Entertainment Weekly’s latest issue introduces us to the new Superman: Briton Henry Cavill. The EW cover story is also a launch into a look at the latest onslaught of superhero movies. But first we get a sense of what it was like to step into some very big tights:
To become Hollywood’s new Man of Steel, Henry Cavill had to pass the Laugh Test. To wit: Could he wear the Superman suit without anyone giggling? And not just any Superman suit. To shoot his screen test last month, the 27-year-old British actor donned a replica of the costume Christopher Reeve wore in director Richard Donner’s classic 1978 film. By today’s standards, those sky blue spandex threads with the iconic S shield on the chest look dated—and hence an effective yardstick for the team now charged with making Superman fly for 21st-century moviegoers. “If you can put on that suit and pull it off,” says director Zack Snyder, “that’s an awesome achievement.”
As an assistant helped him into the suit, Cavill was feeling less than super. He certainly has the face for Superman—solid chin, defined cheekbones, piercing eyes, dark hair. He’s also 6′ 1″ and radiates intelligence, maturity, and all around good-guyness, though he’s too humble to say so himself. But Cavill worried that the rest of him wasn’t up to snuff. He had recently lost the muscle tone he gained to play a loincloth warrior in the mythic fantasy Immortals, due this November. “All I could think was, Oh, God, they’re going to look at me and go, ‘He’s not Superman. Not a chance,’ ” recalls Cavill, best known for playing Henry VIII’s buddy Charles Brandon on Showtime’s The Tudors. “The actor inside me was going, ‘You’re not ready! You’re not ready!’ ” Snyder saw something different. “He walked out and no one laughed,” says the director, a geek pop idol for his work on Dawn of the Dead, 300, and Watchmen. “Other actors put that suit on and it’s a joke, even if they’re great actors. Henry put it on, and he exuded this kind of crazy-calm confidence that just made me go, ‘Wow. Okay, this is Superman.’ ”
And with that, Superman’s Hollywood relaunch is up, up, and almost away; shooting on the as-yet-untitled Warner Bros. film begins this summer under Snyder, producer Christopher Nolan (whose two Batman flicks have grossed nearly $1.4 billion at the box office worldwide), and screenwriter David S. Goyer, who also wrote Batman Begins, three Blade films, and Dark City. The result of their collaboration, due late next year, will be a must-see event, one the studio hopes will leave audiences in a must-see-more mood.