Superman
Official logo
Directed byJames Gunn
Written byJames Gunn
Based onCharacters from DC
Produced byPeter Safran
Starring
CinematographyHenry Braham
Edited byJason Ballantine
William Hoy
Music byJohn Murphy
Production
company
Distributed byWarner Bros. Pictures
Release date
  • July 11, 2025 (2025-07-11)
CountryUnited States
LanguageEnglish

Superman is an upcoming American superhero film based on DC Comics featuring the eponymous character. Produced by DC Studios and to be distributed by Warner Bros. Pictures, it will be the first film in the DC Universe (DCU) and a reboot of the Superman film series. The film is written and directed by James Gunn and stars David Corenswet as Clark Kent / Superman, alongside Rachel Brosnahan, Isabela Merced, Edi Gathegi, Nathan Fillion, Anthony Carrigan, María Gabriela de Faría, Sara Sampaio, Skyler Gisondo, Nicholas Hoult, Terence Rosemore, Wendell Pierce, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Neva Howell, Beck Bennett, Mikaela Hoover, and Christopher McDonald. In the film, Superman's journey to reconcile his alien heritage with his human family is explored.

Development on a sequel to the first DC Extended Universe (DCEU) film, Man of Steel (2013), began by October 2014, with Henry Cavill expected to reprise his role as Superman. Plans changed after the troubled production of Justice League (2017) and the Man of Steel sequel was no longer moving forward by May 2020. Gunn began work on a potential new Superman film around August 2022. In October, he became co-CEO of DC Studios with producer Peter Safran and they began work on a new DC Universe. Gunn was publicly revealed to be writing the new Superman film in December. The title Superman: Legacy was announced in January 2023, Gunn was confirmed to be directing in March, and Corenswet and Brosnahan were cast in June. The subtitle was dropped by the end of February 2024, when filming began in Norway; it is set to last until August at Trilith Studios in Atlanta and Macon, Georgia, as well as in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio. The film takes specific inspiration from the comic book All-Star Superman (2005–2008) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, among others.

Superman is scheduled to be released theatrically in the United States on July 11, 2025. It is set to be the first film of the DCU's Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.

Premise

The film explores Clark Kent / Superman's journey to reconcile his Kryptonian heritage with his adoptive human family in Smallville, Kansas.[1]

Cast

David Corenswet during filming as Clark Kent, wearing glasses and suit and carrying a newspaper and briefcase.
Rachel Brosnahan on set as Lois Lane holding an umbrella.
(L–R) David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan (pictured during filming in 2024) star in Superman

Additionally, Frank Grillo reprises his role as Rick Flag Sr. from the animated DCU series Creature Commandos (2024).[25] Gunn's brother Sean is expected to appear as the businessman Maxwell Lord,[26][27] as is Milly Alcock as Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El / Supergirl.[28][29] Will Reeve, the son of former Superman actor Christopher Reeve, is set to make a cameo appearance in the film as a news reporter.[30]

Production

Background

Warner Bros. Pictures was planning in 2012 for the film Man of Steel (2013), based on the DC Comics character Superman, to start a shared universe,[31] which became known as the "DC Extended Universe" (DCEU).[32][33] They announced a full slate of DC films in October 2014,[34] prioritizing Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016) as the second DCEU film after Man of Steel failed to meet the studio's financial expectations.[35] Despite this, they said an undated sequel to Man of Steel was in development with Henry Cavill set to reprise his role as Clark Kent / Superman.[34] Man of Steel director Zack Snyder said they had been considering the imprisoned Kryptonians from the first film and the character Brainiac as antagonists for the sequel before work began on Batman v Superman.[35] A Man of Steel sequel was in active development as a top priority for the studio in August 2016,[36] which Cavill's manager Dany Garcia confirmed the following month.[37] Amy Adams, who portrayed Lois Lane in Man of Steel, said in November that the studio was working on the screenplay.[38] Matthew Vaughn was Warner Bros.' top choice to direct the film and had preliminary conversations about it by March 2017.[39] Vaughn and comic book writer Mark Millar had previously pitched a new Superman trilogy prior to the development of Man of Steel, in which the destruction of the planet Krypton would not occur until after Superman had already grown-up on the planet.[40] After the troubled production of the DCEU film Justice League (2017), Warner Bros. re-thought its approach to DC projects.[41] By the end of 2017, a Man of Steel sequel was not coming "anytime soon, if at all". Justice League producer Charles Roven said story ideas had been discussed but there was no script.[42]

