Thursday, September 13, 2018

You guys... simmer down - The Cavill News Sure Seemed Like Part of a Contract Negotiation

As a site that features content related to Superman, it seems that I should *probably* cover the confusion caused yesterday by The Hollywood Reporter's article that launched a million takes.

On 09/12/2018, The Hollywood Reporter posted an article saying that negotiations are going badly between Cavill and WB.  The article was retweeted and re-reported on by innumerable nerd sites, all saying "Cavill is out as Superman!"

Here's the thing: the article didn't say that.  It didn't have a quote from WB or Cavill saying that Cavill is no longer working for WB as Superman/ Clark Kent.  You saw a bunch of stuff cited that may or may not be pointing toward a direction for WB or Cavill, but... not really.

As of yesterday mid-day (US time) parties began walking back the notion that Cavill was out.

By mid-day yesterday, THR updated the original article with a very "we are in negotiations" type of statement:

"We have a great relationship and great respect for Henry Cavill that continues to remain unchanged. Additionally we have made no current decisions regarding any upcoming Superman films," read a statement from a Warner Bros. spokesperson after the initial publication of this story.

The evidence piled up for why he was out - examined:

a)  Supergirl cancels out Superman somehow.  The announcement of a Supergirl movie going into development in no way precludes Cavill as Superman.  In fact - it would make far more sense for Kara to arrive on Earth and meet Superman at some point in the movie.  Fun fact - Christopher Reeve made another Superman movie after Helen Slater graced our screens as The Maid of Might.  For whatever reason, Reeve didn't appear in the 1984 Supergirl movie (budget or timing, I don't know).  Anyone who ever picked up a Supergirl comic knows how this works and that Superman and Supergirl do not cancel each other out - they enhance each other.  I'd love a Supergirl movie, no matter what form it takes, btw.

b)  Cavill isn't making a cameo in Shazam!  Cavill not showing up in Shazam! could be more of same - scheduling or budget.  Or - and hear me out - that trailer looks awful.*  It's possible the movie is awful and Cavill knows it and doesn't want to be in another bad DC movie.  Who knows what they want him to do?  And maybe he doesn't want to get into Superman shape for a 30 second bit.  His workouts during the Superman movies are legendary.  In short - we don't know why he isn't wanting to do a pick-up for a movie that should be in the can right now.  Or maybe the money was bad.

c)  The article states that DC/WB won't make another Superman movie for several more years.  And it states that there are current things a-pivot at DC.  Look - at this point, DC has finally learned to look before it leaps.  There has pretty much never been a period in Superman's history since the serials of the 1940's that something hasn't been in pre-production, so don't think there aren't scripts in the works.  There are.  After the embarrassment of announcing a full slate of DC movies going out a decade - something that is routinely updated and changed after each flub of a release, and has at least five movies I'm aware of that have been announced and are all "in universe", plus movies that aren't - making a lot of noise that DC is considering a movie coming out doesn't mean anything. Especially when it comes to Superman.  Ask me about the history of Superman announcements sometime and all the movies that never happened.

And - if you ARE going to fail in your negotiations with your Superman - why would you be talking about the Superman movie you're still going to make?

So shutting the hell up is a novel tactic at WB/DC, but it's a legitimate face-saving tactic in the wake of firings from Geoff Johns to Diane Nelson.

d)  Cavill took another acting job with a Netflix series.  Look, those series take a while to shoot, but also aren't on a TV season schedule.  They can shoot it, Cavill can make some coin, make any movie he wants, and then come back for another season.  If the show takes off.  It's kinda bonkers to look at Cavill taking another acting job as meaning he won't do a second acting job.  That's not how it should work if you have a healthy career.  Note: he made a Mission: Impossible movie AND a Justice League movie.

d) This is a contract negotiation.  It looks like WB was leaning on Cavill.  Or Cavill was floating what was happening.  We don't know.  Again - no one said "he is officially done".  He might be heading that way - and I wish him well and feel bad for him if that's the case, because he was handed some pretty mediocre stuff to work with and only really got to play "Superman" for about thirty minutes across three movies.  The big take-away for comics-nerd-dom should be: there is no real reason for an article like the one that caused the firestorm to exist.  No one made any concrete statements.  That's actually *poor* journalism that boiled down to "blind item" rumor status.

If the WB intended to prove no one cared if Cavill left - they failed.  Both Snyder-ites and anti-Snyder-ites have been fine with Cavill.  Whether you like the movies or no - everyone has been okey dokey with the guy and has been waiting to see him just get to be Superman for five years.**  It'd be nice to have that payoff without recasting and a Flashpoint-transformation of reality.  Some of us would like to see, you know, character development instead of magical deus ex machina to get us there.

People:  the "Hollywood Reporter doesn't mess up!" takes totally ignored that THR is an industry rag that they let the public read.  Much like politicians, studios and agents use the press *all the time* to get information out there to get their way.  Unnamed sources?  No concrete statements?  It's not that hard to see what's happening and respond with something less than pearl clutching.

I'm honestly shocked there was so little skepticism regarding the initial article, or at least parsing of the article.  I was less surprised that Cavill posted a goofy video at the end of the day that was mute on the answer (I assume his negotiations aren't done).  But I assume if he just lost a multi-million-dollar contract, he wouldn't be making silly videos.  But I'm funny about huge piles of money that way.

Look - I understand investment in who is doing what working on these movies.  And I can understand the confusion.  And its fun to talk about, I guess.  And if I were Henry Cavill, I'd feel like the internet gave me a hug yesterday.

My opinion:  WB is simply @#$%ing up over and over, and a relaunch might do it - but it doesn't fix the storytelling problems that led to Justice League.  And it leaves good stuff that did nothing wrong (see: Wonder Woman and the in-production sequel) out in the cold because of some misplaced, short-term wins with Man of Steel that didn't set things up well for the longterm.  Plus it sweeps the leg on Aquaman, which WB may have already written off.***  All of which also tells me that maybe they're hanging in there a bit longer to see what they can fix.

I dunno.  I just don't think anyone read anything past the clickbaity headline.

*I'm aware that mileage will vary here.  But - I have literally zero interest in seeing this movie.  It looks like a 2018 version of the worst kids movies of 20-25 years ago.
**the lessons that can be learned in franchise building when that's how we have to put it...
***honestly, I feel only a 2 out of 5 on the excitement scale when I watch the Aquaman trailer

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