He’s among the most powerful superheroes ever created. So when a villain takes on Superman, he or she had better be up to the task. After all the various incarnations of the Man of Steel that have been brought to the screen over the years, some still maintain that the character has never really been done just right. Even though Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel proved to be divisive, the film still performed well enough to warrant the creation of the DC Extended Universe that saw star Henry Cavill reprise his role in this year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Nevertheless, Warner Bros. is reportedly determined to nail the character of Superman in the now-in-development Man of Steel sequel. Though no release date has been announced, the film will presumably shift the focus back to Superman, pitting the last son of Krypton against an as-yet-undisclosed antagonist. We’ll run through some of the strongest villains who may contend for roles in the upcoming film. For the record, we’re leaving Darkseid off of this list, since he’s likely being saved for a Justice League sequel.
1. Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg’s quirky take on Superman’s arch-nemesis may not have wowed audiences, but the fact remains that he is the Man of Steel’s most famous foe. Having appeared in several Superman films previously, he isn’t the most original option for the upcoming film, but Batman v Superman clearly left the door wide open for Eisenberg to return, and a Man of Steel sequel makes the most sense. Of course, Warner Bros. could simply introduce us to Lex Luthor Sr. and forgo Eisenberg’s return altogether.
One of the most popular Superman villains to never appear on the big screen, Brainiac has gotten close before, as he was considered for the 1990s Superman film that never got made. The hyper-intelligent android has a history with Krypton and the ability to mimic Superman’s powers. So he could very well be a fitting follow-up to Zod (Michael Shannon) from the first film. His origin could even be tweaked to tie directly into the mythology that Zack Snyder’s 2013 release established. Brainiac is the most likely villain to appear in the next solo Superman adventure.
The Justice League film will give audiences their first true impression of the DC hero Cyborg, and Metallo represents a similar melding of man and machine. However, Metallo is powered by Kryptonite, making him a particularly dangerous enemy to Superman. Since Lex Luthor typically has some handy, it’s conceivable that a on the lam Luthor manages to provide Metallo with the power source he needs in exchange for offing the Man of Steel.
After criticisms of the mass destruction and overuse of CGI in the finales of both Man of Steel and Batman v Superman, maybe the last thing the next Superman solo film needs is to go just as big. Instead, why not go a bit smaller in scope? Some fans have complained that Superman doesn’t do enough to defend his city. So pitting him against the organized crime syndicate known as Intergang might do the trick. The criminals could still have Kryptonian technology (recovered from Zod’s men perhaps?) to pose a bigger threat, but the idea of Superman taking on a small army of armed thugs could be just the change of pace the DCEU needs.
This DC supervillain isn’t as well-known as some of the others on our list, but his ability to absorb the knowledge and energy of those he touches has tons of narrative potential for a Superman still trying to establish himself as Earth’s protector. Parasite’s abilities would pose a threat to both Superman’s crimefighting and Clark Kent’s personal life. Such a story could even dovetail into a variation of Bizarro, the evil doppelganger of Superman.
For a long while, DC and Warner Bros. have expressed interest in introducing this villain and eventual anti-hero. However, rather than introduce him straight-out in his own film, Lobo could come to blow with Superman first. This would give the studio a chance to see if audiences connect to the intergalactic bounty hunter before investing more heavily in his role as part of the DCEU. Simply have Lobo be hired by some mysterious force to take out the Man of Steel, and the sequel basically writes itself.
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