The DCU’s reported plan for the return of Superman, before James Gunn and Peter Safran’s takeover, highlights one specific problem in terms of the character’s cameo appearances. According to a report from The Hollywood Reporter, former DC boss Walter Hamada was intending to use Superman in a “breadcrumb” approach. Hamada wanted to continuously use the character in multiple cameos, as seen in the likes of Shazam! and Peacemaker more recently.
Apparently, these cameos would have built to a major crossover event in the DCU which saw the official return of Henry Cavill as Superman, rather than faceless cameos. This crossover event was said to be Crisis on Infinite Earths, per THR’s reports. However, while this approach sounds interesting, it highlights one major mistake with the Man of Steel’s many DC cameos.
This problem is the lack of plot found in Superman’s cameos. While Black Adam’s Superman cameo took steps to reverse this, by having Cavill actually appear and set up a potential future conflict, it is clear this cameo came largely from Dwayne Johnson himself rather than being part of Hamada’s plans. If Hamada’s plan was to eventually set up a huge plot like Crisis on Infinite Earths, Superman’s cameos would have needed much more story elements to foreshadow the event properly.
If this was the case, and it was clear that DC was setting up Cavill’s eventual story-based return to the character, each of the cameos would have been received much more positively. However, because all of these cameos lacked any kind of connective tissue or story, or Cavill himself for that matter, they were largely inconsequential and without weight. This highlights the biggest problem with Hamada’s plan for Henry Cavill as the DCU Superman and continues the trend of DC plots without a solid, overarching story that Gunn and Safran are swiftly looking to rectify.
Another problem this would have created is the lack of clarity on Superman’s overall involvement. If this plan had gone ahead, and Superman had appeared in multiple cameos across a few years of various DC films before suddenly appearing again in a Crisis on Infinite Earths film, general movie-going audiences could have been very confused due to Cavill’s appearance. As Hamada was clearly using faceless cameos to keep Superman around, general audiences may have wondered why Cavill skipped from Joss Whedon’s Justice League to the eventual crossover without any other major appearances.
These cameos lacking any story, or any clear indication that it was Cavill donning the cape, would have led people to be very confused over Superman’s eventual reemergence as a central DCU figure. This could then have led audiences to go back and find Superman’s previous appearances, only to find faceless cameos with no story weight behind them. Regardless, it is clear that Walter Hamada’s long-term plan for Superman in the DCU had many issues, something that, despite the disappointment of Cavill’s departure, James Gunn and Peter Safran can course-correct.
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