It's been a hectic year for the DC Extended Universe. In the wake up Justice League's underperformance, the franchise's leaderships has been reorganized, and while Aquaman, Shazam! and Wonder Woman 1984 are all set to be released between this December and November 2019, the movies following in 2020 and beyond haven't been cemented yet. But the news last week of Henry Cavill reportedly retiring as Superman and leaving the DCEU was a particularly big shock. This still has yet to be officially confirmed and Cavill's Instagram video certainly didn't clear things up, but with reports emerging about how Warner Bros is pivoting to fast track a Supergirl movie, Superman's cinematic future remains shrouded in mystery.
Whether or not Henry Cavill appears in the DCEU again, we figured now is as good a time as any to look through his three Superman appearances and pick out his best moments thus far, reminding fans of how Cavill has shined in the role. We're of course kicking things off with the movie that started it all, Man of Steel!
The Oil Rig Rescue
He may not have had the 'S' emblazoned on his chest yet, but Henry Cavill's Clark Kent proved himself to be a hero in Man of Steel when he rescued all those men from that burning oil rig. For years, Clark had been traveling across the world to discover his purpose in life and did a good job of staying anonymous. But when he saw that there were still people trapped on the rig, he jumped into action and saved them, sacrificing his current identity and pushing his strength to new limits. This wasn't the first time he'd use his powers to help others, but it was certainly the most explosive at that point. Little did Clark know where his life would be heading soon.
Flying For The First Time
There's no denying that Man of Steel is a darker adaptation of the Superman mythos, but in the midst of Clark's conflicts, both external and internal, is a moment of pure joy. It wouldn't be a Superman movie without seeing the central character fly, something Henry Cavill's iteration didn't know he was capable of until he activated the Kryptonian scout ship and met the Jor-El AI, who informed him of his origins. Upon putting on the uniform displaying the El crest, Clark went outside and tried flying for the first time. It was hard going at first, but after calming himself and remembering his "father's" words, Clark finally stuck the launch and swiftly traveled across the world. He'd already proven himself a hero, but reaching these new heights (figuratively and literally) arguably marked his first proper step towards becoming Superman.
Surrendering To The U.S. Government
Superman has the powers of a god, but he doesn't seem himself as one. He's lived on Earth for basically his entire life and will do anything to keep humanity safe. So after General Zod demanded that Kal-El emerge from hiding, rather than intimidate the U.S. military into following his instructions on how to deal with the situation, Clark surrendered himself into their custody and even wore handcuffs as a sign of compliance, though those were quickly snapped off. Clark will never allow himself to be controlled by any government or be used as a tool of war, but he wants to help his adoptive people and prove that he doesn't need to be feared. Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice showed that there's only so much Superman can do with influencing public opinion, but in this particular instance, he showed he'll work to earn trust.
Being Forced To Kill General Zod
Five years after Man of Steel's release, Superman snapping General Zod's neck remains one of the most polarizing creative decisions in the superhero movie genre. And before anyone jumps down my throat, this entry isn't meant to praise the fact that Clark Kent took another life, but rather highlight his reasoning for doing so and his reaction afterwards. Whether or not you believe that Superman should kill, in this particular instance, he had no other choice. The Phantom Zone was closed, there was no prison on Earth that could hold Zod and the Kryptonian general made it clear that he would't stop until he murdered all humans. For the greater good, Clark had to kill Zod, leaving him as the only surviving Kryptonian in the universe, which obviously devastated him. It could be argued that Man of Steel's ending should have had Clark dealing with the aftermath of his decision more directly, but regardless, this was an incredibly important moment for him, as he made a tough call and has to live with it as he embarks down the path to become a proper superhero.
Dia De Los Muertos
To those who say there aren't any heroic Superman moments in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, I point you to the Dia de los Muertos sequence. After meeting Bruce Wayne at Lex Luthor's gala and getting his first inkling that something was off about the billionaire, Clark Kent had to leave the party early to save people from a factory fire during a Day of the Dead celebration in Juarez. That leads into a sequence showing Superman saving people across the world, all as talking heads debate on TV about how humanity should look at the alien protector. When thinking about superheroes, we usually imagine them locked in battle with a super villain, but much of a superhero's job also involves saving innocents from more everyday threats and disasters. This is an excellent sequence highlighting Henry Cavill's Superman's benevolent nature, all while he struggles with how the population perceives him on both sides.
Sacrificing Himself To Stop Doomsday
From the minute Doomsday was first rumored to appear in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, fans were expecting Superman to die going up against the monstrosity just like his comic book counterpart did in the 1990s. And sure enough, Henry Cavill's Clark Kent sacrificed himself to save his world (Earth and Lois Lane in his heart), taking Batman's Kryptonite spear and plunging it into Doomsday's heart, getting a bone spike to the chest for his efforts. Just like in Man of Steel, Superman was willing to make the tough call, and this time it required him to die in the process. Ultimately he didn't stay six feet under permanently, but this once again reaffirmed his dedication to protecting humanity.
Taking On The Justice League
Superman was still dead for the first half of Justice League, and sadly, most of the time he was onscreen, we couldn't help but stare at his poorly CGI-ed face. However, he nonetheless was of invaluable help in the final battle against Steppenwolf, but it was the brief time that he was out of his mind that was most memorable in the movie. While we don't condone Superman beating up the rest of the Justice League, we can't also deny how badass it was see him handling Batman, Wonder Woman, Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg without breaking a sweat. And unquestionably the best part of this whole skirmish was when Superman spotted Flash while he was moving at super speed and swiftly knocked the Scarlet Speedster off his feet. Fortunately these two were on good terms by the end of Justice League and engaged in a friendly race, which deserves an honorable mention.