Review – The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?

Truth, justice, development hell…

There’s plenty of Hollywood urban legends floating around, and have been for years, most of which turn out to be awesomely true. Christopher Walken nearly starring as Han Solo, James Cameron’s early 90’s Spider-Man script that was never to be, Roger Corman’s Fantastic Four debacle, the list goes on and on. One of my favorites has always been the Kevin Smith written, Tim Burton directed, Nicholas Cage starring Superman film that never got off the ground (heh) in the late 90’s, first made nerd famous due to Smith’s war stories of the movie’s hellish development during his many Q&A sessions over the years. Now the legend can be told in depth, thanks to Metalocolypse director Jon Schnepp’s fascinating new documentary that takes us from the film-that-never-was’ lofty beginnings to its literal and figurative “doomsday”.

Schnepp takes a hands-on approach, and is an entertaining presence himself, appearing onscreen in interviews with almost everyone involved in the film, aside from Cage himself. Kevin Smith is his usual bombastic self and Tim Burton is refreshingly open and self deprecating about the two years he lost working on the film. The true star of the show though, is producer Jon Peters, the delusional former hairdresser that claims to have been in over 500 street fights (you’d constantly be fending off attackers too if you had the dead shih-tzu clinging to the top of your head that this guy calls a hairstyle), the man who famously insisted that Superman must fight a giant spider in the movie, that of course wound up recycled into Wild Wild West. WWW had all of SL’s budget funneled into it after it was cancelled, and of course that Will Smith vehicle bombed even harder than Burton’s Superman probably would’ve. Jon Peters, everybody!

I can’t recommend this one enough, both for big comics dorks who’ll get all the (nearly mangled and misappropriated) comics references, film geeks looking for a peek behind the curtain of late 90’s studio excess, and anyone who likes a sadly hilarious story told entertainingly.

The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened? Is currently available at



Kevin Hawkey is the co-founder, head writer and editor of Riot-Nerd. He enjoys Fighting Games, Metal, Marvel, Horror and all the weird shit in between. A lifelong Philadelphian just as comfortable in a circle pit at Underground Arts as he is drooling over the new Hot Toys figures at Brave New Worlds, Kevin’s idiosyncratic sensibility gives this site it’s unique dichotomy between “riot” and “nerd”.
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