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Tim Burton reacts to that Superman cameo in The Flash

Burton compares the cameo to the looming use of AI in movies...

Tim Burton reacts to that Superman cameo in The Flash
Andrew Williams
18 September 2023

Tim Burton has thrown shade on the use of AI in movies and that Superman cameo in The Flash, during an interview with the BFI.

In The Flash, Nic Cage is briefly seen playing as Superman in a multiverse scene that also features a CGI recreation of Christopher Reeve as the superhero.

Where’s the relevance? Nic Cage was to star in a Superman film directed by Tim Burton in the late 1990s. It was called Superman Lives, but was canned after two years in pre-production, by Warner Bros.

“When you work that long on a project and it doesn’t happen, it affects you for the rest of your life," Burton told the BFI.

"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 then compared the The Flash cameos to the use of AI in films, which is one of the key issues behind the current WGA and SAG-AFTRA Hollywood strikes.

“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. 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 said.

Video of Nic Cage’s screen test for Superman Lives surfaced online in 2015, and appears to be the basis for the look of Superman in the The Flash cameo.

Cage himself was less bothered by the cameo, as he expressed in an interview with USA Today earlier this year.

“Well, I was glad I didn't blink,” Cage said. His likeness is only on-screen for a handful of seconds. “For me, it was the feeling of being actualised. Even that look for that particular character, finally seeing it on screen, was satisfying.”

What is Tim Burton's next film?

On the subject of his career, Burton talks about years of being in and out of favour as a director. "I’m like a vampire. I’ve been killed and resuscitated many times,” he says.

However, he’s at something of a high point at present. As well as directing half of the episodes of the immensely successful Wednesday, the most popular English language TV show on Netflix to date, he says Beetlejuice 2 is almost finished.

“It is like 98, 99% done,” says Burton. “It was a great experience. It reinvigorated my love of making movies.”

Beetlejuice 2’s development has been delayed by the current Hollywood strikes, but is due out in September 2024.