The Outsourced Superhero
Superman-in-waiting Henry Cavill stands for truth, justice, and the not-actually-American way.

In the age of globalization, the Justice League looks more and more like the League of Nations. Consider: Today, Batman and Spider-Man are British; Thor and Wolverine are Australian; Green Hornet, Arrow, and Lantern are Canadian. The latest, and most conspicuous, to join the ranks of outsourced superheroes is Henry Cavill, the 29-year-old star of next summer's Zack Snyder–directed Superman opus, Man of Steel—the quintessential American icon, now portrayed by a native of England's quaint Channel Island of Jersey. Smallville it ain't.

"I suppose it's a fluke," says Cavill, who lives in London. "It's about who looks right for the character and for the generation it's being cast for. If you only look at the American market, you're narrowing down your options an awful lot. The point of acting is to pretend you're someone else and sell a story. Chris Hemsworth is an Australian man, not a god from Asgaard. It would be even more fluke-y if every person who was playing a superhero was American."

Cavill, until now known for his costume-heavy roles in Showtime's The Tudors and last year's Immortals, has had a long time to brace for this moment—he was slated for McG's proposed Superman reboot in 2004, before Bryan Singer took over and hired Brandon Routh. (Also runner-up to Daniel Craig in the last Bond hunt, Cavill is a seasoned bridesmaid.) "Who's to say I'd have handled this any differently at 22?" he says. "But I got to make my mistakes and do my silly stuff without having a camera pointed at me in secret." And while he longs to balance this franchise that could eat up the next decade of his life with other, possibly lower-profile projects, he doesn't blink at the rumors that he will be cast as Christian in the film version of Fifty Shades of Grey. "Whether that happens, that decision will be made at the time it has to be made," he says with the measured tones of someone who knows his way around a Hollywood gag order. "It would be a very different kind of thing than Man of Steel."

In the meantime, he waits. Cavill is excited to talk about Snyder's naturalistic Superman, which he says is positively Christopher Nolanesque—to the extent he's allowed. "I don't mean anything against the movies and TV shows that have come before, because they were of their time, but this is epically cool. People in the past have criticized the character for being a bit chocolate-box, a bit vanilla, and this is not that—at all. The lore is there that we're drawing from, but to create something from that which is reflective of life today—that's the trick."

And when living in London without fear of secret cameras becomes impossible in a few months? "I'm sure I'll have to find someplace quieter," he says. "My fortress of solitude." Maybe even in America.

Henry Cavill, 29
Credit check: Actor, Man of Steel
The daily planet: "The theme now is realism. We see so much on the news that's gruesome, to put Superman in the realm of fantasy, people won't buy it. And you want people to believe the story you're selling."

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