Superman with people flocking around him like a messianic figure on Batman v Superman.

All ‘Superman’ Movies With Henry Cavill in Order

Henry Cavill made his mark in Hollywood playing the most famous caped crusader, Superman. The DC character has long stood as one of the strongest heroes out there, and the most iconic. Let’s take a look at Cavill’s time in the role by going through his appearances as the character in chronological order.

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Created in 1938 by writer Jerry Siegel and artist Joe Shuster, Superman first appeared in Action Comics #1 after years of the duo working and reworking the character to bring him to print. Since then, he has gone through several iterations, both on paper and on the big (and small) screen. 10 actors in total have taken on the mantle—including Nicolas Cage in The Flash—to date, with Cavill serving as the last true Superman to appear on the big screen (sorry, Cage).

Cavill stepped into those shiny red boots in the 2013 Zack Snyder reboot of the franchise, Man of Steel, and held onto the role for almost a decade. At the end of 2022, his exit from the DC Universe became a hot topic, so if the book is well and truly closed on Cavill’s time as the most recognizable of heroes, let’s take a trip down memory lane.

Man of Steel (2013)

Henry Cavill as Clark Kent in Man of Steel
(Warner Bros.)

This was Cavill’s debut in the role and it also served as his breakout role in Hollywood. Having appeared in a number of smaller roles up t0 that point, Man of Steel placed Cavill on the global stage and made him a household name. Directed by Zack Snyder, this film delved into the backstory of Clark Kent, his childhood with his adoptive family Jonathan and Martha Kent, the discovery of his powers, and where he truly comes from.

The film received middling reviews, with critics feeling that the story fell into generic superhero/blockbuster territory that not even the huge overblown CGI fight scenes could save it from. Even Cavill’s performance was scrutinized, being depicted as stiff and lacking in lightness. Still, the film, and Cavill, did enough to keep him in the game as he continued in the role right into …

Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) 

Batman and Superman face each other in Batman v Superman.
(Warner Bros.)

Coming off the tail end of the events that occurred in Man of Steel, Batman v Superman features Batman (Ben Affleck) struggling with what Superman’s existence means in the world, having witnessed the destruction of Metropolis at the hands of Superman and Zod firsthand. This leads him to feel that the world would be better off without Superman, and he spends the majority of the film coming up with how to get rid of him.

Again, though this film did well at the box office, critics found it to be “meh” at best. It received rather harsh reviews, like the one published in The Guardian, which described the film as “153 minutes of a grown man whacking two dolls together.” Ouch. At the end of the film, Cavill’s Superman bites the dust (honestly, I sat there in the theater wondering why that had to happen), but have no fear! He does return in …

Justice League (2017) 

(Warner Bros.)

Next came the highly controversial Justice League. The movie starts with the world vulnerable after the loss of its protector and brings in the big bad of Steppenwolf. Batman is forced to bring together the world’s strongest heroes—including himself, Wonder Woman (Gal Gadot), Aquaman (Jason Momoa), Cyborg (Ray Fisher), and the Flash (Ezra Miller)—to face the problem. The ultimate solution, however, is resurrecting Superman.

Here, Snyder had to take a step back from the film for personal issues, leaving it in the hands of Joss Whedon. This required multiple reshoots, re-edits, and plenty of Snyder’s original work left on the cutting room floor, resulting in a film that left many with raised eyebrows. Not only did it end up a box office bomb and critically panned, but it was also engulfed in controversy that stemmed from Whedon’s alleged toxic behavior on set.

Another incident that sprouted from this film was the online chatter surrounding Cavill’s face. Due to poor reshoot scheduling, Cavill’s mustache, grown for his role in Mission: Impossible 6, had to be CGIed out, with the result looking decidedly odd.

Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021)

Ben Affleck, Henry Cavill, Jason Momoa, Gal Gadot, Ezra Miller, and Ray Fisher in Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021)
(Warner Bros.)

Zack Snyder’s Justice League was a film demanded by fans who had been left irate by the 2017 offering. After fans demanded a “Snyder Cut” in light of the poor reception of Joss Whedon’s theatrical version of the film, Warner Bros. relented moved ahead with it in 2020. This second version of the film wound up being a staggering 242 minutes and was released on HBO Max, becoming the streaming platform’s fourth most-watched film that year.

This provided much more backstory for the plot and the characters, leaving it feeling a lot more fleshed out than its previous version. The result was a film that satisfied die-hard fans and received much higher praise from critics overall.

Black Adam (2022)

Henry Cavill as Superman and Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Black Adam
(Warner Bros.)

Black Adam only saw Cavill’s Superman appear briefly as a cameo in a credits sequence. His appearance was kept tightly under wraps and came as a surprise to many theatergoers who saw the film before spoilers leaked. The small scene generated huge interest in the return of Cavill to the role, especially as he had slowly built up his acting credentials and a huge fanbase through other productions, such as his role as Geralt of Rivia in Netflix’s The Witcher.

Though Cavill himself hinted at his return, it was severely undermined when DC decided to overhaul almost everything, bringing on James Gunn and Peter Safran as CEOs. The two have their own vision for the character, and unfortunately for Cavill, it doesn’t feature him.

This marks the end of Cavill’s turn as the iconic Superman, the DC role now having been recast with David Corenswet donning the cape. Cavill’s exit from the DC Universe certainly had people talking, especially as it was hot on the heels of his exit from Netflix’s The Witcher. Let’s just say there was a lot of Henry Cavill in the news at the end of 2022.

Cavill’s time in the role was marred by DC controversy, so-so storylines, and a lack of cohesiveness. We know from having seen him in The Witcher and other notable roles that the actor is capable of fantastic action sequences and giving a great performance, but unfortunately he never quite got the chance to shine here.

(featured image: Warner Bros.)

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Laura Pollacco
Laura Pollacco (she/her) is a contributing writer here at The Mary Sue, having written for digital media since 2022 and has a keen interest in all things Marvel, Lord of the Rings, and anime. She has worked for various publications including We Got This Covered, but much of her work can be found gracing the pages of print and online publications in Japan, where she resides. Outside of writing she treads the boards as an actor, is a portrait and documentary photographer, and takes the little free time left to explore Japan.