Tim Burton Reflects on “Superman Lives” and Condemns AI Recreations in Film Industry

Tim Burton recently spoke with the British Film Institute about the effects of Warner Bros. dropping “Superman Lives,” which was set to star Nicolas Cage as the title character. He also expressed his thoughts on watching Cage play Superman and Michael Keaton portray Batman in DC Studios’ “The Flash.” Regarding the abandoned Superman project, Burton said, “No, I don’t have regrets, 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.”

Burton was slated to helm Cage as the Man of Steel in “Superman Lives” in the late 1990s after Warner Bros.’ success with the Batman film series. However, after over two years of pre-production, the movie was abandoned. In Warner Bros.’ In “The Flash,” Cage makes an unforeseen appearance as Superman, in which he fights a huge spider as the multiverse starts to disintegrate. In the 2023 superhero movie, Keaton reprises his role as Batman. Burton previously directed Keaton in 1989’s “Batman” and its 1992 successor “Batman Returns.”

In response to Cage’s Superman and Keaton’s Batman in “The Flash,” Burton compared the cameo appearances to the current trend of reinventing movies and characters utilizing 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 elaborated. “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.”

In an interview with The Independent, Burton condemned AI recreations of Disney characters in his own signature style, stating, “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. 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.”

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