Tim Burton — once attached as the director of the scrapped film Superman Lives starring Nicolas Cage — slams Cage's cameo appearance in The Flash. Cage shot his scenes for the movie using CGI de-aging technology.
In a recent interview, the British Film Institute asked Burton if he has any regrets about Warner Bros. pulling the plug on Superman Lives in 1998. The studio nixed the film only three weeks before shooting and after two years of preproduction work. “No, I don’t have regrets,” says Burton. “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.
“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. Even though you’re a slave of Disney or Warner Bros., they can do whatever they want. So in my latter years of life, I’m in quiet revolt against all this.”
Tim Burton Is Aware That AI Threatens Animation More Than Any Other Art Form
Although Michael Keaton — who played Batman in two Burton-directed movies — played a significant role in The Flash and Cage physically showed up to be digitally altered for his cameo as Superman, other actors were 100% deepfakes. In The Flash‘s multiverse sequence, Adam West as Batman, Christopher Reeve as Superman, Helen Slater as Supergirl, and George Reeves as Superman were all digital creations using archive footage.
In an interview with The Independent, Burton seems very aware of how studios use AI and CGI to re-create characters without permission. “They had AI do my versions of Disney characters!” says Burton about a project done for Buzzfeed. He continues:
“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.’ 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.”
The Independent asked Burton how he feels about Disney today. “I guess it’s like Burbank, only worse… it’s like a family,” says Burton, who grew up in Burbank, California. “I can look back and recognize the many, many positives of working there, and all the opportunities I’ve had. I can acknowledge each and every one of those very deeply, and very positively. Equally, on the other side, I can identify the negative, soul-destroying side. As in life, it’s a mixed bag.”
Robert DeSalvo is a professional writer and editor with over 25 years of experience at print and online publications such as Movieline, Playboy, PCH, Fandango, and The A.V. Club. He currently lives in Los Angeles, the setting of his favorite movie, Blade Runner. Robert has interviewed dozens of actors, directors, authors, musicians, and other celebrities during his journalism career, including Brian De Palma, Nicolas Cage, Dustin Hoffman, John Waters, Sigourney Weaver, Julianne Moore, Bryan Cranston, Anne Rice, and many more. Horror movies, sci-fi, cult films as well as gothic, postpunk, and synthwave music are what Robert geeks over.