Did #MeToo kill Superman?

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After just three movies, Warner Bros. has announced that Henry Cavill will not be returning to reprise his role as Superman, after scheduling conflicts for a cameo in DC’s newest film Shazam! led to a breakdown in talks for further appearances as the iconic superhero.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Warner Bros’ (WB) focus has shifted to producing a new Supergirl movie and expanding the DC extended universe. WB also cited that the Superman/Clark Kent character would canonically be an infant according to Supergirl lore in explaining the shake-up and rationalised that Superman “is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors.”

DC’s new facelift, however, comes on the heels of a small controversy surrounding Cavill and comments he made about the #MeToo movement. Some have been left wondering if the decision to sack Cavill was less about his acting commitments or other future film considerations, and more about avoiding controversy.

In an interview with GQ Australia, Cavill first expressed sympathy for the movement saying that men’s treatment of women “had to change”, but highlighted the positives of traditional courtship:

“It’s important to also retain the good things, which were a quality of the past, and get rid of the bad things. There’s a traditional approach to that, which is nice. I think a woman should be wooed and chased, but maybe I’m old-fashioned for thinking that.”

Cavill had continued: “It’s very difficult to do that if there are certain rules in place. Because then it’s like: ‘Well, I don’t want to go up and talk to her, because I’m going to be called a rapist or something.’

“So you’re like, ‘Forget it, I’m going to call an ex-girlfriend instead, and then just go back to a relationship, which never really worked. But it’s way safer than casting myself into the fires of hell, because I’m someone in the public eye, and if I go and flirt with someone, then who knows what’s going to happen?

“Now? Now you really can’t pursue someone further than, ‘No.’ It’s like, ‘OK, cool.’ But then there’s the, ‘Oh, why’d you give up?’ And it’s like, ‘Well, because I didn’t want to go to jail?’”

The internet’s reaction to Cavill’s comments was split between outrage and lukewarm support. Cavill responded exactly how you would expect in today’s politically-charged environment, promptly issuing an apology and subsequently pledging his allegiance to the cause.

Was Cavill’s departure really just an attempt at a fresh start for the DC universe, or was Clark Kent chewed up and spit out by the #MeToo machine?