Fans and critics often don’t agree, and a perfect example is the question of Henry Cavill’s best movie. In spite of Superman proving to be one of Cavill’s signature characters, critics don’t put any of the films in which he plays the Man of Steel in even his top five. Judging by the aggregate scores on Rotten Tomatoes, critics name 2018’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout — with a near perfect score of 97% — as Cavill’s best. After that comes 2020’s Enola Holmes, the 2003 rom-com I Capture the Castle, 2007’s star-studded fantasy Stardust, and 2002’s The Count of Monte Cristo. But we’re not here to talk about the critics’ favorite, but the fans’. While, judging by RT’s audience scores, the fans agree all those movies are good ones, their top pick is the one that almost never happened — 2021’s Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
After directing both 2013’s Man of Steel and 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Zack Snyder was ready to bring DC Comics’s most iconic superhero team to the big screen. The director was forced to leave the production after a family tragedy and the now disgraced writer/director Joss Whedon stepped in to take over. The Justice League that hit theaters in 2017 was one that few liked, and in the years that followed more and more came out about not only the alleged abuse the cast suffered at Whedon’s hands, but the seismic changes to Snyder’s vision that were helmed by his replacement. A social media fan campaign refused to die, and eventually Warner Bros. offered a surprising amount of money, resources, and freedom to Snyder so that Zack Snyder’s Justice League could help with the launch of the then new streaming platform HBO Max.
What the fans call Henry Cavill’s best movie lets you know right away that you won’t be watching anything like what hit theaters in 2017. Rather than opening with the now infamous reshoot with an embarrassing CGI cover-up of Cavill’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout mustache, Zack Snyder’s Justice League opens with Superman’s death scream waking up the Mother Boxes across the Earth. We don’t see Cavill a lot in the beginning of the film, though we are treated to a restored and extended battle sequence between the ancient forces of Earth (and beyond) and those of the single-minded Darkseid. Atlanteans, Themyscirans, a member of the Green Lantern Corps, and even literal gods fight back the invasion.
Among some of the more memorable differences between Zack Snyder’s Justice League and the theatrical mess of 2017 is that Henry Cavill — as originally planned — forgoes the classic red-and-blue for a black version of his suit. While this is never explicitly mentioned in the film, the practical reason for the suit — assuming it’s similar to that of the source material — is to more aggressively absorb the radiation of the yellow sun. When he first dons the outfit in the comics, it’s shortly after his regeneration following the classic Death of Superman storyline. Coming back from the dead, naturally, leaves the guy not completely at full power.
Part of what no doubt makes Zack Snyder’s Justice League Henry Cavill’s best movie in a lot of fans’ minds is the famous “Knightmare” sequence toward the end of the film, in which we get a picture of what Snyder had planned for future installments. In a post-apocalyptic future we see a ragtag group made up of Batman, the Flash, Amber Heard’s Mera, Joe Manganiello’s Deathstroke, and most memorably Jared Leto’s Joker. It’s the only cinematic appearance of Leto’s version of the character beyond 2016’s Suicide Squad and the only chance fans have gotten to see him and Ben Affleck’s Batman share a scene. Superman eventually arrives, of course, but he’s not the Man of Steel we all know and love.
Will Henry Cavill get to return to his best movie role? He wants to do it and so do the fans. It doesn’t take much searching on Twitter to find fans now campaigning for Warner Bros. to “Restore the Snyder-Verse.” When Dwayne Johnson talked smack about a hypothetical cinematic throw-down between Superman and Black Adam, plenty of fans used the opportunity to try to get The Rock on their side to bring back Snyder’s vision. And when talking about it with The Hollywood Reporter in November, Cavill expressed frustration with the lack of news about his return to the role. He said he felt there was a lot more stories for his version of the Man of Steel to tell. The good news is that he made it clear that if he every does get the call, “As I always say, ‘The cape is still in the closet.'”