Kevin Smith has revealed the original 1996 Superman Lives pitch from Warner Bros. in its entirety. Smith has talked about the failed project many times in the last 24 years, with An Evening with Kevin Smith DVD from 2002 providing the bulk of the information. Tim Burton was later attached to direct the aforementioned movie and Nicolas Cage was set to star as the Man of Steel. However, the movie was never meant to be and Smith was let go from the project.
On the latest episode of his Fatman Beyond podcast, Kevin Smith once again brought up Superman Lives. “I’ve been cleaning my office and I found some sh*t and I just wanted to share this with you all,” Smith shared. “This is from Warner Bros. and it’s from, I don’t know if you can see the date there, the date is May 15th of 1996. What I hold in my hand is a 24-year-old Warner Bros. letter, may I read it to you?” As Smith has said over the years, he butted heads with the studio when it came time to write the movie.
Kevin Smith’s intro letter from Warner Bros. reads: “‘It’s time for the rebirth of a hero. As you know, we are making a new Superman film, taking the world’s most famous superhero into the 21st century.” The letter came with a collection of comic books that the studio wanted Smith to revisit and get acquainted with. Smith went on to read the pitch in full, which you can read below.
“Alienated from the world he protects, convinced his relationship with Lois Lane is doomed, Superman is suddenly defeated and left for dead by the villain Brainiac, an intergalactic genius intent upon collecting the best DNA in the universe. Superman is secretly nursed back to health by his mentor Cadmus only to discover he has lost his superpowers. As Lois mourns the loss of her love and Brainiac frantically searches for Superman’s body, the Man of Steel returns disguised using as a high-tech bodysuit to fight while he attempts to regain his superpowers. While battling Brainiac’s henchmen Parasite and Banshee, Superman rediscovers his powers and his love for Lois Lane. In a final showdown, Superman destroys Brainiac and saves the world that he has come to call home.'”
Kevin Smith has spoken about the Superman Lives storyline for decades now, but this is the first time that he has shared the entire pitch from Warner Bros. “This is how I get to that f***ing Superman story,” Smith joked. “This is literally the path where it begins… the document that led to that other, to my f***ing Superman story. Me writing Superman and then nothing happening with it and then me telling that story for the next 20 f-cking years.” To his credit, Smith fans always enjoy hearing about the trouble behind-the-scenes of trying to get the movie made.
In the end, Kevin Smith believes that Tim Burton was the real reason why his vision of Superman Lives never came to be a reality. “The studio was happy with what I was doing,” Smith remembered. “Then Tim Burton got involved, and when he signed his pay-or-play deal, he turned around and said he wanted to do his version of Superman. So who is Warner Bros. going back to? The guy who made Clerks, or the guy who made them half a billion dollars on Batman?” Burton himself has called it one of the worst experiences in his career. “I basically wasted a year. A year is a long time to be working with somebody that you don’t really want to be working with,” he said. You can see the reading of the original pitch above, thanks to Kevin Smith’s official YouTube channel.