The Story Behind Henry Cavill’s Superman Casting

Published 4 years ago by , Updated January 31st, 2011 at 1:12 pm,

henry cavill as clark kent in superman man of steel The Story Behind Henry Cavills Superman Casting

Yesterday morning one of the biggest pieces of casting news for the year was made official by Warner Bros. They, along with director Zack Snyder, had finally come to a decision on the man who would down the iconic blue tights and red cape as the next Superman.

While you may not have come across the name of Henry Cavill amongst the commonly rumored names for the part of Clark Kent in Superman: Man of Steel, there’s good reason. The casting process was so secret that not even Cavill or his reps knew he was going to be picked until yesterday morning as well.

Apparently, Cavill was one of the top Superman choices by the studio for the role since day one, although they didn’t want to let him know that in an attempt to avoid any leaks and keep their intentions secret. One executive describes the type of Clark Kent Cavill can play in comparison to Brandon Routh and Christopher Reeve before him:

“He’s got an amazing quality. He doesn’t look too much like Reeve and Routh but he’s big and strong and he has a very modern feel to him. We’re really going to try and make Superman as contemporary as possible.”

What’s interesting about the selection of Henry Cavill as Superman, is that despite his young age of 27 years, he had previously tried out for the title role of Batman against Christian Bale for Christopher Nolan’s take on the franchise and against Daniel Craig for the part of  James Bond, but he was too young then for both parts. Not only did he test for those major Hollywood roles, but before Bryan Singer took the helm of Superman Returns, Cavill was a top contender for the role of a much younger Clark Kent for previous directors Brett Ratner and McG.

henry cavill superman the tudors The Story Behind Henry Cavills Superman Casting

Henry Cavill as Charles Brandon in The Tudors

Cavill beat out other contenders including the widely rumored Joe Manganiello (True Blood), Arnie Hammer (The Social Network) and Ian Somerhalder (The Vampire Diaries), but the actual other top choice was reportedly Matthew Goode who previously worked with Snyder as the villainous lead Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias in Watchmen.

Of UK descent, Cavill joins a potential Justice League roster that includes three non-Americans – a curious issue for some fans. Christian Bale also hailsl from the UK and Ryan Reynolds is Canadian. For us, it matters not where the lead actor is born, especially for roles like Superman, where the character is not even from our planet.

I’m all for the choice of Cavill and look forward to his “modern” take on the character.

[poll id=”118″]

Superman: Man of Steel is tentatively set for a December 2012 release date.

Follow us on Twitter @rob_keyes and @screenrant.

Sources: Deadline, THR

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  1. “We’re really going to try and make Superman as contemporary as possible.”

    Well that says it all doesnt it? Didnt they try and do that with Superman Returns and ended up making the character far too human.
    Superman isnt a contemporary character, his character never changes, that is the point. A point I fully expected Zack Snyder and David Goyer to miss.

    Cavill is interesting casting. But so far, he is the only interesting thing in the entire project.

    And if anyone mentions Chris Nolan!…

    • Well yes, Beckett, I agree Superman is supposed to be a timeless figure, but there have been some great stories written in recent years that also make him very timely.

      “All-Star Superman” is a very great modern take on the character, As is “Birthright”.

      • I have both of those at home, All Star Superman is one of my all time favourite stories for the character.

        But the esscence of his character has to stay the same.

    • DSB….CHRIS NOLAN!!!!! Sorry I had to lol it’s the evil kid in me I guess muhahahaha

      • There’s an evil kid in you? I’d go and see a doctor about that if I were you.

        • Haha gross…

        • Ha! You’re a funny man Sam

        • if this were facebook i would like that comment XD

    • (“We’re really going to try and make Superman as contemporary as possible.” Well that says it all doesnt it? Didnt they try and do that with Superman Returns and ended up making the character far too human.)

