What keeps you up at night: UFOs observing us in our sleep, or whether or not Henry Cavill is done playing Superman? If you would sooner have fictional aliens in the box office over the remote possibility of life on other planets, then the answer is clear. Is Warner Bros. done with Cavill, the same way executives have recently cut cords with Zack Snyder, or is Cavill himself no longer aligned with DC and the company’s creative decisions going forward? We know Snyder would keep churning out more Superman movies with Cavill taking the lead if he could. We also know Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson is openly campaigning for more Snyderverse films featuring Henry Cavill. It was once widely reported that Cavill signed on to play Clark Kent in three more Warner Bros. films — punctuated by the Jersey native confirming in an exclusive interview with Men’s Health that “the cape is in the closet” and “still” his — but now we’re not so sure.
If WarnerMedia CEO Ann Sarnoff’s recent Variety interview is proof enough, the studio has already distanced itself from Zack Snyder following the small-screen release of his four-hour cut of Justice League, and likely, Henry Cavill’s Superman along with it. In fact, Warner Bros. is already developing a new iteration featuring a black Superman, so where does that leave Cavill?
SmallScreen’s Edward Lauder calls for calm and postulates Henry Cavill is indeed still Superman. Lauder has collected enough reports about the nature of the franchise going forward to conclude Warner Bros.’s new black Man of Steel is an Elseworlds character that has nothing to do with Snyder’s Clark Kent. Much like Todd Phillips’s Joker, this version of the Kryptonian is set in a different universe as Henry Cavill’s. He’s not a replacement. So, whether or not the black Superman is Clark Kent or the Calvin Ellis iteration of the character is irrelevant. Lauder reminds the fanbase that unless Warner Bros. kills off Superman — which it hasn’t — or openly recasts Cavill, the English actor remains our one and only DC Extended Universe Clark Kent.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the J.J. Abrams-produced black Superman film “appears to be moving onto its own track and won’t be part of the universe,” at least not right now. DC insider Syl Abdul seconds this report. Henry Cavill himself asserts his Superman still has plenty of movies left in him. He tells Men’s Health: “I’m not just going to sit quietly in the dark as all this stuff is going on. 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.”
Of course, this is all one person’s guided assessment; it’s hardly news, so take it with a massive grain of salt. Thing is, Henry Cavill may no longer be involved in any further DC adaptations with Zack Snyder absent from the helm. These two are practically married at the hip. Snyder made Cavill’s Clark Kent the iconic masterwork he is now and without Snyder, who knows what sort of Superman Cavill may end up portraying? Perhaps a cheerier kind, modelled after Christopher Reeve’s red and blue boy scout, or a total psychopath with despotic tendencies, similar to the Injustice Superman? The old Cavill Supes may finally be dead in the water with Snyder no longer involved.
Not only that, in show business, alternate-reality versions of the same character are only ever one-timers for as long as the film performs poorly critically and at the box office. Just look at Andrew Garfield’s version of Spider-Man. It was a perfectly charming interpretation of the wallcrawler, but it tanked so he got rebooted. The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s MJ, played by the delightful Zendaya, received great praise from fans and critics despite the clear departure from the comic book character, hence Disney kept her. The bad news: while Henry Cavill’s performance as the Last Son of Krypton received (and continues to receive) universal acclaim, his movies flatlined critically and financially.
The fragmented response to Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice emboldened the studio to adopt an entirely new vision away from Zack Snyder. Man of Steel 2 was one of many casualties. Given that Cavill’s DC films — minus the Snyder cut of Justice League — haven’t done so well, it’s unlikely for Warner Bros. to authorize more movies with him as Clark Kent. So, if the studio’s upcoming black Superman movie earns better than Man of Steel, executives may no longer choose to keep Henry Cavill on board.
Nonetheless, there can definitely be several versions of the same character at any given time, if Andy Muschietti’s The Flash and Matt Reeves’s The Batman are any indication. The Flash features two Batmen, Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton, from two different timelines. We already know Robert Pattinson’s Bruce Wayne comes from an alternate Earth himself. The Flash movie is obviously Affleck’s long-overdue swan song from the franchise, which is regrettable but at least we know for sure he’s out. Warner Bros. may still want Henry Cavill for one more film and that’s it.
Until the studio definitively announces the 38-year-old is gone from the franchise for good, there’s no reason to assume Henry Cavill and Warner Bros. are officially broken up. We presumed the same with Ben Affleck — and Zack Snyder’s Justice League — and yet here we are. Anything is possible. Warner Bros. is presumably still at a crossroads regarding the characters Zack Snyder originated; the only reason Cavill’s Superman is on the rocks is because Warner Bros. is officially divorcing from Snyder. It’s like enduring a bad breakup and wanting to get rid of items both you and your ex owned, not because that one action figure they bought notably wronged you, but because the memories are painful. It’s death (or in this case, outright execution) by association. The fact that there are no reports definitively ruling Henry Cavill out proves Warner Bros. is still undecided. If they are done with him, the Internet will surely be the first to know.
The black Superman movie is being produced by Bad Robot, a film company owned by J.J. Abrams. Abrams was originally hired to direct the film, but was later scrapped as Warner Bros. reportedly found the idea “tone-deaf” to the growing concerns of the Black Lives Matter movement. The studio is presently scouting for a black director. Renowned author and journalist Ta-Nehisi Coates is penning the screenplay. It’s still in development, so the details of the plot remain unknown, much like the fate of Henry Cavill in the DC Universe.