According to sources in the industry, Michael B. Jordan (Creed) is developing a Superman project for the HBO Max platform. This is completely separate from the film currently in development by J.J. Abrams and his Bad Robot Productions as part of the DCEU.
However, it is not the traditional Superman, but rather the Superman from the modern version of Earth 2: Val Zod. Who is Val Zod and why would they not choose the Kal-El/Clark Kent version instead? Find out the details below.
Val-Zod, the Superman of Earth 2
The Superman most of the world is familiar with is Kal-El, the Last Son of Krypton. Sent by Jor-El and Lara Lor-Van to Earth to escape the cataclysm of their home planet of Krypton.
Upon his arrival, the infant Kal-El is discovered and adopted by the kindly Kansas farmers, Jonathan and Martha Kent. Naming him Clark, the child grew up with traditional values of virtue while hiding his true nature from the rest of the world. He would eventually reveal himself and decide to keep his identity a secret. Living a dual life as Clark Kent, a bespectacled mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet, and as Superman, costumed champion of truth, justice, and the American Way.
The Kal-El of Earth 2 followed a similar path. However, fighting against the forces of Darkseid, Superman (along with that universe’s version of Batman and Wonder Woman) perished in the conflict. Although the forces of Darkseid were pushed back, it left the world without their costumed champions. But nature abhors a vacuum, and new heroes emerged to take their place whom the public would refer to as the "Wonders".
Eventually, Darkseid forces would return and begin their war on Earth anew. This time, they had a powerful and unexpected ally: Superman. Now called Brutaal, the Kryptonian powerhouse decimated the Earth’s defenders.
Demoralized and overpowered, the Earth’s chances against the forces of Apokolips led by a brainwashed Superman looked bleak. However, the Wonders would later discover that there is another Kryptonian on Earth.
This Kryptonian turned out to be Val-Zod. Val-Zod was an orphan who became friends with Kara Zor-El (Superman’s cousin aka Supergirl). In Earth 2, Kal-El was not the only survivor, as Kara and Val-Zod were also sent to Earth. On his own ship, Val-Zod was taught the senselessness of violence. Thus, Val-Zod became a pacifist. He also became something of an agoraphobic, afraid of going outside the safety of his enclosed environment ever since arriving on Earth.
Through Lois Lane’s insistence and words of encouragement, Val-Zod discovers the powers granted to him by the environment of Earth and the yellow light of the sun, as all Kryptonians do. Although he did not have the heart for violence, he was able to use his massive power to help against the forces of Apokolips. Facing Brutaal, it would be revealed that this was not the real Superman, but a clone and effectively this universe’s version of Bizarro.
After defeating Brutaal, Val-Zod would continue his new heroic journey as the new Superman of this Earth, bearing the symbol of the House of El, in honor of Jor-El who saved his life and the memory of the first Superman, Kal-El.
Michael B. Jordan’s Superman project
Michael B. Jordan developing Black Superman project for HBO Max centered around Val-Zod
— Fandom (@getFANDOM) July 23, 2021
Although there is already a Superman feature film being produced under J.J. Abrams (Star Trek, Star Wars: The Force Awakens) and his Bad Robot Productions with a script by Ta-Nehisi Coates, DC Entertainment and Warner Bros. have adopted the multiverse approach to their biggest comic book properties. This is why The Batman directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson is separate from the DCEU Batman appearances which involve Ben Affleck and Michael Keaton in the upcoming The Flash film.
Moreover, Abrams’s project is rumored to involve a version of Superman that will be played by an actor of color. Thus, it is separate from the currently established DCEU Superman portrayed by Henry Cavill. However, it is still unclear if this Superman will be following the traditional Clark Kent/Kal-El storyline or use a different one, as in the case of another Superman of color, Calvin Ellis/Kalel (aka the Superman of Earth 23).
Michael B. Jordan was one of the top choices to play a black Superman, but has denied his attachment to the Bad Robot Productions film under Abrams. Apparently, Jordan has already discussed producing his own Superman project with Val-Zod as the titular character through his production company, Outlier Society. Instead of a feature film, this will be a limited series exclusively for the HBO Max streaming platform.
As of this writing, Jordan has not confirmed to star in the role of Val-Zod. Jordan is no stranger to the superhero role, having played a black Johnny Storm/Human Torch in the ill-fated Fan4stic (2015) film helmed by Josh Trank and produced by 20th Century Fox prior to its merger with Disney. He has also played Wakandan exile Killmonger as the supervillain opposite the late Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther (2018) in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Currently, the star is busy working on Creed III where he is also doing directorial duties. However, there are already fans who are anticipating that Jordan will play Val-Zod should the project come to fruition. Fan art of Jordan in the role of the Earth 2 Superman has already surfaced online on Instagram and Twitter (as in the sample from Twitter user rahalarts below) in anticipation of the actor donning the costume:
— rahalarts (@rahalarts) July 25, 2021
Where does this leave Henry Cavill?
Aside from Abrams and Jordan’s individual projects, there is the currently running CW series Superman and Lois with Tyler Hoechlin in the role of the more traditional Clark Kent/Superman identities. But fans are wondering what about Henry Cavill?
The fan-favorite actor has been very active in other geek genre projects such as Netflix originals The Witcher and Enola Holmes (as Geralt and Sherlock Holmes, respectively). He has also been attached to an upcoming Highlander film reboot. However, word about him returning to the Superman role is sparse.
There is speculation that Cavill may be done with the role, though he and Warner Bros. are contractually obligated for at least one more appearance as Superman (part of the multi-picture deal made during the production of 2013’s Man of Steel). This is reportedly the reason Cavill declined appearing in a cameo for 2019’s Shazam! film.
There are rumors that Cavill might appear in the Black Adam movie produced by and starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson. The Black Adam film has already confirmed to include members of the Justice Society, such as Hawkman and Doctor Fate to provide a challenge to the immensely powerful DC Comics anti-hero.
As Cavill and The Rock have the same manager (Johnson’s ex-wife and business partner, Dany Garcia), this is a very possible scenario. Johnson himself expressed how he would love to have his Black Adam fight Superman to reflect the disparity between the two characters’ ideals and power levels.
Should Cavill return for one more appearance as Superman, how would this affect both the Abrams film and Michael B. Jordan’s HBO Max project? Fans will have to wait and see to find out.