Before the release of Mission: Impossible – Fallout in July 2018, director Christopher McQuarrie and co-star Cavill pitched their take on a new Superman film, but Warner Bros. did not pursue the idea.[43] Later in 2018, the studio asked James Gunn to write and direct a Superman film, but he was uncertain if he wanted to take on the character.[44][45] He did not have a clear vision for such a film, especially since Superman was a well-known character unlike the Guardians of the Galaxy who he had adapted for Marvel Studios in the film Guardians of the Galaxy (2014).[46] Gunn chose to make The Suicide Squad (2021) instead.[44][45] In September, negotiations for Cavill to reprise his role for a cameo appearance in Shazam! (2019) ended due to contract issues,[47] as well as a scheduling conflict with Cavill's Fallout commitments.[47][48] The actor was reported to be parting ways with the studio, with no plans for him to reprise his role in future projects,[47] but Cavill said in November 2019 that he had not given up on the character and still wanted to do the role justice.[48] At that time, Warner Bros. was unsure which direction to take the character and was talking to "high-profile talent" about the property, including J. J. Abrams—whose company Bad Robot signed an overall deal with Warner Bros.' parent company WarnerMedia—and Michael B. Jordan, who pitched himself as a Black version of the character.[49] By May 2020, Warner Bros. was no longer developing a Man of Steel sequel, but Cavill was in talks to appear in a different future DC film.[50][51] In February 2021, Ta-Nehisi Coates was revealed to be writing a new Superman film that Abrams was producing.[52] The film was expected to feature a Black actor portraying Superman, with the potential for Jordan to take on the role.[53]

Development

In April 2022, Discovery, Inc. and WarnerMedia merged to become Warner Bros. Discovery (WBD), led by president and CEO David Zaslav. The new company was expected to restructure DC Entertainment and Zaslav began searching for an equivalent to Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige to lead the new subsidiary. Zaslav and WBD felt DC lacked a "coherent creative and brand strategy" and were underusing Superman.[54] James Gunn was hired around late August to work on a Superman film that was not a sequel to Man of Steel and would be standalone from the DCEU.[55][56] Zaslav spent time with Gunn while he was writing the script.[57] In October, Cavill made a cameo appearance in the post-credits scene of the DCEU film Black Adam (2022) and Warner Bros. was reportedly pursuing a Cavill-led Man of Steel sequel once again. Roven was producing and the studio was searching for writers. They wanted McQuarrie to direct, but he was unlikely to be available due to his commitments to Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning Part One (2023) and an untitled eighth Mission: Impossible film (2025). Abrams's and Coates's film was still in development. Cavill's role in Black Adam was approved by Warner Bros. film chiefs Michael De Luca and Pamela Abdy when they were approached directly by Black Adam star Dwayne Johnson. Johnson began promoting the idea of a Black Adam vs. Superman film co-starring Cavill.[58] The latter had signed a one-off deal for Black Adam and only received a verbal agreement that he would continue playing the character in the DCEU.[59][60] Cavill publicly announced that he would return as Superman for future projects,[60][61] and said his Black Adam cameo was a "very small taste" of future plans.[61] He said Superman would be "enormously joyful" moving forward.[62] Steven Knight wrote a script treatment for the sequel around that time,[63] which reportedly included Brainiac as the antagonist,[60] but Warner Bros. executives were not thrilled with his take.[63]

Writer and director James Gunn (pictured during filming in 2024) became co-CEO of DC Studios in October 2022, by which time he had begun work on Superman

