If you're confused about Henry Cavill as Superman, you're not the only one. After appearing in Black Adam and announcing his return as the Man of Steel, Cavill was then shuffled out of the role entirely, and a new Superman will be stepping up to the plate.
The next Superman will be part of the new DCU, ushered in by DC Studios co-CEOs James Gunn and Peter Safran. This stage of the DCU is called Chapter One: Gods and Monsters, and, as part of it, an all-new Superman movie is on the way.
Below, we've broken down exactly what happened with Cavill – from his reappearance in Black Adam, Man of Steel 2 speculation, and the new film in the works without Cavill's involvement. Up, up, and away…
Is Henry Cavill still Superman?
"I just had a meeting with James Gunn and Peter Safran, and it's sad news, everyone," Cavill shared on Instagram. "I will, after all, not be returning as Superman. After being told by the studio to announce my return back in October, prior to their hire, this news isn't the easiest, but that's life. The changing of the guard is something that happens. I respect that. James and Peter have a universe to build. I wish them and all involved with the new universe the best of luck, and the happiest of fortunes.
"For those who have been by my side for years... we can mourn for a bit, 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! 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."
"A lot of people made assumptions which weren't true," he continued. "But for me, it's about who do I want to cast as Superman and who do the filmmakers want to cast."
He added: "For me, for this story, it isn't Henry. I like Henry. He's a great guy. I think he's gotten dicked around by a lot of people, including former regimes of this company. But this Superman isn't Henry for a number of reasons."
Who is the new Superman? What is the new Superman movie?
Gunn revealed that he was writing a new Superman movie, which would follow a younger version of Clark Kent: so Cavill would no longer play the role.
The new film is titled Superman: Legacy and is set for release July 11, 2025. "This is really the start of the DCU," Safran said in a statement (via Deadline). "It's not an origins story, it focuses on Superman's balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He's the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way, he's kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned."
The film is said to focus on Clark as a reporter for the Daily Planet, and will feature characters such as Lois Lane. Casting for the role has not begun yet, Gunn confirmed.
What happened with Henry Cavill and Black Adam? What was the plan?
Dwayne Johnson teased a Superman vs. Black Adam showdown in the run-up to Black Adam's release, and the first stepping stone towards that future was laid in the Black Adam post-credits scene. In the stinger, Cavill's Superman arrives to talk to Black Adam. The Kryptonian hero says it's "been a while since anyone made the world this nervous," of course referring to the stir he himself caused, and says "We should talk." Teth-Adam smirks, and the scene ends there.
At the time, Black Adam producer Hiram Garcia indicated that a battle between the two meta-humans wasn't the only thing planned. "It's never been about a one-off or just about a fight," Garcia told CinemaBlend. "No, it's about so much more than that. We really want to craft a long form of storytelling and show that these two characters exist in the same universe and are going to have to deal with each other often, either on the same or opposite sides."
That didn't mean a fight wouldn't have happened someday, though. "Hopefully they're going to clash at some point, but it's not just about a 'one fight' situation," he continued. "That was never our dream. That does not reward the fans. Fans want to feel a journey between these guys knowing that these guys exist in the same universe."
Johnson also hyped up a potential showdown. "We will create Black Adam for him to be the most powerful and unstoppable force on this planet," Johnson told Jake's Takes. "The most powerful and unstoppable force in the entire universe has been on the sidelines for too long."
But, like Garcia, Johnson tempered expectations that the fight would be coming up right away. "That's definitely not the next step," the actor wrote on Twitter. "We have a lot more long term storytelling to do before that historic DCEU showdown and more new characters to establish."
Around the time of Black Adam's release, Cavill also took to Instagram to confirm his return to the role, and Man of Steel 2 was even reported to be in the works (more on that below).
Johnson also addressed the long journey to bringing Cavill back onscreen as Supes. "We fought for years to bring you back. They always said no," he wrote on Twitter. "But to [producers Dany and Hiram Garcia] & myself "no" was not an option. We can't build out our DCEU w/out the world's greatest superhero. And fans will always come first. Welcome home. I'll see you down the road."
Hot on the heels of Black Adam, though, was the news that Gunn and Safran were taking over as co-CEOs of DC Studios. That put everything into doubt as it became clear that a major reboot was on the cards as the duo worked out a lengthy plan for the DCU.
Undeterred, though, Cavill discussed the possibility of meeting with Gunn about the future. "I have not met James yet," Cavill told IGN. "I'm looking very forward to meeting him. He’s clearly a very, very talented man, and I cannot wait to sit down and have long, long conversations with him. I'm very excited about him being there and very excited about any future opportunities we can work together."
Not long after this, though, a new report from The Hollywood Reporter once again put Cavill's DC future into question, with a cameo in The Flash potentially on the cutting room floor. A few days later, it was made official: Cavill revealed he was no longer Superman following a conversation with Gunn and Safran.
Black Adam 2 also isn't on the agenda anytime soon, so that promised showdown between Johnson and Cavill's characters will never happen.
Was there going to be a Man of Steel 2?
Man of Steel 2 was reportedly in the works, but since Gunn and Safran's new plan overhauled the DC universe, the sequel will no longer be happening.
The film "would essentially be Man of Steel 2" and had prolific DC producer Charles Roven attached, while the search was on for writers.
"I'm not sure what's going on in that regard," Garcia told CinemaBlend when asked if Cavill signed up to play Superman again in more DC movies. "He wanted to come back, we wanted him to come back, and we wanted to make sure that we were able to establish that [his] character exists in the same universe as Black Adam. We have large ambitions for things we'd like to do, however all of these items are still in the works so I am unable to provide exact updates. But just know that we are fighting for it."
What other Superman projects are in the works?
There are three other Superman projects currently in the works. One is Gunn's film, while another is a movie set to be produced by J.J. Abrams and written by Ta-Nehisi Coates. It will reportedly feature a Black Superman and THR describes it as having "a multidecade-spanning story." If the movie does happen, it will most likely take place in an alternative DC universe, similar to The Batman and Joker.
The other Superman project is an HBO Max TV show from producer Michael B. Jordan, who may also play the main character. The show wouldn't focus on Clark Kent, but instead Val-Zod – he took up the mantle of Superman on an alternate Earth in the comics. There's been no official word on the series happening, and those Warner Bros. shakeups may have spelled doom for the series as the studio puts an emphasis on its big heroes appearing in cinemas.
Neither project appears on Gunn and Safran's current DC slate, but neither has been officially canceled, either.
For more on Black Adam, be sure to read our explainers on:
- The Black Adam ending explained
- All the Black Adam cameos explained
- Henry Winkler's Black Adam cameo explained
- The Justice Society of America's comic-book history
- When is Black Adam on streaming?
- When does Black Adam take place on the DC timeline?
- How to watch the DC movies in order
- All the new superhero movies heading your way