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James Gunn is making his first big move at DC and will pen a Superman movie.
The project will focus on the younger years of the hero, and thus he will be played by a new actor rather than Superman veteran Henry Cavill. Gunn and his DC Studios co-chair and co-CEO Peter Safran recently met with Cavill to share the news, and to discuss ideas for potentially collaborating in the future on something else, perhaps a different role.
At this stage, Gunn is merely writing the script, though he could potentially direct depending on where his services are needed at DC Studios, according to insiders.
“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 wrote on Twitter on Wednesday. “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. 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.”
Though this Superman will be on the younger side, he won’t be living in Smallville but rather will be Daily Planet reporter Clark Kent, according to insiders.
The news may be a surprise to fans who expected Cavill to return as Superman in the near future. Cavill appeared in a post-credits sequence in Black Adam, released in October, and the Monday after the film opened, posted a message on Instagram announcing he was back as Superman. According to sources, that Instagram message was sanctioned by Warners brass, before Gunn and Safran were hired, thus the change in plans.
Cavill, who announced his departure from the Netflix series The Witcher following his return as Superman, reflected on the change in an Instagram post, writing, “I will, after all, not be returning as Superman. 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. 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.”
Over his near decade since first playing Superman, Cavill has become a fan favorite actor, first appearing in 2013’s Man of Steel, and reprising the role in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) and Justice League (2017).
Since assuming their new roles Nov. 1, Gunn and Safran have been taking meetings with other key players in the DC universe. In addition to Cavill, they recently met with Batman actor Ben Affleck to discuss the possibility of him directing for them in the future, according to sources familiar with the conversation. No deal is in place for Affleck to helm a DC feature at this stage. They also had conversations with filmmaker Patty Jenkins, who no longer will be moving forward with a third Wonder Woman film.
Warners has also been developing a Black superman film written by Ta-Nehisi Coates and produced by J.J. Abrams, and Gunn’s new movie is said to not have an impact on that project, with Coates still working on the script.
Warners has long wanted Gunn to tackle a Superman movie. In 2018, after Gunn departed Marvel Studios for DC when he was temporarily fired from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, then-Warners studio boss Toby Emmerich pushed for Gunn to take on Superman. Gunn opted to write and direct The Suicide Squad instead. That movie also paved the way for Peacemaker, the HBO Max spinoff starring John Cena, and gave Gunn a taste of world-building in the DC universe.
Still, Superman has long been a favorite for Gunn, who has been thinking about this new movie since his early days at DC four years ago. Over the weekend, Gunn marked the anniversary of the 1978 film by Richard Donner, sharing the poster and reminiscing about seeing it in theaters in Missouri as a child. Wrote the filmmaker and exec: “I loved it and it rivaled Star Wars for me. And the score blew my mind.”
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