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The Death of Henry Cavill as Superman

The doomsday for the Man of Steel means a rebirth for Supergirl.
By  · Published on September 12th, 2018

The Hall of Justice loses another member as Henry Cavill walks away from the Man of Steel and the Justice League. The culprit was not kryptonite nor a mustache nor a kryptonite mustache. According to the Hollywood Reporter, doomsday arrived for Cavill as a direct result of deteriorating contract talks.

A.K.A. money, money, money. What does this mean for Kal-El and the rest of the DCEU — I mean, umm, the Worlds of DC franchise? Surely they’ll find another beefcake to fill out the tights. Or not.

While neither Cavill nor Warner Bros. have officially commented on the situation, rumor has it that a deal to shoehorn a Superman cameo into the upcoming Shazam! ultimately concluded in both parties separating. A scheduling conflict regarding Cavill’s recent attachment to The Witcher series escalated the studio’s gameplan of shifting their focus from Superman to Supergirl. Wha? Huh?

Well, look, one-time sure-bets like Superman and Batman no longer hold popular attention. The mainstays are old news, or at least, tired concepts. Audiences crave new perspectives, and when competitor films like Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant-Man and The Wasp run circles around you at the box office, the time has come to put your faith in the deeper cuts of your own universe.

Wonder Woman is the new champion of DC Comics movies. Hell, Aquaman and Shazam! look to get more play than the Metropolis poster child. The Hollywood Reporter’s sources have apparently concluded that they should retire the capes for both Cavill and Ben Affleck. Phew. The trigger has finally been pulled on that gossip.

In focusing on Supergirl’s origin story, Superman becomes a non-issue. Due to wormholes, space-time-displacement, and other sci-fi shenanigans, Kal-El’s cousin arrives on Earth years before his pod crashes in Smallville. Warner Bros. shrugs its shoulders. Don’t blame us for dumping Cavill, blame the comics.

Are the actors at fault? No. Warner Bros. is fully aware that recent entries in their franchise have struggled to connect with audiences. An anonymous insider is willing to admit that “There’s recognition that some parts of the previous movies didn’t work.” Oh really? We hadn’t noticed.

Justice League was a flagrant attempt to right the ship after Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice moved the dark rain cloud of Bruce Wayne over the bright, sunshiney optimism of Clark Kent. Mass audiences and critics rejected this insistence of melancholy, and Warner Bros responded by altering the fabric of their franchise during mid-production of Justice League. The internal turmoil made creative failure inescapable.

The reset button became necessary. Although, complicated. Batman and Superman might have gotten the boot from Justice League, but other members are still swinging strong. Wonder Woman is easily considered the most successful entry in the DCEU, and the anticipation surrounding its 1984 sequel remains high. Jason “My Man!” Momoa‘s Aquaman is looking to make big waves (sorry, not sorry) this Holiday season. Based on trailers, the personality of Zachary Levi‘s musclebound titan in Shazam! feeds directly from the heroics of the Justice League. And Ezra Miller is still attached to a Flashpoint spinoff.

Were The Beatles still The Beatles after the passing of John Lennon? Nope. The Warner Bros. shared universe gamble is a failure. Better to admit that these films are not connected, let them do their own thing, and quit pretending a Justice League can form a la The Avengers. Go make a kickass Supergirl flick. Unleash Joaquin Phoenix‘s Joker. Give Cathy Yan all the money and freedom to craft Birds of Prey into something wholly original. Please, we’re begging you, cut all the strings that bind the films together.

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Brad Gullickson is a Weekly Columnist for Film School Rejects and Senior Curator for One Perfect Shot. When not rambling about movies here, he's rambling about comics as the co-host of Comic Book Couples Counseling. Hunt him down on Twitter: @MouthDork. (He/Him)