Yesterday brought another shocking announcement about the future of the DC cinematic universe that had all of social media talking.
James Gunn, co-chair and co-CEO of DC Studios for Warner Bros., announced on his Twitter page that he and fellow DC Studios chief/CEO, Peter Safran, will be sharing information next month about what they have planned for the upcoming slate of movies and television shows for the DCU. The good news is that one of those projects will be a Superman movie. The bad news is that Henry Cavill will not be involved, as this upcoming Superman movie that Gunn is writing the screenplay for, will be focused on a younger version of the character. Which means that Cavill’s days of playing the Man of Steel are officially over.
From Gunn’s Twitter page, where he also answered a few questions as to what can be expected from this new version of Superman:
Among those on the slate is Superman. In the initial stages, our story will be focusing on an earlier part of Superman's life, so the character will not be played by Henry Cavill.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) December 15, 2022
No way. https://t.co/BC8dLwfblV— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) December 15, 2022
Met with Ben yesterday precisely because he wants to direct & we want him to direct; we just have to find the right project. https://t.co/Haz1APdlVN— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) December 15, 2022
Henry Cavill confirmed the news on his Instagram page that same evening.
So, there you have it. Despite Cavill’s return in the mid-credits scene for Black Adam; despite Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson stating how important it was for both fans and for the future of the DCU to get Cavill off of the bench and have him suit up once more as the Big Blue Boy Scout; despite Cavill posting on Instagram back in October after Black Adam’s opening weekend that he was happy to finally be back as Superman, and how he was looking forward to portraying him in more films for Warner Bros.? Gunn has officially put a stop to all of that, and made it clear that he’s hitting the Reset button when it comes to Superman, as he and Safran now have something completely different planned for the DCU in the years to come. He also let the world know that he’s interested in keeping Affleck around to be involved with DC Studios, if not to continue playing Batman, but to possibly be in the director’s chair for a DCU film that hasn’t been announced to the public yet.
Gunn has been at work on the new Superman story for some time, insiders say. The script will focus on the character’s life as a cub reporter in the fictional city of Metropolis. Audiences will encounter him meeting key characters, like colleague Lois Lane, insiders added. Additionally, Variety sources said the new Gunn project will not replace the previously announced J.J. Abrams-Ta-Nehisi Coates Superman concept (which is still in active development).
It was announced last year that writer Ta-Nehisi Coates was working on a J.J. Abrams-produced Superman film, which would feature not Clark Kent as Superman, but a Black version of the character, and that it would most likely be either Calvin Ellis or Val-Zod, with the hope that he would be played by Michael B. Jordan. Since this news was first announced, fans not only expressed their lack of interest in seeing a Superman film without Henry Cavill in the lead, but also expressed massive doubt that this project would even happen, and saw it as another lie concocted by The Powers That Be over at Warner Bros. to direct the public’s attention elsewhere. Much like how they announced that Jason Momoa would be starring in a live-action version of Frosty the Snowman when there was no truth to that whatsoever.
The news of Cavill’s sudden exit from the role of Superman/Clark Kent hit social media with the force of a punch from the Man of Steel himself. From the most ride-or-die fans of the DCU, to those with very little love for the cinematic universe, but who still enjoyed Cavill’s portrayal of the character, they were in utter disbelief that his time as Superman had come to such an abrupt end. For this to happen right after he expressed his joy of playing Superman again in sequels to Man of Steel that would allow him to embrace being the symbol of hope and optimism that he was encouraged to be in Zack Snyder’s Justice League. What made this situation even worse is that Cavill was expected to return as Superman in the DCU after his unexpected announcement that he was leaving the Netflix series The Witcher, and would no longer be playing Geralt of Rivia, resulting in Liam Hemsworth taking over as the series lead.
Yes, there were other reasons behind Cavill quitting the show (apparently, there have been rumors that Cavill was increasingly dissatisfied with the quality of the writing, and how it continued to deviate from the original source material in ways that made things worse instead of better), but to see him lose out on not one, but two great roles? All because Gunn and Safran suddenly decided to change course, and reboot not just Superman, but possibly the entire DC cinematic universe?
