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When the news dropped last year that Henry Cavill might be out as Superman in the DCEU, it was also rumored that Warner Bros. might be looking to go in a different direction with the character, possibly considering actor Michael B. Jordan to don the cape down the road. We still don’t have much clarity on Henry Cavill’s future as the character, but Michael B. Jordan has addressed the rumors and possibility of playing Superman. He said:
It's tough. I hate being a businessman and understanding both sides of the situation. There is a huge upside to it, but being under that microscope, being picked apart and compared to so many different versions of Superman... I would rather do something original. I'll be Calvin Ellis.
Michael B. Jordan sounds down to play the Man of Steel, but he also seems to struggle with the idea a bit. The idea of playing Superman is exciting, but he also knows that such a role comes with pros and cons. He has an astute understanding of what him taking on the role would mean, and all the baggage that comes with it.
The Black Panther actor knows that anyone who takes on a beloved character like Superman would be subject to intense scrutiny and dissection. He would also be constantly compared to the many Supermen that have come before him. That’s a big downside. So rather than fight the tide of history and expectations, Michael B. Jordan told Oprah on OWN that he would rather play a character that hasn’t been seen on the big screen before, Superman Calvin Ellis.
Michael B. Jordan proved his comic book bona fides here because a lot of people reading this probably thought ‘Who?’ Calvin Ellis, born Kalel, no hyphen, is the Superman of Earth-23, a different Earth in the Multiverse. On his Earth, Calvin Ellis is both Superman and the President (way to underachieve, Clark!). He made his debut in Grant Morrison’s Final Crisis #7 in March 2009 and was based on President Barack Obama. You can see him in the image below:
In addition to pulling a deep comics cut here, Michael B. Jordan also proposed a way that he could be Superman, without having quite the same level of comparison to the other cinematic Supermen. And while I’m sure there would still be endless comparisons made, at least Jordan would be occupying new space onscreen.
Calvin Ellis is Superman, but he’s not Clark Kent. It is very similar to Miles Morales and Peter Parker. They are both Spider-Man, but they are not the same person. Both can exist and be appreciated equally. He could also play Earth-2’s Val-Zod as some fan art has suggested.
It’s a pretty savvy idea on Michael B. Jordan’s part and he really seems to have a firm grasp on the fervor that surrounds superhero casting. He played the Human Torch in Fantastic Four and Killmonger in Black Panther. The latter role had never been seen onscreen before, so he could make the role his own without drawing comparisons to what came before. But Superman is an entirely different animal than Johnny Storm or N’Jadaka and Michael B. Jordan knows that.
It must be said, Henry Cavill could still return to the Superman role but if he doesn’t Michael B. Jordan has proposed an interesting way we could get a new and different Superman onscreen.