Newly-released photos of Nicolas Cage as Superman emerge

Stefania D'Alessandro/WireImage

Nicolas Cage is a busy guy these days.

The Academy Award-winning actor and occasional A-lister has become rather infamous in recent years for his eccentric behaviour both on and off screen (see: ‘nouveau shamanic’ acting) and his prolific yet inconsistent film output (Cage has made as many as five films a year since 2006, most of drastically varying quality). The actor's much-publicized financial problems are mostly to blame for the packed work schedule, but it wasn’t always that way.

See also: Nicolas Cage is in EVERYTHING

More than a decade ago Cage was Hollywood’s golden boy – an action star who could act to boot! Sure, he was still kind of a weird guy, but he was doing the kinds of movies he wanted and headlining some of the biggest blockbusters around. He quickly went from winning an Oscar for his performance as an alcoholic in “Leaving Las Vegas” to kicking butt in big budget action flicks like “The Rock,” “Con Air,” “Face/Off,” and “Gone in 60 Seconds.” It was during this period that Cage – a huge comic book collector – was approached with what he probably considered his dream job: a chance to play the Man of Steel in the Tim Burton-directed “Superman Lives.”

The “Superman Lives” project was eventually cancelled for a variety of reasons (chief among them budget concerns and creative differences between Burton and studio Warner Bros.), but not before it got deep into pre-production. It's estimated that WB spent over $30 million on the movie before canning it. The script was written, a director and actor were hired, soundstages were booked, locations were scouted, and costumes were created. Until this week, there was only one photo of Cage donning a test version of the iconic red and blue costume to be used in the film, but thanks to renewed interest in the project due to a new Kickstarter documentary about "Superman Lives" some new material from the fabled film has emerged online.

Several photos of Cage in a different, more muscled Superman costume appeared online yesterday via a DC Comics movie fan page.

DC

The outfit appears much like a coloured version of the all-black Batman costume that Michael Keaton donned in two Burton-directed Bat-films -- though it's thankfully free of the nipples that filmmaker Joel Schumacher so famously added for "Batman and Robin." It's sad to see that the ridiculous long hair that Cage was sporting in the previous photo didn't make the cut, but we're not sure if the receding hairline is much better. Is there such a thing as Kryptonian male pattern baldness?

Things have been a little up and down for Cage ever since his brush with the Man of Steel. Now, when he’s not appearing in safe franchise properties like “National Treasure” or comic book movies like “Ghost Rider” and “Kick-Ass," Cage can be found in everything from Werner Herzog’s off-the-wall “Bad Lieutenant” reimagining, the supernatural exploitation flick “Drive Angry,” or the medieval thriller “Season of the Witch.”

See also: True story of Nicolas Cage comic book heist to become a movie

To a casual observer, all these Cage films probably seem to be bleeding together into one big amorphous blob of indistinguishable Nic Cage movies. Don’t worry, though, even the most hardcore Cage fan probably has a hard time telling the difference between “Next” and “Knowing.”

Cage will next appear in "The Frozen Ground" opposite John Cusack sometime this year. Superman (without Cage) returns to the big screen in "Man of Steel" on June 14.