Amid news of Henry Cavill exiting the DC movie universe as Superman comes a report that Warner Bros. has mulled recasting the role with Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan. Cavill’s departure from the DCEU comes as Warner Bros. seeks to reset the comic book-based cinematic universe, with their focus shifting to developing a movie built around Superman’s female cousin Supergirl.
Cavill, of course, originated the role of Superman in 2013’s Man of Steel, the DCEU debut of director Zack Snyder. Cavill then reprised the role in 2016’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice and 2017’s Justice League. The actor had been set to film a cameo in the upcoming DCEU title Shazam!, but scheduling conflicts with his role in this year’s hit action film Mission: Impossible – Fallout made him unavailable. Now Cavill will reportedly put away his Superman cape for good, leaving the superhero role up for grabs.
According to Deadline though, Warner Bros. may already have someone in mind for the role of Superman, reporting that the studio has mulled casting Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan. Perhaps not coincidentally, this news comes just a day after another report that Jordan and Warner Bros. are teaming up to launch a policy on studio diversity and inclusion (via the L.A. Times). Indeed, casting Jordan as the first black Superman would mark a major step forward for the cause of diversity in film. Jordan has a prior connection to DC, having voiced the character of Cyborg in the animated film Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. The actor is also set to star alongside Brie Larson in the Warner Bros. courtroom drama Just Mercy.
Jordan already played a big role in a diverse superhero movie that shook up the culture, portraying the villain Erik Killmonger for DC's rival Marvel in this year’s blockbuster Black Panther. Not only did Black Panther make $1.3 billion worldwide at the box office, it’s also garnering legitimate Oscar buzz and was submitted by Disney in all the big Academy Award categories. As big as Black Panther was however, a studio casting a POC as the iconic Superman would be an even more culturally significant event.
Clearly, Warner Bros. is looking to take things in a very different direction for the DCEU going forward. Cavill’s reported departure as Superman represents just a part of that major shake-up. For now, the studio is reportedly focused on making a Supergirl movie and has put Superman on the back burner. So even if Michael B. Jordan does score the role of Superman, it would be years before his take on the character made it to the screen. In the meantime, Warner Bros. has Aquaman coming up, as well as Shazam! and Wonder Woman 1984 in the pipeline.
It remains to be seen what the future holds for Justice League after last year’s film floundered at the box office, grossing a disappointing $657 million at the global box office. There’s a possibility that Warner Bros. will seek to move entirely away from superhero team-ups as it focuses on standalone movies. The studio will also seek to bring a more adult edge to their comic book multiverse, developing a Joker origin story starring Joaquin Phoenix that's set in an alternate universe. Birds of Prey starring Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn is also moving forward. Obviously, Superman must remain in the plan somewhere for Warner. Bros on some level, but the question is who will play the character and how will he be presented. Casting Jordan would undoubtedly generate buzz and probably a lot of controversy given the way some have reacted to past pro-diversity casting decisions.