Movie News: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No… it’s that bloke from ‘The Tudors’ (A Superman Casting Update)

Superman Logo Alex Ross

Zack Snyder’s new cinematic reboot of the Man of Steel just took a big step closer to actually happening, as he’s cast the title role. And who’s the actor stepping into the legendary blue-and-red spandex?

Henry Cavill portrait Superman News

It’s Henry Cavill. And if your first thought is “Who’s that?” then you’re not exactly alone. Yet again, and fairly sensibly, they’ve gone for another fairly unknown actor (although nowhere near as unknown as Brandon Routh was when he was cast in Superman Returns) – British actor Cavill certainly can’t be described as a star, although he’s actually worked pretty consistently for the past ten years, and is currently best known for regularly getting his kit off in the luridly OTT historical drama The Tudors as nobleman Charles Brandon.

And my first thoughts? Well, only having seen one episode of The Tudors (I have what could be described as a ‘problem’ with anything that involves giving Jonathan Rhys Meyers the chance to either yell or pout), I can’t say that Cavill made a massive impression, and certainly isn’t as interesting as casting Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man. From the photos, Cavill’s certainly got the chin for the role, and he’s got that handsome if slightly anonymous thing down pat. Despite my dislike of Superman Returns, I thought Brandon Routh was the best thing in it and it’s a shame he’ll never get the chance to play the part again, but it does rather feel as if they’ve gone here for a safe relative unknown, rather than a risky out-of-nowhere blind-sider, which isn’t that surprising as Warner Bros really, really, really need this to work. There’s always the chance that Cavill may turn out to be really good , but to be honest, getting excited about this casting would involve getting excited about this movie in general, and I’m finding it rather difficult. The moment Snyder was signed, my interest in a new Superman film (even one being ‘shepherded’ by Christopher Nolan) plummeted – he’s a director who’ll certainly make something flashy and eye-catching, and I’m sure that his Superman film will, whatever the flaws, be better than the deeply misconceived Superman Returns (I admire Bryan Singer for attempting it, but good golly, that film didn’t work in a whole variety of ways), but ever since 300, he’s shown no sign of doing anything other than eye candy and visual bluster (even in Watchmen, which managed some good sequences, but fell flat as a piece of cinema). The new Superman will be slick and good-looking, but if it manages to capture a tenth of the spirit that the original two Richard Donner (and part-Richard Lester) films managed, I will be seriously surprised…

(Of course, it doesn’t help that one of the main reasons Snyder got Superman in the first place is that he’s good at doing projects quickly – Warner Bros not only need this film to be succesful, they need it to go into production pretty damn soon, otherwise their legal battle with the family of Superman creators Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster gets even more complicated than before, and they risk losing the rights to one of the best-known superheroes in the world. It’d be nice to be optimistic, but I can think of very few examples of films pushed into production to meet a precise release date that have actually turned out well. But – I guess we’ll have to wait and see…)

UPDATE: It’s just been pointed out (by someone else) on Twitter that we now have a situation where three of the biggest superheroes are all played by British actors (the others being Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man, and Christian Bale in Batman). Not sure exactly what that signifies, but felt it was worth sharing…

UPDATE: Via www.slashfilm.com, it’s been revealed that the other contenders on the shortlist were Matthew Goode (best known as Ozymandias in Watchmen), Matthew Bomer (from TV shows Chuck and Tru Calling), Arnie Hammer (who played the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network), Joe Manganiello (Alcide in S3 of True Blood) and Colin O’Donaghue (now in daft-looking religious horror The Rite). While Arnie Hammer might have been interesting after his work in The Social Network, I think Cavill is actually the most potentially interesting of the bunch, and it certainly says what they were looking for – a late twentysomething absurdly handsome actor with the right kind of chin. And while Matthew Goode can be a good actor, after his oddball turn as Ozymandias in Watchmen, I’d rather not see him near any superhero characters for a while…

7 thoughts on “Movie News: Is it a Bird? Is it a Plane? No… it’s that bloke from ‘The Tudors’ (A Superman Casting Update)

  1. I really emphasise on the simple idea of caring about this film. My reasons may seem petty but I do think that they just won’t get the super of superman right, whether in personality or visually. I know that it’s early & I would love it if they prove me wrong but from what I’ve seen of this guy, he doesn’t have a build that shouts ‘man of steel’.

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  2. Despite what I say below, it is good hear that there will be another Superman film. Hopefully the villain will be someone more menacing than Lex Luthor: Property Developer.

    “I admire Bryan Singer for attempting it, but good golly, that film didn’t work in a whole variety of ways”

    My personal experience was Superman Returns suffered from certain expectations. As I mentioned in response to your earlier X-Men post, most of my friends and I were expecting great things of X3 (we were young and enthusiastic), we didn’t get them. As Superman Returns was (partly) responsible for X3’s failure the least it could do was be a really good film to make up for it. And then it wasn’t. (At least Cyclops finally got a reasonable amount of screen time, even if it was in the wrong universe.) That was the summer that I learned not to have high expectations for films, it has mostly stood me in good stead.

    I don’t know if having Brits playing major US superheroes does signify anything, although it’s nice to know. Possibly it will mean less posing in front of the US flag (just in case we forgot which country New York is in) and more “Truth, Justice… and a nice cuppa tea”?

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    • Indeed. Lex’s property development side is, shall we say, not in any way missed. The expectations were a certain amount of Superman Returns’ failure, but I do think it was mainly just down to a mismatch of concepts, and that Superman is a really, really difficult character to get right (or at least, he’s very easy to write badly).

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  3. For me what sank Superman Returns is very much what sank the Paul McGann Doctor Who TV Movie: it felt backward-looking, laden with needless continuity, and without a new compelling story to tell. Plus it was languid and sappy as hell. 😉

    But what worked about it for me was Routh’s quirky performance as Clark Kent, which I thought was every bit as deft as Christopher Reeve’s, and the VFX, which for the first time realised the physics of a man in flight in a way that felt real.

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    • The Who TV movie comparison hadn’t occurred, but is an interesting point. I loved the idea of being faithful to the Donner movie in theory, but in practice it just seemed to suck the life out of the film. There are small chunks of Superman Returns that are breathtaking, but there are also some headscratchingly weird decisions in there. Routh is definitely the best thing in it, and the effects are good, but it’s a major missed opportunity. Whether Snyder can be better than that remains to be seen, of course…

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