In a late 2021 GQ interview, Henry Cavill had spoken about his time as the Man of Steel and how much he had invested in the role and each arc of the character’s development. Even though it has been years since his official exit from the DC universe, the actor still recalled the need for his character to be assuaged of any guilt for his trip down the darker path. But for that to happen, the audience would need a follow-up to Zack Snyder’s Justice League.
The DCEU World-Building of Henry Cavill and Zack Snyder
2013 marked the heralding of an era when Zack Snyder and Henry Cavill gave the world its best version of Superman. The DC Extended Universe was formed at the same time Man of Steel was launched. The following years defined what was to become of Snyder’s vision before being abruptly and messily cut short. But the groundwork for the Justice League trilogy was still laid bare for DCEU to build up after the director’s departure. However, it wasn’t until a little orchestration on Snyder’s part in 2021 that the true potential for the cinematic universe could be understood in full.
Zack Snyder’s Justice League was the first of the three Justice League stories in development. The film established the possible worst-case scenario in the DC universe which would be Darkseid conquering the world after Steppenwolf fails to do it for him. The plot also foreshadows Superman succumbing to the Anti-Life equation after Lois Lane’s death and the surviving extant of the Justice League along with a few unlikely “allies” (including the Joker) attempting to save the future of the dystopian apocalyptic world by trying to change the past.
Henry Cavill Discusses Superman’s Redemption Arc
In the GQ interview, Henry Cavill expressly stated the steps that he wished to follow in order to deliver the best Superman arc possible. It was made clear in the beginning that if Snyder wanted Superman to go down the darker path, he first had to show the character as good, as the “beacon of hope” for the people. Only then would his corruption by the Anti-Life Equation of Darkseid be more tangential which would then pave the path for Superman’s redemption arc.
“I was very keen on really fleshing out Superman’s early stages of his journey, first. We had Man of Steel and then we went quite a bit darker with Batman v Superman. And if he were to succumb to the Anti-Life equation and become bad Superman, I really wanted to make sure that we saw the hero Superman and we saw the true symbol of hope, the beacon of light, before we went down the path of darkness, and then redemption. It’s still something that I’m very keen to flesh out.”
The Justice League Snyder’s Cut had well established the Knightmare timeline as the future of the DCEU. One of Cyborg’s visions showed Henry Cavill’s Superman holding the charred corpse of Lois Lane and Darkseid influencing him in his greatest moment of vulnerability. The numerous timeline visions also included one where the Man of Steel would capture and execute Batman. That arc would then go on to define what Cavill calls the “bad Superman” in Justice League 2. The only possible way to go from there would be to rewrite history by sending the Flash back into the past (multiple times) until eventually, the team gets their hero back and thus begin his eventual redemption arc.