Beyond the curtain with Henry Cavill

The last Kryptonian is back.
In a bold move that has surprised nobody, Henry Cavill was brought back to play Superman. Cavill first portrayed the last Kryptonian in 2013’s Man of Steel, also directed by Snyder. It’s fair to say that out of the four main cast, Cavill was able to enter this project with the most familiarity and experience. Same director, same role, same fiction. How bad could it be? Cavill took nothing for granted. Well, maybe one thing. 
Ahead of the film’s release, Cavill took personal measures to prove that Clark Kent’s ‘casual human’ costume was both believable and viable. Hanging out in Times Square under the actual Batman v Superman posters, it was shown once and for all that even Superman can blend into a crowd. Surprising ease of method acting aside, Cavill tackled the role with caution and yet seems to be a firm believer of ‘doing your own thing’: “Obviously, especially, Christopher Reeve did such a fantastic job...it was dangerous for me to go anywhere near that, so I left that to its own thing. And then just with Zack on Man of Steel, built the character as much as I could, drawing from the canon...I’ve just tried to follow that, stay true to the character that we ran with in Man of Steel”.

This directly mirrors the attitude of co-star Affleck, who expressed similar anxieties when faced with the pantheon of actors who had taken the role before him. Unlike Affleck, Cavill faces a different challenge. His familiarity could be his downfall. Affleck’s casting brings with it a new spectrum of possibilities, angles and moods that could be applied to his classic superhero character. Cavill has no such freedom. He is, for better or worse, boxed into the character he played in an earlier film. For better, Superman is still navigating the same tensions within the world Snyder created in Man of Steel, being Earth’s fear of unchecked and unlimited power.

 Allowing himself to be arrested as a show of good faith in Man of Steel and having his (for lack of a better term) god monument defaced in Batman v Superman are two very different things. But this fundamental distrust between his character and his world is a relationship Cavill has traversed before. For worse, Superman is on a collision course with Batman, and it’ll be interesting to see how Cavill handles a conflict where both combatants are- at their core- good guys. Affleck can be as bitter and as disillusioned as he needs to be for his Batman to work; Cavill has an established micro-canon to uphold. This should be good.


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