Would you like to see Will Smith as Superman? While he reportedly turned down the role for the 2006 movie, Superman Returns, this never stops fans from wondering “What if?”.
A digital artist on Instagram, ApexForm, took this question and created a glimpse of what that DC Extended Universe Will Smith could have looked like.
In this black and white piece, we see Will Smith as Superman, looking like he’s carrying a lot of serious weight on his shoulders. While Smith has certainly handled heavy roles in movies like The Pursuit of Happyness, there’s no saying that’s where the story would have gone. While DCEU movies today are known for being on the darker side, there’s something to the idea of Will Smith playing a more smiley Clark Kent in Superman Returns. If he had, it raises the question of not only how well that movie would have done, but where the DCEU would be today.
Would there have been a sequel to Superman Returns? Would we have Henry Cavill in Man of Steel? What would have happened with Suicide Squad? Could Will Smith have changed the tone of the entire DC universe as we know it today?
Any good fan can take the “What if?” questions and extend them for days. A great piece of fanart can really get the conversation rolling.
So why didn’t Will Smith play Superman? Rumors say he turned down the role quickly, uncertain what a 2006 audience would have to say about a Black superhero, let alone a Black Superman. A couple years later, he took on the role of 2008’s Hancock. Playing an original character in Hancock was clearly different than playing one with a legacy like Superman. Hancock rocked the box office, grossing $629 million worldwide. Superman Returns grossed $391 million worldwide.
Today, Henry Cavill’s future as Superman has been put into question. The follow-up question to that is, of course, who would play Clark Kent next? Will Smith’s time has passed for that role, he has aged out of it. Now, many fans have brought Michael B. Jordan’s name into the mix. While he didn’t shoot the idea down, he did mention concerns about upsetting fans.
“I’m a fan of comic books, you know? I understand the fans being upset at… ‘Oh no, why are doing this and why are they changing that?’ I would feel the same way about certain things. So, just know, if I ever were to dabble in anything, it would be authentic and something that I feel like people would really support.”
The issue of changing an established character’s ethnicity is always hotly debated. The idea of Donald Glover playing Spider-Man is one that gets brought up often and is part of Glover’s stand-up.
We’ll never get to know what would have happened if Will Smith had played Superman in the 2006 movie. It is clear that turning down the role didn’t hurt his career. He’s been in many successful movies since then and still has a long list of upcoming releases. As much fun as it is to play the “What if?” game, and as great as the image of him in the cape is, it’s unlikely Smith has lost much sleep after turning the role down, considering how his career has gone since.