Superman: Legacy – James Gunn’s New Superman Movie

Major changes are afoot for DC Comics film and television. In 2022, we learned James Gunn and Peter Safran would helm the new DC Studios, with a forthcoming plan to start fresh on DC live-action projects — including a new take on Superman.

Thanks to James Gunn’s latest DCU announcement, we know the new Superman movie will be titled Superman: Legacy, written by Gunn himself. It’s set to release in theaters on July 11, 2025. But without any official plot updates yet, fans are left to speculate details.

Beginning with the cancellation of the nearly finished Batgirl and ending with a long-awaited cameo in Black Adam, 2022 was a busy year for DC. Gunn has teased that this will be a “younger” Superman, though details are scarce. Aside from Batman or Wonder Woman, Superman is one of DC’s most popular heroes. In the spirit of Clark Kent, let’s report on what we do know and do some light speculation on how Superman might return to the big screen.

From the Kent Farm to the Daily Planet

Created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster, Superman was sent to Earth by his parents to escape their dying planet, Krypton. The alien infant was discovered by Martha and Jonathan Kent, two kindly farmers in Kansas. They raised him to be an empathetic, good-hearted human named Clark Kent. Later, Clark would work as a journalist for the Daily Planet alongside Lois Lane.

On the small screen, Superman has been depicted by George Reeves in Adventures of Superman (1952), Tom Welling in Smallville (2001), and Tyler Hoechlin in Superman & Lois (2021). Christoper Reeve brought Superman to the big screen in the iconic movies of the 1970s and ’80s, followed by a more serious portrayal from Brandon Routh in 2006, and finally Henry Cavill as the latest live-action version.

Though he’s said the new movie would focus on Superman’s earlier years, Gunn clarified there’s “no way” this will be an origin story. So where exactly does that leave us?

Superman’s First Villains

First and foremost, any super hero story needs a super-villain. Since we’ve already seen an attempt at forming the Justice League against Darkseid, it’s unlikely this would be immediately redone, especially since Gunn has hinted the DCU will move in new directions. This also means he would likely avoid a previously seen Supes enemy like General Zod.

Given Gunn’s penchant for odd, overlooked characters, he could also gravitate to enemies like Bizarro or more galactic threats like Brainiac. If the current multiversal trend of super hero storytelling is continued, we could even see interdimensional foes like Mister Mxyzptlk, Vyndktvx, or Kaiyo.

Along those same lines of obscurity, a possible villainous contender is Ultra-Humanite. This is the first superhuman villain Superman ever faced in the comics, back in 1939. Over the years, this super-genius scientist transferred his mind to various bodies, including a Hollywood starlet and (most consistently) an albino gorilla.

Superman and Lex Luthor

Of course, Superman’s arch-nemesis Lex Luthor is usually not far from any story about the Man of Steel. He’s even known Lex since he was young, which could mean this rival will reappear in a film about Superman’s early days. Gunn has also already used an early Superman villain, Starro, in The Suicide Squad (2021). Starro was the first super-villain that the Justice League encountered in the comics.

What are the remaining DCEU films?

And on that note, it’s currently unclear how or if the remaining DCEU films will connect to the new DC Studios universe. While Cavill’s Superman made a cameo at the end of Black Adam, Gunn has noted Cavill will not return as Superman.

However, there are four DC films that will still be released this year: Shazam! Fury of the Gods (March), The Flash (June), Blue Beetle (August), and Aquaman and the Lost Kingdom (December). Plus, October 2024 has Joker: Folie à Deux, which is separate from any previously released DC films, much like Matt Reeves’ The Batman.

The Plot of James Gunn’s Superman Movie

Since Superman is already firmly established in comic book mythos, a more creative approach to this reboot is possible. Readers and viewers know Superman’s origin. They know his secret identity, and what he believes in.

That’s why a closeup character study of Superman himself might be the way to go. Recently, James Gunn featured an image from Tom King and Andy Kubert’s Superman: Up in the Sky on his Instagram story. On the surface, this book shows Superman traveling across the universe to rescue one little girl. Beyond that, it’s an exploration of Superman’s inner workings and his devotion to the promise of hope.

Son of Superman

Superman’s “early years” could also mean a focus on Superboy or Jonathan Kent, who is currently serving as Superman. Conner Kent is a clone of Superman while Jonathan Kent is his son with Lois Lane. A story featuring either of these younger heroes could add a fresh perspective to on-screen Superman lore.

Even without either of those characters, there’s plenty of material to draw from when Clark Kent was new at being a hero. His adoptive parents, depending on the comic, shaped young Clark’s outlook on what it meant to be a super hero. Plus, the natural tension of a double life, flying faster than a speeding bullet and working with Lois at the Daily Planet, is enough for a compelling plot.

At this point, all we can do is make an educated guess as to what James Gunn’s future Superman project will look like. If his past projects are any indication, it will be unexpected, irreverent, and a fresh take on an old favorite.

Do you have any Superman predictions? Share your thoughts with other DC fans in the Let Your Spoiler Sideshow Facebook Group, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!