Henry Cavill brought Superman back to the big screen when he kicked off the DCEU with Man of Steel back in 2013, but his future in DC Comics movies is currently uncertain. The bad news is the man that some deem perfect for the role of Superman may be out; the good news is that the Cavill uncertainty presents an opportunity for the new DC Universe streaming service to explore Superman in some brand new ways.
Recent reports indicated that Cavill is done playing Superman after a dispute over a cameo in the upcoming Shazam! movie. Cavill had a truly bizarre reaction to the online uproar in the aftermath of reports, and Warner Bros. released a statement claiming that the relationship with Cavill has not changed. At this point, we can't say for sure if Cavill is in or out for future DC films, but there is no Man of Steel 2 in development and a deal was not worked out for that Shazam! cameo. Throw in Henry Cavill's new Netflix series, and things don't look altogether great for Cavill continuing with DC. There seems to be a Superman-sized hole in DC projects at the moment and it could be years before anybody is playing Superman on the big screen. That's where DC Universe can come in.
Superman is undeniably one of the most popular superheroes in the history of the comic book industry, and comic book TV shows have been all the rage in recent years. Shows like The Flash and Supergirl have kept those heroes alive and relevant in pop culture while the DCEU treads water on giving them their own films, and Arrow is responsible for exposing many TV fans to the previously lesser-known Green Arrow.
Even Gotham manages to keep Batman relevant in live-action network TV, and that's saying something given that Bruce Wayne is still a teenager on that show. The closest Superman has to his own show nowadays is Syfy's Krpton, which is an origin story for the Man of Steel following his family before the destruction of Krypton. The Man of Steel himself appears from time to time in the Arrow-verse with Tyler Hoechlin (who will return in the not-too-distant future) in the role, but only as a guest star secondary to Supergirl. While that works for the Arrow-verse, it means that there's no starring vehicle for Superman that can keep him at the forefront of pop culture while the DCEU figures its Superman situation out. DC Universe can change that.
One of the biggest selling points of DC Universe from the very beginning has been that the streaming service would offer original shows, like the long-awaited Titans. Now that DC Universe is finally launching, there are no fewer than six original shows currently in development and/or already slated for premiere: Titans, Doom Patrol, Swamp Thing, Stargirl, Young Justice: Outsiders, and Harley Quinn, with the latter two shows to be animated rather than live action. Although Superman does appear in Young Justice and has the potential to show up in others of these series, he still lacks a starring vehicle. The closest was the live-action Metropolis, which sounded similar to a version of Gotham simply set in Metropolis, but that show began to be retooled back in May, and no fresh news has been released.
The time is now for DC Universe to kick off production on a show for Superman. Despite the obvious appeal of a service offering a variety of DC comics, movies, and shows, DC Universe is not Netflix, and the new streaming service will undoubtedly continue working to attract subscribers for the foreseeable future. What better way to attract viewers than to showcase the Man of Steel in a way he won't be showcased elsewhere? With no confirmed Superman on the big screen and only occasional Superman in the Arrow-verse, DC Universe could corner the market on Clark Kent with a new ongoing series.
A benefit to DC Universe originals is the potential for shows to exist within the same canon or establish their own continuity. Titans and Doom Patrol will certainly share a universe, and the Swamp Thing executive producer hasn't ruled out a crossover with Titans, but the entire slate of originals won't be connected. In fact, there will be two different versions of Dick Grayson alone thanks to Titans and Young Justice: Outsiders, and the same will be true for other heroes. A Superman series could spin off of one of these existing shows or establish its own continuity. The new version of Superman could be distinct enough from Henry Cavill's version (as well as Tyler Hoechlin's version) that viewers could enjoy the ride without constantly comparing the two.
Of course, a Superman series on DC Universe wouldn't be able to debut in the next couple of months or anything. Still, surely one could be produced far more quickly than the next DCEU movie requires a Superman, whether it would be animated or live-action. We'll have to wait and see. With the exception of Titans, none of the DC Universe originals have been given precise premiere dates, and Young Justice is the only show other than Titans that has revealed official footage. DC Universe has plenty going on even without a new Superman project. Of course, that was before news broke of the Henry Cavill complications. If the reports are accurate and Cavill is out, couldn't a Superman series become a priority for DC Universe?
Only time will tell. The official DC Universe launch is Saturday, September 15, a.k.a. Batman Day. That's way sooner than we expected, so it should be interesting to see how many of the promised features will be up and running in the first weeks. If you're in the mood for some superhero action ahead of the Titans launch next month, one of the Arrow-verse shows will be back first, with the other three to follow.