Comic book fans might do a double take when they see promotion for the upcoming film Nightcrawler given the shares the name of a fan-favorite X-Man, but even through the drama isn’t a superhero film the film's director does has a deep connection to comics – a tie to one of the most storied movie adaptations of all time.
Prior to becoming a director with Nightcrawler, Dan Gilroy worked as a screenwriter and one of the many projects he worked on was Tim Burton’s failed 1990s Man of Steel revamp-reboot, Superman Lives. Gilroy was hired to re-write the film after drafts by Kevin Smith and Wesley Strick were rejected, and in an interview with Indiewire.com he lets loose on some evocative details about what he says would have been “a Superman for the ages.”
“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,” Gilroy tells Indiewire. “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.”
Gilroy states that in his script draft, Clark Kent doesn’t realize he’s an alien until Lex Luthor finds remnants of the spacecraft that took him to Earth.
“It was all about the psychological trauma of it,” added Gilroy. “I loved it.”
That visage of Cage-as-Superman and Chris Rock-as-Jimmy Olsen is something, but unfortunately it didn’t come to pass because of problems that even Superman couldn’t overcome – finances.
“And unfortunately, while we were working on the script, Warner Bros was hemorrhaging,” the writer/director explains. “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.”
Check out the trailer for filmmaker Jon Schnepp documentary on the aborted production of the film called The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?