James Gunn and The Suicide Squad producer Peter Safran were announced as the co-chairs and co-CEOs of the newly formed DC Studios at the end of October 2022.[64] A week after starting their new roles, the pair had begun developing an eight-to-ten-year plan for a new DC Universe (DCU) that would be a "soft reboot" of the DCEU.[65][66][67] In mid-November, Gunn was publicly revealed to be writing a new DC film.[68] Andy Muschietti, director of the DCEU film The Flash (2023), expressed interest in directing a Superman project with a similar tone to Richard Donner's Superman (1978).[69] In early November, Cavill expressed interest in a future project that explored Superman's "capacity to give and to love" the people of Earth and to inspire others,[70] and said he was looking forward to meeting with Gunn to discuss future opportunities.[71] Work on the Man of Steel sequel stalled later that month while Gunn and Safran were developing their plans.[72]

In December 2022, Gunn said Superman was a big priority, if not the biggest, for DC Studios,[73] before publicly announcing that he was writing a new Superman film that would focus on a younger version of the character and would therefore not star Cavill. There was potential for Gunn to also direct the film.[2] It would not be an origin story for Superman,[74] and would focus on him as a young reporter interacting with key characters, such as Lois Lane.[6] Gunn and Safran met with Cavill to explain their decision and discuss potentially working with him for a different role in the future.[2][6] On January 31, 2023, Gunn and Safran unveiled the first projects from their DCU slate, which begins with Chapter One: Gods and Monsters. Their Superman film was the first film in that chapter and was officially titled Superman: Legacy. It was given a release date of July 11, 2025. Safran wanted Gunn to direct the film.[75] Gunn said the film would take specific inspiration from the comic book All-Star Superman (2005–2008) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely,[4] and the next day that comic appeared on Amazon's list of best-selling comic books.[76] The film was also inspired by the animated Superman short films from Fleischer Studios (1941–1943),[77] and by these comic books: the Superman: Birthright (2003–04) limited series by Mark Waid, Leinil Francis Yu, and Gerry Alanguilan; the 2008 "Brainiac" story arc from Action Comics by Geoff Johns and Gary Frank; the crossover event Superman: Ending Battle (2002) by Johns, Joe Casey, Joe Kelly, and Mark Schultz;[78] the Superman for All Seasons (1998) limited series by Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale;[79] the Elseworlds limited series Kingdom Come (1996) by Waid and Alex Ross; Morrison's Action Comics run; and the story "Whatever Happened to the Man of Tomorrow?" (1986) by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.[77]

Tom King, a comic book writer working on the DCU, stated in March 2023 that Gunn was also directing the film,[80] which Gunn confirmed later that month.[81] At that time, Safran was confirmed to be producing the film.[1] Gunn was hesitant to direct the film, despite encouragement from Safran and others, until he realized how focusing on Superman's heritage with his aristocratic Kryptonian parents and adoptive farmer parents from Smallville, Kansas, would inform the characterization. Gunn felt emotionally connected to this aspect of the film because of his late father, whose birthday was shared with the film's intended release date.[1] Gunn said in April that the film's tone would differ from his Guardians of the Galaxy films,[82] and he suggested that Superman's dog Krypto could appear.[82][83][84]

Pre-production

Production design, costume design, and the casting process began in April 2023.[85][46] Beth Mickle and Judianna Makovsky returned in their respective roles as production designer and costume designer from The Suicide Squad and Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 (2023).[86][87] Filming was set to begin in January 2024.[46] Gunn was looking for an actor to play Superman who possessed the character's humanity, kindness, and compassion, and was "somebody who you want to give a hug".[88] He said the character Jimmy Olsen would appear,[89] and that he was not looking to make the film a comedy. He hoped Legacy would be different from previous Superman films while still respecting what came before.[46] Gunn turned in the first draft of the script at the end of April and the production was not expected to be impacted by the 2023 Writers Guild of America strike when it began in early May.[90]

