Will Henry Cavill return as Superman? SDCC 2022 could hold the answer

Image via Warner Bros.

San Diego Comic-Con is ripe with gossip, and there’s a tantalizing rumor that Henry Cavill will be in attendance to confirm his next Superman movie.

Did you hear that? That’s the sound of millions of fanboys and fangirls squealing at the thought of the silver screen Superman returning to the DCEU. Over the weekend, if you step out your door and hear exuberant screams and see a river of joyful tears, you’ll know that Cavill is indeed back as the Man of Steel.

Deadline is reporting that the A-lister is coming to San Diego, but not to announce his membership in the MCU. Rather, he’s expected to take the stage at the DC/Warner Bros. panel and detail his return to the iconic role, and the idea is that it could start with a showdown with the DCEU’s own Black Adam, Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson

Cavill is arguably one of the best Supermen to ever set foot on stage or screen. Sadly, we only got to see him as the Man of Steel in four movies, and that’s counting both versions of Justice League. The last time he suited up in the red cape and matching boots was five years ago for the theatrical release of JL. Technically, he didn’t film any new scenes for the Zack Snyder cut that debuted last year, so he hasn’t actually worn the costume since 2017. For most fans, that has been far too long.

It’s not like Cavill hasn’t been keeping himself busy. He stole the show as the villain in Mission Impossible: Fallout and he’s made for a convincing Geralt in two seasons Netflix’s The Witcher. There’s also been ample gossip about him joining the MCU ever since the issues with WB first arose. As alluring as seeing him in the MCU would be, he remains the perfect Superman. 

A long time coming

Justice League
Image via Warner Bros.

Five years ago, the Snyder-verse looked dead in the water. After the Man of Steel and Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice director was forced to leave the Justice League set due to his daughter’s tragic death, WB tapped Joss Whedon to fill the void. At the time, fans were overjoyed by the replacement. In 2012, Marvel Studios saddled Whedon with the herculean task of bringing together the Avengers into one film that accentuated each character. The film was lauded by critics and audiences and set a new benchmark for superhero team-ups.

On paper, giving Whedon the JL reins seemed like a slam dunk. The problem was that WB wanted more MCU and less Snyder-verse. The result was a colossal failure and the rise of Cavill’s digital upper lip in some truly glorious memes. The 2017 JL was so negatively received that WarnerMedia was reportedly on the verge of shutting down the entire DCEU. That’s when word began to spread that Cavill was hanging up his cape. 

Just when it seemed like the DCEU was done, along came the Wonder Woman and Aquaman films, and those franchises kept the shared universe afloat. Afterwards, Shazam! proved to be a launching pad for the former Captain Marvel, but there was controversy on that set. The final scene featured Superman arriving at Fawcett Central School to have lunch with Billy Batson’s best friend, Freddy. Of course, all we saw was Supes from the shoulders down. Reportedly, it was planned for Cavill to make the cameo, but he and WB could not come to terms on the contract, which led to rampant speculation that WB was ready to find its next Man of Steel, and the people did drown in sorrow.

The Snyder-verse, Superman, and the multiverse

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Image via Warner Bros.

Meanwhile, there grew a battle cry: release the Snyder cut! 

Across social media, a conspiracy theory began, claiming that WarnerMedia did possess a copy of Zack Snyder’s original vision for the Justice League. It supposedly featured Superman in the black suit along with Darkseid preparing for his invasion of Earth and his quest for the Anti-Life Equation. WarnerMedia’s executives vehemently denied the story, but Snyder’s supporters only grew louder. These included voices from his JL cast, the most vocal of which was Jason Momoa. 

Just this week, a Rolling Stone report claims that much of the social media campaign for #releasethesnydercut was a conspiracy in itself with bots doing the heavy lifting. In any event, the campaign worked, and Snyder was able to finish his movie with an increased budget, delivering a hit for HBO Max. Still, WarnerMedia executives continued denying that the Snyder-verse would return despite fan outcry for the director to get his JL trilogy.

While the #releasethesnydercut social media wave was garnering headlines, there were increasing reports that, Snyder Cut or not, Cavill was done with the DCEU. Then came rumors that Marvel Studios was looking to sign the high-profile actor. All the while, Cavill reminded fans that he still wanted to play Superman. 

Two new Superman projects…without Cavill

Image via Salman Artworks

Last year, the outlook was grim. First came the news that director J.J. Abrams and writer Ta-Nehisi Coates were joining forces to reboot Superman in an exciting way ⏤ a version would explore the Last Son of Krypton as an African-American. It’s something that has never been done in a movie, and although some cried foul, many fans were open to a change of pace for the Man of Steel. 

Soon after the news spread of Abrams and Coates’ Superman movie, actor Michael B. Jordan, whom many believed would be the frontrunner for the new Superman, had a project of his own. His production company announced a Superman series for HBO Max that would star the Man of Steel of Earth-Two, Val-Zod. 

Despite the promise of two Superman projects like we have never seen, the implication was that WarnerMedia had officially moved on, and Cavill had flown into Metropolis for the last time. Still, the actor continued saying that he would be interested in playing Superman once again. It left a glimmer of hope, but most pundits saw the Cavill-less Superman projects as the writing on the wall.

All things are possible with the multiverse

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Image via Warner Bros.

The reason a rumored Cavill appearance at DC’s San Diego Comic-Con panel is so intriguing is because it seemed like an increasingly remote possibility for him to return to the role. What raised eyebrows came DC’s announcement that Michael Keaton and Ben Affleck would both reprise their roles as Batman/Bruce Wayne for The Flash. What’s more is that Keaton is slated to play the Dark Knight in Batgirl as well, and there is scuttlebutt that he will continue in the part past that. 

Around that time, Abrams confirmed that his and Coates’ Superman movie would not take place in the DCEU’s Earth-One universe. That cracked the door for multiple Supermen to follow Batman’s lead and coexist in the sprawling Multiverse without confusing fans. Pair that with the current SDCC gossip, and you have a story that is near to come full circle.

Perhaps we should thank Dwayne Johnson

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Image via DC Films

Dwayne Johnson, for his part, campaigned for years to have Cavill play Superman in a future clash with Black Adam. Considering Johnson’s celebrity and Hollywood influence, it stands to reason that if Cavill returns to the role, The Rock played a major part in getting the sides together. What would be true cinemagic would be seeing Cavill, Jordan, and the yet-to-be-cast Superman from Abrams’ film take a page from the MCU and put all three together on the screen. For that matter, DC should recruit the small screen Clark Kent, Tyler Hoechlin, and Superman Returns’ Brandon Routh to join the party.