It’s a time of transition in the world of Superman. The comics, after a number of years of hits and misses, seem to be on a pretty great path thanks to writers like Philip Kennedy Johnson and Tom Taylor. For good or for bad, we finally received an answer on whether or not Henry Cavill would be returning as the Man of Steel on the big screen; and the same is true regarding the fate of the television series Superman & Lois. All of which is laying the groundwork for what is the next chapter in the character’s history.
Having just written what I hope is the definitive guide to that history — Voices from Krypton — it has become clearer to me than ever that when you have a character that has been consistently in print for 85 years and some form of production in every decade since his inception, there are always chapters closing with new ones beginning. And as a fan, the choice is to cling desperately to what was at the expense of all else, or cherish that while opening your heart and imagination to what is yet to come.
In promoting VFK, one of the revelations I made about myself is that I’m a “Generational Fan;” one that travels where the “S” does. Whoever it may be, I’m there and probably will be for the rest of my life, fully aware that some interpretations are going to be stronger than others. It’s the same thing with James Bond. That is a character that I fell in love with in the 1960s thanks to Sean Connery and elected to stay with through the tenures of George Lazenby (short as it was), Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and Daniel Craig.
Hell, if they make a new version of The Odd Couple, I’m there as well, having fallen in love with the characters of Oscar Madison and Felix Unger with the 1968 film and followed them through no less than three television series and a movie sequel.
So Henry Cavill’s gone as Superman, but during his tenure he starred in three films (four if you count the Joss Whedon version of Justice League) and a cameo, bringing with him a unique take that questioned the Man of Steel’s place amongst us more than other has. That’s really not so bad. Certainly better than Brandon Routh, who deserved more than just Superman Returns and, many years later, the CW’s crossover event Crisis on Infinite Earths. And by the time he finishes his run following the fourth and final season of Superman & Lois, Tyler Hoechlin will have proven himself to be one of the greats to don the Superman outfit. In truth, each of them deserves praise for what they brought to the role, but, in the end, there was a point where they were forced to stand aside for whoever came next. George Reeves did. So did Christopher Reeve and every single actor to portray the Man of Steel before or since.
Not to invoke the power of Simba, but it is indeed a version of the Circle of Life. Always has been. And personally speaking, it’s my preference to continue looking to the sky and believing than let the adventure end at any one particular place and time, living on only in our memories.