Warner Bros. doesn’t really know what to do with Superman. They tried going with a darker, more tortured take with Zack Snyder, but audience reception towards Man of Steel and Batman v Superman was mixed. This has left the character in an awkward limbo with no path forward unlike Batman who’s getting straight-up rebooted with Matt Reeves taking charge of the property and Robert Pattinson wearing the cape and cowl. They’re already getting Batman spinoffs lined-up! So what’s to be done about the Man of Tomorrow?
According to Variety, the studio is trying to “find a way to make Superman relevant to modern audiences” and have spoken with J.J. Abrams, which isn’t surprising, since Bad Robot recently signed a massive first-look deal with Warner Bros. What’s more surprising is that there was a meeting with Michael B. Jordan. The hangup there, as Variety reports, is that “Jordan isn’t ready to commit to taking on the project since filming doesn’t seem likely to happen for several years and he has a full dance card of projects. Insiders think that a new Superman film is unlikely to hit screens before 2023, given that there’s no script and no director attached.”
Henry Cavill says he hasn’t given up the role, but it should be noted if the next Superman movie doesn’t arrive until 2023, that will be a six-year gap between Justice League and this untitled feature, and Warners is clearly looking for a fresh start. Cavill may be stuck as a sad footnote who could have excelled as the character but the studio didn’t really know what to do with him.
The notion that Superman would be irrelevant to modern audience is short-sighted and silly. We’ve already seen with Captain America that when you have an incredibly moral character, the best dramatic way forward is to test that morality. Furthermore, Superman, with his wealth of powers, doesn’t need to be so Earthbound. There are intergalactic adventures you could tell with the character as he goes to different planets and encounters different foes.
While casting Jordan as Superman would be a bold and exciting move, I don’t expect Warners to follow through on it. They’d be too skittish about backlash and I think they’ll go for something safer like driving a dumptruck of money up to Abrams’ house and begging him to take on the project with his hefty dose of nostalgia and mystery. Abrams will then probably recast the role with an up-and-coming young white actor and we’ll see if Superman can finally take off.