The levels of anger and disappointment that have been shown and expressed on social media since the news broke would make Zod’s murderous rampage at the end of Man of Steel look like a kitten attacking a scratching post.
So many opinions were expressed on Twitter about not just Cavill no longer playing Superman, but about James Gunn being the one who would be writing this newest Superman film. The general consensus, according to those tweets?
1) Gunn is making a terrible mistake in not letting Cavill continue playing Superman, especially when it’s clear for so long how much he loves playing the character and wants to keep doing so.
2) Gunn is still a terrible choice to be the person in charge of calling the shots and making creative decisions for DC Studios.
3) Gunn has destroyed any and all remaining enthusiasm for not just whatever he and Safran have planned with their own slate of projects for DC Studios, but for all of the DC films scheduled to open in theaters next year: Shazam: Fury of the Gods, The Flash, Blue Beetle, and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom. If Gunn and Safran have no intention of respecting or acknowledging whatever happens in these films, and will possibly just reboot and recast everything afterward, then why should the public care anything at all about these films, and about this cinematic universe? And if the majority of the public sees no point in going to theaters to pay hard-earned money for these films (more so after coming across the negative buzz that will now trail each of these films), then it will simply result in the same kind of box-office disappointment that unfortunately affected Black Adam.
4) Despite how much people really love the Guardians of the Galaxy films and The Suicide Squad, Gunn doesn’t have the range to write a Superman film worth watching. Especially if it’s going to have the same tone, sense of humor, and characterization of those films, along with his need to add constant needle drops from beginning to end.
5) Gunn is hitting the Reset button on Superman so he can leave Henry Cavill’s (and Zack Snyder’s) version of the character behind once and for all, and give people a version of Superman that is more like the late Richard Donner’s 1978 film which starred the late Christopher Reeve, as if that is the only Superman adaptation worthy of acknowledgment. A Superman who smiles all of the time, who rescues cats from trees, who gives inspirational speeches and platitudes 24/7, and who is never viewed as dealing with any complex issues or thoughts, or any doubts about himself and his role as a superhero.
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with Superman doing any of those things. But for years, there have been constant debates online about how too many people act as gatekeepers who don’t like to see Superman having problems and experiencing any doubts about himself for any reason, but just want him to be an exact carbon copy of how Reeve played Superman in an exact carbon copy of Donner’s Superman film. Much like how fans of Ted Lasso have stated that they love both the show and the character for being positive and feel-good, and for reminding us that there is some good in the world. All of which is true, but much of that is often said while ignoring that Ted Lasso (the show and the character) is not happy and positive all of the time, and deals with some intense sh-t, from divorce to suicide to feelings of abandonment, toxic masculinity, and especially toxic positivity. Ted Lasso and Superman are not Mister Rogers, and even Mister Rogers spoke to his young viewers about what to do with the mad that they feel.
But there were also those on social media whose feelings about this Superman reboot were far more positive. They weren’t entirely happy with Cavill’s exit, but acknowledged that decisions like these were all being made to create a version of the DC cinematic universe (and to create a cohesive plan for said universe) that would be just as satisfying and entertaining for critics and audiences as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And after seeing Gunn’s past work as a writer and director (especially with his films for both Marvel and DC), he had their utmost confidence in making that happen.
This news came a couple of days after Wonder Woman and Wonder Woman 1984 director/co-writer Patty Jenkins used her own Twitter page to set the record straight regarding all of the recent headlines of how she walked away from making Wonder Woman 3 because she, Gunn, and Safran didn’t see eye-to-eye about her script treatment that she co-wrote with Wonder Woman 1984 co-writer Geoff Johns. (Yes, that Geoff Johns.)
Which was then followed by Gunn responding to her tweet.