      When was Superman Returns contemporary or modern? SR brought nothing new to the table and was a total rehash of Donner’s work from 1978 with boring Lex with his stupid real estate schemes. This generation needs a more bad-ass Superman with new Super-villains. Brainac, Evil Bizzaro, Cyborg, Lobo, Doomsday and Darksied, Kalibak, Mongul needs to enter in the Superman franchise.

      I am glad and I want Nolan and Snyder to keep elements from JMS super successful graphic novel “Earth One:Superman” and Mark Waid’s “Birthright”

      • Well, it was hardly a rehash of Donner’s films, mainly because it was a sequel to those films, so some tranfered themes is quite likely.
        And the jealous, bordering on stalker Superman? Was that not an update of the character?….

        You want a bad ass Superman? There’s far more to Superman than fighting, if you are familiar at all with the character you should know that.
        And while both Birthright and Earth One are great books, they are both origin storys, and Superman’s story has to be one of the most well known on the planet. It’s up there with Jesus Christ as one of the most famous fictional origins of all time.

      • Brought nothing new? Did you even watch the film? How about the most controvercial plot points in the Superman franchise – the kid.

        Whether you liked it or not, Returns cannot be accused of “bringing nothing new to the table”.

  2. Does anyone know how many more Bond films Craig is attached to? Although he is only 42 he isn’t aging very well, how old was the oldest actor to portray Bond? I could see Cavill taking over the role in about 8 years. I’m pretty excited about Cavill’s casting, hope he does well!

    • He’s contracted for 4 films, so he has 2 left to make. Personally, I think Tom Hardy should take over after Craig.

      When last playing Bond;

      Connery was 53
      Moore was 57
      Dalton was 42
      Brosnan was 49
      So Craig will be 48 maybe when he hangs up his frown.

      • wow..i never thought of Hardy as Bond..that’s genius right there

      • Always thought Clive Owen would make a great 007 but by the time Craig finishes up, he’ll be too old as well … pity

        • Clive Owen was offered the role before it went to Craig, but he would only commit to doing 2 films and he wanted a percentage of their profits as well as his fee. Hugh Jackman was also considered before Craig was offered the role.

  3. Craziness, I was just watching Tudors and thought, “he’d make a good superman…”

  4. I think Cavill is a good fit for Superman. He certainly got my attention while watching The Tudors that’s for sure!

    I would not have minded Tom Wellig playing Superman on the big screen though. To many of us, he’s been Superman for the past ten years…

    • Welling was never going to get the role sadly, but I agree, to my generation he IS Superman.

      • Did I spell his last name wrong? arg. But anyway yeah I knew he was never going to get the role due to the storyline going so awry of the comic storyline but still….

  5. are you joking or being serious?

    • Uhh I sadly think she is being serious Sam.

      • yes, how…unfortunate.

        • i love how more then half of them are in a tween series/tv movie/movies

  6. Well technically Cavill is a rising young actor. If you haven’t seen The Tudors, you pretty much don’t know who he is (though he’s been in a few other things).

    I don’t think LaBeouf would fit at all, Efron’s name would outshadow the character, plus he’s still too ‘young’ for the part.

    Had to look up the rest and my opinion: Yelchin – I don’t think he’d fit, too young-looking for one. Westwick – Hrm. He does look like a possible Superman. Badgely – A maybe. He’d have to beef up a lot. Looks a little young. Dekker – doesn’t look like Superman to me. Crawford – maybe. He does have a ‘Superman’ look to him. Lafferty – although very cute, he doesn’t have that ‘look’ in my opinion.

    The best fit I think from your list would be Westwick. Superman is an iconic figure. He’s been on our screens since what? the 40s? And there are certain features the public expects to see as when we picture Superman. The V chestline. The curl on the forehead. The piercing blue eyes. The square jaw.

    That picture SR has up there of Cavill is a good example really.

    Side note to SR: I haven’t been doing much but reading the site for some time. When I highlighted those names and got the ‘Learn More’ I was very impressed! Thumbs up, Vic!

