April 6-7, 2024
At a time where even some of the most obscure comic book superheroes have gone on to become pop culture icons, few characters have enjoyed the enduring appeal and widespread recognition of the one and only Superman. For decades the Last Son of Krypton has inspired readers and viewers alike, a shining beacon of justice, integrity, and moral fortitude in a world where biting satire and moral ambiguity has increasingly become the norm for costumed crimefighters.
With Guardians of the Galaxy director and current co-CEO of DC Studios James Gunn shortly looking to reintroduce the world to his own version of Kal-El as part of his revitalised DC Universe, we thought it might be timely to look at what Superman’s cinematic return will have in store for fans.
Earlier this year we took a look at Gunn’s ambitious plans for the first phase of his revamped DC Universe. Gunn announced in February that Chapter 1, dubbed Gods and Monsters, would form the start of a new eight-to-ten-year plan for the comic book franchise. First and foremost amongst those plans was the announcement of Superman: Legacy, a fresh reboot of Superman which is currently slated for release in July 2025.
Since that announcement Gunn has been generous with his plans for the film, often taking to social media to share several details and debunk countless rumours. Amidst this information was that Gunn’s Superman, while younger than Henry Cavill’s Man of Steel, would not take the form of an origin story. Rather he would be depicted as being early on in his career at the Daily Planet and would already have several established relationships with other DC heroes.
In June this year news broke that Gunn was screen-testing several actors for the roles of Superman and Lois Lane, including Renfield’s Nicholas Hoult, Grantchester’s Tom Brittney, Sex Education’s Emma Mackey and Bridgerton’s Phoebe Dynevor. Ultimately, Gunn settled on Pearl’s David Corenswet as his new Clark Kent and The Marvelous Mrs Maisel’s Rachel Brosnahan as his star Daily Planet reporter.
Not long after Corenswet and Brosnahan announcements, Gunn followed up by revealing four new cast members in the form of Superman’s metahuman compatriots. Frequent Gunn collaborator, and former star of The Suicide Squad, Nathan Fillion was revealed to be tackling a very entertaining DC hero that hasn’t yet been seen in live-action; the Green Lantern, Guy Gardner! X-Men: First Class star Edi Gathegi was revealed as well, to be assuming the role of the brilliant and technologically enhanced Mister Terrific.
Rounding out the film’s share of DC heroes, Dora and the Lost City of Gold’s Isabela Merced has been announced as Hawkgirl, and Gotham star Anthony Carrigan is trading Victor Zsasz’s Arkham Asylum straitjacket for superhero tights, in the role of Metamorpho, a hero capable of transforming his body into different elements.
Rumours are still suggesting more casting announcements are yet to come in the form of Daily Planet photographer Jimmy Olsen, editor-in-chief Perry White, and Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor. Some reports have also indicated that Brainiac may potentially serve as the film’s chief antagonist.
According to Gunn’s co-CEO and producing partner Peter Safran, Superman: Legacy will focus “on Superman balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing”. While not being touted as an origin story, Gunn has hinted that his Clark Kent will still be a rookie reporter throughout the events of the film, a role which may likely have him encountering Brosnahan’s Lois Lane for the first time.
While some fans have expressed concern that the sheer number of confirmed heroes may detract from Superman’s presence, Gunn has assured audiences that the movie’s “primary story most definitely revolves around Superman and Lois”. He’s also explained that the presence of other heroes is being used to tell Superman’s story better, being a “man of two worlds. Clark with Lois, Jimmy, and Perry – and Superman with his meta human compatriots.”
At this stage filming for Superman: Legacy will supposedly begin in January 2024, giving Gunn plenty of time to get the movie ready for his July 2025 release date. However, given the delays due to ongoing actors’ and writers’ strikes occurring in Hollywood, that release date may change.
In the meantime, pre-production work including production design is still continuing in earnest, with Gunn’s former Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 and The Suicide Squad collaborator Beth Mickle praising him for his “crystal clear vision” for the film. Rebooting a character as ubiquitous, complex, and historic as the Man of Steel would be quite a challenge for any filmmaker, but James Gunn certainly seems up to the task!
— James Gunn (@JamesGunn) January 31, 2023