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Superman Plans Up In The Air For Henry Cavill And DC Studios

Despite actor Henry Cavill’s return in a Black Adam post-credit scene and media reports of Warner Bros. Discovery leadership anxious for a sequel to Man of Steel, Superman plans at DC Studios remain up, up in the air as newly minted co-CEO’s James Gunn and Peter Safran finalize their road map for the future of DC Studios superhero franchises. This according to a new report today from Umberto Gonzalez at The Wrap that also states Gunn and Safran’s new plans for the DCEU will be presented to WBD leadership in the next two months, a fact confirmed by James Gunn himself via Twitter.

This isn’t the first time rumors swirled about Cavill’s imminent return and backroom dealings, with the actor giving lots of public hints suggesting a deal has been made or is about to be inked. But those past rumors and hints wound up leading nowhere.

The newest batch of rumors this year were given near-confirmation, however, when Dwayne Johnson began suggesting Cavill’s Superman was part of The Rock’s own plans for his DC superhero franchise Black Adam, and eventually of course Cavill filmed Superman’s post-credits cameo for Black Adam. Cavill subsequently released a video confirming he was “back” and would see fans again soon, but the video was ambiguous about what precisely he meant by being “back” and whether it included finished deals for future projects.

So, many people observing the industry remained skeptical of whether or not Cavill’s deal for Black Adam included any commitments for further appearances, and those doubts were enhanced at the time by the fact DC had still not announced anyone to head 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 by the start of the New Year. Since they haven’t yet provided their plan 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 nobody can say for certain what the plans are for Superman yet, since plans aren’t finished.

Additionally, it’s worth noting 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 sticks to his vow never to lie to fans. If The Wrap’s story was wrong about Superman and Cavill, I feel Gunn probably would’ve said something denying it or at least suggesting nobody should take the story at face value. I don’t believe he’d be ready to confirm the info if it were true, however, in which case I’d expect him to simply not comment at all on those parts. Which strongly suggests to me that the story is true, or that enough of it is accurate that denying would require getting into nuances that aren’t public yet.

So here is my best guess, based on what we know publicly and what’s whispered behind the scenes: Cavill wants to come back, The Rock wants him to come back, some leadership at WBD wants him to come back (enough so that they greenlit his cameo in Black Adam), but with new DC Studios leadership (Gunn and Safran) developing their own new plan for the DCEU it wasn’t possible or advisable to make any concrete deals with Cavill about his return, and no movement is taking place yet on any Superman film because of a need to get ducks in a row first and see whether a longterm return by Cavill fits into the new plans.

Even if Cavill, his team, The Rock, Zaslav, and others expect Cavill to return eventually, it would still make sense that there’s nothing happening yet to make it so. If could be January before a final DC plan is presented to WBD, and afterward I assume there will be discussion and some tweaking of the plans, then comes figuring out timelines and who to helm projects, so why commit to a contract with anyone when there’s so many months before anyone even knows for sure what the plan is?

Likewise, it’s also true that even if those same people want Cavill to return, Gunn and Safran might have different plans and could suggest Cavill’s Superman be dropped. There are several ways they could proceed, and many ways things could play out with Cavill and Superman.

For one example, they might suggest returning to the plans developed under Walter Hamada’s leadership, which included introducing Supergirl to replace Superman until a brand new Superman could be introduced later. Or they could suggest a major “Crisis” event that pulls the best from all of the past and present DC movies and TV shows to create a single unified DCEU mixing actors and characters from different places.

Or maybe they will recommend a few more years of the current DCEU to finish it all off — including Cavill returning simply for a Black Adam sequel, and maybe even a Man of Steel sequel — to give them time before a hard reboot in five or so years can establish a brand new DCEU that continues into the future. Or they might plan a hard reboot of the whole DCEU immediately, to avoid putting any more money into an older iteration they plan to replace. Or maybe they’ll suggest just making each solo franchise its own world and only crossing over occasionally for multiverse events.

The point being, with so many options on the table — including plenty none of us have even thought of, but which surely occurred to Gunn and Safran — it makes the most sense that Cavill’s return was only contractually established for Black Adam, and there aren’t currently any hard plans for further appearances yet nor any plans in motion to develop a Superman movie around Cavill, regardless of whether that’s how a lot of folks want and expect things to turn out. Once Gunn and Safran present their plan to WBD and get everything greenlit, then it’ll be time to approach Cavill and/or others about making moves to get projects underway, if that’s part of the plan.

We can’t read too much into the new report, then, aside from the fact it makes perfect sense and is probably what everyone should expect the situation to be anyway. And it also means much of the assumption and hype around Cavill’s return has been generated by folks who definitely hope it happens and are working to make it happen, but who are intentionally staying vague about details while making statements implying it’s happening. In other words, the same thing that happened previously when hints and rumors abounded without any real action going on at the studio.

If Cavill does eventually come back, I’ve no doubt he can headline a terrific Superman movie. But if he doesn’t come back, I have no doubt Gunn’s and Safran’s plans will be great and we’ll eventually get a Superman movie worth waiting for.

I’m reluctant to guess at what the DC Studios CEOs will decide, since that means trying to guess at some aspects of their larger plan, but I will say the fact some of WBD’s leadership wants a Man of Steel sequel and were willing to insert Cavill into Black Adam makes me think Gunn and Safran came aboard knowing the studio’s wishes and will incorporate some of that into their plan.

I also think DC Studios will keep making a few more movies in the current DCEU, even if they plan a major change or hard reboot eventually 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 another DC movie with Superman fighting another superhero won’t appeal to audiences enough and would look like “going backward instead of forward”), if not a Man of Steel sequel.

That said, I can imagine a scenario where Gunn and Safran say HBO Max should be where any remaining films/projects for the current existing DCEU to play out, while the studio focuses on putting together teams to reboot all of the heroes separately the way Matt Reeves did for Batman, and then release those movies and let the heroes play in their own unique worlds for solo films but then come together in crossover event movies and streaming shows.

This might even wind up as an outgrowth of Reeves’ own Batman world, if DC Studios convinces him to work with them on how to do it in a way similar to what might’ve existed if Christopher Nolan had said, “Let’s put Man of Steel within the world I created in The Dark Knight, and we’ll just keep the solo Batman films grounded the way they are while the rest of the DC movies just don’t do anything to contradict it.” This would let them have their cake and eat it too, and the Reeves Batman would be free to do his own thing in his own solo films, and just occasionally appear in team-ups when necessary every several years.

Whatever happens in the future, the current lack of movement on any Superman projects and the lack of any firm deals for Cavill to return again are to be expected, in light of ongoing evolution of plans at the studio. So we can expect several more weeks and maybe months of silence filled only by rumors of questionable origin at best.

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