Even though Warner Bros. has confirmed films like Wonder Woman 2, The Batman and Flashpoint to be in their slate for future films, there hasn’t been much word on whether there’s going to be a Man Of Steel sequel or not, making everyone wonder if we’re ever going to see Henry Cavill on a Superman solo film again.
Superman has great stories to tell, and while his appearance on the DCEU has been controversial, to say the least, the fact is that the character still has a lot to say, so no matter what the future holds for this franchise I still believe there’s hope for a Man of Steel 2. In honour of that possibility, I’d like to share with you 5 possible storylines presented in comics that could serve as a base for a Superman sequel.
- For the Man Who Has Everything
Written by Alan Moore and illustrated by Dave Gibbons, this storyline presented in Superman Annual #11 in 1985 begins at Superman’s birthday party at the Fortress of Solitude, where Batman, Wonder Woman and Robin find him in a catatonic state with an alien plant -the Black Mercy- attached to his chest. On his part, Kal-El finds himself in a fantasy world where Krypton was never destroyed, he has a wife, kids, and lives a “normal life”. Ultimately, Clark realizes that the world he’s seeing is not real, breaks himself free and defeats Mongul -the alien who wanted to defeat Superman in order to conquer Earth- and proceeds to celebrate his birthday alongside his friends.
Handled correctly, this story could give Henry Cavill an opportunity to explore Kal-El’s personality, by showing us a Kal that was never raised by the Kents and grew up in Krypton with his scientific family, living his heart desire to live a normal life with a family of his own. However, not everything would be all smiles and fun as in the comic, Jor-El had been rejected by all of Krypton because he was wrong about the planet’s destruction and in response, he had a strained relationship with his son… among other things.
For The Man Who Has Everything could be a great adaptation for the DCEU, as it would give us more of Jor-El -much less idolized- and a more grounded Krypton, which we had a glimpse of in Man of Steel, all while having a lot of character moments that would define a little bit more personality to a controversial iteration. This story is about Superman’s hopes and dreams, alongside a demonstration of the sheer power of will he poses to be able to reject his heart’s desire by realising that what he’s seeing is not true and break free to save the day.
On a plus note, the film could also cement a close relationship within the trinity -Wonder Woman, Batman and Superman- as the film would have to avoid Robin (because in this storyline, Jason Todd was the Robin who saved the day and… well, we all know what happened to Jason in the DCEU) and it would be the three of them all gathered together celebrating Kal’s birthday.
This storyline has actually been adapted before, for the second episode of season one of Justice League Unlimited, with some minor changes to the original comic book story.
Ever since Man of Steel 2 was rumoured to happen, many people have been wondering who the villain is going to be, with a lot of them claiming that Brainiac is the obvious choice as he is one of the most associated villains one could think of when talking about Superman, and he has never been presented in a feature film.
If you’ve never heard of the character, here is a quick recap: Brainiac was first introduced to DC’s lore in The Super-Duel in Space published in 1958 in Action Comics #242-, where he is presented as an all-powerful alien cyborg/android/artificial intelligence whose hobbies include shrinking cities from all over the galaxy and collecting them in bottles on his spaceship, and one of his personal favourites is Kandor, Krypton’s capital, making his fight with Superman somewhat personal.
If Brainiac does happen to be the villain, a Brainiac adaptation is the perfect way to introduce us to the character as, while this comic wasn’t the introduction to the character, it’s certainly the story where we are shown the full power of Brainiac and why he’s such a threat to Superman.
To give you more context, Brainiac is a five-issue comic book story arc written by Geoff Johns and illustrated by Gary Frank in 2008 (published in Action Comics from #866 to #870) where Brainiac targets Metropolis to be the next city he shrinks and puts away in a bottle, forcing Superman and Supergirl to work together and try to defeat him, at the same time they rescue Kandor and its citizens from the villains hands.
This storyline would also mark Kara’s introduction to the DCEU -whose existence has been teased since Man of Steel-, all while showing us a Superman that’s finally comfortable being the hero he’s meant to be as well as surer about his place in this world. It could also give us some personal insight in his loneliness about being “the last Kryptonian”, something that we saw a little bit of in Batman V Superman, and how it would affect his life finding out he’s not really alone.
However, one thing that the film would have to avoid is Pa Kent’s involvement, as in the DCEU Jonathan died by a tornado in MoS…. but they could put Martha through the same fate and keep the story just as it is, maybe making it more heartbreaking than the comic book -and could even count with Alfred and Bruce cameos at the end- but I’m not sure anyone of us would like to see that.
This storyline has already been adopted in an animated film, Superman: Unbound in 2013.
- What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice & The American Way?
It’s true that Superman killed Zod in Man of Steel, and although I still stand by the fact that he was inexperienced and it was the only solution he could think of in that particular moment and showed us he had what it take to be a hero, the truth is that Superman has never been one who’s known for killing or thinking of it as a first option.