    • Shia LaBeouf as Superman is one of the craziest casting suggestions I have ever heard!
      But, I could see Zac Effron taking on a superhero role at some point in his career.

      • …like one of the Wonder Twins….

        • lol

        • Thanks for the laugh! That was great. You meant being cast as the monkey, right?

        • The female one..

      • Mmmmm, yes…a disco-loving superhero in a Tony Manero suit and polyester cape, who meringues and cha-chas his enemies into submission to the beat of The Bee Gees and Miami Sound Machine:

        Faster than a speeding bullet! More powerful than a locomotive! Able to leap tall buildings in a single bound!

        “Look, up in the sky!”
        “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!”
        “It’s BoogieMan!”

        Yes, it’s BoogieMan, strange visitor from another part of town, who came to the ‘hood with powers and dance moves far beyond those of mortal men…BoogieMan, who can change the course of singles-bar hookups, bend truth with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Troy Bolton, mild-mannered former hoops legend for a once-great Disneyfied high-school, fights a never-ending battle for babes, brewskis, and the discotheque way.

        • Sorry…forgot to fully edit:

          Mmmmm, yes…a disco-loving superhero in a Tony Manero suit and polyester cape, who meringues and cha-chas his enemies into submission to the beat of The Bee Gees and Miami Sound Machine:

          Faster than a Latino rhythm track! More powerful than Bod cologne! Able to leap dance partners with a running start and a good crosswind!

          “Look, up in the sky!”
          “It’s a bird!” “It’s a plane!”
          “It’s BoogieMan!”

          Yes, it’s BoogieMan, strange visitor from another part of town, who came to the ‘hood with powers and dance moves far beyond those of mortal men…BoogieMan, who can change the course of singles-bar hookups, bend truth with his bare hands, and who, disguised as Troy Bolton, mild-mannered former hoops legend for a once-great Disneyfied high-school, fights a never-ending battle for babes, brewskis, and the discotheque way.

          • I’d like to see a movie take on Astro City. They have a character called the Bouncing Beatnik. As far as I know he only had one appearance, but that’s an iconic name.

            • I would LOVE a Confessor film :)

              Samaritan would also be welcome…

              • Agreed! An Astro City Confessor film would be awesome. Kurt Busiek … are you talking to anyone about this???

  7. all those guys are too young and just not a good fits for the role

    • Too young and too short.

      • I hope that list wasn’t serious effron really labeouf dear god no

        Dsb I think hardy would make a great bond I would actually be interested to see that movie not the biggest bond fan

        • He’s been my top choice for a while, but when I saw him in Inception, that was when I really saw it.
          I would write a very different style of Bond film to the ones they have been cranking out lately, I have written a short draft script.

      • Isn’t Cavill around 28 and 6’1″? How is that too young and too short?


        • Hi Vic! Pretty sure he was commenting on Carla’s list.

        • I was, i didnt mean Cavill at all.

          • Oops. :)


            • Personally I think seeing who the ladies believe would embody the big “S” well is very interesting.

              • Hah well unfortunately, I’m not your typical ‘lady’. I am a guys’ girl: I play video games, prefer action movies, don’t watch Gossip Girl, etc… so my opinions would be similar to the guys’… though I would definitely lean toward the good actor that is also hot. One reason why I approve of Cavill :)

  8. Never heard nor saw the man in action, which makes it that much more interesting. He has a serious face, definitely looks like a Superman, now if he can act like one, it’ll be great.
    So far, so good.

  9. I think its a load of crap for them to say they kept it so “secret” that doesn’t even mean anything. Come on! I don’t have a problem with him being from the UK. I mean its typical of hollywood to cast like that. Downey Jr as Sherlock Holmes for example, an american portraying an English man.

    I don’t like the sound of MODERNISING. Comic book films need to think outside the book when it comes to their creating. Sometimes its not a BAD thing to reboot a series based on it origin e.i. place superman in the 50’s. Be creative. Its not really creative anymore modernising superheroes. It never was since the actual comics have had to do that themselves way before they were ever made into films.

