Christopher Reeve as Superman in Superman (1978)
(Warner Bros. Pictures)

James Gunn’s ‘Superman’ Is Doing What ‘The Flash’ Should’ve Done With Its Cameos

James Gunn’s Superman is doing what The Flash should’ve done with its cameos by going about them in a respectful manner and involving the family of Christopher Reeve.

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When The Flash premiered in 2023, there was much excitement for its cameos, as its multiversal premise opened the door for countless former DC actors to make an appearance. Viewers were anticipating surprise cameos from the likes of Grant Gustin, John Wesley Shipp, Brand Routh, or Helen Slater. Instead, the production made an exceedingly odd and controversial choice, choosing to utilize CGI for the majority of its cameos. They added such heavy CGI editing to Nicolas Cage’s cameo that it didn’t even slightly resemble the original scene he filmed. On top of that, they recreated the likeness of several deceased actors, including Christopher Reeve, using CGI.

Reeve portrayed Clark Kent (a.k.a. Superman) in Warner Bros.’ first Superman film series. To this day, many still consider him the best iteration of the hero. The Flash’s decision to recreate his likeness via CGI earned much backlash, as it’s questionable how ethical it is to recreate the likeness of deceased actors without their consent. Additionally, during his life, Reeve had spoken out to say he would never portray Superman if it were just a cash grab from a studio rather than someone coming forward with a good idea and reason for him to reprise the role. He also rarely allowed his image to be digitally altered to depict him standing up after he was left paralyzed in an accident, making it even more unfair that The Flash chose to represent him in a way he might not have approved of.

Fortunately, Gunn’s Superman appears to be doing its cameos the right way.

Christopher Reeve’s son to appear in James Gunn’s Superman

As reported by Variety, Christopher Reeve’s son, Will Reeve, will appear in a cameo in Gunn’s Superman. The movie will see David Corenswet take on the role of the titular hero and kick off a new chapter in the DCU. Given that it’s the beginning of a new era of Superman, it’s understandable that the movie would want to celebrate the character’s legacy and history, and few actors were as big a part of that legacy as Reeve.

Will is Reeve’s youngest son, who works as a journalist and ABC News correspondent. Fittingly, his cameo in Superman will be as a TV reporter. His cameo is just one way he and his siblings, Matthew and Alexandra, have been carrying on their father’s legacy. The trio is also involved in the upcoming documentary, Super/Man: The Christopher Reeve Story, which further explores their father’s life and career. Meanwhile, Will’s cameo seems like the best and most respectful way to include a nod to Reeve’s legacy in the new Superman movie. This cameo doesn’t include any questionable CGI, and it also doesn’t appear to be the cash grab that CGI resurrections and Cage’s dramatic Superman cameo were, as Will boasts a small, simple role that serves as a subtle reminder of Reeve’s history.

Reeve’s children have all chosen to ignore The Flash’s cameo, only commenting to confirm they never saw it and had absolutely no involvement in it. Hence, the situation surrounding Superman already feels so much healthier and more respectful than The Flash. Any studio can recreate an iconic face via CGI to stir an audience’s reaction and make some quick money without really consulting or considering how the family feels about it.

However, Gunn seems to have put some thought into the best way to honor Reeve’s legacy, and it can’t be denied that Will’s cameo is a far better idea than The Flash’s odd CGI creation. In this way, Gunn is honoring not just Reeve’s professional career but also his personal life. He acknowledges that Reeve’s family is also one of the greatest parts of his legacy and that the best way to include Reeve in the movie is through his family.

One can’t help but wonder why The Flash didn’t think of this. Instead of these studios greedily wanting to acquire the likeness of deceased actors so they can do whatever they want with them, what if they went directly to family members keeping their loved ones’ legacies alive, and asked them to be a part of their projects? The excitement already stirring for Will’s appearance in Superman demonstrates just how far genuine respect could go in Hollywood if studios prioritized it over money.

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Rachel Ulatowski
Rachel Ulatowski is a Staff Writer for The Mary Sue, who frequently covers DC, Marvel, Star Wars, literature, and celebrity news. She has over three years of experience in the digital media and entertainment industry, and her works can also be found on Screen Rant, JustWatch, and Tell-Tale TV. She enjoys running, reading, snarking on YouTube personalities, and working on her future novel when she's not writing professionally. You can find more of her writing on Twitter at @RachelUlatowski.