Now that Henry Cavill is reportedly out, Warner Bros. is saddled with the tricky task of recasting Superman. After a handful of hiccups in the earliest iterations of DC's Extended Universe, the studio is now looking to restructure its approach to the franchise, and it looks like Cavill's Clark Kent is one of the casualties.
Superman's journey in the latest slate of DC movies was bumpy from the beginning. After kicking off the extended universe with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel in 2013, some tonal inconsistencies and overall foibles haunted him through movies like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League, turning Warner Bros. into more of a cleanup crew than a major film studio. As a result (and also through no fault of his own), Cavill's Superman simply couldn't keep up with the universe's overall imbalance.
Though nothing has been officially confirmed yet, it definitely seems like Cavill's days of playing Superman are over. Even though Warner Bros. doesn't plan on revisiting the character for a number of years (allowing them plenty of time to take the most realized approach possible), there is a long list of potential actors who are more than capable of replacing Cavill and donning the classic red and blue suit. It all just comes down to what sort of iteration this version of Supes will end up being. Will Warner Bros. play things safe and stick with the familiar mold made famous by actors like Cavill, Brandon Routh, and Christopher Reeve? Will the next incarnation attempt to break new ground? The options are technically endless - but until Warner Bros. issues some idea as to what direction they plan on taking, there's no harm in open-ended speculation.
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Armie Hammer has always been on the precipice of being Hollywood's next leading man. He's got the look down pat, his creative skills speak for themselves (see: his Golden Globe-nominated performance in Call Me By Your Name), and he's even gone toe-to-toe with Cavill himself in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. In short, Hammer's career may as well have naturally led him to the role of Superman.
That said, there's one notable problem: Armie Hammer has mostly written off superhero movies. Having nearly played Batman in the abandoned Justice League: Mortal movie from George Miller, Hammer has since revealed that he's happy production never fell through, and that this particular genre just doesn't fit into his particular interests (for now, at least). It's understandable that the actor might have a sour taste in his mouth after the Batman fiasco, as well as the lackluster response to the Lone Ranger adaptation, in which he starred opposite Johnny Depp as the masked, midwest hero, but if Warner Bros. managed to deliver a solid script, Hammer has what it takes to do Superman proud.
Next on the list of possible replacements for Cavill is Theo James. After proving his skills in the action genre as Four in the Divergent series, as well as playing his hand in fantasy with the Underworld series, James is already well attuned to the sort of physical responsibilities necessary to become the Man of Steel. In short, he's on the Hollywood hero up-and-up.
Having not necessarily broken into the A-lister mold quite yet, James would be following a career path similar to Cavill, who preceded Man of Steel with movies like Stardust and Immortals (and, in other words, he'd have the meta underdog/outsider motivation down pat). He knows his way around mainstream blockbusters, he clearly meets the physical requirements necessary for someone as chiseled as Clark Kent, and, while it might feel like a safe choice for Warner Bros., that may well be exactly what they're looking for to fill Cavill's shoes.
Superman may be the most traditional archetype of comic book superheroes, but that's not to say an unexpected approach to casting couldn't hurt. And, following the career evolution that few people could have seen coming with John Krasinski, an unexpected approach might easily do wonders for the character.
With roots in comedy (The Office), a deviation into heroics (Amazon's Jack Ryan series), and even the occasional directorial effort (A Quiet Place), Krasinski has proven to be as multifaceted as he is naturally charming. So, would "John Krasinski as Superman" have made sense in the mid-to-late 200os? Maybe not. But has Krasinski since proven that he would have certainly made it work, despite expectations? Given his physical and tonal transformation in 13 Hours, the short answer is yes.
Krasinski would bring a warm, everyman presence to Superman, representing a major deviation from the darker vibe Warner Bros. attempted with Cavill. Superman is the kind of character that everyone is meant to root for; and, seeing as Krasinski has essentially been regarded as one of the more likable actors in the industry ever since he was pushing pencils as Jim Halpert at Dunder Mifflin, leading Warner Bros.' new charge into Worlds of DC could be just another unexpected evolution of his role in Hollywood that could be - as has been the case with every other unexpected route he's taken - surprisingly inspired.
Michael B. Jordan
In that same breath of taking an unexpected approach with Superman, Warner Bros. is already on the heels of inspired directions after showing early interest in Michael B. Jordan as their new Man of Steel. No stranger to the superhero genre, having starred in movies like Black Panther, Chronicle, and Fantastic Four, Jordan really only stands out in the list of possible contenders because he would be the first person of color to land the role on the big screen. That difference aside, there's really no reason why his take on the Last Son of Krypton should feel out of place.
Jordan is easily one of the most standout, sought-after A-listers in Hollywood at the moment, which already feels appropriate for the globally-renown stature attached to someone like Superman. He's a well-rounded actor who's mastered vulnerable ferocity in roles like Fruitvale Station, and Creed clearly set him up for Superman's physical demands.
In a generation where race doesn't (or shouldn't) have any bearings on the ability to represent a fictional character, Jordan could surely do this character proud.
- Creed 2 (2018) release date: Nov 21, 2018