Gunn took specific inspiration for the film from the comic book series All-Star Superman (2005–2008) by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, and included the cover art of the first issue in the film's announcement

Audition tapes for the main roles of Superman, Lois Lane, and Lex Luthor were submitted by early May 2023. Gunn began watching them later that month,[91] while he was storyboarding the film.[92] David Corenswet was a top contender for Superman and was set to do a screen test at the end of the month or in early June. Other actors in consideration included Jacob Elordi, Tom Brittney, and Andrew Richardson.[16][91] Elordi declined to read for the role, feeling that it would be "too much" and "too dark" for him.[93] Emma Mackey, Rachel Brosnahan, Samara Weaving, and Phoebe Dynevor had tested for Lane;[16][91] Dynevor was one of the final contenders for that role.[94] Nicholas Hoult, the runner-up to play Batman in The Batman (2022),[16] was eyed for Luthor but chose to pursue the role of Superman.[95] Gunn was considering A-list actors with whom he had previously worked for Luthor, and discussed the role with a Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 actor that was reported to be Bradley Cooper.[16][96][97] Black actors were also being considered.[98] Testing took place using the label "Apex", a reference to a comic version of Luthor called Apex Luthor.[91][98] Other comic book superheroes were expected to already be established in the film's setting,[16] with casting underway for a Black actor to play Michael Holt / Mister Terrific and for an Asian or Latinx actress to portray a character labeled "Blitz".[99][100] Pierson Fodé, who appeared in an episode of Supergirl (2015–2021), submitted a self-tape for Superman by the start of June which Gunn reportedly liked.[101]

In-person screen tests took place at the Warner Bros. lot in Burbank, California, with Gunn and Safran in mid-June 2023. The actors tested in makeup and costume as Kent and Lane in the following pairs: Hoult and Brosnahan, Brittney and Dynevor, and Corenswet and Mackey.[102][95] The Kent contenders then tested in costume as Superman against Mackey. Gunn edited the tests together to be played for a deciding committee that included Zaslav,[95] and the casting of Corenswet as Superman and Brosnahan as Lane was announced on June 27.[3] Casting for other roles was set to follow, including for members of the superhero team the Authority who were expected to be introduced in Superman: Legacy ahead of their own film.[103][95] Brothers Alexander and Bill Skarsgård were on the shortlist for Luthor. It was unclear if Hoult would return to try for Luthor again.[95] On July 11, two years before the film's scheduled release date,[104] the casting of Isabela Merced, Edi Gathegi, and Nathan Fillion as the superheroes Hawkgirl, Mister Terrific, and Guy Gardner / Green Lantern, respectively, was announced.[8] Merced tested as Barbara Gordon / Batgirl for the unreleased DCEU film Batgirl,[105] while Fillion starred in several of Gunn's earlier films including as Cory Pitzner / T.D.K. in The Suicide Squad.[8] Anthony Carrigan, who had expressed interest in playing Luthor, was cast as the superhero Rex Mason / Metamorpho the next day.[10][106] Gunn had chosen some of these actors some time earlier but had been waiting until Superman and Lane were cast before negotiating further actor deals, leaving little time to complete negotiations before the 2023 SAG-AFTRA strike began on July 14.[10][107] In response to concerns that the other superheroes would take away from the story of Superman and Lane, Gunn said those two characters remained the focus of the film and the other actors were being cast for multiple DCU projects.[104]

