Chronologically, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice directly followed Man of Steel, flawlessly recapturing some of the moments from Cavill's debut venture from a different perspective. But aside from the timeline, this was anything but a solo sequel, with Superman wrestling Batman and Wonder Woman for precious DCEU screen time.
Fans of Henry Cavill's suited Kryptonian have been eager to hear confirmation of a true sequel. News to date has consisted of subtle murmurs drowned out by the bellows from the likes of Batman and Harley Quinn, the former confirmed and the latter rumored to have a standalone film. In some ways, Superman has been edged away from the limelight.
However, after extended flirtation with the idea, and sources claiming the film would go ahead, there has finally been official word that Man of Steel 2 is in development. Talking to Newsreel, Dany Garcia — Cavill's manager — confirmed the actor's involvement, as well as plans to seemingly take over the world. She said:
“Henry has a big appetite. We’ve been in a five-month period of time where he’s re-strategizing, acquiring property [for his production company Promethean], he’s filming [Justice League] now, he’s in development for the Superman standalone… He’s beginning to expand that world. It’s beautifully teed up. In a year from now, or two years from now, he’s going to be a force globally.”
An Evolving Franchise
First things first, let's address the cape-wearing Elephant in the room: The DCEU has struggled to date. Man of Steel wasn't outstanding, although it was still an enjoyable superhero movie. But the subsequent underwhelming releases of BvS and Suicide Squad have caused mild-panic, suggesting that Warner Bros. are facing a crisis when it comes to their shared DC universe.
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But there are reasons to be hopeful. The negative feedback appears to have registered with the studio, and the astute acquisition of DC Comics guru Geoff Johns as DC Entertainment President has been reflected in the lightened tone of the Justice League trailer. Johns himself has acknowledged the need to be more optimistic. And fans have every right to be, too.
It's too early to tell if Justice League will bring the sort of overdue adulation that can match its natural benchmark, the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But following the dark shadow cast over DCEU's features to date, it will be the first time John's imprint will have chance to fully flourish.
The Death Of Superman
Any events in Man of Steel 2 will be shaped by Superman's input in Justice League. The climax of BvS depicted Cavill's character heroically sacrificing himself during a successful attempt to kill Doomsday with a Kryptonite spear, but death is only a mere bump in the road in the superhero realm.
Cavill has teased the inclusion of Superman's black suit, taking to Instagram to post an up-close but unmistakable photograph. Maybe the 33-year-old was meddling with a monochrome filter, but the logical explanation is that Justice League may play out the acclaimed Death of Superman storyline, where Clark Kent's alter ego returns from beyond the grave, having been killed by Doomsday (as in BvS).
The repercussions of Superman's resurrection, and the impact on Man of Steel 2, is significant and fitting. While it's too early to speculate on what storyline the sequel could follow — a look at DC's slate suggests it'll be released in October 2018 or November 2019 — the Death of Superman narrative gives the DCEU an opportunity to transform the character.
In conjunction with a lightening of the tone, the resurrected Superman could become a potential-fulfilling incarnation that plays to Cavill's charm. Think more Christopher Reeves charismatic beacon of hope than the DCEU's brooding, uncertain and vilified version.
Can Man of Steel 2 Deliver?
During those tantalizing months before official confirmation from Garcia, the rumor mill for Man of Steel 2 has been in full flow. Geoff Johns is said to be working on the script with Zack Synder and J.J. Abrams has reportedly been offered the chance to direct. DC characters Brainiac, Metallo, Martian Manhunter and even Supergirl have been linked to the film.
But whatever the finer details, the confirmation of a solo sequel proves that — in tune with the embodiment of the character itself — Warner Bros. haven't given up hope on Superman. And neither should we.
What are your early predictions for Man of Steel 2?