Ah, the DC Extended Universe: a shared cinematic universe filled with coulda, shoulda beens. It had a bright start with 2013’s Man of Steel, a polarizing but by no means terrible film. From there, the DCEU has been a series of major misfires and occasional bright spots, leading to a team-up film that didn’t exactly do (ahem) justice to the comic book characters that inspired them.
But could things have turned out differently if Warner Bros. wasn’t so eager to kickstart its shared universe with Batman v Superman and had instead released Man of Steel 2 as planned? Perhaps, if Henry Cavill‘s latest interview about the long-gestating sequel means anything.
Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel introduced a darker Superman that alienated many fans — mostly centered on one moment: when Superman brutally snaps the neck of his enemy, Zod, to save dozens of innocents. It was a horrifying final scene to end Man of Steel on, and a somewhat grim closer to Superman’s first solo film since 2006’s Superman Returns. Who was this new, murderous Superman? Not the one we had grown to know and love in the comics and animated series throughout the years.
But in an interview with Square Mile, Henry Cavill reveals that Man of Steel 2 would have gone through significant lengths to address the fallout of Superman’s devastating actions. Man of Steel was Superman’s origin story, but Man of Steel 2 would have given us the traditional, heroic Superman we love. Cavill said:
“The killing of Zod would have led to a wonderful reason why Superman never kills. Not, he never kills just because his dad said so one day. He made the decision himself because of an impossible scenario, to which he then said, ‘I don’t care if it’s impossible again, I’m gonna find a way to make it possible in the impossible.’”
Cavill didn’t mention whether this was Snyder’s plan for Man of Steel 2, but since the director was initially slated to return for the Superman sequel before Warner Bros. tapped him for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, this seems likely to be his vision. It would have been a promising next step for Superman, and one that would have saved us from the gloomy, cynical follow-up that we ended up getting with Batman v Superman. Perhaps we could have gotten a whole movie of the hopeful, aspiration Superman that we only saw a glimpse of at the beginning of Justice League.
“We didn’t get the opportunity to show the other side of it, the ‘I’m ready to be Superman now and I’m ready to show the world the best examples’. That’s where the joy and glee comes from, and that sense of warmth from the character, which is his real superpower – he makes people believe in themselves. It was a shame because it would’ve been nice, and it would have been a lovely coupling with the seriousness and the depth of Man of Steel.”
Honestly, I would have liked to see that kinder, compassionate Superman before Warner Bros. decided to dive headlong into creating a cinematic universe with Batman v Superman. It felt jarring to be reintroduced to Superman as a hero who inspired a cult-like reverence and fear in Batman v Superman, and even more jarring for him to be retconned as a symbol of hope in Justice League. Cavill has shown that he is more than capable of playing to the lighthearted side of Superman — and I hope someday we’ll get to see it.
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