‘Man of Steel’: When We Saw Superman’s Injustice Personified

“Superman.”

Think about that word. When a person exhibits an incredible feat of strength, what do we call them? When a hectic father of four tries to make ends meet in this struggling economy, what do they call him? We refer to that person as Superman.

And why? He is the most well-known, most-referenced, and certainly one of the most popular superheroes in the world.

Here: Do this. Close your eyes and envision the perfect hero.

Sure, he can change the rotation of the Earth with flight at super speed, bullets will bounce off his chest, but what does the man with the ‘S’ on his chest look like to you? Following Christopher Reeve setting the standard and Brandon Routh not really living up to it, Warner Bros. and DC had acquired one of the best up-and-coming actors to dawn the bright red cape and spandex of Superman back in 2013.

If you look at the totality of how he has been used in film, the outcome has been severely underwhelming. There is no doubt in my mind Henry Cavill is perfect for the role of Superman, so why can’t DC Comics and Warner Bros. get it right?

Man of Steel Feels Stolen

Zack Snyder created the most realistic Superman with Henry Cavill and Man of Steel
Credit: Clay Enos/Legendary Entertainment

Warner Bros and DC Comics had seemingly hit the jackpot back in 2013 when they cast Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot, Man of Steel. Maybe I shouldn’t say jackpot. While the film was well received on opening weekend, it only allotted $291 million domestically. It did break even, but by no means could it be considered a “hit.” Rotten Tomatoes found it ‘rotten’ at a score of 56%.

This failure at the box office can hardly be accredited to the lack of a star-studded cast. There was both Russell Crowe and Kevin Costner each in their respective role as Clark’s fathers. Then, Michael Shannon’s blood-thirsty General Zod. Of course, Amy Adams as the incomparable Lois Lane.

Zack Snyder’s vision of Superman was destined for glory. It also can’t be accredited to the lack of interest in comic book films. Marvel Studios changed the game just a year earlier with Marvel’s The Avengers raking in the dough like never before.

If all that is true, why the big disappointment?

For starters, although the Man of Steel sounds like a great, cool title for a Superman flick to comic book fans. Yet, it would hardly grab the attention of a casual movie fan. If you are going to release a film with the most recognizable name, and symbol to match, you might want to think about putting his name on the marquee!

Although it flunked at the box office and among critics, Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel is actually considered a top-tier favorite film among comic book fans. People who really appreciate it praise Snyder’s dark and serious style of film-making, as well as Cavill’s performance in the role.

Then, Man of Steel was over and the Superman character we noted in that origin movie changed…drastically.

Martha, really?

Source: Warner Bros./Cruel and Unusual Films/Atlas Entertainment

In what should have been a battle of epic proportions, Warner Bros. managed to fail Henry Cavill again. In a rush to catch up to Marvel Studios successful shared universe, the DCEU offered its three most popular heroes on a silver platter. And then it was devoured and obliterated by fans and critics alike.

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was Warner Bros. most profitable comic book film to date, even though it continues to be scoffed at by fans four years later! (Well, not all of them.)

This blockbuster should have been a huge success. We began with the Oscar-award winner Ben Affleck dawning Batman’s cape and cowl. Then, we saw the insatiable and fierce Gal Gadot premiering as Wonder Woman. Finally, we saw Henry Cavill as Superman once again. As a result of what Deadpool might refer to as “lazy writing,” the film faced an onslaught of criticism from all angles.

Perhaps the most laughable moment (IMHO) took place as Batman towered over Superman’s body with killer intent, kryptonite spear in hand. Just as the spear is raised before the fatal blow, Cavill utters the words, “Save Martha.”

This shook Bruce to his core, in confusion and misplaced disbelief. I mean come on!

All this build up and we’re going to stop Bruce in his tracks because his mother’s name is Martha too? Give us a break! Not even Gal Gadot’s stellar performance as Diana or the levitating dirt above Superman’s casket could turn that around.

And then we hit “Mustache-Gate.”

CGI nightmare

In Superman’s next appearance, DC Comics wasted no time in making a complete mockery of Henry Cavill. Justice League opened with an old recording of Cavill’s Superman answering the questions of two young boys.

