The general consensus is that Henry Cavill hasn’t lived up to his potential as the DC Extended Universe’s Superman due to a number of factors, many of which aren’t his fault. The English actor definitely looks the part, and while his tenure as the iconic superhero got off to a decent enough start with Man of Steel, in the years since it can be argued that Warner Bros. haven’t utilized the character to his full potential.
Man of Steel scored decent enough reviews and solid box office numbers, but instead of launching a standalone Superman franchise the movie became the launching point for the entire DCEU, with the studio’s shared universe coming together and rapidly expanding far too quickly. Seeing the Big Blue Boy Scout facing off against Batman for the first time in Dawn of Justice turned out to be a huge disappointment, while Cavill’s co-starring role in Justice League became more famous for his digitally removed mustache than his role in the story.
Then came the rumors that the 36 year-old was done as Superman, something the actor is keen to remind people isn’t true, along with reports that Michael B. Jordan had met with Warner Bros. about rebooting the character, as well as huge fan backlash to the revelation that DC and Warner Bros. didn’t view the Man of Steel as being particularly relevant anymore.
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In a recent interview to promote his starring role in Netflix’s The Witcher, Cavill was asked about Superman, and gave some ideas about what direction the franchise should head in, if he ever gets the chance to star in the long-awaited solo sequel.
“Where we left off with Man of Steel, in particular, was the guy who had found his place, or was trying to find his place but had sort of found it by the end, that had committed something which he would consider a most horrific sin by killing the last member of his species. That is a place where I would like to travel from with the character. Him exploring the positivity of who he is. Not necessarily the chocolate box version, but the leaning into that. That character who becomes an icon of hope and enjoying that experience, rather than necessarily being made uncomfortable by it.”
Much of the criticism directed at the DCEU’s Superman has been about the depiction of the character as withdrawn, introverted and generally miserable, which is the opposite to how the superhero has been portrayed in virtually all other forms of media for decades. If Cavill eventually does return for a Man of Steel sequel, the project needs to be in the hands of a filmmaker that understands the basic appeal of the character as an all-round good guy.