The First Time Henry Cavill Was Cast As Superman

The notably handsome and talented British actor Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman. Again.

It’s been a while since he last had the role and, of course, that film never made it into production, but Cavill was selected to play the orphaned Kryptonian and his bespectacled alter ego back when JJ Abrams had written the screenplay and McG was directing. That production was dumped in favour of Bryan Singer, and what became Superman Returns, but the studio went as far as telling Cavill he had the role, and officially attaching him.

Indeed, so advanced were preparations for the film, Cavill took part in costume tests. The costume in question, you probably recall, was being designed by Steve Johnson. It seems that no images of Cavill in the suit have gone public – yet – but there are plenty of sketches on Johnson’s Facebook page. Here’s a sample now:

And, interestingly, the latest update on the page (at time of writing) is the image of Cavill in costume that’s at the head of the post. What purpose the image serves, or how old it is, I don’t know for sure, but it’s certainly a convincing argument for Cavill’s casting. He looks at home in the colours.

McG and Abrams’ version of Superman was infamous for reinventing some of the most basic and typically unchallenged elements of the mythos: Lex Luthor was both a CIA agent and a Kryptonian; the Superman suit was a sentient being in its own right; Jor-El visited Earth and selected the Kents to be Kal-El’s surrogate parents; Krypton never actually explodes.

And that’s not even a half of it. You can read Abrams’ first draft online quite easily.

Before McG was attached to direct, Brett Ratner was in the chair. This preceded Cavill’s casting, but one draft or another of Abrams’ script was the basis all the way through. It was during the Ratner tenure that concept artist Phil Saunders worked on the picture and created the following bit of work, showing Superman facing off against a Kryptonian mech called “The Rouser.”

The consensus will probably be that Cavill outran a bullet when this earlier, and somewhat unorthodox version of Superman fell apart, and that he’s really landed on his feet with the new creative team of Zack Snyder and David Goyer. Well, I think that remains to be seen (in part because I’ve never actually read Abrams’ script) though I would at least hope we’ve got something good to look forward to.