(Warning: The following contains mild potential SPOILERS for next year's 'Justice League' movie — albeit ones you likely already know, and if not will almost certainly have revealed to you before the movie comes out. Proceed, then, with whatever level of caution your nearest holographic father-figure suggests is wise.)
Now, in the wake of a recent visit to the Justice League set — and yet another official concept art release — it seems that the cat is well and truly out of the bag. That movement we saw in the final moments of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice was indeed (as was all-but-confirmed in the days following the movie's release) confirmation that Superman will absolutely be returning to life in 2017's Justice League.
The big question that raises, though?
Does It Matter That We All Know Superman Isn't Actually Dead?
After all, conventional movie-making wisdom suggests that it's better for your audience to not know any of your film's biggest twists before entering the movie theater, with the likes of the Star Wars franchise and the MCU guarding such secrets jealously. After all, if everyone already knows what's going to happen, then what's the point of going to see the movie at all?
The only problem with that logic? Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice made $166 million on its opening weekend, after giving away pretty much its entire plot (and the big final act surprise) in its trailer:
Now, the movie may have gone on to perform well below expectations at the box office, but that certainly wasn't for lack of interest on its opening weekend. Hordes of fans — both of DC's heroes and of epic spectacle — knew a whole lot of Batman v Superman's plot going in to its first weekend of release and went to see it anyway.
So, Does That Mean It Doesn't Matter That We Know Superman'll Be Back In Justice League, Then?
Well, from a financial standpoint (which is ultimately the key bottom line for any business, including Warner Bros.), yeah, it kind of does. It seems unlikely that there'll be any notable box office penalty for us all knowing full well that Superman will be back, and there may even be a slight attendance bump from people who wouldn't otherwise watch it but are intrigued to find out how the Man of Steel returns.
That, though, only addresses the financial concerns, however paramount they may in fact be. What about the film itself?
Will Us Knowing That Superman Is Returning Damage Justice League Itself?
Well, to some extent, that's a question we'll never be able to fully answer. No matter how Justice League is received, there'll always be the lingering possibility that a greater degree of surprise could have made it more widely loved (or, if it's poorly received, less widely reviled). It seems likely that the film won't treat Superman's return as a major twist — seeing as it was so heavily hinted at during Batman v Superman — which will surely help matters, but we'll still never really know.
Ultimately, then, the success (or failure) of DC and Warner Bros.' Superman gambit will likely be determined by how much we collectively like Justice League. If it's seen as a dazzling return to form for DC after the generally disliked Batman v Superman, then few are going to ask questions about the impact of Superman's return. On the other hand, if it's given a similar critical kicking (by fans and journalists alike) to Batman v Superman, there's every chance that Superman's heavily signposted return will receive part of the blame.
In other words? It most likely doesn't really matter that we all know Superman is coming back — just so long as Justice League is actually, y'know, good.
Here's hoping, then...