Michael B. Jordan placed a pin in any speculation that he would suit up as Warner Bros.’s next Superman when marketing his Amazon Prime film Tom Clancy’s Without Remorse in late April. “I’m flattered that people have me in that conversation,” Jordan told THR. “It’s definitely a compliment, but I’m just watching on this one.”
With that, a brand new guessing game based on who will portray the Man of Steel has begun. And, maybe, more importantly, who will direct? According to sources, J.J. Abrams, who is making the film, is not one of the many options being discussed.
When Warner Bros. revealed in February that celebrated author Ta-Nehisi Coates is writing the script and Abrams is distributing, there was no mention of who would direct. However, sources claim Warner Bros. and DC are dedicated to recruiting a Black director to handle what would be the first film incarnation of Superman starring a Black actor.
In an appropriate surprise, the director hunt pits DC against none other than Marvel. As Warner Bros. searches for a Superman replacement, Marvel is looking for a Blade director and is looking at the same list.
But the issue would be which kind of filmmaker Bad Robot and Warners want: an up-and-coming filmmaker who can be supported by Abrams, or someone who knows his way around tentpoles and franchises. Or a well-known filmmaker like Barry Jenkins or Ryan Coogler?
The former category may include Creed II’s Steven Caple Jr., J.D. Dillard, Regina King — who received critical acclaim for her drama One Night in Miami — and Shaka King, who is well-liked at Warner Bros. thanks to best picture Oscar nominee Judas and the Black Messiah.
Any prospective directors have met with both studios for both films, despite the fact that one agent defined the phase as “phenomenally early.” Meanwhile, Coogler could be a no-go with either project since he would be preoccupied with Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, which will be released on July 8, 2022.
Coates’ Superman script isn’t scheduled to be completed until mid-December. Similarly, Marvel isn’t rushing Blade, whose release date has been moved back from September to July 2022 so that the studio can focus on the script by Stacy Osei-Kuffour.
While the next Superman would almost certainly be directed by a well-known name, the star could be a virtual unknown, as was the case when Brandon Routh donned the cape for Bryan Singer’s 2006 Superman Returns and Henry Cavill donned the cape for Zack Snyder’s 2013 Man of Steel.
Neither Superman Returns nor Man of Steel met their lofty hopes, with the former grossing $391 million globally and the latter grossing $668 million. In comparison, James Wan’s Aquaman earned $1.15 billion in 2018, while Todd Phillips’ Joker earned $1.07 billion (and multiple Oscars).
However, setting a different mood for the unveiling of the next Superman franchise is critical to Warner Bros.’ DC film's future. As a result, none of the so-called Snyderverse vision can survive, with Snyder’s four-hour Justice League premiering on HBO Max in March. Among his remaining hand-picked stars are Gal Gadot (Wonder Woman), Jason Momoa (Aquaman), and Ezra Miller (The Flash).
In this post-Snyder world, DC sees its forthcoming Flash film, which began development in April in London, as a path forward. With the addition of characters including Supergirl (Sasha Calle) and Michael Keaton’s Batman, Flash establishes DC with a multiverse that encourages all of these incarnations and story worlds to coexist and make superheroes connect.
With the exception of Matt Reeves’ The Batman, featuring Robert Pattinson and due for release in March, HBO Max’s spinoff Gotham PD, and Joker and its intended sequel, all movies and TV shows will take place in the same universe.
The Superman film happens to be taking its own path and will not be part of the world for the time being.
According to reports, Coates is creating a Kal-El in the style of the first Superman stories, with the protagonist hailing from Krypton and visiting Earth.
Since the plot is already being developed and certain things will alter, one possibility being considered is for the film to be set in the twentieth century.
Diversity and representation will continue to be important drivers in the DC universe in the future. Warner Bros. is working on a Latino Blue Beetle film with Angel Manuel Soto attached to direct, and HBO Max is looking for a gay Green Lantern for an upcoming series.
With Ava DuVernay’s Naomi (Batwoman already has a Black character, Javicia Leslie), The CW’s Arrowverse is about to get its second Black female superhero series, just as Black Lightning is about to finish up its final season.
Abrams, who signed a $500 million contract with WarnerMedia in September 2019, will continue to exercise considerable power in the DC universe.
With Snyder out, the producer of Star Wars: Episode VII — The Force Awakens will now have maybe the biggest impact since he runs the Justice League Dark Universe for film and television.
A Constantine reboot for HBO MaxX is one of the rumored programs. At the very least, Abrams could be causing havoc at DC for the Hellblazer protagonist.