In late January 2011, a 27-year-old Henry Cavill was cast as Clark Kent/Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, with the summer blockbuster finally premiering in 2013. It was the beginning of the DCEU and a new era for Warner Bros’ comic book movies following Christian Bale’s exit from Batman. It’s now been a decade since Cavill’s life-changing casting and he’s not only still our Superman, he's the lead of Netflix’s The Witcher and Enola Holmes’ Sherlock. The actor has accomplished a lot with his Kryptonian fame, except being part of a Man of Steel sequel.
Everything seemed to stall for Henry Cavill’s Superman following the divisive reception of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Warner Bros has placed its focus away from the Last Son of Krypton in order to bring audiences fresh projects like Birds of Prey and Matt Reeves’ upcoming The Batman. But, the actor has not shown signs of giving up on the hero, and there’s a huge fan base behind Cavill coming back caped. In the interest of Cavill’s casting anniversary, let’s discuss who should direct Man of Steel 2.
To those following the #ReleaseTheSnyderCut movement, you’re likely aware of some behind-the-scenes friction between Zack Snyder and Warner Bros on the set of Batman v Superman, along with the personal tragedy that caused him to step away from Justice League, leading to the Man of Steel director’s vision for the DCEU being somewhat compromised. This year ,we’ll finally be able to see what the filmmaker had in mind for his third collaboration with Henry Cavill as Superman when Zack Snyder’s Justice League debuts on HBO Max this spring.
Theoretically, there’s no one more qualified to direct the second Man of Steel movie than Zack Snyder. He conceptualized Henry Cavill’s version of the character and he’d done a good amount of planning past Batman v Superman and Justice League. I’m inclined to wait for his cut of the latter before deciding if I’d officially like to place the future of Man of Steel in this director's hands, because let's be honest, there were some issues. Still, Man of Steel continues to be one of the best DCEU films to date, so maybe it's worth bringing Snyder back.
Sure, this is an ironic pick, but not one without serious merit, OK? Christopher McQuarrie is the director of the most recent two Mission: Impossible movies, along with the two upcoming films in the franchise. He’s also the gifted screenwriter behind The Usual Suspects and co-writer on Edge of Tomorrow. McQuarrie worked with Henry Cavill for his iconic mustachioed villain role, which in turn created Mustachegate when the actor was brought back on set for Justice League reshoots. Aside from these connections, McQuarrie has been invested in DC before by pitching Superman and Green Lantern movies. Apparently the studio didn’t like his “original” ideas, but I totally do and would love to see him put his mark on the franchise.
The Superman story is not an easy one to adapt. Clark Kent is the epitome of a “savior” or god-like hero, often with a straight-edged moral compass, and that can alienate an audience if it's not done right. Some fans have criticized our new Superman for being hollowed out after Man of Steel and lacking emotional depth. This is something that Laika’s Travis Knight could perhaps inject into the franchise if he was looked at to direct. One of the best animated “hero’s journey” movies in recent memory is his Kubo and the Two Strings, and the filmmaker also did the near-impossible after a downfall of the Transformers and made the critically well-received Bumblebee. That's a lot going in his favor for a Superman outing.
Here’s a wildcard. Recently, the creator of the Haunting of Hill House and writer/director of horror movies Oculus, Hush and Doctor Sleep said he’s always wanted to make a Superman movie, so naturally I’m on board. Now I would follow Mike Flanagan anywhere following the work he’s brought to horror fans thus far, but it’s actually a great pick. Some of the best superhero movies we’ve seen in the past few years have come from directors who started off in horror beforehand. Think Guardians of the Galaxy’s James Gunn, Shazam’s David F. Sandberg or Spider-Man’s Sam Raimi. Flanagan is building an incredible resume within his own genre, but I’m really curious where he’d take his visions to the DC world with Man of Steel 2.
Another pick on the side of lightness and more accessibility for the Man of Steel world after years of dark color schemes for the hero is Brad Bird. The director is best known for his work in Pixar projects, such as The Incredibles movies and Ratatouille, along with his early work on The Iron Giant and more recent live-action projects Tomorrowland and Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol. Bird has a diverse background in storytelling and would bring a different approach to the hero that we haven’t seen before. Also, it might allow the filmmaker to opt for more gritty content and explore his range out beyond his Disney-ness.
Last, but not least, is the visionary George Miller, who has brought us the Mad Max movies throughout his career, including the critically acclaimed Fury Road and the upcoming Furiosa spinoff with Anya Taylor-Joy, Yahya Abdul Mateen and Chris Hemsworth. The filmmaker is an incredibly detailed talent who would be really thoughtful with his version of Superman. As many of us know, Miller was part of the many lost Superman projects years ago when he was working on Justice League: Mortal. Seeing Miller pivot to Kal-El’s story once again for Cavill’s return would be a dream come true. But alas, these are all just playful suggestions compiled to get us thinking about another Man of Steel movie.
What do you think? Are any of these directors on your list for Man of Steel 2 should it happen? Vote for your favorite in the poll below and stick with us here on CinemaBlend. We’ll be covering the release of Zack Snyder’s Justice League in depth, along with what’s coming next in the DCEU.