Henry Cavill’s Superman potentially returning continues to excite DC fans, and Cavill’s absence could actually play into the marketing of his return.
Henry Cavill returning as Superman could present the Man of Steel’s return to the big screen with a marketing opportunity that Justice League failed to capitalize on. Buzz has been building for the hope of Henry Cavill returning as Superman in the DCEU, with several events heightening it. In addition to rumors of Cavill appearing at 2022’s San Diego Comic-Con, Ben Affleck has made another return as Bruce Wayne for Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom, enlivening hopes of Cavill’s return. Though the San Diego Comic-Con rumors about Cavill ended up not bearing fruit, the buzz around just the possibility of Cavill appearing was easily the event’s biggest DC topic. It’s clear that Cavill should don the S-shield again. The long stretch since Cavill has appeared on-screen is something the studio could emphasize. Although he appeared in Zack Snyder’s Justice League in 2021, that film was created as an alternative cut to the 2017 release, Justice League, the last DCEU movie that Henry Cavill actively worked on.
Though it was known that he would return from his death in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Superman was largely kept out of the marketing of the theatrical version of Justice League in 2017. Justice League not emphasizing the resurrection of Superman to a greater extent in its trailers was a missed opportunity compounding the infamy of Superman’s mustache and the many other failings of the theatrical cut. Though the intention was understandably not to ruin the surprise, the movie might have been better served to just play it straight and capitalize on the hype surrounding Superman’s resurrection and the black suit. The 2021 release of the Snyder Cut was much more upfront with the Man of Steel’s revival, though the “Hallelujah” trailer played more into the general jubilation of Snyder’s intended version being released than a specific focus on Superman. Still, a new Henry Cavill appearance could and should emphasize the long-awaited return of the Man of Steel, and a previous Superman movie even provides a template for that.
2006’s Superman Returns was the first Superman movie in nearly two decades, and the trailers and marketing for the movie played that up at every opportunity. The title itself was an overt reminder that Kal-El had been away from theaters since the days of Christopher Reeve’s Superman, and the angle taken before its release was that of audiences greeting a returning hero. The financial underperformance of Superman Returns notwithstanding, Cavill coming back as Superman would have a similar outline the DCEU could easily follow.The desire for Cavill to return as Superman is itself a continuation of the long push for the Snyder Cut to be released and the continued calls for the SnyderVerse to be fully restored. With Cavill not having filmed any new scenes as Superman since the 2017 Justice League reshoots, the news of his return could turn that long gap into a genuine asset. Any trailer or publicity materials could drive excitement to see Cavill’s Superman again simply with a “He’s back!” kind of theme.
When and how Henry Cavill could return as the Last Son of Krypton (a Man of Steel-Batman v Superman interval story being a particularly good choice) is ultimately a matter Warner Bros. Discovery would need to map out. Still, with undeniable enthusiasm for Cavill’s Superman to return, putting that front and center would be a strategic move missed by Justice League. With Cavill having been away from the role of Superman for as long as he has been, his announced return as Superman could turn his absence into the biggest hype machine possible.