In somewhat surprising news, J.J. Abrams is working on a new Superman film project at Warner Brothers alongside writer Ta-Nehisi Coates. Similarly to the in-production The Batman, the film is envisaged a stand-alone project not related to the wider DC Extended Universe (their version of the Marvel Cinematic Universe).
After a few years of fruitlessly competing with Marvel, Warner Brothers have apparently reconsidered their ideas about a linked superhero universe, with a new approach which mixes a linked universe of films (comprising Man of Steel, Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice, Wonder Woman, Aquaman, Wonder Woman 1984, Zack Snyder's Justice League and the forthcoming The Flash) and the ability and freedom to revisit those characters in a stand-alone context with different actors involved.
Abrams set up a development deal worth $500 million with Warner Brothers in 2019, whilst Coates - a respected writer of both fiction and history texts - has enjoyed acclaimed recent runs on both the Black Panther and Captain America comic books for Marvel.
Some reports are suggesting that the film will explore the idea of an African-American (well, African-American-Kryptonian) Superman. There is precedent for this in the comics, where "black Supermen" appeared several times in alternate-universe stories about the character. The most substantial such take on the character is an alternate-reality version revolving around the character of Kalel, who like his white counterpart is the last refugee of Krypton. He is raised by the poor Ellis family and dubbed Calvin, and becomes the Superman of his world. He also becomes President of the United States, in an unusual twist on the familiar mythos.
Michael B. Jordan (The Wire, Creed, Black Panther) reportedly met with Warner Brothers a few years ago to discuss a possible appearance as Superman in a project which did not move forward at that time. Whether there is scope for Jordan to be involved in this project is unclear.
Henry Cavill, who has played Superman in the DCEU since 2013's Man of Steel, reportedly was in talks to resume his role early last year. Apparently WB had earlier felt that Cavill had runs his course in the role, but reversed that decision when Cavill enjoyed an explosion in popularity due to his appearance in the television series The Witcher and several other film roles such as Man from U.N.C.L.E. and Mission Impossible: Fallout. However, it appears that WB's preference is to retain Cavill as a supporting player version of Superman in other DCEU films (likening his role to that of the Hulk in the MCU) rather than building further films around him.
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