Superman Controversy: Neil Gaiman Points out the Problem with Warner Bros.’ Belief the Man of Steel Isn’t “Relevant”

Neil Gaiman, who co-created Sandman for DC Comics-owned Vertigo, says studio Warner Bros. is making a mistake with its approach to Superman after the superhero's relevancy in the modern age was called into question in a report from Variety. In a lengthy examination of both the past and future for Warner Bros.’ DC Universe on the big screen, Variety reported the studio is “polling lots of high-profile talent” — including Star Wars director J.J. Abrams — in an effort to “help find a way to make Superman relevant to modern audiences.” Warner Bros.’ reported stance on the character, whose movie future has been on pause since Henry Cavill last played the character in 2017’s Justice League, quickly sparked online outrage.

“You don’t make it relevant,” Gaiman tweeted on Monday in response to the controversy. “You make it inspiring.”

In February, Forbes reported plans for Superman in the DC Extended Universe — also home to Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman and Jason Momoa’s Aquaman, and formerly Ben Affleck’s Batman — were on hold indefinitely. The studio would instead focus its efforts on Kal-El’s cousin Supergirl, whose own movie was planned to begin production in early 2020, according to another report from Forbes.

Despite a September 2018 report that claimed Cavill exited his post as Clark Kent-slash-Superman, Cavill maintains he hasn’t given up the role, telling Men’s Health in November, “The cape is in the closet. It’s still mine.”

“I’m not just going to sit quietly in the dark as all this stuff is going on,” Cavill added. “I’ve not given up the role. There’s a lot I have to give for Superman yet. A lot of storytelling to do. A lot of real, true depths to the honesty of the character I want to get into. I want to reflect the comic books. That’s important to me. There’s a lot of justice to be done for Superman. The status is: You’ll see.”

In July, Mission: Impossible franchise writer-director Christopher McQuarrie revealed he approached the studio with a pitch for a Man of Steel sequel with Cavill, who starred in McQuarrie’s Mission: Impossible — Fallout. There were “no takers,” McQuarrie wrote on Twitter, adding, “The studios have never cared for my original ideas. They prefer that I fix their broken ones.”

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“They never said no. They just never moved on it,” McQuarrie wrote in a subsequent tweet. “This was just before Fallout was released. And no, I would not reconsider. There’s too many other things I want to do.”

Cavill next leads The Witcher for Netflix, premiering on the streaming service Dec. 20. Follow the author @CameronBonomolo on Twitter.