Actor says ‘this news isn’t the easiest’ as DC Studio’s new co-chairman James Gunn builds new universe
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel. Cavill has been told he won’t reprise the role in Guardians of the Galaxy director James Gunn’s film. Photograph: Clay Enos
Guardians of the Galaxy director and DC Studios’ new co-chairman, James Gunn, is writing a Superman movie that won’t involve the actor Henry Cavill, who said it was “not the easiest news” after he only recently announced that he would be returning to the role.
The new Superman film penned by Gunn will take the character in a different direction and focus on the superhero’s younger years. The announcement comes amid momentous change at DC Studios and parent company Warner Brothers, which has been slashing scores of projects to cut costs after merging with Discovery, Inc.
Cavill has played Superman since the 2013 film Man of Steel and last appeared in the role in a cameo in Black Adam earlier this year. In October, after resigning from the lead role in Netflix show The Witcher, he announced he would be returning to play Superman again.
On Wednesday, Cavill wrote on Instagram that Gunn and his co-chair, Peter Safran, had met with him to deliver the news.
“I will, after all, not be returning as Superman,” Cavill wrote. “After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to their hire, this news isn’t the easiest, but that’s life. The changing of the guard is something that happens. I respect that. James and Peter have a universe to build. I wish them and all involved with the new universe the best of luck, and the happiest of fortunes.”
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Fans might want to “mourn for a bit”, he wrote, but “Superman is still around”.
“My turn to wear the cape has passed, but what Superman stands for never will. It’s been a fun ride with you all, onwards and upwards.”
Gunn’s film will reportedly focus on the younger years of the hero, during his years posing as Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, with insiders telling the Hollywood Reporter that Gunn could potentially direct the film as well as writing it.
“Peter & I have a DC slate ready to go, which we couldn’t be more over-the-moon about; we’ll be able to share some exciting information about our first projects at the beginning of the new year,” Gunn wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “Among those on the slate is Superman. In the initial stages, our story will be focusing on an earlier part of Superman’s life, so the character will not be played by Henry Cavill. But we just had a great meeting with Henry and we’re big fans and we talked about a number of exciting possibilities to work together in the future.”
Cavill’s announcement that he would return as Superman was reportedly signed off by Warner Bros, before Gunn and Safran assumed their roles at DC Studios on 1 November. Just six days before that, Cavill had said in an interview that he was looking forward to playing an “enormously joyful” Superman and that he was “very excited” about Gunn being hired.
On Tuesday it was revealed that DC Studios’ Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins would no longer be working on a third film in the franchise. In response to reports, she denied quitting, writing in a lengthy open letter: “I never walked away. I was open to considering anything asked of me. It was my understanding there was nothing I could do to move anything forward at this time.”
The Hollywood Reporter claims that Gunn and Safran have also met with Batman actor Ben Affleck to float the idea of him directing for them in the future.
A Black Superman film written by author Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by JJ Abrams is reportedly still going ahead, and will not be impacted by Gunn’s film.
Gunn has long been in the running to make a Superman film: in 2018, when Gunn left Marvel Studios for DC when he was temporarily fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 3, then-Warners boss Toby Emmerich pushed for Gunn to take on Superman. Gunn wrote and directed The Suicide Squad instead.