Well this is an unfortunate bit of news—Henry Cavill is no longer Superman. The actor turned heads last week when he signed on for the lead role in the upcoming Netflix fantasy series The Witcher. How could he be a series regular lead on a major TV series and also play Superman in the DCEU, fans asked. There were certainly many scenarios where it would have been possible to juggle both, but it appears Cavill’s decision to join the series was made with the knowledge that his DC Films duties are likely coming to an end.
Per THR, Cavill’s parting of ways seems to have come down to contract negotiations. The actor was in talks to shoot a cameo in the upcoming Shazam!, but negotiations between Cavill’s reps and Warner Bros. broke down and the studio has now shifted its focus to a Supergirl movie, which could effectively sideline Cavill’s Superman. THR cites comics lore here, in that Supergirl will be an origin story so that would mean Superman himself would be an infant—but comics fidelity isn’t that necessary in big screen adaptations, and there certainly are scenarios in which a workaround could have arisen to have both Cavill’s adult Superman and a younger Supergirl in the same DCEU.
Indeed, this smells of bigger issues happening behind the scenes. THR doesn’t have much more information, but does cite conflicting sources—one says the Shazam! deal broke down due to scheduling problems (nevermind the fact that The Witcher hasn’t even finished casting yet), while another says Cavill took the Witcher role after his reps and WB reached an impasse on his contract.
For Warner Bros.’ part, they released the following statement shortly after THR (a respected outlet, mind you) broke the news:
“While no decisions have been made regarding any upcoming Superman films, we’ve always had great respect for and a great relationship with Henry Cavill, and that remains unchanged.”
Regardless, there is a slight possibility this could all turn around. It wouldn’t be the first time that contract negotiations have gone public, only for a deal to finally be hammered out. A similar impasse occurred on Mission: Impossible – Fallout with Tom Cruise, as Paramount shut down pre-production when it appeared Cruise’s team and the studio wouldn’t be coming to a deal.
But of course the DCEU is its own beast. Warner Bros. has been trying for years to launch their own DC Films universe in the vein of Marvel Studios’ successful model, but mixed-to-poor reactions and disappointing box office on films like Justice League and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made that difficult. Ben Affleck is already reportedly out as Batman, with director Matt Reeves rebooting the character for the upcoming The Batman, and so Cavill’s exit wouldn’t be a huge surprise.
It would be a shame, though. Cavill’s shown terrific talent in films like Fallout and The Man from U.N.C.L.E., and it’s clear he hasn’t yet been given the opportunity to reach his full potential as the Man of Steel. Many fans were hoping a new standalone Superman movie would fix that, with Matthew Vaughn eyed to direct, but THR notes that the Man of Steel sequel is still “several years” away and cites a source saying that WB is looking to hit the “reset” button on the parts of the DCEU that didn’t work. I think it’s unfair to rope Cavill into that part of the equation, but so it goes.
Still remaining are Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, who leads her own sequel Wonder Woman 1984 that’s currently in production, and Ezra Miller’s The Flash whose standalone film is finally looking to start shooting next year with John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein directing. There are plenty more DC films in the works, but alas, it sounds like fans holding out hope for Man of Steel 2 are now out of luck.
What do you think folks? Do you think replacing Superman was the right call, or should WB have stuck with Cavill? Sound off in the comments below.