The DC cinematic universe could circumvent the perception problem of Superman, who has few villains, with the return of the acclaimed Superman Henry Cavill. Following the recent merger of Warner Bros. and Discovery, the newly formed studio is reviewing the studio’s plans for DC as a cinematic intellectual property right. Internal discussions have reportedly identified Superman as a priority for the company, and that could mean good things for Cavill’s future in the role.
In a recent article in The Wrap, an anonymous D.C. insider commented that the studio “should strike out every Superman project being developed” in favor of Henry Cavill putting the cape back on. If Warner Bros-Discovery decides to go down this path, Cavill’s “Man of Steel” will have the added advantage of being able to present various Superman villains in a cinematic context. In fact, it was something of a recurring problem for the “Last Son of Krypton”.
Since the era of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, Kal-El’s villains on the big screen have long been Lex Luthor and Superman’s comrade, Kryptonian General Zod. Meanwhile, as an unintended byproduct, Superman had to contend with the seeming lack of a gallery of strong con artists in his public perception. This began to change in the films Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League by Zack Snyder, which respectively featured Doomsday (Robin Atkin Downs), Steppenwolf (Ciaran Hinds) and Darkseid (Ray Porter). However, Superman has a wide range of different villains, such as Brainiac, Bizarro, Metallo, Exterminator, Ultraman, Parasite and others who have not yet received a chance at cinematic fame. The return of Henry Cavill may well change that.
1. Superman’s villain is perfect for “Man of Steel 2”
Cavill’s return as Superman, ideally in a movie set between Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, would eliminate the need for any representation of a new Superman from scratch. As an offshoot of this, it will also open the door for his little-used gallery of scammers besides Lex Luthor and General Zod to be booby-trapped. Depending on the story being told, Brainiac, Bizarro or Parasite will be among the best candidates, and Bizarro may even bring an additional advantage.
As a Superman lookalike with a very diverse character history, Bizarro has adapted in various ways in Superman series such as Superman: The Animated Series, Smallville Mysteries, and Superman and Lois, in which his rogues’ gallery was used more widely than his films. Given his abilities and his resemblance to Kal-El, an intermediate film between Man of Steel and Batman v Superman could use Bizarro as a villain who eventually fuels the distrust of most of the world towards Superman, despite his heroism in Batman v Superman. It may even be an additional boost to Ben Affleck’s Batman motivation and paranoia for what eventually becomes his rage-filled quest to destroy the Man of Steel.
The absence of Superman on the big screen in the last few years has been a glaring omission in the DCEU hero list. Warner Bros-Discovery seems to be aware of this problem with great clarity, and their analysis could potentially lead to the long-awaited return of Henry Cavill as the Man of Tomorrow. An added benefit of this would be that with Cavill’s return, other Superman villains could finally start their careers with celluloid (and hopefully get Superman Cavill to fight Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam).