It makes no difference whether you’re a fan of DC Comics or the Marvel Universe, Superman will probably always remain a stalwart superhero. The Man of Steel came into being as far back as 1938, and has become one of the world’s most famous icons. With a global franchise encompassing films, cartoons, video games, television series, comic books and action figures, it only stands to reason that any man playing this role would have big boots to fill. What’s more, the character features in other spin-off series and movies, like Smallville (featuring Tom Welling), which showcases a teen Clark Kent and expands on his growing up in a small town. The late Christopher Reeve’s performance of the Man of Steel remains the most iconic and memorable and thus subsequent actors have had sizeable boots to fill.
Henry Cavill: Man of Steel
When British actor Henry Cavill stepped into the role of Superman in Man of Steel in 2013, fans rejoiced. Not only did he have the physique and jawline to pull off the role of Clark Kent, he had that mop of black hair and baby blues to make female audience members swoon. Many would argue that Henry himself was made to play Superman, and the 2013 film was successful enough to see two sequels: Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017).
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With such a massive fan-base and a worldwide following, it’s understandable that many people were horrified to hear that Henry Cavill would be stepping down from his role of Superman. The announcement came in mid-2018, to much confusion and outcry regarding the reasons why. As with any Hollywood fiasco, opinions and fact become a mishmash of headlines and selling points. While some believe it’s down to money (isn’t it always?), and Warner Bros. not leveraging a better paycheque for a 4th movie, others believe it’s simply a matter of Henry wanting to branch out and explore other roles, to avoid the risk he inevitably runs of being ‘pigeonholed’. We see it happen all the time, where actors of massive franchises step down from their roles before they become cemented. This is why actors like Daniel Radcliffe of the Harry Potter craze do everything in their power to break free from their roles before it’s too late, even if it means acting in the nude on stage.
What Happens Next?
As disheartening as it can be to see a favourite character step down from the role with which we’ve come to associate them, part of being a true fan is recognising an actor or actress’s humanity, and his or her freedom to choose what’s best for their career. Let’s be honest, do we really need a fourth Superman movie? What about all the other roles Henry could play? As it stands, he’s already been cast to play Geralt of Rivia in the upcoming Netflix series, The Witcher, based on the fantasy-novel series by Polish author, Andrej Sapkowski. Fans of The Witcher, who have never seen any Superman movies – myself included – feel that Henry Cavill is perfect for the role for Geralt. Sure, his hair may go from black to white, and from short to long. But, at least he will still have that body and those ever-so-dreamy eyes.