Courtesy of DC
Superman has been an iconic character for many years. Superman from 1978, starring Christopher Reeve's, sparked a slow, but a growing rise in superhero films that we see now over 40 years later. Richard Donner’s direction, John William’s score, and the performances of Reeves as Superman, Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor, and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane remain iconic. For me growing up in the late 1990s and early 2000s, Superman was one of my favorite heroes, alongside Batman, Spider-Man, and Wolverine. I watched Superman: The Animated Series from the late 90s, as well as Justice League and Justice League Unlimited. When it came to films, all my other favorite heroes either got many films or appeared in other films. Superman only got a few appearances.
Superman Returns was the first Superman film to come out after I was born, but the film was a disappointment despite Brandon Routh’s good performance as Superman. Bryan Singer decided to continue the original film series and erase the last two films from the Christopher Reeve's series instead of rebooting. Then in 2013, we got Man of Steel, a film that took Superman in a different direction by director Zack Snyder. Despite that, I loved the movie, and the more I rewatched it in the past nine years, the more I loved. Henry Cavill did a great job in the role, and Michael Shannon’s Zod remains one of my favorite villain performances in the last ten years. Han Zimmer’s score was amazing. Unfortunately, it divided some critics and fans and did good, but not great at the box office.
Things got more divided with how Superman was handled in the 2016 film Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not only was the reception worse, but the box office was considered disappointing for a film that finally had Batman and Superman together, as well as the first film appearance of Wonder Woman. Yes, it made a lot of money, but not a billion dollars like Warner Bros. hoped it would. Then came the mess with Justice League, where Snyder left the project due to a family tragedy. Instead of waiting for his return, they brought in Joss Whedon to make sure the film came out in November 2017. Between reshoots and deleting many scenes, Justice League got mixed reception and did even worse than the previous films at the box office.
Since then, the character’s status has been only mentioned and had headless and shadow cameos in Shazam! and Peacemaker. The previous Warner Bros. regime and DC never did anything to bring Superman back. There were talks of J.J. Abrams doing a Superman film and Michael B. Jordan producing a Val-Zod Superman project, but none have made any progress. With a new group in charge of the newly named Warner Bros. Discovery and Dan Lin looking to become the new DC Film’s president, now we have a chance to see something happen with Superman.
Superman is too important and iconic of a hero to be neglected on film. He’s a symbol of hope for everyone. If they were to make a Mount Rushmore of superheroes, he would be on that. We are seeing lesser-known heroes from Marvel like Shang-Chi, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and the Eternals getting films and finding success. A character as big and iconic as Superman needs to return. I’m glad DC is prioritizing other heroes for once like Shazam and Blue Beetle, but Superman should get his new film as well. I love Batman and Spider-Man and most of the movies involving them, but we have so many films about them. It’s time Superman gets the same love and dedication. People claim Superman is boring, but when adapted right, he is one of the best comic book characters out there.
The best scenario would be to negotiate a new deal with Henry Cavill and continue with him in the DCEU. Cavill has stated before he is open to returning. Even if DC is officially done with Zack Snyder, you can still take Cavill in a new direction. Ben Affleck, after being originally done as Batman in the DCEU, is returning in The Flash and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. If you could find a way to bring him back, then you can figure something out with Cavill. There is a rumor that Cavill might return briefly in Black Adam, but it’s just a rumor with no official proof.
If Cavill doesn’t return, I see two possible options. They recast Superman in the DCEU and continue to move forward. The best casting option I see in this scenario is Matt Bomer. He is one of the few actors to look similar to Cavill and has a close physical similarity. He is 44 years old, which is older than Cavill, but at this stage in the DCEU, an actor around Cavill’s age or a bit older would make sense.
The other option is creating a separate franchise for just Superman, similar to Matt Reeves’s Batman universe. Superman has a wide enough array of characters and villains to do this. They should avoid the origin story this time and start Superman out as a hero for a year or two. For this, my choice would be a younger actor. My current choice for this would be Glen Powell. I feel he can pull off a great Clark Kent, and he has shown with Top Gun: Maverick he can bulk up for the right role. There would likely be fans upset with this chose or any other pick, but history has been kind to those who caught everyone by surprise.
I hope J.J. Abrams isn’t involved like he originally was if they went this route. J.J. Abrams is supposed to direct a black Superman period film, and I have no problem with that. My issue with the proposed film is Abrams is known for having good beginnings in his franchises, but then never follows through, and they decline. The only franchise to not have the Abrams problem so far is the Mission: Impossible franchise. The last thing Superman needs is a one-and-done director. The character needs someone to show it the same dedication and time Sam Raimi showed Spider-Man and Christopher Nolan showed Batman. Considering Abram’s other DC projects have gone nowhere and the cancellation of some projects like Batgirl, it looks unlikely he will be involved at the moment.
Another way to get Superman on the big screen could be to move forward with Michael B. Jordan’s Val-Zod project. Val-Zod takes on the role of Superman in another universe after Clark Kent dies.
Similar to Abram’s project, this would be showing a black Superman for the first time to general audiences if they go this route. A Superman project with someone else besides Clark Kent taking the mantle might be risky with general audiences, but we’re already seeing Marvel succeed with having other heroes of color take on classic hero mantles, such as Miles Morales becoming Spider-Man in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse and Sam Wilson becoming Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With WBD canceling projects they see no future for, this project has yet to be canceled. If they go the Val-Zod route, two candidates that come to mind are Michael B. Jordan and John David Washington.
Whatever direction they go, they need to show Superman’s rogue gallery. We’ve seen Lex Luthor and General Zod many times in previous films. Superman has one of the best rogue galleries in comic books. Some of his villains such as Doomsday were either not used well or in the event or team-up films. A villain long overdue to be in a Superman film is Brainiac. Zack Snyder wanted to use Brainiac for a sequel to Man of Steel. Other great villains they should use are Bizarro, Metallic, and even the smaller scale villains like Toyman for a secondary villain.
All in all, it’s time for Superman to fly back into the big screen. I would love to see Henry Cavill return. At the same time, if he does not want to return or the studio wants to move on, I am okay with that and hope for the best. Whether Superman continues in the DCEU or gets his separate franchise, I will be excited to see one of my favorite heroes return to theaters. Hopefully, with a new DC Film’s President, Superman’s big screen return will be a big priority.
Do you guys want to see a new Superman film, and if so, who should play him if Cavill does not return? Let us know in the comments down below.