Nicolas Cage at the Dream Scenario premiere alongside Cage as Superman in The Flash

Nicolas Cage Reveals ‘The Flash’ Completely Changed His Cameo Without Telling Him

Nicolas Cage revealed that his cameo in The Flash was entirely changed without his knowledge. In addition to changing what happened in it, the studio also used CGI in an attempt to de-age him for the film.

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It’s clear that The Flash‘s crew believed that Cage’s appearance as an alternate version of Superman would be the most groundbreaking cameo in the film. Instead, it has raised many questions over why director Andy Muschietti leaked it ahead of time and why Cage took up the biggest cameo instead of someone like Grant Gustin, who contributed significantly to the Flash’s history. The cameos, in general, stirred quite a bit of controversy, considering that the film used CGI and artificial intelligence to imitate the likeness of several deceased actors, including Christopher Reeve and George Reeves. Meanwhile, this happened at a time when there were many concerns about studios recreating actors’ likenesses without consent or permission and profiting from it. There’s an extra layer of complexity when studios do this to actors who have passed away.

Tim Burton previously expressed anger over Cage’s cameo, too. Burton was particularly angry about how the studio used technology to change Cage’s appearance and how he felt the studio had taken his creation and chose to “culturally misappropriate it.” At one point, Burton was set to direct Superman Lives, a Superman film starring Cage in the lead role, but the film was ultimately shelved. So he didn’t take it lightly that The Flash was suddenly taking aspects of that idea and doing whatever it wanted with it. Now, Cage reveals how badly The Flash botched his cameo.

Nicolas Cage had no control over The Flash cameo

Nicolas Cage as Superman in The Flash
(Warner Bros.)

While promoting Dream Scenario, which received a SAG-AFTRA interim agreement, Cage discussed with Yahoo Entertainment what really went down with his cameo. Cage confirmed that he was physically present on set for the cameo, so there wasn’t a need to recreate him from CGI like some of the cameos. He spent about three hours on set, and his task was to “literally just be standing in an alternate dimension, if you will, and witnessing the destruction of the universe.” Due to how brief the appearance was, he had no dialogue, so he put effort into expressing through his eyes “the emotion” of that scene.

Those who have seen The Flash, though, will know this isn’t how the cameo plays out. Instead, Cage’s Superman is battling a giant spider, during which he flies around, shoots lasers from his eyes, yells, and gets covered in little spiders. Cage’s explanation shines a light on just how much of that scene was purely CGI. He also wasn’t even sure what they did to recreate and de-age him but believed it was CGI instead of AI. Cage told Yahoo:

When I went to the picture, it was me fighting a giant spider. I did not do that. That was not what I did. I don’t think it was [created by] AI. I know Tim [Burton] is upset about AI, as I am. It was CGI, OK, so that they could de-age me, and I’m fighting a spider. I didn’t do any of that, so I don’t know what happened there. … But I get where Tim’s coming from. I know what he means. I would be very unhappy if people were taking my art … and appropriating them. I get it. I mean, I’m with him in that regard. AI is a nightmare to me. It’s inhumane. You can’t get more inhumane than artificial intelligence.

Expressing his lack of knowledge about what was done to his footage, Cage concluded, “I just think that they did something with it, and again, it’s out of my control.” Meanwhile, one can’t help but ask why he didn’t have control or even know about the changes. If someone agrees to a seconds-long scene of standing and staring at something, and that scene suddenly gets changed to this sprawling spider fight scene, isn’t that a big enough change to warrant some kind of notification? Also, shouldn’t Warner Bros. have sought his permission to use CGI or AI to alter his appearance and recreate him?

Cage’s revelation about his cameo is especially concerning amid the SAG-AFTRA strike, which arose partially because of disagreements between the union and studios about AI. In particular, studios disagree with SAG-AFTRA’s demands that studios obtain consent and provide compensation when recreating an actor’s likeness with AI. Now, Cage did agree to the cameo but there’s a very worrying lack of transparency in what allegedly happened. He agreed to do one thing but suddenly appeared in something wholly outside the realm of what he agreed to. It does seem like Warner Bros. only wanted him physically on set to get his likeness and a tiny portion of footage and then do whatever it wanted with it.

Fortunately, Cage doesn’t seem very bothered or angered about what happened, but it still makes one wonder how often this occurs where actors unwittingly agree to or sign something and suddenly have studios taking advantage of that by using technology to twist their footage into something different. The Flash really went wild with its CGI and recreating anyone and everyone, and now we’re concerned about just how much consent and transparency there was in this whole strange process.

(Via Yahoo Entertainment, featured image: Warner Bros.)


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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.