There’s so much whiplash in the DC Universe that you’d be forgiven for believing Superman has turned the world on its axis. After a grand re-entry into the DCEU with a cameo in Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam, which was met with cheers, whoops, and hollers in cinemas around the world, Henry Cavill‘s tenure in Superman’s red cape has been cut mercilessly short. Despite what seemed like confirmation from Johnson and buy-in from Cavill in the form of the latter leaving The Witcher to, we had assumed, take over the mantle of the Man of Steel once again, it’s been confirmed he is no longer playing the character.
In a post on Instagram, Cavill told fans “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”. Clearly, there’s no love lost between Cavill and new DC Studios heads James Gunn and Peter Safran, and we can’t help but feel a little sorry about the collateral damage in what seems like a messy studio overhaul. Still, onwards and upwards. As Cavill said, “my turn to wear the cape has passed,” which raises the obvious question: who will be our next Superman?
A May article in The Hollywood Reporter shed a little more light on the casting process for James Gunn’s new Superman in Superman: Legacy, suggesting that casting has hit a “crucial phase,” with Pearl star David Corenswet being the current horse with his nose at the front of the race.
While many fans mourn Cavill’s departure, some are already working over time to fancast the next iteration of the most iconic superhero of all time. Here’s a round-up of some of the most popular choices.
I mean, just look at him. Chiseled jaw, steely blue eyes, fluffy hair that looks ripe for just one curl to hang ever-so-naturally down his forehead? Hard to picture someone more suited to the collective idea of Superman than David Corenswet; it’s almost as if he’s been logged into an AI art machine with the prompt ‘the next Superman. Many fans will know Corenswet from his roles in Ryan Murphy’s The Politician and Hollywood. Aside from just looking the part of Clark Kent, however, Corenswet’s name has been bandied around the streets of Metropolis for a while, with many fans thinking he’d be prime for the character of Jon Kent, Superman’s son and heir to the cape. But with dad out of the picture now, maybe Corenswet could be moving up the family tree.
Adding fuel to the rumor fire, The Hollywood Reporter reported in May that Corenswet is “among the top contenders” to slip into the cape and spandex, advancing to the “screen test stage that will likely take place” in early June, according to their sources. The Hollywood Reporter further remarked that two other actors “may be” in the mix, but their identities are presently unknown. Seems like that super-race is super tight.
At some point in 2019, Nicholas Hoult was rumored to be in a head-to-head with Robert Pattinson to take over the next iteration of the caped crusader in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. We all know who ended up smudging on the eyeliner, which leaves Hoult open to alternative options. Maybe he wasn’t considered gritty enough for the emo stylings of Bruce Wayne, which could make him the perfect antidote as Clark Kent, the original corn-fed Mr. Nice Guy of the superhero world. Despite being in Hollywood since the age of five, Hoult has never been shackled to a defining role, the perfect condition for someone stepping into the shoes of, arguably, the most defining character of all time. Having shown comedy stylings in the sensational The Great in recent years, he could also bring some much-needed levity to the character.
If not Kent, Hoult might just be the top pick for big bad guy Lex Luthor. According to a May report from The Hollywood Reporter, Hoult has been “tipped to play” Superman’s biggest rival. Per THR‘s sources, Warner Bros. has been itching to bring Hoult into the DC Universe since he appeared in 2015’s Mad Max: Fury Road. So if you don’t see him on the morning news shift for the Daily Planet, there’s every chance he’ll portray the world’s most famous bald-headed supervillain that isn’t Ernst Blofeld or Jeff Bezos.
From Gen Z It Boy to the world’s favorite superhero could be less of a jump than you think. Jacob Elordi has been vigorously bubbling thanks to roles in zeitgeist-defining Euphoria and an upcoming role as Elvis (the other Elvis biopic coming, that is). It seems like only a matter of time before he lands the project that will transform him from up-and-comer to legitimate household name. At just 25, he’s the youngest prospective Superman on the list, which lends nicely to the idea that James Gunn and Peter Safran are looking for someone fresh-faced to take over the mantle. It makes sense; juxtaposing the naivety of Clark Kent and the weight of Superman’s responsibility has always been a compelling dynamic, and Elordi seems to specialize in that kind of conflicted angst.
