrected by the Eradicator, who acts as his temporary costume, and artificially produces all of his powers.


Nicolas Cage was cast to play Superman by Tim Burton. Kevin Spacey had been approached for Lex Luthor (a role that he later played in Superman Returns), while Christopher Walken was Burton's choice for Brainiac (the role's also considered for Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman). Sandra Bullock, Courtney Cox, and Julianne Moore had been approached for Lois Lane, while Chris Rock was cast as Jimmy Olsen.


Superman V: Reborn[]

Several details of the script are unknown, but what has been confirmed is that it was loosely based on "The Death of Superman" story. The script features an insecure Clark Kent unable to admit his feelings for the human woman whom he loves, Lois Lane. Before he is able to resolve those feelings with her, Doomsday appears to challenge him. Just as in the comics, they fight to their respective deaths. As Superman dies in Lois' arms, he finally confesses his feelings to her. Unbeknownst to either of them, this final confession not only releases his soul from his body, but said soul enters the body of Lois . She soon discovers that she is pregnant with Superman's child. Days later, the child is born and within the span of three weeks, he grows into the body of a 21-year-old man. As Lois is killed in the middle of the film (by what has not been confirmed, but some reports list it as the resurrected Doomsday), the new-born assumes his birthright as the new Superman and defeats the villain, saving the world.

Superman V: Reborn (Version 2)[]

Still using the "Death" story as its basis, writer Gregory Poirier makes Superman 's comic book nemesis, Brainiac, the primary villain. In the script, Brainiac was responsible for the destruction of Krypton. He is now on his way to Earth to destroy the last Kryptonian once and for all.

On Earth, Clark Kent is on the verge of a nervous breakdown as he is unable to cope with his dual-identity as reporter and superhero. He visits a psychoanalyst to discuss these feelings, as well as those he has for Lois Lane . Brainiac makes his way to Metropolis and unleashes his genetic creation, Doomsday (who, in this draft has kryptonite-laced blood), upon the public. This naturally draws out Superman and the two battle to the death. Brainiac has won, and the last Kryptonian is dead.

After Superman's funeral, Brainiac attempts to steal his body, recognizing it as valuable genetic material. However, his plan is thwarted by the rogue government agency Project Cadmus, who take the body first in hopes of either reviving it or cloning it. During this time, Superman's spirit is shown taking a spiritual journey through the afterlife. At the end of his journey, he concludes that his work on Earth is not yet done and the spirit returns to its body.

Resurrected, but powerless, The Man of Steel travels to Metropolis to fight Brainiac with the aid of Cadmus. Through the sheer force of his own will, Superman regains his powers and defeats Brainiac, giving him a sense of closure and security in the world.

Wesley Strick's script[]

The confirmed details of Wesley Strick's script indicate that, like the previous versions, it followed the "Death of Superman" story. A notable departure from that work is the fact that once Brainiac arrives on Earth, he and Lex Luthor eventually merge into a single entity dubbed "Luthiac". Thematically, Burton and Strick worked to underscore Superman's alienation by virtue of the fact that Superman (Kal-El) is -- literally -- an alien.

Dan Gilroy's script[]


The only known surviving "teaser" poster of the ten that were made for display at Toyfare '97.

The story opens in flashback with Krypton on the verge of explosion. As Jor-El and Lara are placing baby Kal-El in his rocket, Brainiac--who is responsible for this destruction--enters and attacks them. Jor-El manages to ignite the rocket just as he and Lara are murdered by Brainiac. The cyborg vows to hunt down the child.

The story then moves to modern day Metropolis where we see the now-adult Superman stop a bank robbery. That evening, he meets Lois Lane at the Daily Planet building in a scene reminiscent of the Kevin Smith draft (except in this draft, Lois doesn't know of his dual identity as Clark Kent). During this time, it's established that Kent's identity is in danger, as Lex Luthor may be on the verge of discovering it and revealing it to the world. Clark considers telling Lois before this happens.

Brainiac comes to Earth and encounters Luthor. The two devise a plan to destroy Superman. They begin by merging into a single cyborg entity known as "Lexiac". Lexiac creates the creature Doomsday to attack Superman. Superman and Doomsday battle to the death, after which time (and a public funeral) the Man of Steel's body is transported to the Fortress of Solitude. The body is revived (powerless) by a mysterious Kryptonian force known only as "K". Superman and "K" leave the fortress and trek back to Metropolis.

During this time, Lexiac--an advanced alien force with the resources of a multi-national conglomerate at its disposal--plans to destroy Earth just as he did Krypton. He begins assembling an arsenal of nuclear warheads to be detonated on all the world's top cities. He also spends a great amount of timing attempting (unsuccessfully) to woo a grieving Lois Lane. Superman returns to Metropolis and is restored his powers by "K", which is revealed to be the remaining "life essence" of his deceased biological parents. Superman, with the flirtatious assistance of Lois, defeats Lexiac (destroying the "Brainiac" element) with exactly one second left on the nuclear clock. The story ends with Lois in Superman's arms, where she reveals that she is pregnant with his child.


Concept art[]

Costume tests[]



  • Although Superman Lives was canceled, several references to this project were added to other films and TV shows, through the years:
    • In the 2007 animated film, Superman: Doomsday, an onlooker, voiced by Kevin Smith, derides Superman fighting a robotic spider.
    • In 2015, a documentary film, The Death of "Superman Lives": What Happened?, would get released.
    • In 2017, Smith directed an episode of Supergirl titled "Supergirl Lives".
    • In 2018, Nicolas Cage would finally get to play Superman in Teen Titans Go!: To the Movies, through voice acting.
    • In 2023, Cage would get digitally-deaged to finally play this canceled project's incarnation of Superman, for his cameo in The Flash, where he can be seen fighting the Thanagarian Snare Beast, to death, before watching other universes collide with his.