    Why don’t we be realistic?

    I’m sure it will be better than superman returns (be hard not to).
    I do hope this film is good.
    I just get tired of hearing “MODERNISING” and crap like “we’ve had him at top choice since the beginning” if he was top choice, why did you wait so long to tell everyone? hmm.

    But hey, nothing against the actor himself, its just hollywood i’m sick of. We’ll just have to wait and see. I hated watchmen, or rather Snyder. I think he’s films have been boring and there’s an over use of style. Again my other major concern for this film. Be creative. it doesn’t have to be like batman, green lantern, or anything else. it can be its own thing. Especially if they wanted to do a Marvel and make a justice league. Super-man doesn’t age…could still be done.

    Okay…rant is over.

  10. I really don’t see what the issue is. Superman is Superman. The box office will show that, regardless of where the actor is from. I’ll wait until there’s actually something to criticize before getting up in arms about what may or may not be terrible.

  11. A literal shudder ran through me as I read Ian Somerhalder. Not that I don’t like him… on the contrary. I would hate my great affection of him to be marred in any way by a superhero movie. Thank God for Henry Caviill.

  12. I cant see Ozzymandus being Superman…But I like the pick, lets see who else (hopefully Viggo,McAdams, and Pearlman)

    • Yeah thank goodness they didn’t get the dude who played Ozymandius! I didn’t even like him for THAT role!

      Love R. McAdams so I wouldn’t get upset seeing her as LL.

    • That’s my dream cast list alright.

  13. I see WB has decided to fail on an epic scale.

    • How do you figure???

  14. Well now that he’s cast, here’s a good idea.

    Michael Fassenberg as Lex Luthor (not as a villain of course.)

    Think about it. He’s already worked with Snyder before on 300, he’s slowly getting bigger roles here and there and he looks the part. Perfect.

  15. I am happy with this news…HENRY CAVILL was my 2nd best choice after Joe Mangaeillo. Henry will be a great Superman. Perfect age for more sequels and he looks the part. :))

    I didn’t liked Matthew GoodE at all in Watchmen. I am surprised Goode was even in the running as he didn’t look Superman at all. Anyway time to bring a new kick-ass Superman with Nolan/Snyder in 2012.

    • Nolan isnt involved in the project anymore. probably never was.

      • He helped with the casting of Superman. Heard that somewhere.

        • To be honest, I am very dubious of Nolan having any real involvement in this film, he is no longer acting as producer, when the film comes out we will be able to see if he made any additions to the story or script. It was obvious to me that he was never going to be able to shoot Batman and work on Superman at the same time.
          I think his involvement was always intended to get both fanboy and media interest in a new Superman project.

          • Publicity ruse….err stunt.

            • That’s my thoughts exactly.

  16. “Cavill joins a potential Justice League roster”

    Did I miss something or is just a bit of fanciful thinking? Last time I heard JL was shelved and Bale was done with the cape and cowl after The Dark Knight Rises.

    The only thing that lends even a bit of credence to this is the fact WB is producing all three. Of course can they manage to also cast (and possibly put an origin movie together for) the other 4 members?; Aquaman, Wonder Woman, Flash and Martian Manhunter. Considering there have only been talks about Flash and Aquaman and no WW or MM movie I just don’t see it.

    The other more risky option would be trying to pull together a JL movie without previous public exposure of the other 4 JL members or any real previous ties to each other. I also believe Nolan never intended his incarnation of Batman to exist in the same world as other superheroes.

    • I think Cavill and Reynolds will be part of a Justice League at some point, but in 4-5 years there will be a new Batman to fit into that film, and films like Green Arrow Supermax, Aquaman and The Flash will either be released in in production.

      • Be kinda hard to just reboot Batman a third time. And if that were the case how would they do it?

