Superman has always been Clark Kent as far as most audiences are concerned. The familiar origin story and other certain trope have become second nature when it comes to people expecting certain things from stories centered around the Man of Steel. However, mainstream viewers are finally getting a taste of multiverses thanks to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s WandaVision and DC projects like the Arrowverse and the upcoming film The Flash. It seems like audiences are ready to expect very different takes on familiar characters. And it looks like that could be the case when the new version of Superman gets rebooted on the big screen.
Mikey Sutton of Geekosity is reporting that the Superman reboot being produced by J.J. Abrams – which hopes to land Michael B. Jordan in the lead – will not actually star the Clark Kent version of the iconic superhero. Instead, the cape will be worn by Calvin Ellis, an alternate version of the character that comes from the dimension known as Earth-23. In this reality, the Kryptonian origin is practically the same – the planet explodes and a single baby is able to survive thanks to being sent into space by his scientist parents – except that this version of Kal-El is names Kalel and he is taken in by the Ellis family instead of the Kents. And in the comic, Ellis has a very different trajectory than Clark Kent. Instead of being a reporter, Calvin Ellis eventually becomes the President of the United States and also performs his duties as Superman.
This would definitely be a very different kind of Superman than we have seen before in a major motion picture. Naturally, the decision to make this version of the hero a person of color should change some fundamentals about them. Just doing the same kind of story and character would not be a justifiable reason to change the character in such an important way. But, by doing the Calvin Ellis character, this would give the filmmakers a chance to do something extremely different that audiences would not expect to see. With the Clark Kent version of Superman being the only familiar version of the character for so many decades, bringing Calvin Ellis to the mainstream could deliver a totally different kind of experience.
If this sounds like it would not work because people aren’t familiar with Calvin Ellis as Superman, just look at how it worked out for Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse. That movie went a similar route with its lead character and ended up being one of the most celebrated superhero movies in recent years. Clearly, audiences are willing to accept a new take on a character if it does the due diligence to establish them on their own individual merits. There is no reason that the Calvin Ellis version of Superman could not signal a new era for the character and imprint himself on a new generation. This sounds like the best possible route for this new reboot to take. It would also leave the door open for Henry Cavill to return as Clark Kent since these characters would exist in different universes. Hopefully, we will hear some official confirmation about this very soon.