[Editor’s note: The following contains spoilers for Black Adam and the DC Extended Universe.]
It wouldn’t be a 21st-century superhero movie without at least one surprise in the credits, and Black Adam certainly lives up to that expectation. Starring Dwayne Johnson, the latest DC Comics adaptation introduces the titular character not as an antagonist for Shazam (the youthful hero played by Zachary Levi) like in the books, but as the protagonist of his own story.
He’s a complicated protagonist, though, one who isn’t interested in keeping his superpowers in check now — even if he is dedicated to protecting his homeland of Kahndaq. And that’s what leads us to the film’s post-credits scene (or mid-credits scene, to be precise; there is no second post-credits scene), a moment featuring two familiar DC faces.
In the film’s final moments, a drone enters what remains of the Kahndaq throne room to deliver a holographic Amanda Waller (Viola Davis) with a message for Black Adam: Stay within the borders of Kahndaq, or else. Black Adam, understandably, expresses his doubts that anyone “of Earth” would be capable of enforcing Waller’s threat — but forever unshakable, Waller notes that she has resources from off planet as well.
And that’s when Superman himself, played by Henry Cavill himself, arrives in the throne room, ready to step up to Black Adam’s challenge.
The Man of Steel’s appearance doesn’t come as a huge surprise, given how loudly Johnson has been saying that he wants a Black Adam vs. Superman showdown on screen. It’s the fact that Cavill is the one in the suit that’s the bigger reveal here. The Witcher star first put on the cape in 2013 for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, last wearing it for 2017’s Justice League (he wasn’t part of the Snyder Cut reshoots). Since then, there have been no formal announcements about his future with the role.
(For comparison’s sake, we not only have a brand new Batman in Robert Pattinson, but additional confirmation that Ben Affleck will make an appearance as the character in the upcoming Aquaman and the Last Kingdom.)
But there has been a lot of Superman speculation. Back in 2018, it was reported he was done with the role while WB focused on a Supergirl movie — a project which appears to have been shelved even though Sasha Calle was cast as the character in the beleaguered The Flash film. There’s also been talk of a new Superman movie featuring a Black character (Val-Zod, for the comic nerds), either with or without Michael B. Jordan in the title role.
A Superman also appeared in both Shazam (played by someone who was not Cavill and only shown from the neck down) and Peacemaker (in backlit silhouette), but all that did was confirm that the character is still flying around the DCEU.
Then in 2020, rumors began stirring that Cavill was indeed in talks for a return as Superman — though a Man of Steel sequel wasn’t initially in the cards. With the Black Adam reveal, it appears there was truth to the chatter, although Johnson has stated he had to go above DC Films boss Walter Hamada to make it happen.
During his brief run as head of WB’s DC slate (2018-essentially this week), Hamada was dead set on moving away from the disappointing Snyder-verse to a new vision for the DC Extended Universe, and that included leaving Cavill in the past. As the WB/Discovery merger picked up speed, it was clear Hamada was going to be pushed out (Batgirl was canceled by Warner Bros. film bosses Michael De Luca and Pam Abdy without Hamada even knowing).
With Hamada out and Warner Bros. Discovery shaking up the DCEU slate, they seem intent to lean into some past successes. That includes giving The Suicide Squad filmmaker James Gunn a few new projects, creating a series of The Batman spin-offs — and giving Cavill more to do as Superman. A Hollywood Reporter report notes that Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav, De Luca, and Abdy are pushing forward with some version of a Man of Steel 2, with Charles Roven on as producer.
So it seems Cavill does have a future as Superman, and Black Adam is just the beginning. Johnson’s dream of making his super-powered passion project a fresh start for the future of the DCEU seems to align with WBD’s plans, and Cavill in the cape is definitely going to be involved.
Whether the next project ends up being a Man of Steel sequel or a straight-up Black Adam vs. Superman slugfest is yet to be seen, but Johnson appears to want to tease the battle out a little longer. “We can’t go right there right away,” he told ComicBook.com. “Now we’ve gotten to a great place where we’ve delivered for the audience. And when I say, ‘We’re listening to the audience,’ they know we mean it. And when we say, ‘We’re building up the DC Universe,’ we mean it. This is what we mean. And when we say, ‘Welcome home,’ you know who I’m talking about.”
Whatever the case, fans are surely excited to see Cavill back in the red and blue — not the black suit seen in Zack Snyder’s Justice League, in case you were wondering.