By /Oct. 4, 2023 5:45 am EST

Warner Bros’ DC Comics franchise is in dire need of an industrial-grade fumigation. When Christopher Nolan peaced out with the wildly uneven “The Dark Knight Rises” in 2012, the studio asked Zack Snyder to quarterback its DC Extended Universe answer to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s “Avengers” initiative. Unfortunately, Snyder’s “Man of Steel” not only fell short of commercial expectations, it cheesed off a sizable portion of the hero’s fanbase (who were furious over Superman’s out-of-character killing of General Zod). Rather than play the long game and focus on nailing the other main characters, DC panicked and greenlit “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice,” a cart-before-the-horse debacle that dampened reasonable people’s expectations for a stirringly epic superhero saga.

Despite solo successes with 2017’s “Wonder Woman” and 2018’s “Aquaman,” the stink clung to Snyder’s “Justice League.” A family tragedy forced him to leave the calling-all-superheroes production, and his replacement, Joss Whedon, could not work his “Avengers” magic on short notice. When “Wonder Woman 1984” landed with a thud in 2020, the DCEU was mortally wounded. Two years later, after the poor box-office performance of “Black Adam,” WB slammed the door shut on the DCEU and hired the team of James Gunn and Peter Safran to spearhead an entirely new franchise run.

In January of 2023, the duo unveiled their plans for the renamed DC Universe. Their first phase of movies, subtitled “Gods and Monsters,” will begin with Gunn’s overhauled Man of Steel in “Superman: Legacy.” We’re still a ways out from its release, but here’s what we know about the movie so far.

When does Superman: Legacy premiere?

Gunn’s film is currently set to hit theaters on July 11, 2025. It’s silly to read too much into a release date before the movie starts filming (in January 2024, pending the resolution of the SAG-AFTRA strike), but WB is wisely ceding the month of May to the MCU’s “Fantastic Four” reboot and steering clear of Disney’s “Moana” remake in June.

In terms of courting good juju, July was very kind to Christopher Nolan’s “The Dark Knight” and “The Dark Knight Rises.” We still don’t know if superhero fatigue is a real thing (though the tepid commercial performances of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” “Shazam! Fury of the Gods,” and “Blue Beetle” strongly suggest interest is waning), but perhaps a brand new Superman film with a clear creative vision will jolt the genre out of its samey stupor.

What are the plot details of Superman: Legacy?

Praise the saints, it won’t be an origin movie. During the introductory press conference last January, Gunn revealed that “Superman: Legacy” will center on a young Clark Kent as he makes his way in Metropolis. The narrative thrust of the film will find Clark ruminating on his Smallville upbringing and his Kryptonian birth parents he never knew.

Sounds kinda moody, no? Don’t fret too much. According to Safran, Gunn’s Superman will be “the embodiment of truth, justice and the American way; he’s kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned.” So we probably won’t see Kal-El snapping necks in this movie.

This is all we know of the plot right now, but if you’re looking for clues as to how Gunn plans to develop the character, he’s tipped his hand to a significant degree by referencing a celebrated comic book miniseries.

What is the source material for Superman: Legacy?

Gunn has unambiguously stated that he will draw the bulk of his inspiration for “Superman: Legacy” from Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely’s “All-Star Superman.” The 12-part comic book series ran from 2005 to 2008, and depicted a Supes who is slowly dying due to excessive sun exposure. Morrison described his run as a “timeless” Superhero yarn, and readers were enthralled by his ability to place a fresh spin on an iconic, yet uncomplicated character.

The hope here is that “Superman: Legacy” will take Morrison’s lead and swat away the unremitting darkness of Snyder’s movies (which took their cue from Nolan’s relentlessly serious treatment of Batman). The world is in a rotten place right now. A huge segment of the world’s populace has turned cruel and isolationist. They don’t care to help their fellow humans fleeing oppression. Superman is the perfect character through which to examine these societal ills. He is an immigrant who has become the most powerful man on the planet. How would he react to our current situation?

Who is the cast of Superman: Legacy?

It’s a shame our last two big-screen Supermans, Brandon Routh and Henry Cavill, were trapped in such flawed movies (I actually quite like “Man of Steel,” but I am in the minority on that one). They looked and sounded the part. What they couldn’t do is erase the memory of Christopher Reeve, who was utter perfection as Clark and Superman in Richard Donner’s “Superman” and Richard Lester’s patched-together “Superman II.”

There’s a whole generation of moviegoers who’ll never shake Reeve’s interpretation, so I wish David Corenswet the best of luck. The 30-year-old Juilliard graduate was terrific in David Simon’s HBO miniseries “We Own This City” and Ti West’s “Pearl;” he’s a great actor, but is he Superman?

He’ll be joined by “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” star Rachel Brosnahan, who’ll have to measure up to Margot Kidder’s brilliant portrayal of Lois Lane. Nathan Fillion will portray the Guy Gardner iteration of Green Lantern. There’s no Lex Luthor yet (last we heard it might be coming down to a Skarsgård family competition), but we do know that Anthony “NoHo Hank” Carrigan is set for Metamorpho, Isabel Merced (“Dora and the Lost City of Gold”) will play Hawkgirl and character actor Edi Gathegi has been tapped for Mister Terrific. So far, aside from Brosnahan and Fillion, Gunn is chasing down fresh faces.

Who is the director of Superman: Legacy?

It’s still stunning to me that James Gunn got here. He launched his career as the writer of “Tromeo and Juliet,” and, after a run of studio assignments (two “Scooby-Doo” movies and Zack Snyder’s remake of “Dawn of the Dead”), directed a couple of gore-soaked flicks in “Slither” and “Super” (which is tonally the “Taxi Driver” of superhero movies).

Somehow, he reined in his transgressive instincts to deliver the heartfelt “Guardians of the Galaxy” trilogy. He connects with misfits, and it sounds like he’s going to make a massive comic book movie about the ultimate superhero misfit. We’ve seen Clark as a socially inept bungler, but an introspective, lonely-as-hell Superman would be new. He’s earned loads of goodwill thanks to his “Guardians” movies. If he’s connected to Supes in the same way, we could be in for something very special. The world needs Superman.

Who are the writers and producers of Superman: Legacy?

For the time being, it appears that “Superman: Legacy” will be a solo writing gig for Gunn. Given his workload as the co-boss of the newfangled DCU, it wouldn’t shock me if he brings on another scenarist. Gunn’s not just making a movie, he’s making a release date. Once principal photography commences, that clock starts ticking, and if he gets stuck he might have to ask for help to make sure the production doesn’t fall behind schedule.

The producer of “Superman: Legacy” is, of course, Peter Safran, who’s well regarded as a talent-friendly executive. He ran the Brillstein Entertainment management company for a while in the 2000s, and successfully segued to producing in the ’10s with “The Conjuring.” That franchise has been a rainmaker for New Line, and Safran capitalized on its success by getting in on the DCEU action with James Wan’s “Aquaman,” Gunn’s “The Suicide Squad” and the “Shazam!” movies. He’s a smart, savvy dude, and unlike most of today’s studio executives, seems to actually love movies.

The DCU has a great team in place. It’s important to note that they’re not on the hook for these last DCEU releases (aside from “Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom,” which Safran produced). There are no guarantees in creative endeavors, but I wouldn’t bet against Gunn.

 Superman: Legacy has a great team behind it, from James Gunn and Peter Safran to David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan. Here’s everything you need to know.  Read More