In a recent interview with the British Film Institute, Tim Burton discussed the impact of Warner Bros. scrapping “Superman Lives,” which had Nicolas Cage attached as the titular hero, as well as how he felt seeing Cage as Superman and Michael Keaton’s Batman in DC Studios’ “The Flash.”
“No, I don’t have regrets,” Burton said of the scrapped Superman project. “I will say this: when you work that long on a project and it doesn’t happen, it affects you for the rest of your life. Because you get passionate about things, and each thing is an unknown journey, and it wasn’t there yet. But it’s one of those experiences that never leaves you, a little bit.”
Following the success of the Batman movie franchise for Warner Bros., Burton was set to direct Cage as the Man of Steel in “Superman Lives” in the late 1990s. However, the film got shelved after spending nearly two years in pre-production.
Cage made a surprise appearance as Superman in Warner Bros.’ “The Flash,” in which he battles a giant spider as the multiverse begins to collapse. The 2023 superhero film also sees the return of Keaton as Batman, with whom Burton directed in 1989’s “Batman” and its 1992 sequel “Batman Returns.”
Burton reacted to Cage’s Superman and Keaton’s Batman in “The Flash,” comparing the cameos to the recent trend of reimagining films and characters using an AI platform.
“But also it goes into another AI thing, and this is why I think I’m over it with the studio. They can take what you did, Batman or whatever, and culturally misappropriate it, or whatever you want to call it,” Burton explained. “Even though you’re a slave of Disney or Warner Brothers, they can do whatever they want. So in my latter years of life, I’m in quiet revolt against all this.”
Burton criticized AI recreations of Disney characters in his trademark style in an interview with The Independent, saying, “I can’t describe the feeling it gives you. It reminded me of when other cultures say, ‘Don’t take my picture because it is taking away your soul.’”
“What it does is it sucks something from you,” he continued. “It takes something from your soul or psyche; that is very disturbing, especially if it has to do with you. It’s like a robot taking your humanity, your soul.”