Warner Bros. needs to make re-signing Henry Cavill as Superman one of its biggest priorities for DC Films. The road for Cavill's Superman has been nothing if not rocky so far, with both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice splitting audiences and critics over Zack Snyder's vision for a live-action DC universe, but Cavill is the actor that started it all, and his star is only on the rise.
At one point, it sounded like Henry Cavill's future as Superman was all but squared away and we were on the verge of confirmation of him having a cameo in Shazam!, Man of Steel 2 was going to be greenlit, and Henry Cavill's status in the DCEU would be squared away from years to come.
But that didn't happen. Rumor has it Cavill and Warner Bros. were unable to reach an agreement, despite rave reviews of Cavill's performance in Mission: Impossible - Fallout, and that means he may only have one film (or just one appearance) as Superman left on his original contract.
As recently reported by Revenge of the Fans' Mario Robles, Superman hasn't been a financial draw for the DCEU in the way Warner Bros. had hoped, and while his movies all brought in a sizeable chunk of cash, they were all budgeted with much higher expectations. So, moving forward, WB is looking at keeping those costs down, particularly when it comes to Superman movies, whereas Henry Cavill sees his star is on the rise and thinks his contract should reflect that.
It's an unfortunate confluence of events that has essentially led to a stalemate despite both Cavill and fans showing enthusiasm for him remaining in the role. Even Warner Bros. reportedly isn't opposed to having him back, but it has to be for the right price to avoid repeating a mistake they've made 3 times now with his character. While Walter Hamada and WB's heads are in the right place when it comes to budgets, Cavill might be one of the biggest places they should be willing to make an exception.
After all, costly decisions like the one to totally reshoot his part in Justice League and digitally replacing removing his mustache and turning him into a meme weren't due to his decision making, so he shouldn't be the one held liable for the results. A Henry Cavill Superman movie certainly has the potential to be a box office hit, even more now than it did in 2013. Justice League marketing also barely even used Henry Cavill, so any draw he has developed over the years wasn't even capitalized on (and that was still before his stand-out performance in Mission: Impossible - Fallout).
The world of DC films is obviously in a major state of transition right now. After the divisiveness of Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the utter financial failure of Justice League, DC is taking a small step back from the shared universe concept to focus on individual characters before trying to bring them together again. There will doubtless still be connective tissue for the DCEU (obviously non-DCEU films like Joker will do their own thing), but it won't be at the forefront.
One of the major uncertainties with the universe, even since before Justice League's release, is the future of Ben Affleck's Batman. Matt Reeve's solo movie will seemingly focus on a younger Caped Crusader, and while that may still leave room for involvement from Affleck, perpetual rumors of the actor's departure and recent off-screen issues mean Justice League could be the last time we see him suit up. Meanwhile, Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman has been the best received DCEU movie by far, Wonder Woman 1984 is well underway, making her the only member of DC's Trinity on stable ground.
Recasting Batman would be unfortunate, but with Matt Reeve's story introducing a younger character, it's a lot easier to work around the introduction of a new actor. Henry Cavill's Superman can't get that same treatment, and even if he could, we're talking about the actor that started the whole universe off on what was originally a 5 part Superman story.
Walter Hamada's efforts to bring audiences around on these movies will suffer a major, avoidable, blow if the universe loses its focal point character, especially when he's coming into his own as a box office draw in other films. Trying to get audiences on-board with DC movies will be a lot easier if they don't also have to get on-board with a new Superman at the same time, especially if Henry Cavill's name is regularly showing up in big movies from other studios.
- Aquaman (2018) release date: Dec 21, 2018
- Shazam! (2019) release date: Apr 05, 2019
- Wonder Woman 1984 (2020) release date: Jun 05, 2020
- Joker (2019) release date: Oct 04, 2019