The dialogue shared is actually fantastic, right on par with the core values of Superman. Sadly, it’s really hard to acknowledge those words because the worst CGI ever made its onscreen debut in the form of our heroes’ mouth.

Cavill wasn’t allowed to shave his mustache during Justice League reshoots, as he was in the middle of filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout alongside Tom Cruise. With all the money they have, you would assume Warner Bros. would rectify such an alarming misuse of effects. I’ve seen Tik Tok users with better graphics and effects than that.

Justice League creates quite the juggling act for itself and ultimately fumbles in extraordinary fashion. In an attempt to introduce three new main characters in Aquaman, Cyborg, and Flash. The three are given very little backstory, which leaves no reason for the viewer to become emotionally invested.

After Snyder left the director’s chair, Warner Bros. was tasked with the challenge of meshing Snyder’s unique style with Joss Whedon’s campy and comedic approach. This was the film’s largest shortcoming and made every aspect of the film feel very disjointed and messy.

superman, no more?

In September of 2018, talks between Cavill and Warner Bros. supposedly broke down after his inability to make a cameo alongside Zachary Levi‘s Shazam! in his solo film. At this time, rumors stirred that the studio was ready to part ways with Cavill’s Superman, and planned to move forward with Supergirl in the near future, as they had no intentions of releasing a Superman sequel for years to come. Additionally, there were rumors that Michael B. Jordan might take over as Superman in WB’s attempt to explore a new, fresh version of the character.

While none of these rumors had come to fruition, not yet anyways, the understanding is that Warner Bros, was looking to relaunch the DCEU after their past projects and shared universe had largely been considered a failure. Although relaunching may be the right move, parting ways with Cavill is hardly the problem; as a matter of fact, casting him may be one of the only things they’ve done right.

Henry Cavill was born to play this role. His impeccable physique, kind eyes, and jaw line would lead you to think he might actually be Superman. Not only does he have the looks, but Cavill is an outstanding actor as he’s proved in past films, as well as Netflix’s series The Witcher. The video-game-based series led by Cavill was such a hit that it was almost immediately given the green-light for season two, giving nerds like us another role of his to go on about.

its a bird, its a plane, its DC Fandome!

We will get plenty of Superman at DC FanDome
Source: DC Comics

DC FanDome is just around the corner. Certainly the most-anticipated panel of the event is The Snyder Cut of Justice League panel featuring Zack Snyder. With Cavill and company excited to deliver this version of the film in 2021 and Warner Bros and HBO Max working hard to ensure that its everything we have dreamed of, we expect something big on August 22nd. Whether that be in the form of a trailer, scene from the film, or additional actors joining the already stellar cast, we expect the panel to pack quite the punch.

If the Snyder Cut is as epic and awesome as all involved suggests, what could that mean for our current Justice League members moving forward? Although Snyder and Affleck seem to be sure of parting ways with DC following the release of this project, Cavill has been very vocal regarding his love for the character of Superman and his intention to remain in the role moving forward. Could this be the version of Superman that we’ve been dying to see?

Recently, it was reported that Cavill had finally come to terms with Warner Bros. and that he would take on a more minor role in future films. This level of commitment was compared to that of Mark Ruffalo‘s Hulk in the MCU, meaning that Cavill will appear in many future DCEU films, but not be at the forefront of any of them. Is it just me, or is that a completely backwards way of thinking?

While the Hulk is a very popular Marvel hero, he is not the hero. Superman is the heart of DC Comics, always has been and always will be. If you want to revamp the DCEU without a Batman, that’s fine. Batman has proved to be profitable and successful in his own realm time and time again.

When it comes to Superman, that’s where I draw the line. He is that hero, the face of your franchise and the rightful leader of the shared universe that we deserve. Since 2013, Warner Bros. has not done themselves nor Henry Cavill any favors. Its about time that Cavill’s Superman receives the justice it deserves.

While I would like nothing more than a Man of Steel sequel to be announced at this larger-than-life virtual event, I realize that it is very unlikely. Regardless of what Earth-shattering comic book, gaming, or film announcements we actually do get out of this event, I know one thing for sure: I want Henry Cavill’s Superman around for the long haul.

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