I can attest that all of Peter and my interactions with you were only pleasant and professional.— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) December 14, 2022
Fans also wondered what Cavill no longer returning as Superman would mean for the rest of the DCU, and whether there was any truth to the rumors that are still floating around. Is Jason Momoa being replaced as Aquaman so he can go on to play Lobo instead? Will Gal Gadot continue to play Wonder Woman in a third film for another director, or will she be replaced as well because Wonder Woman 3 still isn’t happening? Are the rumored cameos of Gadot in Shazam: Fury of the Gods and Ben Affleck in Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom going to be removed from the films before their release? What does this mean for…every other actor and character in the DCU, including John Cena as Peacemaker, who has starred in Gunn’s most recent contributions to the DCU, and especially for Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, who had pinned his hopes on both him and Cavill being important parts of the DCU going forward? How many other actors will be told that they’ll no longer be expected to reprise their roles because they don’t fit into the upcoming slate for DC Studios? Amy Adams, Diane Lane, Laurence Fishburne, and Jesse Eisenberg will no longer be returning to play Lois Lane, Martha Kent, Perry White, and Lex Luthor now that Cavill’s time as Superman is over, so who else will be having meetings with Gunn and Safran to be told that their services will no longer be needed?
These possible recastings also raised the question on Twitter: How much diversity will be there in the actors who are chosen as replacements? Will there be any projects starring and directed by women like what most fans were hoping to get with Zatanna, Black Canary, and Gotham City Sirens? Will Momoa, for example, really be replaced as Aquaman by some traditionally blonde-haired, blue-eyed actor all in the name of comics accuracy? The casting choices for Aquaman, Perry White, Black Canary, Deadshot, and Iris West are just some of the reasons why the DCU has (or had) such devoted fans. But if future casting choices end up being made largely to make the f-ckboys and Pick-Mes of Get Woke-Go Broke Twitter feel good, then congratulations to Gunn and Safran on finding another way to dampen any enthusiasm.
We can only imagine how angry and disappointed Cavill must be feeling after losing the roles of both Superman and Geralt of Rivia (and there were several people who pointed out that Cavill’s statement on Instagram didn’t seem nearly as hopeful and enthusiastic about his future with DC Studios as Gunn’s statement on Twitter), but it hasn’t stopped fans from hoping that Cavill will rebound from this, and appear in other genre properties they think he’d be perfect for. He’s still attached to Chad Stahelski’s remake of Highlander, though there hasn’t been any recent development on that project, which has left people wondering if it’s even going to be made. And there has been a running joke on social media about how Cavill would be a really great choice to play Doctor Doom in the upcoming Fantastic Four movies. (I do love the idea of this particular Doctor Doom fancast, even though it will never happen, but a brother can still dream.) But of course, the role that most fans think Cavill should be considered for is none other than James Bond.
Especially since it looks more and more unlikely that we will ever get a sequel to The Man From U.N.C.L.E.. You know, for reasons. Excuse me for one moment.
(deep, heavy, Negro spiritual sigh)
By the time you read this, there will probably be an actual response to this news on social media from The Rock (who will try to be as calm and friendly and diplomatic with whatever he tweets). There will probably be more tweets from James Gunn where he explains that he understands how DC fans are feeling and that he’s doing everything he can to make sure that this slate of upcoming DC projects will be worth the wait. And there will definitely be a lot more tweets that continue to be shared under the hashtags #BoycottWB, #ThankYouHenryCavill, and #FireJamesGunn, as you already know that the DCU fandom (much like the fandoms for Marvel, Star Wars, Star Trek, Taylor Swift, Nicki Minaj, and Beyoncé) is a loud and passionate fandom, in ways that are good, bad, and incredibly ugly.
Because — and you already know what I’m about to say next — there really is never a dull moment when it comes to the
Shazam: Fury of the Gods opens in theaters March 17, 2023; The Flash opens June 16, 2023, Blue Beetle opens August 18, 2023; and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom opens December 25, 2023.