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On the Anglification of Superman: Reactions to the Casting of British Actor Henry Cavill

On the Anglification of Superman: Reactions to the Casting of British Actor Henry Cavill

Interesting that Warner Bros. announced the casting of its next Superman on the last day of Sundance. The studio revealed some big casting news for “The Dark Knight Rises” as many of us were in the air heading towards the festival. Yesterday this report came while some were returning home. Talk about counter-programming. But the contrast between Sundance and superheroes isn’t what people were talking about today. It was the fact that yet another British actor has been chosen for a superhero role. Christian Bale is Batman, Andrew Garfield is Spider-Man and now Henry Cavill (“Stardust”) is Superman in Zack Snyder’s “Superman: The Man of Steel.”

But let’s not forget that in the past we’ve also had to endure Brits as Mr. Fantastic, Professor X and Magneto, Australians as Wolverine, Hulk and Thor, a Canadian as Colossus, a Canadian-Kiwi as Rogue, a Dutchwoman as Jean Grey, an American as Storm, an actor with sight as Daredevil and non-turtles as the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles. Oh, and a lot of people without super powers playing people with super powers. It didn’t take long for one or two bright people to point out that Superman is an alien from another planet and therefore not technically American. Sure, but he did grow up from infancy in the heartland and until recently (in “Superman Returns”) he stood for “the American way.”

Well, as revenge for this anglophilic course of comic book movies, we can try to encourage Mel Gibson, who is good at pissing off the English (among others), to get going on a Captain Britain movie, which he should star in. And an American actress should appear as his sister, who later transforms and is portrayed by a Chinese actress. Not that many would be the wiser on that last part, I’m sure.

After the jump see what others are saying about the news around the Film Blog Water Cooler.

Bob at Moviebob:

This makes “Avengers” the only 2012 American superhero movie (out of 4) without a British actor feigning an American accent in the lead.

Geoff Boucher at Hero Complex:

Cavill will undoubtedly be asked if he feels a bit odd taking up Superman’s classic fight for “truth, justice and the American way,” so we have a suggestion for him if he grows weary of the queries. It might be worthwhile noting that the hero of Metropolis is, in fact, an intergalactic immigrant. The last son of Krypton may celebrate the Fourth of July, but let’s remember he arrived in Kansas as the ultimate outsider and then won all of us over as, um, a resident alien.

Katey Rich at Cinema Blend:

It’s worth noting that Cavill was born in the British dependency the Channel Islands, meaning a non-American will be taking over the most iconic American superhero. Then again, Kal-El himself is an immigrant, so maybe it’s only fair.

Rob Keyes at Screen Rant:

Of UK descent, Cavill joins a potential Justice League roster that includes three non-Americans – a curious issue for some fans. Christian Bale also hailsl from the UK and Ryan Reynolds is Canadian. For us, it matters not where the lead actor is born, especially for roles like Superman, where the character is not even from our planet.

Laura Prudom at The Moviefone Blog:

“Truth, Justice and the American Way?” — Okay, we know that Superman is the quintessential American hero (sorry, Captain America, Superman’s way more famous), so it might give some fans pause to learn that Henry Cavill is decidedly British. […] At the end of the day, producers cast a very wide net when it comes to casting such beloved characters, and being the right person for the part is dependent on far more than just your accent. Besides, as fans on Twitter have pointed out, it’s no different from foreign actors portraying legendary British characters, like Russell Crowe in ‘Robin Hood’ and Robert Downey Jr. in ‘Sherlock Holmes’.

Daniel Feinberg of HitFix:

A British Superman is revenge for an American Sherlock Holmes. Deal with it.

Scott Weinberg at Cinematical:

Hell, we just gave the world an American actor as Sherlock Holmes, and that worked out pretty well, didn’t it? Here’s why: talent has no nationality. Robert Downey Jr. would be just as charming and amusing if he were born in Phoenix, France, or Finland. It seems a bit pedantic to even type this in the year 2011, but here goes: straight actors play gay men; normal folks play true heroes; women sometimes even play men! And vice versa on all three! […] Plus we still sort of owe the British for what Kevin Costner did to Robin Hood.

Russ Fischer at Slashfilm:

I think the casting will come as a surprise to many. I’m looking forward to the comments debate about what this means for the character, and to see how people will react to a British actor playing Superman. If Christian Bale can play Batman, why not?

Sara Vilkomerson at Entertainment Weekly’s PopWatch:

Is this blasphemy, or mere coincidence? And don’t we just want whoever is best for the role? (Though, that said, can you imagine the uproar if an American was cast as James Bond? Yeow!) […] Does it matter where the actors are really from as long as they are believable?

James Marsh at Twitch:

Interestingly, Henry Cavill’s casting continues the current British dominance in landing big screen superhero roles, with Batman, Spider-Man, Professor X, Magneto, Odin and now Kal-el himself all going to prominent young actors from the UK. Chris Evans had better watch his back or Statham will be swiping Cap’s shield off him before the year is out!

Devin Faraci at Badass Digest:

What’s interesting is that this makes Superman the latest major American superhero to be played by a Brit – Spider-Man and Batman are also British now. It’s weird; is this an indictment of Hollywood, showing that this country no longer knows how to produce real leading men? Is America suffering from a macho deficit? Come on, Yanks, I know we can do better than Ryan Reynolds.

Lewis Wallace at Underwire:

In The Tudors, Cavill demonstrated well-polished acting chops by portraying the rise and fall of a womanizing prince who became guilt-ridden as he saw his best friend — Jonathan Rhys-Meyers’ King Henry VIII — descend into power-drunk madness. Given his skill set, Cavill should have no problem joining fellow U.K. actors Andrew Garfield (Spider-Man) and Christian Bale (Batman) in faking an American accent.

Bob Westal at Premium Hollywood:

Someone wake up Lou Dobbs. I mean, Spidermen and Batmen hailing from the UK is one thing, but what’s Henry Cavill going to do, fight for truth, justice and the British way? Will Luthor try to do him in with a Kryptonite crumpet? […] Still, my hunch is he’ll do fine. I would, however, like to remind casting directors that Americans can save producer’s substantial sums on dialect coaches. Or, let’s make the next 007 American, and in two or three years, when they decide to do a Harry Potter reboot (this time, he’ll be tougher and sexier) let’s make him a Yank as well. America’s acting superheroes needs jobs!

The Superficial:

With both Batman and Spider-Man are currently being played by British actors, there’s already been some scuttlebutt – Or balderdash? Eh, poppycock. – over another limey playing one of America’s most iconic characters to which I say, who’s giving all this fuck? It’s pretend. It’s not like Superman’s going to save a school bus then go, “Oy, kids, that was close, innit? Now rememba: Never brush your teeth and always capitulate to the Germans. Cheerio!” Now, Aquaman? He’d pull that shit. Bloody pacifist.

Vince Mancini at Film Drunk:

Americans might be pissed about that, but the truth is, we have only ourselves to blame. When all our young actors have been recruited from sitcoms on the Disney Channel, you’re pretty much screwed unless you’re casting for the reboot of Little Women.

Jeffrey Wells at Hollywood Elsewhere:

No one cares about Henry Cavill being handed the big role in Zack Snyder’s Superman: Man of Steel — nobody. The film will sell tickets when it opens and the Comic-Con fools will do their usual-usual and not a bird will stir in the trees.

And here is a rendering of Cavill as Superman by Ralph Damiani (via Slashfilm):

What are your thoughts?

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