Elordi was indeed a name on a list according to The Hollywood Reporter, but per a May article their sources say that he never submitted himself for consideration. Probably too busy honing that Elvis accent, you’d think.
Glen Powell just has one of those faces that would seem to suit a superhero get-up. After proving his chops (and showing off a seemingly untapped well of charm) in the gazillion-dollar-making Top Gun: Maverick, Powell’s name has been thrown around more than ever for roles. It’s no surprise, then, that he’s already been thrown into the ring as fantasy casting for new versions of the Green Lantern (sorry, Ryan Reynolds fans) and the Human Torch from Fantastic Four (though steering clear of that cursed property might be for the best). But since news of Cavill’s departure, Powell’s been bumped high on some fans’ possible next Man of Steel wish list. Superman isn’t exactly known for his sense of humor, at least not in many onscreen versions we’ve seen so far, so maybe Powell could provide some necessary snark.
At this point, there isn’t a list of potential iconic roles the cast of Top Gun: Maverick haven’t ended up on. Still, it’s hard to argue against Miles Teller fitting into the role of Superman. He’s already tried his hand in the superhero space as Reed Richards in 2015’s spectacular Fantastic Four flop, but as noted, that property seems cursed, so maybe not entirely his fault. The stint did prove that Teller had the authority to command a classic superhero character, and after Top Gun: Maverick there’s no denying he’s got charm. And considering his mustache for the role somehow made him unrecognizable, maybe he’s just the man to don a pair of specs and fool Metropolis into thinking he’s Clark Kent.
Yahya Abdul-Mateen II
Before Henry Cavill’s (very) short return to Superman, most fans believed his time in the suit was over, which led to fancasts going back years. One of the names that routinely popped up in a proposed shake-up far is Yahya Abdul-Mateen II. There’s no mystery why, because aside from it being obvious he’d rock the hell out of the red cape, he’s already no stranger to the superhero world. He’s played Doctor Manhattan in HBO’s critically acclaimed Watchmen series and already has a key fob to the DC Studios, thanks to his role as Black Manta in Jason Momoa’s Aquaman films. But with rumors the next Aquaman movie will be the last with Momoa (even more likely now, considering the Cavill news), there’s no reason the shake-up couldn’t allow for Abdul-Mateen to strip out of one pair of tights into another.
With every new iteration of a superhero, there are opportunities to dig into different aspects that make up the core of our favorite characters. Following the news of Cavill’s departure, some fans have put Diego Calva forward as a Latino iteration of Clark Kent. Known mostly for his role in Narcos: Mexico, 2022 was a banner year for Calva, generating awards buzz for his memorable turn in Damien Chazelle’s divisive Babylon. To many, Superman’s immigrant journey is a defining and comforting aspect of his story that, although touched upon in previous iterations, could be handled with more depth and grit if the diversity of options was widened. Calva is a fresh face, but probably not for long as his career continues the up-and-up. In that sense, DC Studios would be smart to nab him early.
Ok, this one is kind of bonkers unless Tom Holland has a death wish, which is the only way he could conceivably swap prominent superhero franchises. That hasn’t stopped his name from being thrown around by fans who believe he fits the mold of a young Clark Kent. It makes some sense when you consider that he’s slightly aging out of the role of Spider-Man in the MCU, a character who has never, on screen at least, ventured much farther out than early adulthood. The transition from teenage Spider-Man to mid-twenties Clark Kent could be a way for Holland to step into more mature roles, especially considering there’s still been no official confirmation that he’s returning as our friendly neighborhood superhero. Far-fetched, sure, but that’s the joy of fancasting after all.
This story originally ran on British GQ with the title “Who is going to be the next Superman? Nicholas Hoult, Jacob Elordi and more frontrunners…”