Despite the return of actor Henry Cavill in a Black Adam post-credits scene and media reports from Warner Bros. executives. Discovery longing for a sequel to Man of Steel, Superman plans at DC Studios remain up in the air as newly minted co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran finalize their roadmap for the future of DC Studios superhero franchises. This according to a new report today from Umberto Gonzalez in The Wrap also mentioning that Gunn and Safran’s new plans for the DCEU will be presented to the WBD leadership in the next two months, a fact confirmed by James Gunn himself via Twitter.
This isn’t the first time rumors have swirled about Cavill’s imminent return and backroom stuff, with the actor dropping plenty of public hints suggesting a deal has been made or about to be inked. But those past rumors and hints ultimately led nowhere.
However, the latest batch of rumors this year were all but confirmed when Dwayne Johnson began suggesting that Cavill’s Superman was part of The Rock’s own plans for his DC superhero franchise. Black Adamand eventually, of course, Cavill filmed Superman’s post-credits cameo Black Adam. Cavill then released a video confirming he was “back” and would see fans again soon, but the video was unclear on what exactly he meant by being “back” and whether it included completed deals for future projects.
So many people observing the industry remained skeptical about whether or not Cavill’s deal would close Black Adam including any commitments for further appearances, and those doubts were heightened at the time by the fact that DC still hadn’t announced anyone to run their DC properties and come up with a 10-year plan as promised.
James Gunn and Peter Safran took over as co-CEOs of the newly formed DC Studios, and they will present Warner with a 10-year plan for DC’s future sometime towards the start of the new year. Since they haven’t submitted their plan yet and are presumably still putting it together – as The Wrap reported and Gunn confirmed, it will be presented to Warner executives within the next two months – it’s fair to assume that no one with certainty can say what the plans are. are still ahead of Superman, as plans are not finalized yet.
Additionally, it’s worth noting that Gunn specifically confirmed the portion of the report about the timing of delivering a plan to WBD, but didn’t comment on anything related to Superman and Cavill.
In the past, Gunn has been quick to publicly deny false reports and untrue rumors, and he keeps his vow to never lie to fans. If The Wrap’s story was wrong about Superman and Cavill, I think Gunn probably would have said something to deny it or at least suggest that no one should make fun of the story. However, I don’t believe he would be ready to confirm the information if it were true, in which case I would expect him to simply not comment on those parts at all. Which strongly suggests to me that the story is true, or that enough of it is accurate to deny the need to get into nuances that are not yet public.
So here’s my best guess, based on what we know publicly and what’s being whispered behind the scenes: Cavill wants to come back, The Rock wants him to come back, some of the leaders at WBD want him to come back (enough for them to put his cameo in Black Adam), but with the new leadership of DC Studios (Gunn and Safran) developing their own new plan for the DCEU, it was not possible or advisable to make any concrete deals with Cavill about his return, and no move is happening yet in a Superman movie because of the need to get ducks lined up first and see if a long-term return from Cavill fits into the new plans.
Even if Cavill, his team, The Rock, Zaslav and others expect Cavill to eventually return, it would still make sense that nothing is happening to make it that way just yet. If it could be January before a final DC plan is presented to WBD and after that I assume there’s going to be discussion and the plans will be tweaked a bit then comes figuring out timelines and who needs to lead projects so why would you enter into a contract with someone when there are so many months before anyone is even sure what the plan is?
Likewise, it’s also true that even if those same people want Cavill to return, Gunn and Safran may have other plans and could suggest Cavill’s Superman be scrapped. There are different ways they can move on, and there are many ways things can happen with Cavill and Superman.
For example, they might suggest returning to the plans developed under Walter Hamada’s direction, which included introducing Supergirl to replace Superman until an all-new Superman could be introduced later. Or they could propose a major “Crisis” event that takes the best of all past and present DC movies and TV shows to create one unified DCEU mixing actors and characters from different places.
Or maybe they’ll recommend a few more years of the current DCEU to top it all off – including Cavill just returning for a Black Adam sequel, and maybe even a Man of Steel sequel – to give them time before a hard reboot can bring about an all-new DCEU that continues into the future in about five years. Or they immediately plan a hard reboot of the entire DCEU, to avoid pouring even more money into an older iteration they want to replace. Or maybe they suggest making each solo franchise its own world and crossing over only occasionally for multiverse events.
The point is that, with so many options on the table – including many that none of us have even considered, but which have certainly occurred to Gunn and Safran – it makes the most sense that Cavill’s return was only contractually agreed upon for Black Adam, and there are currently no firm plans for further appearances, nor any plans to develop a Superman movie around Cavill, regardless of whether that’s how many people want and expect things to turn out. Once Gunn and Safran have presented their plan to WBD and everything has been given the go-ahead, it will be time to approach Cavill and/or others to take steps to get projects underway, if that is part of the plan.
So we can’t read too much into the new report beyond the fact that it makes perfect sense and is probably what anyone would expect from the situation. And it also means that a lot of the assumptions and hype surrounding Cavill’s return have been generated by people who absolutely hope it happens and are working to make it happen, but who remain deliberately vague about details while making statements suggesting that it happens. In other words, the same thing that happened before when hints and rumors abounded with no real action going on in the studio.
If Cavill does eventually come back, I have no doubt he could star in a great Superman movie. But if he doesn’t come back, I have no doubt that Gunn and Safran’s plans will be great and we’ll end up with a Superman movie worth waiting for.
I’m afraid to guess what the DC Studios CEOs will decide as that means trying to guess at some aspects of their larger plan but I will say that some of WBD’s leadership is a Man of Steel continued and were willing to insert Cavill Black Adam makes me think Gunn and Safran came on board knowing the studio’s wishes and will incorporate some of that into their plan.
I also think DC Studios will continue to make a few more movies in the current DCEU even if they eventually plan a big change or a hard reboot after a few years which I think means we’ll see Cavill at least one more time in a Black Adam or Shazam! sequel (unless Gunn/Safran convinces them that another DC movie where Superman fights another superhero won’t appeal to audiences enough and would look like “moving backwards instead of forward”), if not a Man of Steel continuation.
That being said, I can imagine a scenario where Gunn and Safran say HBO Max should be where all the remaining movies/projects for the current existing DCEU play out, while the studio focuses on assembling teams to recreate each of the heroes individually. to boot, like Matt Reeves did for Batman, then release those movies and have the heroes play in their own unique worlds for solo movies, but then converge into crossover event movies and streaming shows.
This could even end up as an outgrowth of Reeves’ own Batman world, if DC Studios convinces him to work with them in a way similar to what would have been had Christopher Nolan said, “Let’s say Man of Steel in the world in which I created The dark knight, and we just keep the solo Batman movies grounded as they are, while the rest of the DC movies just don’t do anything to contradict it. This would allow them to have their cake and eat it too, and the Reeves Batman would be free to do his own thing in his own solo films, occasionally appearing in team-ups every few years if necessary.
Whatever happens in the future, the current lack of movement in Superman projects and the lack of firm deals for Cavill to return again is to be expected, given the ongoing evolution of plans at the studio. So we can expect several more weeks and maybe months of silence, filled at best only with rumors of dubious origin.