Written by Joe Kelly as a single-issue story released in Action Comics #775 in 2001, What’s So Funny About Truth, Justice, and the American Way? presents us a story where the main question is why should Superman be so iconic when he’s not willing to end once and for all the threats in the world, unlike the Elite, a group of superheroes that gained popularity and media focus by killing the villains they face.
This particular story arc was Kelly’s response to the success and popularity of the comic book The Authority (in which the Elite is based) as it made many people considered Superman “irrelevant” or “boring”.
If Warner and whoever directs Man of Steel 2 decides to adopt this story, they have in their hands the chance to show people why Superman’s style of saving people and never willing to take a life isn’t obsolete or irrelevant in the present day, but maybe even necessary.
In this particular arc, we are shown a Superman that is willing to go through great lengths to prove people all over the world that there’s someone who’s willing to stand up for them and protect them, even die for them.
In this comic, Superman shows us and tells us that violence is never the answer or a positive thing, and by making it the basis for a Man of Steel sequel, it could put Superman into a new shed of light and reflect what the character is supposed to represent.
As well as the stories above, this arc has already been adopted in an animated film Superman vs The Elite back in 2012.
- Up, Up and Away
While it’s true that what most people are drawn to is the Superman persona, the fact is that Clark Kent is just as appealing and compelling as Superman, and this story is the perfect opportunity to see why.
Up, Up and Away is an eight-issue Superman story arc written by Geoff Johns and Kurt Busiek with art by Pete Woods, published in Action Comics #837-840 and Superman #650-653 in 2006, and tells the story of how a de-powered Clark Kent must use his abilities as a reporter in order to defend Metropolis from organized crime and a disgraced Luthor who still wants to defeat him at all costs.
This adaptation would fit nicely in the DCEU for various reasons, including giving us more of Luthor as a mastermind and genius, as well as giving Henry Cavill -and us- a greater chance to spend time with Clark Kent. Not as Superman, not as an alien from Krypton who feels lost in this world, but as a reporter who’s still a farm boy at heart and wants to make the world a better place no matter how.
In Man of Steel, we spent time with a Clark who didn’t know his way in life, who was lost and wanted to find a purpose in life and a meaning to him being on Earth. With Up, Up and Away we would get a Clark who already has a purpose, and while he wouldn’t have his superpowers, he would still want to make a better world, this time focussing more on doing that with his journalistic abilities. We saw him being a reporter in Batman V Superman Ultimate Edition but this time, it could be the major focus of the story.
While I love Man of Steel with all my heart and soul, sometimes it still confuses me as to why did Clark decided to become a journalist in that particular setting, if you have an idea feel free to tell me in the comments. But I think that, with this particular story, we could see exactly why did he became a reporter and that more than a job, is one of his true callings in life.
Besides, one of the of the things that bothered me the most about Justice League is that we weren’t given an explanation as to how Clark Kent returned to his normal life and everyone accepted it like it was no big deal and by focusing more on Clark than Superman, they could give us an answer to that question, even if is just as a passing by moment. And it could also give us more time between Lois and Clark and that’s never a bad thing.
- The Mysterious Mr Mxyzptlk
Another Superman villain that has never been featured in film adaptations before, this particular storyline could give us a fun, colourful Superman film that could show us that Superman is more than just his physical abilities.
Appearing for the first time in Superman #30 in 1944 and created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Mr. Mxyzptlk is a 5th Dimensional being who, much like Superman, is an all-powerful being, but unlike the Man of Steel, his abilities have to do more with altering reality than anything else. While he’s not necessarily evil -like Zod or Joker- he finds himself obsessed with Superman, wanting to prove time after time that he’s smarter than Kal.
As Superman realizes he cannot defeat Mr Mxyzptlk with a physical fight, he manages to convince the imp to say the only word capable of returning to his dimension, “Kltpzyxm,” -his name backwards-.
Choosing Mr. Mxyzptlk as Superman’s next foe would certainly be refreshing, as it has been said that Superman is pretty much a god who could be used as a Deus Ex-Machina -any device or person used in films to solve a difficulty presented in the plot- in a DCEU film -like what happened in Justice League-.
Mr Mxyzptlk as a villain could give the director of Man of Steel 2 the opportunity to have fun with this film, playing with the possibilities the character gives you by modifying reality, presenting exotic beings, improbable situations or a frustrated Superman that just wants to go back to normal.
In addition, Mr Mxyzptlk could introduce us to another weakness of Superman, magic as well as make it clear that it exists and open the door for more magical beings to make his debut on the DCEU -Zatanna, Dr Fate,…-
Mr Mxyzptlk has actually made appearances in live-action before, in Lois & Clark, Smallville and in Supergirl, as well in animated form in Superman: The Animated Series and The Brave and the Bold.
However, if when the time of a Man of Steel 2 premiere comes and none of these storylines are portrayed, you should still read them, as they are genuinely good and compelling, giving us an insight on what Superman really means why is he still relevant in the present day.