Entertainment Weekly recently sat down to speak with Henry Cavill, the man who will be playing Superman/Clark Kent in this summer’s Man of Steel. In their conversation, Cavill talked about how he actually had to read a great of Superman comics in preparation for the role. Though he had almost 75 years of material to look through, he said that there were four specific stories that influenced him the most.
The first was 1992’s iconic storyline The Death of Superman. This isn’t a very surprising choice, considering its influence. It was a monumental storyline for more reasons than one. Superman proved his heroism by making the ultimate sacrifice in combat with the dangerous alien Doomsday. Both hardcore comic fans and mainstream audiences were shocked that DC’s flagship character would actually meet his end. Apparently, the theme of self-sacrifice is one that Cavill had to integrate for this new take on the character.
The second story was Death of Superman’s follow-up storyline, The Return of Superman. After Superman’s death, Metropolis saw four new protectors appear to try and fill his shoes. They each featured some abilities that mirrored Superman’s and some similar personality traits. Readers were left to wonder which of these four was the returned Man of Steel, but after one of the possible replacement Supermen turned on humanity and destroyed Coast City, the one true Superman returned to bring him down.
Both of those two picks explored how essential Superman was to the DC universe. When the world’s greatest hero died, people realized how they had taken him for granted.
The third piece was a graphic novel called Superman: Red Son, which was written by Mark Millar. The series explored what would have happened if Kal-El’s rocket landed in Stalinist Russia instead of the USA. The series was a fascinating look at the character and what could have been, and it’s also one of the most highly-praised Superman stories of the last decade. Cavill said that this story showed him just how heroic Superman was, even though he ended up in a completely different country. Superman isn’t the only DC hero who appears in the story, though. Versions of Wonder Woman, Batman, Green Lantern, and other heroes play into the story, and they’re vastly different from their original counterparts
Cavill briefly described why he enjoyed Red Son so much.
“He’s still doing the right thing it’s just he happens to be somewhere else.”
The final piece was the most surprising of the four Superman comics in Cavill’s list. Superman/Batman: The Search for Kryptonite is a story focusing on the Man of Steel teaming up with Batman to cleanup the planet-wide fallout from a massive Kryptonite meteor. While Kryptonite will not be appearing in the Man of Steel, Cavill said that he found it interesting because it also showed how human Superman really is. Though Superman is strong enough to lift mountains and has skin stronger than steel, he is far from invulnerable.
Of the four stories that Cavill listed here, the only one I haven’t read was The Search for Kryptonite. That being said, I’m certainly interested in reading it, especially if Cavill said that it was so useful for him. Overall, I’m very pleased with Cavill’s taste. He chose some very good stories, and I notice that they all have some sort of thematic tie to this summer’s upcoming blockbuster. Perhaps re-reading these stories could give us a good look at what we’ll be in for when the Man of Tomorrow flies back on to the silver screen.
What do you think of Cavill’s choices here? Are you intrigued by what we’ll probably be in for with Man of Steel? Why don’t you just tell us what you think in the comments below?