SPOILER WARNING The following article contains massive spoilers for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. If you have not yet seen the film, and don’t wish to learn about key events in the third act, please click away to another one of our wonderful articles!
We were only first introduced to Henry Cavill in 2013’s Man Of Steel, but following the events of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, he is no longer with us. In order to defeat the villainous Doomsday and stop the monster causing more destruction and carnage, the Kryptonian sacrificed himself to kill the beast, striking it through the heart with a Kryptonian spear while being crushed to death. It was a surprising move given that 2017 will see the release of the first ever Justice League movie, but the good news is that there are plenty of options from the comics that could be used to resurrect the god-like superhero.
Not only are there big screen options available specifically from when Superman died in the comics, but there are other interesting fantasy and sci-fi plot devices that could also be used in the process. Let’s discuss some of them, shall we?
Superman Never Actually Died, He’s Just HibernatingLet’s start with the most obvious answer, which would be that the movies just adapt what happened after the death of Superman in the comics. As it turned out, Superman didn’t actually die in his confrontation with Doomsday, but instead found his body enters into what can be described as a deep, coma-like hibernation – only to be awoken after having time to sufficiently heal and repair itself. Of course, the strength given to him by Earth’s yellow sun helped this process greatly as well.
Major events occurred between the death and rebirth of Superman in the comics, but the DC Cinematic Universe could basically just shortcut all of that. It could basically play out that scientists have continued to study the Kryptonian even after his death, and in their research discover that he can’t really die (which is basically true in the comics). After this discovery, the body could be removed from the buried casket, exposed to a heavy dose of healthy sun, and slowly brought back to life. This wouldn’t really be the most satisfying choice, but the good news is that there are others…
Time TravelThanks to the very special appearance of Ezra Miller’s The Flash after the notable "Knightmare" sequence, we know that time travel exists within the DC Cinematic Universe, and it certainly stands out as an option to save Superman. After all, it wouldn’t even be the first time that time travel would be used to save someone in a Superman movie, as Christopher Reeves version reversed the rotation of the Earth to save Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane in Richard Donner’s film from 1978.
Obviously the plot surrounding the event would have to feature a degree of complexity to it, but bringing Superman back from the dead could be as simple as The Flash traveling back in time before Kal-El’s death, and either bringing a live version of the hero to the future, or changing events so that the Man of Steel isn’t killed. As seen in the most recent episode of The Flash television show, time travel certainly has consequences and that could certainly be something that the Justice League would have to join forces for as they’re coming together as a complete team.
MagicThus far, the DC Cinematic Universe is primarily a science-fiction-dominated franchise (what with all the aliens and advanced technologies and all), but the upcoming arrival of Suicide Squad and the presence of Cara Delevingne’s Enchantress means that it won’t be long until the subject of magic is broached. It’s been a staple of comics for decades and could add some complexity to adventures on the big screen, but more to the point it could easily play a part in the resurrection of Superman.
Given that it looks like Enchantress will be aligned with the villains in Suicide Squad, we probably can’t count on her to help bring Superman back, but there are plenty of other magic-related characters floating around who could wind up helping. John Constantine, for example, is certainly experienced in casting life and death-related spells, but we could also see the first live-action adaptations of Doctor Fate or Dead Man. We may end up with a sequence involving Zombie Superman in Justice League, but that might even be a bit of fun.
Interdimensional Travel/TheftThe multiverse theory has been an important part of DC Comics for decades, from the beloved crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths" to the recent "Convergence." In the past we’ve talked about it potentially being a tool that could be used to link the DC Cinematic Universe to the DC TV Universe, but before that happens the theory could be utilized to bring Superman back from the Dead in Justice League.
Like time travel, this is another situation where Flash’s powers and a good dose of sci-fi come in handy, as the founding members of the Justice League could make a plan to travel to a different layer of the multiverse and find a new version of Superman to bring back with them. Of course, they wouldn’t want to take a Superman who is desperately needed in his own world, so the adventure could involve some multiverse hopping as they search for the perfect fit. Not only is it a fun way to bring back a star superhero, but also an opportunity to course correct on some details of the characterization that haven’t been openly accepted by fans.
Reign Of The SupermenIn the comics, Superman obviously didn’t immediately awaken from his "hibernation-like state" for a while, and in the meantime the DC Comics world saw the introduction of a host of new characters to take the Kryptonian’s place. Specifically, there were four heroes who emerged, each representing a different aspect of the fallen hero: The Man of Steel a.k.a. Steel; The Man of Tomorrow a.k.a. Cyborg Superman; The Metropolis Kid a.k.a. Superboy; and The Last Son Of Krypton, who was eventually revealed as the reformed villain The Eradicator.
Following a semi-adaptation of the "Reign Of The Supermen" comics, the Justice League movie could feature the emergence of these four characters following the death of Superman in the DC Cinematic Universe. The nice thing about this option is that it can not only stand alone, but also potentially be combined with another one of the previously mentioned options – just to bring the real Superman back into the picture. One drawback with this option is that it could wind up reminding people of the Steel movie starring Shaquille O’Neal, but Batman’s life on screen wasn’t completely killed by Batman & Robin, right?