It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s Henry Cavill?
Like anyone who has seen Superman Returns, I am rather skeptical about the new Man of Steel film, but I do have high hopes that it will actually be a good movie. There were two major problems with Superman Returns: it was boring and Brandon Routh should not be the lead in a film. Ever.
With Zack Snyder directing and Christopher Nolan both producing and writing for Man of Steel, I’m not too worried about it being boring – love or hate the guys, neither of them has ever made a film I could call “boring.” I even liked Snyder’s poorly received film Sucker Punch because despite a rather flimsy excuse for a plot, it was still a fast-paced, fun movie. Nolan’s resume needs no real justification for D.C. Comics fans as the Batman films have all been critically well-received, particularly The Dark Knight, which is an excellent film no matter how you look at it.
Will this team find success with the Superman franchise?
I think a large part of that depends on Henry Cavill, who is the newest actor to play Superman. Cavill is clearly a step-up from Brandon Routh by virtue of not being Brandon Routh, but is that enough to carry the franchise?
Although Nolan’s resume is familiar to comic book fans, Cavill’s probably isn’t. He’s really only had two projects that have featured him in a leading role – The Tudors and the film Immortals. Even The Tudors is really more of a supporting role – although Cavill (as Charles Brandon) had a clear focus in some episodes, it’s always better to be king – so it seems fair to say that headlining this big of a project is arguably new territory for him.
The good news, however, is that I think Cavill is more than up to the task. In both The Tudors and Immortals, he plays a character that portrays someone who is seemingly invincible and yet he always manages to project an image of vulnerability – this is exactly what Superman needs.
In Immortals, Cavill plays a man who is destined to save his world – destined to be a god, even – but is struggling with his inability to protect his own family and people. Even though the movie is hardly a serious drama, Cavill does this remarkably effectively. The concept of being a god who is not really part of this world is something that is so inherently tied to the Superman franchise that I can’t help but think his work in Immortals must have helped him get the role.
His more extensive work is obviously The Tudors, however, but even this work leads me to believe he has the potential to be a super Superman. His character is a duke, Charles Brandon, who never really seems to fit in with the elite members of society that he is surrounded by. He is valiant in battles and never shows any fear when dealing with the other power-players – one of Cavill’s first scenes in the series is where another elite member of society holding a sword up to his throat after he finds Charles Brandon in bed with his daughter, yet as Charles Brandon, he never breaks a sweat.
Despite this seeming invincibility – he gets out of several situations that would have resulted in the death of anyone else in the series – he projects this idea that the character is vulnerable. Charles Brandon never seems to really mesh with everyone else. His charms seem somewhat out of place, despite the fact that he never really has anything to worry about. He somehow manages to be both charismatic and awkward at the same time – something few people can do. Again, it is the perfect training for the role of Superman.
Could Henry Cavill be a super Superman? I think he has all the potential to be spectacular in the role. Granted, even the usually likable Kevin Spacey as Lex Luther wasn’t enough to prevent Superman Returns from being awful, but I think that Cavill is an excellent choice for a reboot. I have high hopes that he’ll rise to the occasion.
Can’t wait for Man of Steel? In the meantime, check out our reviews of Justice League: Doom and Superman/Batman: Apocalypse.