Henry Cavill’s career as the Man of Steel now has something in common with DC Comics’ classic The Death of Superman comic book arc: They both ended in resurrection.
In a new Instagram post, Cavill appealed directly to Superman fans in the wake of his cameo appearance in Black Adam’s post-credits scene to say: This wasn’t the end. While it’s anyone’s guess if Warner Bros. and DC will bring Dwayne Johnson back to fight the Big Blue Boy Scout in a Black Adam 2 — this month’s origin-story movie grossed $142 million worldwide this weekend, which is good, but The Batman made nearly as much in the United States alone over its first three days in theaters — Cavill popped up to say that, one way or another, his Superman would return.
“I wanted to wait until the weekend was over before posting this because I wanted to give you all the chance to watch Black Adam,” Cavill says in the Instagram post, being the spoiler-sensitive chum that he is. “Now that plenty of you have, I wanted to make it official: I am back as Superman. What you see in this image and in Black Adam is just a very small taste of things to come. There’s a lot to be thankful for, and I’ll get to that in time, but I wanted to thank you most of all. Thank you for your support and for your patience. I promise it will be rewarded.”
Cavill’s time as Superman has been turbulent, to say the least. After winning praise for his turn in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, his career in the cape got sucked into the black hole of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, DC, WB, and Snyder’s convoluted attempt to mount Marvel-level scale and do Marvel-level business. Before anyone knew if the plan would work, Snyder, Cavill, and the rest of the “Snyderverse” DC troupe were off making Justice League — and, uh, we know how that went.
In the years since the implosion of the Snyderverse, Warner Bros. Pictures passed between conglomerates like AT&T and Discovery, but the Good Ideas from the ill-fated connected universe stuck around. Wonder Woman and Aquaman both connected with fans, and led to sequel greenlights. A long-gestating Flash movie finally sped forward, with (the controversial) Ezra Miller in the lead and Ben Affleck’s Batman back under the cowl, even as Robert Pattinson assumed the role in The Batman. And to the surprise of nearly everyone, the four-hour Snyder Cut of Justice League actually came out to give HBO Max a boost… and it was watchable!
But for all the grand planning, no one could figure out how to capitalize on the perfect casting of Cavill as Superman. All of WB’s development of an actual Man of Steel 2 was put on the back burner, and an alternate-universe movie, driven by writer Ta-Nehisi Coates and producer J.J. Abrams, took root at the studio. From the outside, it looked like Cavill — earnest, warm, buff as hell — might never get the perfect vehicle for a role he was destined to play. Until Black Adam, there was really no sign of hope. And as Johnson told Polygon last week, that pissed off the Black Adam team.
“What bugged us,” he said, “was you have a guy who is a great Superman and a beloved Superman, a guy who loves the mythology and knows the character so deeply, like Henry does Superman, and then on top of that, the most important thing is fans love him as Superman… He’s been on a sideline for five years, and no one’s talking about it!”
Now, suddenly, Cavill is back. His cameo in Black Adam is arguably the biggest success story for the movie, and there’s already rumblings about what’s next; according to a recent report in The Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros. executives are amped to put the actor back on screen as Superman, and is in active development with Man of Steel producer Charles Roven on a way to do it. Will it be an actual sequel to the 2013 film or a revamp that cherry-picks Cavill and abandons the grislier side of the Snyderverse?
Time will tell, but Black Adam may have signaled where things are going, and not just with the idea of a big showdown between two impervious brutes. In the post-credits scene, as Superman steps out from the shadows to confront Johnson’s Teth-Adam, we hear a familiar music cue swell. No, not the Hans Zimmer score from Man of Steel, but something more iconic: The original John Williams theme from 1978’s Superman. The legacy of Superman has been passed to Cavill — in some ways, a second time. And for the first time in nearly a decade, it seems fans can expect to see the honor pay off in the not-so-distant future.