Let’s give Superman the movies he deserves

Henry Cavill is back — here’s how the revamped DC Studios can set Superman on the right path. PLUS: Jimmy Kimmel returns as Oscars host, ‘Westworld’ canceled, and Schumer hosts ‘SNL.’

Let’s give Superman the movies he deserves
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel. / Warner Bros.

It’s been almost a decade since got a standalone Superman movie. (Which barely compares to the gap between 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace and 2006’s Superman Returns, but we at least got Nic Cage Superman out of that era.) The gears are in motion to soon end that drought. James Gunn and Peter Safran are now the co-heads of DC Studios. Henry Cavill has returned to the franchise, playing Superman in a Black Adam credits scene. Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav is itching to get the Man in Steel back on the big screen.

But what should a Superman movie look like in the 2020s?

In the aftermath of Superman Returns (a take on the character that has gotten better with age, the Kevin Spacey casting aside), there was the popular idea that Superman is too good, too pure, too nice for the world we live in now. I’m sure if you go through my old tweets or the original Popculturology archives, you’ll see me saying something along the same lines, even cheering on where the character was going under Zack Snyder.

“Superman is a god,” the idea went. “And what would it look like if that god was angry.”

That take on Superman has its places. Alternate timelines. Multiverses. Whatever was supposed to happen in the sequel to Snyder’s Justice League movie. But that’s not who Superman is or what he represents.

Superman’s humanity is his greatest power. A refugee sent to Earth in hopes of guiding its people. He’s not here to destroy us. Or conquer us. Or rule us.

Cavill seems to get this. After waiting his time the past few years, he’s excited to working with Gunn.

“I'm looking very forward to meeting him,” Cavill said to IGN about Gunn. “He's clearly a very, very talented man, and I cannot wait to sit down and have long, long conversations with him. I'm very excited about him being there and very excited about any future opportunities we can work together.”

There’s still time, if the right people are put on the Superman movies, to create something special with Cavill in the role. There’s even a way for Cavill to tell a full Superman story, just like we saw Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans do with Iron Man and Captain America.

The former DCEU already burned through the Death of Superman, telling that story without putting in the work to earn any kind of emotional payoff. But there’s still one iconic Superman story out there that can give Cavill’s Superman his Avengers: Endgame moment.

Here’s how DC Studios could make that happen:

  • Spend the next decade making solo Superman movies. No versus anyone. I don’t care if it’s Batman, Black Adam or Guy Fieri. Resist all those urges, Warner Bros. Discovery.
  • Put a director at the helm of these Superman movies who understands the character, who can tell stories with heart at their core. (Cough, Gunn, cough.)
  • Explore the vast rogues galley that we haven’t seen in Superman movies yet.
  • But at the same time, craft a three-dimensional Lex Luthor. I don’t care if that means telling Jesse Eisenberg to knock off the cheap Heath Ledger/Joker impersonation or finding a new actor who can do the character justice. We’re going to need a Lex Luthor who has history with Superman for this final step.
  • Adapt Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s All-Star Superman as the finale of Cavill’s time as Superman. We’ve seen the story of how Superman began over and over and over again. With enough time and care, Cavill would be in the position to tell the story of how Superman ends.

I’m pulling for Cavill and Gunn and everyone over at DC Studios to get Superman right. If we can longer tell Superman stories, we’ve lost something.

Panels from All-Star Superman.

Kimmel returns as Oscars host

The Academy broke the news this morning that Jimmy Kimmel will return to host the Oscars for his third time. The late-night personality previously hosted in 2017 and 2018, with the 2017 ceremony ending in the infamous La La Land/Moonlight debacle.

The Oscars will air on March 12, 2023.

Evan Rachel Wood as Dolores Abernathy in the Westworld episode “Que Será, Será.” / HBO

Westworld canceled

Westworld’s fifth season? Doesn’t look like anything to HBO. The network canceled the show on Friday, ending its creators’ hopes of returning for a fifth and final season. After Westworld wrapped up its most recent season in August, fans of the show had been waiting to hear any news of a renewal from HBO.

I know it’s been popular to take shots at Westworld over the past few seasons, especially after the second and third seasons, but I binge-watched Seasons 3 and 4 while our daughter was in a phase where she would only contact nap. (This is also how/why I watched Winning Time.) I didn’t mind Season 3, and I thought Season 4 really set things up for a conclusion.

But as outlets like THR reported, ratings for Westworld had cratered while costs for the show were still among HBO’s highest. Showrunners Lisa Joy and Jonah Nolan had also signed a long-term deal with Amazon, but that deal apparently would’ve allowed the duo to have finished Westworld through a potential sixth season.

Maybe the economics of Westworld wouldn’t have scared away the previous Warner Bros. regime, but in the world of Warner Bros. Discovery and Zaslav, it’s honestly not a surprise that HBO decided to cut its losses on this one.

There’s still time to support my #WestworldOnTBS campaign, though!

The Acolyte cast officially announced

Lucasfilm revealed the cast of the upcoming Star Wars Disney+ series The Acolyte.

Joining the previously announced Amandla Stenberg (The Hate U Give) are Emmy Award-winner Lee Jung-jae (Squid Game), Manny Jacinto (Nine Perfect Strangers), Dafne Keen (His Dark Materials), Jodie Turner-Smith (Queen & Slim), Rebecca Henderson (Inventing Anna), Charlie Barnett (Russian Doll), Dean-Charles Chapman (1917), and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix).