When the WGA strike ended in September 2023, Superman: Legacy was expected to begin filming in early-to-mid 2024.[108] Jason Momoa, who portrayed Aquaman in the DCEU, was reported the following month to have discussed portraying the character Lobo in either Superman: Legacy or a solo film.[109] The SAG-AFTRA strike ended on November 9, and filming was clarified to be beginning in March 2024.[110][111] Gunn said the film would still make its July 2025 release date.[112] María Gabriela de Faría was revealed to be cast as Angela Spica / The Engineer, one of the film's antagonists and a member of the Authority, in mid-November.[12] Singer Madison Beer said she submitted a self-tape and unsuccessfully auditioned for an undisclosed role, as did O'Shea Jackson Jr.[113][114] Hoult was in talks to portray Luthor prior to the SAG-AFTRA strike, and negotiations for the role were continuing in November,[115][116] when Sara Sampaio and Skyler Gisondo were revealed to have been respectively cast as Luthor's assistant Eve Teschmacher and Jimmy Olsen.[13][14] Gunn said Gisondo, Sampaio, and de Faría had been cast prior to the strike,[117] and the roles of Mister Terrific and Teschmacher were particularly difficult to cast and required many auditions.[118] Journalist Jeff Sneider noted speculation that the character Sam Lane would appear and indicated that Michael Rooker was linked to the role,[97] but Gunn denied that Rooker would play the character.[119]

In December 2023, Gunn's brother Sean was cast as Maxwell Lord for future DCU projects, after Pedro Pascal played the role in the DCEU film Wonder Woman 1984 (2020). The character was expected to be referenced in Superman: Legacy but it was unknown if he would appear in the film.[27] James Gunn confirmed that Hoult had finalized a deal to portray Luthor,[15] and Miriam Shor entered negotiations for an undisclosed role after appearing in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.[26] The Hollywood Reporter also said the cast included Sean Gunn and Pom Klementieff, who starred in the Guardians of the Galaxy films, before James Gunn stated that Klementiff was not involved in the film and Shor had not been cast.[26][120][121] He added that the film's script had been mostly completed prior to the writers' strike.[122] Gunn said in January 2024 that work on the sets, prosthetics, and visual effects models were underway, the costumes were being completed, and most of the actors had been cast,[123] while Brosnahan said the film was being made with a lot of love for the source material, as many cast and crew members had grown up watching Superman films and reading the comics.[7] At the end of the month, Milly Alcock was cast as Superman's cousin Kara Zor-El / Supergirl. The character was reported to be making her debut in Superman: Legacy ahead of starring in her own DCU film, Supergirl: Woman of Tomorrow.[28][124][125] Alcock had performed auditions and screen tests in costume on the Superman: Legacy set in Atlanta, Georgia, earlier in January.[125][126]

Pre-production work in Ohio began in early February 2024.[127] Later that month, Bassem Youssef said he had been cast in the film—reportedly as Rumaan Harjadi, the leader of a fictional Middle Eastern country—but his character had been removed from the script. He believed this was potentially due to comments he made in October 2023 criticizing the Israeli government during the Israel–Hamas war. Gunn disputed this, explaining that he had discussed a role with Youssef prior to the WGA strike but the actor had not been formally offered the part, and the character was removed from the final script after the strike ended and before Youssef's comments were made.[128][129][130] Also in mid-February, the Ohio Department of Development announced that Superman: Legacy would be partially filmed in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, and had been awarded over $11 million through the state's tax credit program,[127][131] based on a $37 million spend in the state out of the film's reported total budget of $363.8 million;[132] Gunn disputed the accuracy of this budget, which would have made the film one of the most expensive superhero films ever made.[133] A table read with the cast was held on February 22, and Gunn revealed that Terence Rosemore was portraying Luthor's henchman Otis after having small roles in some of Gunn's prior films.[18] Zaslav said filming would begin the following week,[134] when Gunn announced that he had shortened the film's title to Superman by the time he had completed the final draft of the script.[135]

Filming

A Metropolis Police car on a Cleveland street in the foreground with a "Greetings from Metropolis" sign in the background
A police car (foreground) and a greetings sign (background) with Metropolis decal during filming
The entrance to the Daily Planet "leader building" in Cleveland with a world globe above the center door
The Daily Planet entrance in Cleveland

