Why Any DC Movie Universe Needs Superman
Still, it feels like a waste for DC and WB to just shelve Superman for the time being. It doesn’t hurt to give audiences time to miss a character but they’re not exactly doing the same for Batman, and he’s already got way more of a cinematic presence than Superman has ever had. Cavill’s most recent, and potentially final, appearance in the role was hampered by poor characterization and the now infamous CGI removal of his Mission: Impossible – Fallout mustache. Regardless of whether Cavill himself will don the cape once more or if Superman’s future liminal state happens with or without him, keeping the original embodiment of the superhero to the side-lines would be detrimental to DC, even with the savvy diversifying of their ensemble.
The Snyder iteration of Superman was a potentially interesting one - in a post-9/11 world where American domestic policy is built on fear of the unknown, how would people react to this all-powerful alien force coming to Earth and claiming to be their ally? - that never got the space or consistent narrative to truly develop. Regardless of what people think of Man of Steel or the evolution of the DCEU, it was always a questionable creative plan to spend every new movie hastily fixing problems in reshoots and post-production, if only because it greatly hampered how these arcs unfolded. Superman was the character who suffered the most from these issues, arguably even more than Batman, because Superman had his solo movie to establish his new iteration.
As the DCEU embraces a more positive and somewhat silly tone, jellyfish dresses and all, now would be the perfect time to bring back that most iconic version of Superman, the overwhelming force for good in the world who cares about everyone and remains unshakably heroic, even in the face of darkness. Given that Superman is one of the personal heroes in Shazam!, it would make more sense to keep him in the franchise as that influential force than to sideline him. There are so many great stories to be told about that sort of Superman, especially now that the DCEU is on more solid ground.
What The DC Should Do
It would be understandable if WB decided to let Cavill’s contract lapse and start over with another Superman. Cavill’s performance wasn’t especially well-received by general audiences - though his performance was lauded by fans - and Affleck’s retirement would give them greater freedom to wipe the slate clean for a new phase. Still, it’s not as though Cavill was unenthusiastic about playing the role (Cavill has routinely expressed his passion for Superman as well as his knowledge of Superman's stories), and he can be very charismatic under the right direction (see The Man From U.N.C.L.E. or Mission: Impossible – Fallout for proof of that). However, with Netflix's The Witcher TV show taking up so much of his time, it’s not impossible to see him bowing out for now, which would open up possibilities for recasting.
If DC Films simply wish to scale back Superman’s presence and let the rest of the DCEU develop without him being central to the narrative, then there's certainly room for Cavill to go full Nick Fury and just pop in now and then for cameos, acting as the helpful leader of heroes throughout the DC landscape. It would help to widen the scope of the franchise without needlessly complicating the narratives and it would help to establish the breadth of influence Clark Kent has over this ensemble, something that makes Superman so inimitably special. It’s understandable why WB and the DCEU would want to let Superman take a backseat while formerly supporting players find their moment in the spotlight, but as the franchise moves forward with a more secure tone and intent, there's most certainly a way for the Man of Steel to join them on that journey.
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019
- Birds of Prey (And the Fantabulous Emancipation of One Harley Quinn) (2020) release date: Feb 07, 2020
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- The Suicide Squad (2021) release date: Aug 06, 2021
- DC Super Pets (2022) release date: May 20, 2022
- The Batman (2021) release date: Jun 25, 2021