We also got a synopsis for The Acolyte.

The Acolyte is a mystery-thriller that will take viewers into a galaxy of shadowy secrets and emerging dark-side powers in the final days of the High Republic era. A former Padawan reunites with her Jedi Master to investigate a series of crimes, but the forces they confront are more sinister than they ever anticipated.

I’m curious to see how close this comes to the beginning of the Phantom Menace era. There have been some theories that The Acolyte will deal with the rise of Darth Plagueis, the Sith Lord who trained Palpatine.

Back on the Hogwarts money train

Speaking of Zaslav, the Warner Bros. Discovery CEO spoke about his desire to refocus on his company’s existing franchises during an earnings call last week, saying “We haven’t had a Superman movie in 13 years. We haven’t had a Harry Potter movie in 15 years.” Now, his math isn’t exactly correct here — and it ignores Superman showing up in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and two versions of Justice League in addition to all those Fantastic Beasts movies they’ve been pumping out. (The entire ad campaign for the last Fantastic Beasts film was basically “Hey, you all remember Harry Potter, right? RIGHT? Look, we have Dumbledore — and he’s hot now!”)

Zaslav floated the idea of JK Rowling writing another Harry Potter movie for WBD, but I’m not sure stars like Daniel Radcliffe would be on board working with Rowling after her repeated transphobic remarks.

Andor Season 2 updates

Collider chatted with Andor showrunner Tony Gilroy and broke some news about the second season of the Star Wars show.

  • Production on the next season will begin later this month.
  • Ariel Kleiman, Janus Metz and Alonso Ruizpalacios will direct Season 2 episodes.
  • And here’s the coolest bit from those scoops: Andor will return to Yavin 4 during its second season. The Rebellion base that we saw in the original Star Wars and Rogue One will be one of the planets the show travels to during its second half. I’m curious if we’ll see Hera Syndulla make an appearance. We know that the Ghost was on Yavin 4 during Rogue One. If this was a Dave Filoni show, this would be a no-brainer, especially considering that we’re going to see Hera in the Ahsoka show, allegedly played by Mary Elizabeth Winstead. I’m not sure Gilroy is interested in that kind of crossover, though …

Fortune Feimster: Good Fortune

Fortune Feimster’s latest special is out on Netflix now. If you’ve watched her previous standup specials and you enjoyed/cringed at her stories about her mom, Good Fortune won’t disappointment. Let’s just say there’s a circus tent and a few kiddie pools of soda involved.

Abbott Elementary

Hamilton star Leslie Odom Jr. had a supporting role in the latest episode, and it looks like the show is setting him up to have a larger role as the season goes along.

Big Mouth

We wrapped the new batch of Big Mouth episodes over the weekend. It took me a few episodes to get back into the show. I think the combination of the time since the last season ended and a few plot threads coming from the Human Resources spinoff left me trying to remember what I forgot versus what I just didn’t know.

OK, fine, I’ll discuss more than just a single Saturday Night Live sketch per week.

Funniest part of the “Jets Fans” was diehard Kansas City Chiefs fan Heidi Gardner having to wear a Buffalo Bills jersey. If only the Bills had come through in the actual game.

This was probably my favorite sketch from this weekend’s SNL. Turning Covid into something that’s worth getting if it means some time off from work or away from the burdens of your family seems pretty accurate at this point in 2022.

Segments like this one are why Cecily Strong stepped away from being stuck behind the Weekend Update as an anchor. Her character work is always fantastic, especially when Strong has a message behind the character.

SNL also announced that Dave Chappelle will host the next episode. Chappelle has somehow become the show’s post-election host, previously hosting on Nov. 12, 2016, and Nov. 7, 2020. The comedian’s history transphobic jokes still hasn’t slowed his career down …

Dwayne Johnson as Black Adam in Black Adam. / Warner Bros. Discover

Weekend of Nov. 4-6, 2022

Black Adam (1)
Weekend gross: $18.5M / Total domestic gross: $137.4M / Percent drop: -32.6

Black Adam scored its third weekend at the top of the box office, taking advantage of the time before Black Panther: Wakanda Forever debuts next weekend. (More on that in this Thursday’s newsletter!)

One Piece Film: Red (N)

Weekend gross: $9.5M / Total domestic gross: $9.5M / Percent drop: NA

Ticket to Paradise (2)

Weekend gross: $8.5M / Total domestic gross: $46.7M / Percent drop: -13.6

Smile (4)

Weekend gross: $4M / Total domestic gross: $99.1M / Percent drop: -26.4

Prey for the Devil (3)

Weekend gross: $3.9M / Total domestic gross: $13.6M / Percent drop: -46.1

Box office numbers are Sunday estimates.

“Who doesn’t want to hook up with Daredevil?”

Back in the day, you’d buy DVDs of movies and TV shows to get behind-the-scenes and making-of specials. In 2022, those features are additional content that Disney+ gets to package and promote. She-Hulk is the latest MCU project to get an Assembled special.


You might’ve noticed that Popculturology can now be found at popculturology.news. Yay, custom domain! I’d love to get the original .com version back some day, but I’m not going to pay someone to pay the squatters that took it years ago.