Photos resurface of the actor in a failed '90s version of the flick, as a new documentary explores why it was never made
Credit: TDOSLWH/Twitter

Nicolas Cage was once set to play Superman, and while the ’90s film about the superhero didn’t survive, photos of the actor donning the Man of Steel’s signature costume are here to stay.

Cage, who was cast as the comic-book hero for Superman Lives, a Tim Burton-helmed film planned for the late ’90s, smolders in one of the remaining pics, his long brown hair worn down and disheveled.

“The #NicCage #Superman pic that DIDN’T go round the world, but SHOULD have. Get the doc now,” Tweeted Jon Schnepp, sharing the photo. The image is from Schnepp’s documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, which explores why the film was ultimately axed.

Cage’s suit features built-in muscles (including some impressive abs) and Superman’s usual red cape and briefs.

The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?, which is available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD through its official website, explains that a photo of Cage wearing an unfinished version of the costume leaked and was met with much ire from fans. The actor was fresh off his 1995 Oscar win for Leaving Las Vegas, yet disgruntled moviegoers didn’t buy the star in the new role.

“They couldn’t give a shape to it in their minds,” the documentary’s producer Holly Payne told Fast Company‘s Co.CREATE. “And no one had seen the art, except for one horrible Polaroid of Nicolas Cage, exhausted, taken during a costume test.”

Superman Lives was ultimately killed after years of rewrites and redesigns, and photos of the finished costume concept never saw the light of day – until now.

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Cage, 51, still remains a fan of the iconic superhero (who’s now portrayed by Henry Cavill). The actor named his son, 8, after the Superman’s birth name: Kal-El.