It seems that Dan Gilroy’s promotional duties for his new film Nightcrawlers has somehow managed to spark a rekindled interest in Tim Burton’s Superman Lives; bringing it back into the collective psyche of comicbook fans and curious movie fans in general.
What is interesting about the new information that each new tidbit of news goes from the weird, to the absolutely insane – which is why it sits nicely next to Terry Gilliam’s Don Quixote – and even more so – Alejandro Jodorowsky’s Dune.
Last week an old post from concept artist Rolf Mohr ended up circulating the web. Amongst some of the things he mentioned was Brainiac (stating that Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman were in the running for the role) who was an alien shape-shifting ‘hybrid technology’ that engulfed people and grew larger. Also, Mohr spoke of a biomechanical alien spider that dispersed smaller spiders from its body. Here are the details he gave about the proposed villain:
“For Superman Lives I was working mostly in the dark based on vague descriptions without seeing a script. At the time it all sounded rather crazy and confusing, with Brainiac’s Skull Ship that could absorb anything it came across, Brainiac himself inside some sort of alien shape-shifting ‘hybrid technology’ which would open up and engulf people and grow ever larger, more limbs, etc, then Superman also had alien tech in the form of the Eradicator, which could become a suit as well as transform into an ‘Interceptor’ ship… A giant biomechanical alien spider thing which had a body that could open up and smaller ones came out, etc, etc…
“At the time I had no idea who had written it or that Tim Burton was on board to direct, but they told me Jim Carrey and Gary Oldman were being considered for Brainiac. It was interesting to read the script years later and see that Kevin Smith had actually done a pretty impressive job by introducing the Eradicator as a transforming suit in order to weave together all the requirements the producer wanted: “No Superman suit, no flying… and a giant spider in the third act.” He even managed to include 2 polar bears”
As if one polar bear wasn’t crazy enough, but two?!
Writer/director Gilroy spoke to Indie Wire and unveiled more information on the script that he did the final pass on. He mentioned that he came on board after Kevin Smith and Wesley Strick had already penned their drafts. Gilroy explains that he wanted a more introspective take on the character:
“I was very much taken by Tim’s approach, which was that Kal-El was not told by Jor-El, before he got put in the little spaceship, who he was or where he came from. So poor little Kal-El, when he winds up on earth, he has no freaking idea where he came from. His biggest fear is that he’s an alien. Our Superman was in therapy at the beginning of the film. He’s in a relationship with Lois Lane and he can’t commit. Or he was maybe in couple’s therapy. But he can’t commit because he doesn’t know who he is or what is going on with him. He’s hoping that he has some physiological condition that gives him these powers but that he’s still human. It becomes very apparent, though, early in the script, when Lex Luthor uncovers the remnants of the spacecraft, he suddenly realizes – “Oh my god, I’m an alien.” It was all about the psychological trauma of it. I loved it.
“And unfortunately, while we were working on the script, Warner Bros was hemorrhaging. Every big movie that was coming out was bombing and failing and when it came time to step up and bankroll our script, they didn’t have the financial wherewithal or desire. Which is a shame because Tim would have knocked it out of the park. And Nic Cage, oh my god! I was so ready for that. … They pulled the plug right when we were doing camera tests. We were doing camera tests. It was very far along”.
Just like Gilliam’s Don Quixote and Jodorowsky’s Dune made for fascinating documentaries, Jon Schnepp’s The Death of Superman Lives should be an interesting documentary tracking the process of the ins and outs of blockbuster filmmaking.