Principal photography began on February 29, 2024, which is the canonical birthday of Superman,[135] in the Adventdalen valley in Svalbard, Norway. Filming took place there for one week to shoot scenes featuring the Fortress of Solitude. Gunn chose Svalbard for its natural beauty, landscapes, and similarities to the Arctic.[136][137] Filming occurs under the working title Genesis.[127][138] Henry Braham returned as cinematographer from the later two Guardians of the Galaxy films, The Suicide Squad, and The Flash.[139] The film is being shot entirely in IMAX.[140] Filming was delayed from an initial January 2024 start by the SAG-AFTRA strike,[111] and was expected to last around four months.[141]

At the start of March, Wendell Pierce was cast as Perry White.[19] Filming at Trilith Studios in Atlanta, Georgia, had begun by March 8 and is expected to last until August 2.[138][142] Filming was set to take place in Cleveland and Cincinnati, Ohio, for 37 days between April 1 and August 23.[127][131] Filming was also expected to take place in Macon, Georgia.[143] Later in April, Pruitt Taylor Vince and Neva Howell were cast as Jonathan and Martha Kent.[21][22] In early June, Beck Bennett, Mikaela Hoover, and newcomer Christopher McDonald were cast as the Daily Planet reporters Steve Lombard,[23][144] Cat Grant, and Ron Troupe. Hoover previously appeared in several of Gunn's films.[24] Filming in downtown Cleveland began on June 24,[145] taking place at Ontario Street, the Cleveland Greyhound Station, Public Square, the Detroit–Superior Bridge, PNC Plaza, and Progressive Field. Exterior shots of the Huntington Bank Building, Key Tower, and the Soldiers' and Sailors' Monument were filmed in Public Square.[146] Characters from the animated DCU series Creature Commandos (2024) were expected to appear in the film by the end of June, and it was the intention of Gunn and Safran that the same actors would portray characters across animation and live-action in the DCU;[147][148] set photos revealed that Frank Grillo was reprising his voice role as Rick Flag Sr. from that series.[25]

Post-production

Jason Ballantine serves as an editor on the film after previously editing The Flash,[149][third-party source needed] alongside William Hoy, who previously edited The Batman.[150][third-party source needed] Stéphane Ceretti will serve as the visual effects supervisor after previously working with Gunn on Guardians of the Galaxy, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special (2022), and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.[151] Much of the visual effects team from Vol. 3 was set to return to work with Gunn for Superman.[152]

Music

In December 2023, Gunn said most of the film's score and major themes had been written, but the composer had not been announced because their deal for the film had not yet been finalized.[153] In February 2024, he announced that John Murphy was composing the film's score, after previously doing so for The Suicide Squad, The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3.[154]

Marketing

Promotional on-set image of David Corenswet in costume as Superman

Gunn marked the beginning of filming in February 2024 by posting a picture of Superman's shield,[135] which commentators noted for its visual similarity to the character's costume in the Kingdom Come comic book, albeit with the classic yellow and red color scheme.[155][156] Safran promoted the film on-stage during Warner Bros.' CinemaCon presentation that April, with Gunn, Corenswet, and Brosnahan appearing via video messages.[157] The panel unveiled a full look at the film's Superman emblem and Gunn said he planned to attend the following year's event in-person with the cast to initiate the "Summer of Superman" in the lead-up to the film's release.[158] Gunn released a first-look image of Corenswet in costume in early May, which depicts Superman suiting up while an alien-looking threat attacks in the background. Commentary on the image focused on the return of red briefs which were not included in the Man of Steel design. Elements of the costume were also compared to the design used in the New 52 comics by Jim Lee, while the character's pose and the attack in the background led to speculation about Superman's characterization in the film and what threats he may face.[159][160][161] A display inspired by the film's Fortress of Solitude was included at Warner Bros.' Licensing Expo booth in Las Vegas later in May.[162] On July 11, exactly one year before the film's release date, Gunn posted the film's official logo on social media.[163]

Release

Superman is scheduled to be released theatrically by Warner Bros. Pictures in the United States on July 11, 2025,[135] in IMAX.[164] It will be the first film in the DCU's Chapter One: Gods and Monsters.[75]

References

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