Henry Cavill’s Superman became the latest DC Universe casualty under new owners Warner Bros. Discovery, following a string of dramatic shake-ups for the franchise.
Cavill’s shock announcement on Wednesday that he will ‘not be returning as Superman’ is the latest sign that new studio heads James Gunn and Peter Safran are making major changes to the DC franchise.
Following the merger that created new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery in April, DC’s $90 million Batgirl movie was scrapped in the final stages of production, and plans for Wonder Woman 3 were cast aside earlier this month.
Gunn and Safran, who took over DC Studios last month and report directly to WBD boss David Zaslav, have said they are working on a 10-year masterplan for the DC Extended Universe, which will tell a unified, overarching story across multiple mediums.
Gunn ominously tweeted last week that his plan to overhaul the franchise with Safran would ‘build upon what has worked in DC so far’ as well as ‘rectify what has not.’
Superman no more: The massive shake-up at Warner Bros.’ DC Films has continued, with Henry Cavill revealing that he will not be returning as Superman
Cavill’s shock announcement that he will ‘not be returning as Superman’ is the latest sign that new studio heads James Gunn (left) and Peter Safran (right) are making major changes
Gunn wrote that he and Safran ‘chose to helm DC Studios knowing we were coming into a fractious environment, both in the stories being told & in the audience itself & there would be an unavoidable transitional period as we moved into telling a cohesive story across film, TV, animation, and gaming.’
He added that ‘in the end, the drawbacks of that transitional period were dwarfed by the creative possibilities & the opportunity to build upon what has worked in DC so far & to help rectify what has not.’
Gunn is the writer-director who made the Guardians of the Galaxy household names for Marvel and revived The Suicide Squad for DC.
Safran has produced many films for Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, including Gunn’s The Suicide Squad as well as Aquaman, Shazam and the horror films in The Conjuring universe.
The duo took over from Walter Hamada, who himself oversaw DC Films, as the unit was formerly known, through a tumultuous period after the departure of franchise architect Zach Snyder in 2018.
As it stands, Warner Bros. has four DC movies slated for 2023: Shazam! Fury of the God in March, The Flash in June, Blue Beetle in August and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom in December.
Whether Gunn and Safran decide to let these releases proceed undisturbed and build their 10-year vision around them, or make further dramatic changes, remains to be seen.
Plans for Wonder Woman 3 were cast aside earlier this month amid a studio dispute
Gunn and Safran report directly to new WBD boss David Zaslav (above) and appear to have his full blessing for their sweeping changes to the DC universe
So far, their sweeping changes to the DC Universe appear to be quickly racking up costs for WBD, though by every indication they have the full backing of Zaslav.
On Wednesday, regulatory filings showed that WBD expects its costs related to cancelled content to be up to $1 billion higher than projected in October.
WBD said that it now expects to take write-offs and impairments related to content totaling between $2.8 billion and $3.5 billion, up from between $2 billion and $2.5 billion as projected two months ago.
The filing did not specify which cancelled projects the added costs were associated with. In addition to the recent sidelining of Wonder Woman 3, several HBO shows including Westworld and The Nevers were recently cancelled as well.
Cavill’s announcement Wednesday that he would not be returning as Superman came as a shock to the British actor’s fans, after he appeared in a surprise cameo in Black Adam just two months ago teasing his return.
‘I have just had a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran and it’s sad news, everyone. I will, after all, not be returning as Superman,’ Cavill began in his Instagram post.
‘After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to [Gunn and Safran’s] hire, this news isn’t the easiest, but that’s life,’ he added.
‘I have just had a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran and it’s sad news, everyone. I will, after all, not be returning as Superman,’ Cavill began
Gunn responded saying that Cavill may return to DC ‘in the future’
‘The changing of the guard is something that happens. I respect that. James and Peter have a universe to build,’ he added.
‘I wish them and all involved with the new universe the best of luck, and happiest of fortunes,’ he added.
The actor went on to address, ‘those who have been by my side through the years,’ adding, ‘we can mourn for a bit,’ before addressing the future of the franchise.
‘But then we must remember… Superman is still around. Everything he stands for still exists, and the examples he sets for us are still there!’ Cavill said.
‘My turn to wear the cape has passed, but what Superman stands for never will. It’s been a fun ride with you all, onwards and upwards!’ Cavill concluded.
Shortly after Cavill’s statement on Instagram, Gunn took to Twitter to elaborate on the future of the beloved Superman character.
‘Peter & I have a DC slate ready to go, which we couldn’t be more over-the-moon about; we’ll be able to share some exciting information about our first projects at the beginning of the new year,’ Gunn began.
Wonder Woman 3 was reportedly scrapped after director Patty Jenkins (left) – who helmed the first two movies – rejected studio notes on her treatment for the third installment
‘Among those on the slate is Superman. In the initial stages, our story will be focusing on an earlier part of Superman’s life, so the character will not be played by Henry Cavill,’ Gunn clarified.
He added: ‘But we just had a great meeting with Henry and we’re big fans and we talked about a number of exciting possibilities to work together in the future.’
Gunn also answered a few questions from fans in the replies of his Twitter thread, revealing he’s writing the new Superman film, but won’t direct.
Meanwhile, it was revealed last week that Warner Bros. would not be moving forward with Wonder Woman 3, which came as a shock to fans.
The sequel was reportedly scrapped after director Patty Jenkins – who helmed the first two Wonder Woman movies – rejected studio notes on her treatment for the third installment, according to The Wrap.
According to sources, Jenkins had turned in her treatment last week and it was not well received by studio execs.
Warner Bros. Film Group Co-Chairpersons and CEOs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy were cited as the ones who rejected Jenkins’ treatment and did not plan to ‘move forward with the film in its current iteration.’
The first major shake-up of under the new WBD leadership came in August, when the Batgirl origin film was scrapped after it received poor test reviews
It was also claimed that Gunn and Safran agreed that Jenkins’ version of the film didn’t work.
This was communicated to Jenkins, and De Luca and Abdy wondered if the director would be willing to move the sequel in a different direction.
It was alleged that the pair’s offer was refused by Jenkins and she accused them of not understanding her vision or the trajectory of Wonder Woman as a whole.
‘[Jenkins] let them know that they were wrong, that they didn’t understand her, didn’t understand the character, didn’t understand character arcs and didn’t understand what Jenkins was trying to do,’ an insider claimed.
The first major shake-up of under the new WBD leadership came in August, when the Batgirl origin film was scrapped after it received poor test reviews.
Batgirl was first given the greenlight in 2021 as part of a company-wide effort to create feature films specifically for HBO Max, Variety reported.
It would have featured Latina actress Leslie Grace in the titular role as she battled Brendan Fraser’s Firefly, who turns to a life of crime after he is fired from his job, loses his health insurance and can no longer care for his sick wife.
According to those who have seen the now-scrapped film, Michael Keaton’s Batman was only featured in a few scenes — and did not serve as a mentor to Grace’s Barbara Gordon. The costumes were also subpar.