When I left “Man of Steel,” I knew audiences had found their new Superman, even if the movie wasn’t perfect. Unfortunately, the studio didn’t believe in him enough.
Zack Snyder threw everything but the kitchen sink at movie fans back in 2013, with the movie coming in at 56% on Rotten Tomatoes while grossing $668 million in the states. The action went over the top predictably and some of it was muddled and misguided, everything except for Cavill. From filling out the suit to providing swagger in the role, the British actor (known mostly at the time for “The Tudors”) was very convincing and someone I could see growing in the role.
But Warner Brothers Pictures panicked, waving their hand at the lighter-than-expected tally at the box office. “Man of Steel” performed about as well as “Justice League” did overall, while nearly doubling what Christopher Nolan’s “Batman Begins” brought in ($373 million). When you think about it, the plots of each film were similar. A young warrior finds his true purpose, picks up the mantle of good versus evil, and battles someone whom another soul could say was his mentor. For Cavill’s Kal-El, that was Michael Shannon’s General Zod, someone who had similar powers yet was more seasoned and equipped. Batman’s first opponent was Liam Neeson’s Ra’s Al Ghul, the League of Shadows leader who trained Bruce Wayne yet couldn’t bring him over to the dark side.
When you think about those things, a lot of these hero tales are drawn up in similar fashion, even when stretching to Luke Skywalker/Darth Vader in “Star Wars.” The young Jedi learning the ways of the force sounds a lot like an alien from another planet facing off against his own family on Earth where humans may not like him for long, and that sounds like a rich kid stricken with tragedy becoming a symbol for good.
You need someone who makes all of this riveting and convincing. That’s where Cavill comes in. Shannon, Laurence Fishburne, and Amy Adams acquitted themselves well, but it’s the star who holds the most weight here. It’s one of WBP’s biggest mistakes to allow a sequel to “Man of Steel” to vanish nine years ago, pivoting to a Batman vs. Superman showdown. That made more money, but critics hated it and the fans eventually found it equally appalling. After a half-baked yet intriguing supporting role in “Justice League” years later, and Cavill’s stint as Sup was wrapped up.
This week, the studio is making it right. They are reportedly “keen” on making “Man of Steel 2” with Cavill, with a green light and production launch seemingly not far behind. The obvious reason is repairing a broken thread that followed his first movie in the role, righting a wrong and hopefully repaving a whole new road of DC comic movie-related content. But it’s also a part of what Warners and their current slate of comic flicks have going, and what they don’t have going.
For instance, Ezra Miller is making “The Flash” movie a screaming pile of shit with his off-screen antics, which include assault and battery on multiple occasions. That movie is going to come out, but the Cavill/Superman news is a good way to pull movie fans and film critics off that scent for the time being. Also, with “Black Adam” and “Shazam!” colliding elsewhere in the DCEU (with Superman having a funny cameo in the latter film), bringing the big Kryptonian back into the fray just makes sense. The “Wonder Woman” sequel wasn’t good or a hit, and with Marvel cruising forward in their phases, there’s no time to waste.
It’s also a nice bonus that Cavill adores the character and understands the comics more than most actors. Listen to him here break down “Man of Steel” and the implications from the fight with Zod and the destruction of the city.
So, you have a very fit actor (Cavill turns 40 in May but who fucking cares) who loves the source material and is still KEEN himself to make a sequel. Nothing should be stopping Warner Brothers from making this sequel. Set the budget at $200 million so you don’t half-ass something that should full-assed. You can retain Snyder for director since he has worked with Cavill and introduced this Superman to the world, but it’s not a definite thing. Find someone who gets the work, gets Cavill, and can make a movie that makes money and pleases fans of the character.
If you take Cavill out of that first movie, it’s a dead weight. If you take his unintentionally hilarious heel turn in “Justice League” out of that overlong stinker (at least the first cut), it’s an even worse experience. He is the integral aspect of these movies, so stop fucking around and cast him again. Give him a three picture deal too, find a very good writer to produce some inventive twists, and the horses are off to the races.
Do NOT sit on your hands and wait, WB. Don’t try to sneak around or talk yourself out of a very good idea. Bringing back Cavill as Kal-El/Clark Kent/Superman was a no-brainer five years ago. It’s never too late to turn the “S” frown upside down. Any other casting choices are useless to discuss out of a wacky Nic Cage redux.