        • Personally, I dont think they should reboot it at all. They should keep it within the universe Chris Nolan has created but simply expand upon it, so there can be characters like ClayFace and Mr Freeze, so that Batman can co exist with Superman and Green Lantern.
          Simply add some of the more fantastical elements back in, and therefore you’re not rebooting the films, just changing the rules of the game so to speak.

          • Maybe. Though how would the Nolanverse expand to become fantastical? All the characters are grounded too far in realism to include something like Clayface or Man-Bat. It’s plausible, but very unlikely.

    • Aquaman is not an original member but Hawkgirl is.

      • Actually, Aquaman IS an original member, even before Superman or Batman.

  17. I just really hope that they go with a different villian all together. I think Lex Luthor has been over done, even though I personaly liked Spacy as Lex I do not what to see Lex again. I know it’d be weird to see but how about Darkside and his sons, Desaad and Kalibak. Or even how about Zod. I think there was a clame that Zod would not be in this movie but like I said I’d rather see anyone else before another Luthor flick.Or if they are putting Lex into this film just make him the head of Lexcorp and not make him the main bad guy, just a camio. I’d be good with that. I know Dr. Sam didn’t want to hear the name Nolan but I thought he wrote Man Of Steel of Snyder then left to focus on TDKR?

  18. @Sam Beckett ans Samuel

    Great points on the character of Superman and the need for a truly powerful adversary this time round.

    For me the core nature of Superman is how an extraordinary being affects the lives of normal people. How, through his actions, he inspires people better themselves in his example and that at the same time motivates his enemies to become even more powerful.

    We should be seeing is how would people in a realistic world environment would react to someone like Superman. Would he worshipped like a god amongst people? Would governments be fearful of him? How many of the world’s natural disasters could he prevent or international conflicts could he resolve? Would he eliminate the threat of terrorism? He may be a fantastical character from outer space, but so many relevant issues could be tackled here, if in the hands of the right people

    There’s so much scope here for an epic, specatcular, yet intelligent and thought provking movie to be. Just a shame the producers seem intent to screw up that promise with choices for both the director and lead actor.

    I’d like to see Braniac in this one and thenm either Darkseid or Bizarro in any potential sequel.

    The character himself should never change. It’s how he changes the world, that’s the story that should be told

    • I’m certainly not saying it shouldn’t be epic, it should be, but the heart of the character needs to remain pure.

  19. horrible choice, we dont nee a teeth sucking brit as superman

    • I take it you didn’t like Bale as Batman either then…

    • No, no, you’re right. We ALSO don’t need the teeth-sucking Bale (also British) as Batman or the teeth-sucking Reynolds (Canadian) as Green Lantern OR the (obviously) non-teeth-sucking Downey, Jr. as BRITISH icon Sherlock Holmes. Bad WB…Bad, bad WB.

  20. Ihis really Bites!!!! I wonder if they’ll ever get it right! Welling is Superman.

  21. One thing i want to see in this new Superman film, is the RED cape, NOT crimson or any other shade, I need to see RED. Superman Returns took that away and I want it returned.

  22. PIcking a brit for Superman is so Un-American.

    • Actually, Superman was Kryptonian and was adopted by an American couple. Good luck finding an actor with THAT lineage…

      We HAD this discussion already…Catch up.

      • I don’t think he likes ketchup; maybe mustard. 😀

      • Superman is a metaphor for the American immigrant experience. I know it’s difficult for many of the younger generation to conceive, but there was a time that when you came to the United States and became a citizen, you proclaimed yourself to be “an American”. You assimilated into society and contributed to the building of the U.S. of A. It was the same experience my father had when he came to the United States. He became a citizen, and he told me that not once did he ever think of going back to Italy. The character of Superman reflects that time in this countries history.

