Superman is one of DC Comics and the most recognizable hero in the world. It’s a mantle passed from actor to actor, like that of a superhero himself: playing the Man of Steel means taking on the pressure of representing a pop culture legend who is known around the world as a figure of courage who is known for strength and compassion. Henry Cavill is the latest actor to carry that responsibility, and after it became apparent he wouldn’t do it again, his reappearance was in Black Adam (2022) alongside major leadership changes in DC’s film department means there may be more to come.
When did Henry Cavill appear in the DCU?
Henry Cavill made his DC Universe debut almost a decade ago in man of Steel (2013). Since then, he’s made five more appearances (considering Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021) as its own film, and we will). This is how we would categorize Henry’s appearances in the DC Universe.
Born on the Channel Island of Jersey, the actor first came to prominence as Charles Brandon on Showtime’s The Tudors (2007-2010), before catching the attention of director Zack Snyder to play Kal-El himself in Superman’s Return to the Big Screen.
With his square chin and toned physique, the undeniably handsome star was a perfect match for Krypton’s most famous son, who followed in the footsteps of Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh.
But how would you rank his five appearances as Man of Steel? We judged them below…
5 – justice league (2017)
This ill-fated attempt at the first Justice League collaboration didn’t quite go to plan. Developed as a Marvel-style team-up film avenger (2012), instead the end result was jumbled at best, as there were rumors of major studio interventions, a change of director (from Zack Snyder to Joss Whedon), and generally unhappy rumbles from the cast. The combined charisma of Cavill, Gal Gadot (Diana Prince/Wonder Woman), Ben Affleck (Bruce Wayne/Batman), Ray Fisher (Victor Stone/Cyborg), Jason Momoa (Arthur Curry/Aquaman) and Ezra Miller (Barry Allen/Flash). ), could not withdraw this film.
Rather than being Cavill’s first chance to feature a Superman that embodies all of the comic book hero’s hope and character, fresh from the origin story of man of Steel ((2013) and the attempts of Batman vs Superman (2016) we remembered him best for a mustache with a mustache (the result of reshoots ordered during a time the actor was also filming Mission: Impossible – Fallout (2018)). It wasn’t a team-up in the style of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Related: Henry Cavill hopes he can “inspire” everyone as Superman again
4 – man of Steel (2013)
Cavill’s first appearance as Superman is an epic origin story. It begins with the destruction of Krypton and takes us through Kal-El – aka Clark Kent – who is adopted by the Kent family, and then we learn about his overpowered alien origins. It’s a tough hero’s journey, as Clark bears the pressure of his responsibilities, his power as much a burden as a gift as he decides how best to use it on his adopted planet.
The film is driven by a menacing foe in Michael Shannon’s Zod who sinisterly threads his way through the film, building into a spectacularly destructive battle in Metropolis. The grand finale raised some eyebrows as the normally humanitarian character smashed skyscrapers and more in the junk with superpowers. The whole thing is also accompanied by a breathtakingly stratospheric score by Hans Zimmer and the outstanding track “What Are You Going To When You Are Not Saving The World?” offers a great, engaging new theme for Cavill’s take on the iconic hero.
Cavill is able to delve deep into the character and develop the psychology of a man carrying the potential defenses of an entire planet on his shoulders. We also see the start of his romance with Lois Lane, a sparkling Amy Adams.
3 – Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Cavill’s second appearance is in this chapter, Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016). As the title suggests, pitting his heroes against Ben Affleck’s version of the Dark Knight, the two clash over their interpretation of justice and what it means to protect the cities they call home.
Continuation of the theme from man of Steel (2013), Superman grapples with his status as an almost godlike figure on Earth. And people don’t all see him as benevolent; The aftermath of the destruction left behind by the decisive battle against Zod has caused some unhappiness, with Lex Luthor (Jesse Eisenberg) leading the charge against the last son of Krypton over some Machiavellian shenanigans (which unexpectedly include a jar of urine).
As the title suggests, while Henry flexes both his character and his muscles, the film also carries the weight of introducing the concept of the Justice League. People have poked fun at the way Superman and Batman resolve their conflict as both realized their mothers name was Martha which forced them to see the humanity in each other. But what’s undeniable is that the moment Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman joins the party and the Big Three are first shown on screen together to take on Doomsday, it causes chills.
However, this fight also spells doom for Kal-El, leading to a somber ending… with just a nod to Superman’s possible defeat but not complete elimination.
Related: ‘Black Adam’ post credits explained
2 – Black Adam (2022)
Yes, it might just be a surprise appearance, a post-credits cameo, but to see Henry return to the big screen as Clark Kent, emerging from a puff of smoke to meet Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam toe-to-toe, was a DCU moment for the ages. It’s the most classic look we’ve ever seen as a character: shiny red and blue suit, flawless curls in place, he steps up to Johnson’s antihero: “We should have a chat.”
It’s an exciting moment, not only for the character, but for Cavill as well: it marks his possible return to the big screen as a hero, certainly a key figure in the future of the evolving DCU on screen. A Superman performance, but a heroic moment for the British actor’s future on screen.
1 – Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)
Yes, the four-hour epic took the top spot. Zack Snyder’s Justice League is so aggressively grandiose, so complete and clear a unique vision of its director that one somehow has to bow to the feat. Filled with the intricately detailed slow-motion tableaux Snyder loves, this is the Justice League as gods among us: walking, flying titans destined to wage destructive war with humanity as safety in between.
But it’s not just that; It’s also a somber homage to Superman, what he represents, and how the world mourns a hero they once saw with their own eyes save their lives. It’s full of mythology to the point of silliness – did we need this slow-motion hot dog to demonstrate how fast lightning can go? — but it also approaches the character with the level of reverence befitting one of 21st-century pop culture’s greatest icons.
It also gives Cavill another perspective: a Superman brought back to life, forced to sacrifice himself to save a world he’d already come to terms with, and unite an unequal pantheon of godlike beings to do so . Yes, there is a lot of CGI, and yes, this runtime is a behemoth in its own right. But the film reflects its director’s bombastic, grandiose vision, turning the Man of Steel into a modern myth. (It also has some really great fights.)
Related: James Gunn reveals plan for DCU
Where will he perform next?
While we don’t have a confirmed date or title for when Cavill will next star as Superman, the man himself took to Instagram to confirm that he will indeed return. His future as a character appears to have been secured, at least in part, with the help of Dwayne Johnson. Johnson appears to have played an integral role in convincing DC bosses to bring Cavill back to the big screen.
Under the new leadership of DC Studios’ co-CEOs, former DC Films James Gunn and Peter Safran, Cavill’s Superman is sure to play a significant role in what’s to come for the DCU on the big screen. We know the actor himself wants to bring back the hero with the ability to “inspire” once more.
Are you excited for the return of Henry Cavill as Superman? Let us know in the comments below.