Henry Cavill is done as Superman. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Cavill — who first appeared as the Man of Tomorrow five years ago in Man of Steel as the hero who launched the DC Extended Universe — and Warner Bros. Pictures are "parting ways" after three Superman appearances from the actor.
Neither Cavill's reps nor the studio chose to comment on the story, but it looks like Cavill's time as Kal-El of Krypton is over.
So, what went wrong? Well, there seem to be a number of factors, but the catalyst for this move came when the studio tried to get Cavill to make a cameo appearance as Superman in the upcoming DCEU film Shazam!. Negotiations for that appearance apparently didn't go well, and now Cavill is heading out the door altogether. Another factor is Warners' developing Supergirl movie, which would require an infant Superman to appear if it's made in accordance with that character's origin story, and Cavill might simply be too old to fit into whatever new continuity that requires.
Deadline lends more credence to the Supergirl conflict with its own report, which notes that Cavill's split with DC Films has been looming for a while now, and that Warner Bros. is more interested in Supergirl than Superman at this point. There has even, apparently, been talk of casting a younger actor like Creed and Black Panther star Michael B. Jordan as the new Man of Steel.
There's also the added concern that Warner Bros., while heavily focused on various DC Comics projects at the moment, isn't aiming to make a new Superman film again for quite some time.
"Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors," a studio source told THR.
The THR report outlines several factors that may have contributed to this decision, including potential scheduling conflicts which could have been brought on by Cavill's just-announced starring role in the Netflix original The Witcher. Another source, though, notes that Cavill's Witcher commitment apparently came after the Shazam! issue emerged, which could mean the studio was simply ready to move on, and Cavill happened to land another high-profile gig that coincides with that.
A studio insider also noted that there's still a concern within Warner Bros. "that some parts of the previous movies didn't work," and that's led to a desire to hit the "reset" button. What that means for the future shape of the DCEU at the moment is unclear, but what is clear is that Warner Bros. is still trying to find a shape for its shared superhero universe, and that shape apparently no longer includes its flagship hero.
This marks yet another move for a DCEU that's felt like a place of near-constant shifting for quite some time, something production head Walter Hamada had to seriously evaluate when he took over the film slate at the beginning of this year. We've seen the ups and downs of development on a Flash movie, rumors of a Man of Steel sequel that seem to be repeatedly squashed, not one but two future Joker movies, and, most famously, the constant will-he-won't-he reports regarding Ben Affleck as Batman. Though it hasn't been officially announced, conventional wisdom at this point is that Affleck will no longer play the Caped Crusader in the DCEU, and the character will get a fresh start with a new actor in director Matt Reeves' The Batman. If that holds, Affleck and Cavill will be dropping out together, leaving Gal Gadot's Wonder Woman as the clear centerpiece of the universe, with Jason Momoa's Aquaman gaining prominence with his own film later this year.
So, a massive piece of the DCEU — one that's been in place, for better or worse, since the beginning — is being ripped out of its storytelling framework. Will that be a good thing in the long run, or should Warner Bros. have worked harder to make Cavill's Superman work?