Maybe Henry Cavill is better off not being Superman

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by | Dec 19, 2022 | Film & TV

Superhero fatigue is setting in and maybe he dodged a bullet there

Update:
Dwayne Johnson announced on 20 December that he would no longer be playing Black Adam, so add that to the list below!

The past few months have been a bit weird in the world of Hollywood superheroes, even in the notoriously misguided and directionless DC ‘universe’. So Henry Cavill was coming back as Superman, until he wasn’t.

A cancel culture seems to be the order of the day as James Gunn and Peter Safran take over the DC film and TV shows. Patty Jenkins Wonder Woman 3 has also been dropped, initial leaks pointed the blame at Jenkins for walking away, but clarification from the director proved that it was another victim of the cull. There was also a rumoured Batman movie featuring an older version of the man-bat played by Michael Keeton – which could have been fantastic – but it’s been nixed. There is also doubt over the already filmed Flash movie, there have been various cameos excised and then there is the issues around Miller’s bizzarre behaviour and multiple arrests over the past year or so.

Cavill is out

A whole bunch of rumours have been circulating about Henry Cavill and Dwayne Johnson playing the DC system to get Black Adam and a new Superman movie made. The rumours are attracting a lot of gossip but seem to be concerned with nothing more than the usual game playing that agents and studios indulge in every day. Whoever Cavill had as an agent right now wouldn’t be much help in keeping a role that the Gunn/Safran team don’t want in their vision for the new DC Universe. This iteration will be what, DCU 6.0? It used to be the DCEU but they’ve dropped the E for extended now. By this stage adding a D for distended might be more appropriate.

We will likely never know the ins-and-outs of Cavill leaving the Witcher and Superman, and actually we don’t need to. Sometimes negotiations get nowhere, show-runners, directors and actors don’t always gel, ‘artistic differences’ is a cover for an awful lot of bust-ups. The whole film and TV world is a strange juxtaposition of artistic endeavour propelled by corporate studios and accountants. In all honesty if it was laid bare we would all be shocked and disgusted with the behind-the-scenes shenanigans.

So Henry isn’t Superman any more, oh dear, how sad, never mind. Sorry to say, but Superman is a pretty dull character anyway, the movies only get interesting when he’s hamming it up as Clark Kent or falls from grace and goes on a drinking spree (Superman 3) or snaps Zod’s neck (Man of Steel). Cavill has already hit all of the character beats the hero ever gets anyway.

The Witcher has had three seasons with Henry as Geralt, but in shock news he left the role, one of the dozens of Hemsworth brothers is stepping in to pick up the wig for season four. Again there were rumours that he wasn’t happy with the show runners faithfulness to the source material, or that he had to commit to a training schedule for Superman (really?! Does he look out of shape?). Maybe they wanted to cut his pay, who knows?

Interestingly a writer, Beau DeMayo, also left the series citing that the some of the other writers contempt for the source material was part of the reason for his departure. Season 2 changed a lot from the novel, creating a villain that didn’t exist in the books. Then there is the new spin-off Witcher: Blood Origin series which was chopped down to four episodes from the originally planned six and occupies a completely unnecessary prequel slot.

Cavill is in

Henry Cavill has a bunch of projects coming up. There’s a new Mathew Vaughn (The Kingsman) movie coming up entitled Argylle where Cavill plays the eponymous super spy. The rest of the cast looks great; Sam Rockwell, Bryan Cranston, Catherine O’Hara, Samuel L. Jackson, John Cena, Ariana DeBose, Bryce Dallas Howard, and Dua Lipa all star.

There is also a new Guy Ritchie flick in the offing, The Ministry Of Ungentlemanly Warfare, based on the book by Damien Lewis set in WWII documenting the creation of the SOE (Special Operations Executive) a proto black ops operation. Think the BBC’s SAS Rogue Heroes with ten times the budget and Ritchie’s brilliant eye for bonkers characters getting into scrapes. It’s pitched as the first in a franchise, but then his King Arthur: Legend of the Sword movie was meant to be but failed big time at the box office.

A Highlander reboot has been in the works for ages with Cavill attached, maybe that will happen. Maybe he’ll be the next Bond. Oh, hang on, we said he should avoid one dimensional characters…

Warhammer 40k

Just after the DC debacle Cavill announced that he was working with Amazon to develop a live action ‘universe’ based on Warhammer 40k, the batshit crazy gaming universe created by Games Workshop, originally as a table top war-game and now covering video games and tie in novels. Cavill is wonderfully open about his love of gaming and specifically the world of Warhammer. Amazon (by all accounts) are still hammering out (sorry) the details of the rights with Games Workshop. But seriously, it must be a done deal, having Henry Cavill in a live action Warhammer movie or series would be marketing gold for them. This is the kind of thing Warhammer is…

Now live action adaptations of games don’t have a particularly great track record. The most recent example is Halo, everyone from Steven Spielberg to Peter Jackson were slated to have a go at it, but it existed in production hell for some years before appearing as a series starring Pablo Schreiber on Paramount+ (the streaming service no one watches). It was OK, but didn’t really capture the games core appeal. The trouble is that particular appeal rests on a character that never takes his helmet off or has any real character – perfect for gamers to project themselves on but pretty useless in a narrative sense or as a protagonist for a live action series. Or maybe we’ve already seen it done better  in The Mandalorian.

Warhammer is a bit different, there isn’t a central narrative to it, but there is a ton of back story, history and world building all ready to use. So a story could be set against almost any stage of its mythology and exist without pissing off legions of fans. On the negative side it is extremely gory and deeply weird, but that worked for The Boys. Plus, Cavill gets to be a producer and show runner, something that would suit his cool calm and collected demeanour – assuming that’s a real thing and not a PR front obviously.

Written by Iain Hazlewood

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