What a day! We started the day with a report that WB was putting Man of Steel 2 on the back burner. That report turned into other reports that Henry Cavill was out as Superman, followed soon after by reports that Ben Affleck was through with the vape and cowl. By mid afternoon, we had press releases from WB saying that they loved working with Cavill, and his manager, Dany Garcia, stating that her client still has the cape in his closet. Cavill himself took to Instagram (no doubt inspired by the personal message I sent him praising his work in the blue tights) and posted the final word:
Okay, so this is not exactly the clearest statement, but what it says to me is that the decision is not final. Cavill is still campaigning for another turn in the cape. And, while I am relieved that Cavill hasn’t hung up the suit, today’s events have raised several important questions:
1. What is next for Superman?
2. How does WB save the DCEU?
3. What other roles could Cavill take?
Superman, as a character, has been through a lot. In this latest iteration, he’s gone from alien refugee, to awkward teenager, to hunky Jesus, complete with hunky death and hunky resurrection. But it’s fair to say that the third act of Man of Steel, all of Batman v Superman, and the no-stache of Justice League, left the character battled and bruised. Specifically, Superman is meant to be a benevolent American god, the personification of the Monroe Doctrine, a gentle omnipotent hand to guide the rest of the world down the righteous path. But, in the third act of Man of Steel, he gets in a death match with General Zod.
While every metaphor has limits, Man of Steel seemed quick to abandon the pacifist message of the original Jesus, letting Kal-el snap Zod’s neck rather than finding a peaceful solution. In BvS, Supes seemed to turn his back on violence, only to let Lexee Luthenberg talk him into trying to kill Bats to save Martha. Most recently, in Justice League, Clark serves as Deus Ex Machina (or “Gandalf’s Eagles” as I like to call this trope) and saves the day with a final act resurrection. But, this time, Clark doesn’t kill or try to kill the bad guy, perhaps finally learning that a good person lets bad guys destroy themselves.
So, what’s left for the Man of Steel? After Jesus resurrected, he hung around for a short time to establish his apostles, then zipped up into space to look for his dad. This is the next logical step for Superman as well. He has to stick around for a little while to establish the First Church of Kal-el, with the Justice League as his apostles. Then, it’s off to explore space for remnants of Krypton and Jor-el. In the comics, Superman discovered the shrunken city of Kandor during this journey. It would be nice to see Clark save what’s left of Krypton after so thoroughly destroying his previous countrymen. This could allow Clark to explore what it means to be god, and what it means to be human, existential questions that haunt all of us. Kandor could also let Clark get that new black suit everyone’s been hoping for. Meanwhile, earth will be dealing with Darkseid’s arrival, setting up the Second Coming of Hunky Jesus. Anything less biblical will feel trivial by comparison.
This leads to our next topic, saving the DCEU. You see, while the MCU is a team comprised of heroes, the DCEU is populated by gods. Man of Steel set a religious tone, and BvS carried that tone forward to a certain extent, but failed to fully embrace it. The result was disappointing to say the least. If we’re going to save the DCEU, we need to have our archetypes straight. If Superman is Jesus, and the Justice League the apostles, then Darkseid is the devil, Steppenwolf and the rest of Apokalips are the demons, and Lex Luthor and other human antagonists are just Romans, while Kryptonians are angels.
While Superman is off on his solo adventure amongst the heavens, the members of the Justice League will be spreading the good word and performing miracles on earth, until Darkseid shows up and wages war. The likes of Lex Luthor and Deathstroke will unite with the Justice League when Darkseid shows up because if they don’t, there won’t be any earth left to conquer. Then, once the Justice League is about to be eliminated, a devout few call out to the cosmos for Superman to return, which he does with a city full of Kryptonians in tow. They turn the tides of war back in favor of earth. It’s an easy yet compelling path for the DCEU, so if they are going to play with religious themes, they need to commit. It’s worked for Christianity for 2000 years.
Finally, what’s next for Henry Cavill? He’s confirmed for the role of Geralt in Netflix’s series, The Witcher. If he does end up leaving the DCEU (I pray that never happens), the MCU just acquired a bunch of characters back from Fox which includes another leading man, Wolverine, as well as the less exciting Cyclops. Cavill could bring the requisite physicality to Wolverine and the role is big enough that it might entice Cavill to cross universes. But Superman is the biggest superhero there is, so any comic book role will likely seem small by comparison.
For non comic bookbcharacters, there is also a big chance that the role of James Bond becomes available soon and Cavill could easily step into that role. HeHe alrea took a turn as a spy in the Man from U.N.C.L.E. which played more like an audition for Bond rather than a competing franchise. There is also the possibility of a more physically demanding role, a la John Wick for Keanu Reeves. Cavill trains in BJJ and could do a lot of stunts in a very physical role. The fact is Cavill has created a lot of opportunities for himself should the DCEU close up shop.
But to wrap this up, I want to take you back to early 2013, before Man of Steel released, when all we had was a sample of Hans Zimmer’s score. This score still encapsulates the possibility, the grandeur, the hope, the Superman represents. If we ever get to see Man of Steel 2, I hope we get more of this score: