Along with Michael Keaton’s Batman and Sasha Calle’s Supergirl being important players in The Flash, the 2023 movie release delivered some major DC multiverse cameos during its climax. One of them was Nicolas Cage’s Superman, giving audiences an idea of what could have been had the Tim Burton-directed Superman Lives moved forward in the late 1990s. However, shortly after The Flash came out, Cage shared a big issue he had about his cameo, and earlier this month, he revealed that when he shot that scene, he had no idea that it involved a giant spider. The actor has since elaborated on his experience shooting that cameo, and I can see where he’s coming from with this criticism.
While Cage was being interviewed by WIRED about his new movie Dream Scenario, the actor’s cameo in The Flash was brought up, as well as the fact that he’s previously said that the use of artificial intelligence in Hollywood is “inhumane.” The interviewer asked where now stands with how his likeness can be used and where he draws the line when it comes to, “OK, you can CGI me if we’ve made an agreement, but please don’t make a whole movie starring Nicolas Cage that I know nothing about.” Cage responded:
You said it perfectly when you said, 'We made an agreement.' That is the linchpin to it. There’s an agreement and a mutual understanding and a contract that you’ve gone into knowing both sides and knowing full well what we’re getting into. I’m not saying they used AI on the Superman thing. Maybe they did. I don’t know. Maybe it was just CGI, but whatever it was, that’s not what I did on the set. As much as I love [director] Andy [Muschietti] and [sister and film producer] Barbara [Muschietti]—and I do think they’re great—it’s still not what I was told to do on set.
For those who haven’t seen The Flash, after he was done fighting that giant spider (referencing a battle that would have been seen in Superman Lives), Nicolas Cage’s Superman was shown watching the multiverse implode. As Cage previously stated, he was not told about the giant spider when he came to The Flash for “maybe three hours” to shoot that cameo. All he was told was that his version of the Man of Steel was “bearing witness [to] the end of a universe,” and since he wasn’t given any dialogue, he had to convey emotion using only his eyes.
While Cage isn’t sure whether AI was applied to his Superman appearance or not (it definitely was for the George Reeves and Christopher Reeve versions of Superman since those actors are long gone), I get what he’s saying about transparency. If Cage is going to consent to his digital likeness being used, and especially if his appearance is being tweaked for something he actually acted in like The Flash, he wants disclosure about what his appearance will entail. Once he has that information, then he can make an informed decision about whether or not he wants to be involved, be it directly or indirectly. He also clarified later in the interview that he doesn’t want “anyone to do anything” with his likeness after he’s gone,” and whoever is in charge of his estate will “make sure of that.”
Along with Nicolas Cage’s expressing further criticism about his Superman appearance (his second time playing the character, the first being Teen Titans Go! to the Movies), Tim Burton has shared his dissatisfaction with The Flash’s use of AI, and he’s in “quiet revolt” against the studios using this technology. You can watch/revisit The Flash with a Max subscription while going through the DC movies in order, while Nicolas Cage’s performance in Dream Scenario can currently be seen in limited theatrical showings, with the wide release happening on December 1.