  23. He would of been better as Bond! Current one doesn’t fit the bill!

  24. Was Brandon Routh really that bad? After his appearances in Chuck I thought he would even suit the part more!
    And what about Tom Welling? Seriously, he’s done a great job on Smallville and is the right age for this role. Why wasn’t the part even offered to him?
    And of course, I will mention it as I’m sure a lot of fans would also like to see, did anyone ever consider Jason Behr for the role again? I heard he may have been a frontrunner for the role back before Brandon Routh was cast. This would have also been a good casting choice.

    • Simply because they want a different interpretation of Superman. If they used Routh ppl would link it to Returns as for Welling ppl would be comparing it to Smallville also he’s technically been Superman for 10 yrs.

      Cavill= New Superman with NO ties to any other live action media related Superman. I approve of him too. Only thing, he’s just shorter by a few inches but a well designed costume could trick ppl into thinking he’s taller than he is lol.

    • Eachen, i respect you for bigging up Routh, but you lost all respect for the Welling comment. I love Smallville, but I’m realistic. He’s a great Clark, but a crap Superman. He looks wayy too boyish and he just wouldn’t be believeable. I mean Routh was young but he didn’t look as boyish as Tom. He was inbetween the looks of Reeve and Welling = perfect.

      Welling works well in the show, but not for a credible reboot of a franchise.

      • Steve, Tom Welling has NEVER been Superman! He has only ever played as Clark Kent/The Blur. Would he act differently as Superman? I think so. If you think Tom Welling looks too boyish, have you even seen Season 10 of Smallville? I’m not saying he should have been Superman in this new film but I think after the work he has put in, he should at least have been in the running.
        The story of Brandon Routh as Superman is a sad one. If Bryan Singer had just managed to inject a little more action into the film, he might have been able to pull off Superman for at least one more movie.
        Did anybody notice my Jason Behr comment? he hasn’t done an awful lot of recognizable roles since Roswell and I think he might have still worked as Supes.
        Henry Cavill, to me, looks like he could fit the Superman role. I just hope that some sort of continuity linking to the comics is still woven into the story. If they have the story right, the rest should follow.

        • I don’t know, Behr looks kind of thin from the pictures, but anyone can be beefed up I guess (Brad Pitt/Troy haha). I agree with you about Welling. I really wish they’d let him be Superman on the big screen. (Course, I’ve already said that heh)

          • As was said before they don’t want any links to other Superman related media. So thats why Welling wouldn’t have been considered.

  25. I feel like I’ve only witnessed Cavill’s acting career from afar, since he’s never really been granted big roles to play with. I can’t wait to get up close and personal to see what he can do with this iconic character.

  26. Better get him on the Juice quick!

    His mates Gerard Butler, Hugh Jackman and Dan Craig can hook him up

  27. No. No. No. No. No. No. No. And, no.

  28. Well, I was hoping Tom Welling would be given a chance for the part.
    But hey, I braced myself if things would go opposite direction. I thought to myself, “Whatever happens, happens. But the actor had better damn be much more better than Routh ever did and the movie have better be far more better and more superior than Superman returns in every single way.

    And for the good of my heart and as a true, big Superman fan, I am willing to give him a chance and they had better darn well keep the John Williams theme song of Superman because, well, it’s Superman’s big theme! It just wouldn’t feel the same without it.
    I want to see amazing, epic fighting, with a lot of stuff being destroyed while fighting a supervillian etc.

  29. I think in the Superman: Reboot The Major casting to the rest of the supporting characters I suggest are:

    Chris Isaaks (Brainiac)
    Terry O’Quinn (Lex Luther)
    Jennifer Love Hewitt (Lois Lane)
    Logan Lerman (Jimmy Olsen)
    James Caan (Perry White)
    Casper Van Dien (Metallo/John Corben)
    Bill Paxton (Lt. Daniel Turpin)
    Penelope Ann Miller (Capt. Maggie Sawyer)
    Christopher Plummer (Dr. Emil Hamilton)
    Brandon Cooper (Steve Lombard)
    Claire Danes (Cat Grant)