Why Nicolas Cage's Superman Suit Looked So Weird In Tim Burton's Canceled Film

Following the incredible success of director Tim Burton's "Batman" adaptations, he set his sights on another DC hero: Superman. Yes, Burton planned on bringing the Man of Steel to the movies in the 1990s with none other than Nicolas Cage in the lead role. The feature — titled "Superman Lives" — ultimately wound up canceled, but some production materials made it out into the public eye, including pictures of Cage's costumes. While he would've worn a more traditional red and blue Superman suit, Kal-El would also sport silver, metallic garbs.

This odd take on the classic Superman outfit wasn't designed solely to stand out from the source material. It actually served a purpose in the story. "Superman Lives" would've seen Brainiac not only defeat Superman but kill him, though he wouldn't stay down for long. The glitzy outfit, dubbed the Eradicator suit, would resurrect the Son of Krypton after his untimely passing. With the help of the Eridactor suit, Superman would have regained his full strength. Like any special suit, it would have offered him an added layer of protection. However, the most interesting part of the suit is how it had the ability to take on its own humanoid form (via Movie Web). It's not the typical Superman suit by any means, but if nothing else, at least it makes narrative sense.

Producer Jon Peters wanted Superman to wear a different suit

The inclusion of the Eradicator suit wasn't exactly a reflection of screenwriter Kevin Smith's vision. In a deep-dive into the Nicolas Cage film's ill-fated production, BBC explained how producer Jon Peters made it explicitly clear to Smith that Superman couldn't wear his traditional blue-and-red suit. While "Superman Lives" would have featured the iconic and classic suit — there are even photos of Cage trying it on, it's obvious that the inclusion of the Eradicator suit was more an executive decision by Peters rather than Smith. The screenwriter definitely made it work, tying the mandate into the film's script. 

Ultimately, "Superman Lives" was given the boot by Warner Bros. One reason? The film was too expensive, at least according to co-screenwriter Dan Gilroy, who told Collider that the film was weeks away from shooting. Per the BBC, a number of costume designers and technicians were already hard at work bringing the film's inventive script to life. 

It certainly would have been interesting for audiences at the time to see Kal-El wear a new suit, especially one that's far more technologically advanced than the traditional garbs. Of course, these ideas aren't that unique to "Superman Lives." The legendary DC hero has famously worn a recovery suit in the comics, and frequent readers are well-acquainted with Eradicator by now.

Superman's recovery suit and the Eradicator call back to DC Comics

Much like moviegoers would've seen in "Superman Lives," following the "Death of Superman" story, the title character returned to the pages of DC Comics. Upon doing so, he sported an entirely new look, with a grown-out mullet and a black and silver suit. This outfit absorbs solar energy to help him recover his lost or diminished superhuman abilities. In the years since he first sported it on the pages of 1993's "Action Comics" #689, the recovery or, as it's often appropriately called, solar suit, has appeared multiple times during other comic stories as well as in movies and animation.

As for the Eradicator, he, too, emerged following Superman's demise. An ancient Kryptonian weapon comprised of pure energy, his one sole purpose is to preserve Kryptonian culture and heritage by any means necessary. Using a body created in Kal-El's image, he battled and joined forces with the likes of Steel, Superboy, and Cyborg Superman before the real Superman returned. Eradicator then merged with Dr. David Connor after seemingly dying at the hands of Cyborg Superman, with a second Eradicator debuting after DC's New 52 relaunch, which began in 2011.

All in all, Tim Burton's "Superman Lives" may seem a bit strange, but at least it's pretty faithful to the source material in regards to the inclusion of a recovery suit and the Eradicator.