Ben Affleck was Kevin Smith’s top choice to play Superman in his scrapped Superman Lives project. Affleck has been one of the most in-demand actors since the 1990s and has had a wide variety of roles teaming with some of the most high-profile directors. Affleck has also managed to play two different superheroes for the two big publishers, first was Marvel’s Daredevil in 2003, and then was Batman in the DCEU in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, Suicide Squad, Justice League and will return one last time in The Flash.
One of Affleck’s most well-known collaborators is Kevin Smith, as Affleck starred in six films from the Clerks director. Smith has been very public about his time working on a Superman project in the mid to late ’90s that never got off the ground, Superman Lives. Smith’s tale recounting the production is legendary, from producer Jon Peters (who Bradley Cooper plays in the recently released Licorice Pizza) insisting on Superman fighting a giant spider in the third act, which would later be used in Wild Wild West.
In Yahoo! Entertainment‘s recent series The Never Were’s, Smith recounted more details about his time working on Superman Lives and while many of it was stuff fans already knew, he dropped a detail about who he wanted for Superman and Lex Luthor. Smith reveals he wrote the part of Superman with Affleck in mind, and Lex Luthor was future Guardians of the Galaxy star Michael Rooker who had just stared in Smith’s film Mallrats. Producer Jon Peters instead wanted Sean Penn, after seeing the film Dead Man Walking.
“I was writing it for Affleck, it was very Mallrats inspired because my Lex Luthor was Michael Rooker and my Superman was Ben. Ben was heating up, I think he had just been hired for Armageddon so I was like ‘he could be a legit movie star’. He’s got dark hair, I’m that uncreative where I’m like ‘Ben has dark hair, Superman has dark hair. Ben’s tall’. That was the thing, Affleck may notice from pictures but he’s a f—–g giant like he’s built like a superhero, built like a giant action figure, particularly with the height. And then he puts on the muscles there too. So in my head and heart, it was always Ben and Michael Rooker which is a weird Mallrats reunion.”
Smith’s script for Superman Lives landed Tim Burton to direct, and Burton hired Wesley Strick (Batman Returns) to rewrite the script. Nicolas Cage was cast as Superman and the project started to take shape with a summer 1998 release date set to coincide with Superman’s 60th anniversary. The project was put on hold and many of the creatives moved on, yet the possibility of what might have been has fascinated many and inspired the late Jon Schneep deep-dive documentary The Death of “Superman Lives”: What Happened?, which interviewed many of the major players involved in the project.
Affleck would go on to play a version of Superman in a very different way when he played actor George Reeves, who famously played Superman on television, in the 2006 film Hollywoodland, which happened to release in theaters the same year as Superman Returns. Affleck would of course join the DC Universe as Batman alongside Henry Cavill’s Superman. While Rooker did not play Lex Luthor, he played a lesser-known DC supervillain, Savant, in The Suicide Squad. Now it remains another wonder of how different Affleck’s career would have gone had he landed the role of Superman and if the film had been released in theaters.
Next: What Tim Burton’s Superman Lives Would’ve Looked Like (& Why It Didn’t Happen)
Source: Yahoo! Entertainment
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