Superman has been indefinitely sidelined from the DC movie universe.
With last fall’s Justice League proving to be yet another critical and financial disappointment for Warner Bros., the studio has embarked on a string of tumultuous shakeups, which includes the departure of Ben Affleck as Batman. Now, however, the DC franchise doesn’t just need to find a new Batman, it also needs a new Man of Steel, as Henry Cavill has apparently taken his last flight as the superpowered last son of Krypton.
While Warner Bros. has remained mum, the Hollywood Reporter broke the news this morning that after three films, Cavill looks to be finished with his superheroic duties, as the studio has focused its energies on developing a new Supergirl film, and talks broke down about bringing Cavill in for a cameo in next April’s Shazam! While the studio didn’t immediately respond to the report, both Variety and Deadline followed with similar reports citing their own sources.
Update at 9:45 a.m. PT: Warner Bros. has now issued a statement to The Hollywood Reporter about Henry Cavill’s status as Superman:
Statement from Warner Bros.: "While no decisions have been made regarding any upcoming Superman films, we’ve always had great respect for and a great relationship with Henry Cavill, and that remains unchanged" https://t.co/oy9WHJ2nGE
— Hollywood Reporter (@THR) September 12, 2018
All the reports suggest that Warners and Cavill’s team could not come to terms for his Shazam! appearance, leading him to sign on to Netflix’s The Witcher series. With his commitment to the new show and the studio’s plans to fast-track the teen-oriented Supergirl origin story — which, for timeline purposes, wouldn’t include Cavill’s adult Superman — instead of pursuing a Superman sequel anytime soon, the actor’s return to the iconic character is unlikely.
Watch: Henry Cavill and Zachary Levi on who would win between Superman and Shazam!
Meanwhile, there is also the feeling among a certain segment of Warner Bros. executives that Cavill might be box-office kryptonite. One unnamed insider suggests that the actor is part of the problem when it comes to the DC films’ box-office failures, and the studio now has cover to course-correct.
“There’s a recognition that some parts of the previous movies didn’t work,” the source tells THR, and another claims that the studio is hitting a reset button with the entire comic-book-based cinematic universe, which has notched only one unqualified hit so far, Wonder Woman. Zack Snyder, who launched the DC Extended Universe with the Cavill-fronted Man of Steel and followed that up with Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, exited midway through production on Justice League due to a family tragedy. Since his departure, Warners and DC have been reshaping the universe on the fly.
While several original members of the cinematic Justice League are still fighting crime on the studio’s dime — notably Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman (Wonder Woman 1984 is on track for a November 2019 bow), Jason Momoa as Aquaman (whose solo outing arrives this November), and Ezra Miller as the Flash (whose stand-alone is set to shoot in 2019) — a proposed Affleck-led Batman project fell apart. That has been replaced by an in-production Joaquin Phoenix-led Joker film (from director Todd Phillips) and a planned Caped Crusader film titled The Batman from director Matt Reeves that will be a standalone installment and not part of the extended universe.
With Cavill and Affleck apparently hanging up their capes, it would be awkward to integrate a new Batman and Superman into a preexisting playing field, making it likely that the interconnected-franchise Justice League concept is kaput for the foreseeable future.
It’s clear that a new big-screen day is dawning for DC. And it’ll begin, presumably, with Aquaman, which arrives in theaters on Dec. 21.
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