All Henry Cavill ‘Superman’ movies in order

HOLLYWOOD, CALIFORNIA - DECEMBER 12: Henry Cavill attends 20th Century Studio's "Avatar 2: The Way of Water" U.S. Premiere at Dolby Theatre on December 12, 2022 in Hollywood, California.
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It’s been an interesting few months for the internet’s favorite hot nerd, Henry Cavill. After losing his role as Superman and exiting the cast of The Witcher, the privately educated Brit is now rumored to be in the running to be the next Bond, and is also going to be heavily involved in a new Warhammer series. So, no need to cry for him just yet.

If you liked Cavill as the Man of Steel, you’re a Snyderbro who actually enjoyed most of DCU‘s last failed reboot, or you just want to switch off with some high-octane, fun films, then you might be considering rewatching all of Cavill’s performances as the famous superhero. Despite the DCU’s issues with continuity, it still makes the most sense to watch everything chronologically, so here are all of Henry Cavill’s Superman movies in order.

Man of Steel (2013)

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The first time we saw Cavill don the famous blue and red costume was in this blockbuster version of Superman’s origin story. Beginning on the planet Krypton, we see Kal-El, the first naturally born Kryptonian in decades, launched from his home planet and land in Kansas in a kind of reverse Dorothy situation. Therein follows the usual superhero arc: renamed Clark, Kal-El discovers his destiny, gets his magic suit, meets the girl, and saves the world — all while maintaining an eerily perfect haircut and avoiding the wrong people finding out his real identity, even with one of the worst disguises of all time.

Commercially, the film did well, but then again, it was a Superman flick, which means it would always get people out the door and into theaters. In terms of reviews, however, Man of Steel was a mixed bag. Critics praised the cinematography and the chemistry between Adams and Cavill, as well as its super-charged battle scenes. However, the actual content of the film only received a lukewarm reception, with most finding it to be a generic superhero plot with uneven storytelling and poor characterization. With that said, there were a few critics who were willing to accept the film on its own terms: a rollicking blockbuster that was meant to entertain, not sit on your mind for weeks afterwards. Plus, and I cannot stress this enough, Cavill looks damn good in that suit.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)

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Cavill’s next turn as Superman came in 2016’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. The first live-action film to include both Superman and Batman (played by Ben Affleck), it saw stellar opening weekend numbers before viewing figures dropped into an abyss so deep even Superman couldn’t drag them back out. The slightly convoluted plot involves Superman becoming a controversial figure after a highly damaging battle, which convinces vigilante billionaire Bruce Wayne that the Kryptonian is the biggest threat facing the world right now (even though everyone knows the biggest threat to humanity is the fact we treat billionaires like they’re all blessed with genius, instead of childish idiots who are usually only wealthy because of daddy’s money).

Bruce, being a rich kid who’s never heard no, follows this trail of thought despite it being nonsensical. We eventually discover that the animosity shown by Wayne was the result of manipulation by, surprise surprise, Lex Luthor. Superman is allegedly killed, while Batman goes on to save the day. The film ends with the dirt on top of Clark Kent’s coffin levitating, setting up another sequel/cash grab.

Seen by many as a hamfisted allegory about 9/11 and the American right’s insane, authoritarian reaction to the attack on the Twin Towers, Batman v Superman could have been an interesting take on the genre that actually had something interesting to say about who has power in America, and how they wield it. However, a focus on special effects over substance, the baffling mischaracterization of two of the most famous superheroes in the world, and the film’s general incoherence meant many left theaters wishing they’d spent two and a half hours doing something else, like watching a pot boil.

Justice League (2017)

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When it was released in late 2017, Justice League launched millions of debates across comment sections all over the internet. There was a lot of hype around the film and, as a result, many felt it was a letdown, despite its all-action plot and stellar ensemble cast. The gist of the movie is that Superman’s supposed death at the end of Batman v Superman led to Steppenwolf (Ciarán Hinds) returning to Earth to try and take over the planet, which in turn makes some of our favorite DC superheroes (Aquaman, Batman, Cyborg, the Flash, and Wonder Woman) come together to try to stop him. As they realize they’ll need more help, they exhume Superman’s body and bring him back to life, although it doesn’t exactly go to plan as the Kryptonian is revived without his memories. As a result, he initially attacks everyone around him. Eventually, the Man of Steel remembers his previous life, and the newly formed Justice League manage to defeat Steppenwolf.

The film was beset by problems throughout production, most notably director Zack Synder having to step down after the tragic death of his daughter. He was replaced by notorious bully and Justice League writer Joss Whedon, which was not received too well by fans of the franchise. The studio ended up losing money on the huge production and, critically, it didn’t fare much better, being rammed for its weak plot, poor characters, and over reliance on special effects.

With that all said, Zack Snyder released a new cut of the film in 2021 which delved further into worldbuilding and character backstory, earning it much more favorable reviews from fans and critics alike. While canonically, Whedon’s version was the DCU’s reference point, in most people’s hearts the Snyder Cut, as it came to be known, was the true Justice League film. If you are watching Cavill’s Superman movies in order, unless you want to hate yourself, this is the version of Justice League you should queue up.

Black Adam (2022)

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Although Superman made a brief cameo appearance in the 2019 film Shazam!, the character wasn’t played by Cavill, so the next and final time we see the Brit in Superman’s famous costume comes in the 2022 flop Black Adam. Based on the eponymous DC supervillain turned antihero, the film stars Dwayne Johnson, who seems to be a little obsessed with playing resurrected characters from North Africa.

The plot isn’t the easiest to follow, with new characters being thrown in throughout, but the gist of it is that ancient superhero Adam is brought back to life by an overeager archaeologist/freedom fighter (Adrianna Tomaz, played by Sarah Shahi) in an attempt to free her her country Kahndaq of a criminal organization named the Intergang. The magic works, only for Tomaz to find Adam can’t control his powers, unleashing a wave of destruction. As a result of this, the Justice Society head to Kahndaq to apprehend the newly awoken Adam and stop him from causing any more damage. Eventually, there’s a standoff involving a reborn ancient King, the Justice Society, and Adam, ending with Adam defeating evil and being renamed Black Adam, protector (but not ruler) of Kahndaq. Cavill appears in a mid-credits scene as Superman, teasing a second film that is unlikely to arrive for a long while.

Despite some excellent opening weekend returns, Black Adam went on to be a box office bomb, although it’s still not known if the film made a profit or not. The movie was a bit of a passion project for The Rock, and as a result, he promoted it heavily across his socials, but even the good will he’s banked from being one of Hollywood’s nice guys wasn’t enough to drive people through doors.

Critically Black Adam didn’t fare much better than its poor box office showing implied (a running theme with Cavill’s Superman films, it seems). Although it was noted the film was thrilling, especially the battle scenes and Johnson’s performance, reviewers found the plot muddled and uncaptivating. However, audience reviews were much more favorable, so if you find yourself enjoying the film, there’s hope yet for a reboot under James Gunn.