Film criticism is a highly subjective art form, but not many people will argue against the idea that any movie featuring Nicolas Cage is better for it. What if we were no longer burdened by the often-impenetrable logic of Cage and his managers choosing projects like The Wicker Man remake? What if we could recast Cage in movies made before he was even born?
These are heavy existential questions—and ones best handled by the Reddit community. Recently, The A.V. Club reported on a subreddit devoted to software that can map faces onto existing motion footage. This kind of “deep learning” technology makes it possible to alter video by grafting semi-believable features on actors already in the frame.
In a compilation posted to YouTube, you can see how this works. Here’s Cage “appearing” as Indiana Jones, James Bond, and Lois Lane:
Some clips are more polished than others. Cage is surprisingly well-rendered as Lois in Man of Steel, though Cage laid over John Travolta (who is playing Cage in Face-Off) looks like digitized Claymation.
Naturally, the software’s users haven’t restricted themselves to pursuing an all-Cage media landscape. There are already adult videos being treated with the technology to make it appear as though celebrities are engaged in explicit and provocative behavior, a potential legal and moral minefield that will likely grow as the technology improves.
Compared to that, inserting Cage into The Godfather (directed by his uncle, Francis Ford Coppola) or producing an all-Cage version of Pitch Perfect seems like a relatively tame pursuit. But Reddit will have to work overtime to meet the real actor’s pace. Cage appeared in five films in 2016, another five in 2017, and already has five films (and counting) set to be released in 2018.