You have to give credit to Zack Snyder – in the early days of the DCEU, he tried something new, especially in how he reimagined the character of Superman. Sometimes you swing and hit, sometimes you swing and miss. By now, most fans agree that making DC’s beacon of light and hope dark and broody wasn’t the right angle to take on the Big Blue Boy Scout, especially after Batman came along and Superman kind of seemed to take a back seat in the franchise he helped launch.
But fans also agree that actor Henry Cavill was a great Superman in a bad framework, and many would love to see what he’d do in the role with a writer and director who truly understands the character and why he’s so beloved. Unfortunately, his future with the DCEU is up in the air after contract talks broke down, rumors flying of Michael B. Jordan being eyed to replace him, and his taking the lead role in Netflix’s upcoming The Witcher series.
Still, Cavill hasn’t completely shut the door on it all. Just last month, he stated outright that he hasn’t given up on playing Superman, telling Men’s Health, “I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”
Cavill hasn’t shied away from giving his thoughts on the DCEU movies under Snyder’s rein. While Man of Steel, he says, was “a great starting point” for Superman and that he’d not change anything about it, the actor says in no uncertain terms that Batman v Superman was not a shared movie, but a Batman movie: “[It was] very much a Batman movie. And I think that realm of darkness is great for a Batman movie.” Translate the professional, neutral actor speak: “This movie didn’t work at all for the character of Superman and he was completely sidelined.” And of Justice League? Nothing but bluntness: “It didn’t work.”
Clearly, the man has some thoughts about where it went sideways. But fans should seriously start pulling for Cavill to work things out with Warner Bros. and return to the role, because recent comments he made at a press event for The Witcher show he gets the character of Superman. Like, really, really gets him. Cavill was asked by film critic Jake Hamilton whether or not he had ideas for the character in future movies and as it turns out, he did:
“Where we left off with Man of Steel, in particular, was the guy who had found his place, or was trying to find his place but had sort of found it by the end, that had committed something which he would consider a most horrific sin by killing the last member of his species. That is a place where I would like to travel from with the character. Him exploring the positivity of who he is. Not necessarily the chocolate box version, but the leaning into that. That character who becomes an icon of hope and enjoying that experience rather than necessarily being made uncomfortable by it.”
He’s not wrong. Cavill always felt like the right guy in the wrong script, a perfect actor for a character he was never allowed to fully embrace or explore, a similar situation to what happened with Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. While there have been darker moments in the comics, Superman has always been at his best and most iconic when he’s inspiring, a beacon of hope and light for the people of Earth rather than a demigod to be feared. Cavill clearly gets this and is just as frustrated as the rest of us that this version of Superman was never allowed to come to fruition – but it should be. Don’t get me wrong, I love Michael B. Jordan as an actor and if Warner Bros. ends up recasting him in the role, then fine. But it would be a shame because it would be great to see what Cavill, who clearly loves the character, could do with a team that understands what makes Superman so beloved to fans.
At the moment, Warner Bros. doesn’t seem to know what it wants to do with Superman in the future of the DCEU. Perhaps it will give both sides some time to come to a contractual agreement.