J.J. Abrams made some news a few months ago when we found out he was getting into the superhero game. Warner Bros. and DC Film made the announcement that they would be rebooting Superman on the big screen and it would likely be a black actor in the role. This was going to be a full timeline reset from what we’ve seen in the Justice League arm of the franchise. With news starting to trickle in around this new project The Hollywood Reporter has it that while Abrams is on to produce the film, he won’t direct. The studio is looking for a black director to get behind the lens with Abrams just staying on as producer.
This new Superman movie will be a completely different look and story for the character, a chance for DC to start anew and continue its distancing, in some ways, from those who took part in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. It’s not across-the-board changes, but there will be plenty of pivots here. With J.J., Abrams on as executive producer, they’ve also hired Ta-Nehisi Coates to pen the script. According to The Hollywood Reporter, that won’t be finished until the end of the year, so we are still very much in a wait-and-see mode around how this story will unfold.
But the news that J.J. Abrams would hire a black director isn’t at all a surprise. This has seemingly been the path for the film ever since it was announced. With Coates on to write the script, the studio was fairly clear from the outset that they intended to bring a different version of Superman to the big screen. Speculation has been that it will be the Calvin Ellis timeline from the pages of DC Comics. In an alternate timeline, Ellis is the actual Kal-El with all the same abilities and powers. Except in this one, he’s become President of the United States.
Who J.J. Abrams brings on to direct this next Superman movie remains to be seen. The report suggests folks like Ryan Coogler, Barry Jenkins, Regina King, Steven Caple Jr., or Shaka King could be in the running right now. There’s also the question of who will play the part. Michael B. Jordan denied he would be getting into the red cape even though that casting had been heavily rumored from the beginning. We know, nearly for certain, that it won’t be Henry Cavill returning to the role.
Superman, as a character, is desperate for a reset and has been someone DC has struggled with over the last couple of iterations. Both Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill looked the part, but there was a definitive lack of humanness in each with both solo movies coming in as relatively disappointing when it was all said and done. There’s a chance to completely redefine the character on the big screen and the timing couldn’t be better. In this way, having someone like J.J. Abrams on board, along with Coates, brings some confidence they tell a great story this time around.
Time will tell who J.J. Abrams brings in to direct this new Superman movie, but it is sure to be an event when it eventually hits the big screen. A new version of the character and the chance to tell a completely new story around one of the most iconic characters ever.