A brand new Justice League trailer arrived over the weekend, offering us a new look at the DC Extended Universe team-up movie—basically Warner Bros.’ answer to Marvel’s The Avengers—but there was one conspicuous absence: Superman. Indeed, the Man of Steel bit the dust at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in a sacrificial move against the villain Doomsday, and as if BvS wasn’t dour enough, the whole thing ending with a funeral for Henry Cavill’s Superman.
But what’s a Justice League movie without Superman? We know that Cavill is part of the cast of the Zack Snyder-helmed team-up film, and some set photos showed a curious new outfit for the Superman character. So he’s coming back in some form, we just don’t exactly know the how or why and it appears that WB’s gameplan is to keep us guessing for the foreseeable future.
However, in a new interview with USA Today discussing that new Justice League trailer, Snyder addressed the elephant in the room and revealed that Superman’s death was always planned to be the inciting incident for Justice League:
“It was always a super-intriguing concept to me to have this opportunity to have him make that sacrifice but also have him be this, in a weird sort of way, the why of Justice League: What do you do now with him? What does the team think? What does the world need? All that comes into play. It’s fun for us but it’ll be interesting for audiences what we do with him.”
Indeed, Superman’s death is very much what spurs Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne and Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman to assemble the Justice League in the first place, as they both know Doomsday was merely the beginning and bigger threats loom ahead. And without their most valuable teammate Superman in the fold, they need Ezra Miller’s Flash, Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and Ray Fisher’s Cyborg to help battle the alien antagonist Steppenwolf.
Speaking about the expanded ensemble, Snyder singled out a surprising character as the heart of the film:
“You have Jason stomping around as this inked hairy man, just this mythic figure. And you’ve got Ezra, who’s full of life and hilarious and all over the place and amazing — a really fun and also poignant Flash. And Ray’s story is in a lot of the ways the heart of the movie.”
I’m still quite dubious about the mechanics of the DCEU—Justice League has enough on its plate aside from introducing and building a connection with the audience for The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg. Marvel Studios had a series of standalone films that served to fully flesh their characters out before personalities clashed, but I’m afraid Justice League will suffer some of the same overstuffed/underdeveloped problems that plagued Batman v Superman. There’s only so much real estate in a single feature film, so Snyder has a tall order in getting audiences to fall in love with these new characters in the midst of all this story and conflict. And then there’s the Superman of it all.
We’ll see if he pulls it off soon enough, but as Snyder says here there’s another character that has to be addressed: Superman. How are you feeling about Justice League folks? Optimistic? Pessimistic? Cautiously optimistic? Sound off in the comments below.