A ‘Man of Steel 2' was never in doubt. Warner Bros. hopes Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot serves the same purpose as Jon Favreau’s ‘Iron Man,’ introducing movie-going audiences to a familiar hero while laying the groundwork for a larger comic-book universe to unfold on screen.

So now that Snyder’s ‘Man of Steel’ has opened in theaters, collecting an estimated $125 million in its debut weekend, we can turn our attention to the next step in Warner’s burgeoning D.C. Comics plan. Instead of 'Justice League' or a Batman-Superman team up, it sounds like we’re going to get a second standalone ‘Man of Steel’ film to further flesh out this new world.

Here’s what we know so far about ‘Man of Steel 2.’

Who Will Direct 'Man of Steel 2'?

Even before ‘Man of Steel’ opened, Warner announced that Snyder would be returning for 'Man of Steel 2,' and they he would be joined by screenwriter David S. Goyer. Now that ‘Steel’ has banked $125M, I’m sure that Warner is confident in its decision to back Snyder’s vision (even though critics were less than impressed by ‘Steel’).

Having continuity in the director’s chair only helps a franchise as it continues to find its legs. Snyder and Goyer likely had conversations about what they’d like to do next in a ‘Man of Steel’ sequel, and the fact that the creative team is staying on board means we hopefully can expect improvements in their second effort.

When will ‘Man of Steel 2’ Open?

As of right now, we don’t know for sure.

Realistically, a 'Man of Steel 2' should take until 2015 to open. But a Wall Street Journal report that surfaced late Sunday evening cites “knowledgeable people close to the studio” as saying the ‘Man of Steel’ sequel will be fast-tracked for a 2014 release date. It doesn’t specify when, but if I had to guess, I’d say Thanksgiving holiday or Christmas Day.

That’s an insane production schedule. Unless Snyder and Goyer have the framework in place for their next steps. At the very least, the director has the bulk of his cast locked up for ‘Man of Steel 2,’ meaning it will be much easier for the sequel’s production to hit the ground running.

Who Will Be the Villain?

This, too, is a mystery at the moment … though the number of allusions to Lex Luthor sprinkled throughout ‘Man of Steel’ suggest that Snyder and Goyer want to bring Kal-El’s chrome-domed nemesis into the fold.

On the press tour for ‘Man of Steel,’ Goyer broached the subject by saying to Crave Online:

Zack has said that, clearly, Lex Luthor is in this world, as is Wayne Industries, because you see – it’s only there for a second – but [the Wayne Industries logo] is on the satellite that Zod destroys.

Same thing. If Lex is going to exist in the world, we would presumably have to give him the same treatment that we gave Lois Lane in the first film, which is make him a credible character. He’s the corollary to being a good love interest; he’s gotta be a man of incredible intelligence, and presumably a man of incredible wealth and incredible resources.”

The plot of ‘Man of Steel’ leads beautifully into Luthor being the driving force of a sequel. Metropolis has just seen this alien, Superman, devastating their city in an attempt to stop a greater threat. They witnessed Superman murder his foe. Can’t you just see Luthor manipulating the good folks of Metropolis to turn them against Superman, as he often tries to do in the comics?

Luthor is your villain of choice, as well. The global terrorist leads our current poll of anticipated ‘Man of Steel 2' villains, beating out Doomsday, Brainiac and Darkseid, to name just a few.

But Lex isn’t set in stone just yet. And even though ‘Man of Steel’ is considered a success, it has a few more steps to take before it can launch an ‘Avengers’-style mash up of D.C. superhero entities.

What Does This Mean for a ‘Justice League’ Movie?

Alex Ross

Plans remain tentative, though that Wall Street Journal article that mentioned 2014 for ‘Man of Steel’ also says that a ‘Justice League’ movie, “featuring characters such as the Flash and Wonder Woman that could come out as soon as 2015.”

That’s insane.

Still, ‘Man of Steel’ producer Deborah Snyder told us in an interview that she recognizes the importance of Superman to the larger DC Universe.

You have to get him right first, I think, before you can work on anything else,” she said. “And if you get him right, it does set up the DC Universe, but I think you just have to go into it worrying about what you’re doing at that moment, and worrying about servicing this character and this story and then see what comes from there.

And Goyer has been busy sharing ideas with the press. Given the fact that he’s likely going to be the man who pens both ‘Man of Steel 2’ and a future ‘Justice League’ movie, when he talks, we listen.

On the red carpet for the ‘Man of Steel’ premiere, Goyer said that they made a brief reference in the movie to S.T.A.R. Labs, which points to the existence of Teen Titan leader Cyborg. On The Wrap, meanwhile, it’s suggested that Wonder Woman and Aquaman could be the next DC heroes to receive the standalone origin story treatment.

And, of course, the talk swirled around the return of Batman … in some way, shape or form.

A source told The Wrap, “Warner Bros. can do Justice League including Superman, Superman vs. Batman and another Superman. It opens up at least three different fronts of potential sequels with great synergy for the company in theme parks, licensing and all that."

As for Goyer, he admits that there will have to be a new Batman at some point, even though it will contradict what he and director Christopher Nolan (who produced ‘Man of Steel’) created in their own ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy.

It would be disingenuous to say Warner Bros. doesn't hope that this would be the starting point for a shared universe. And [Zack] Snyder has said that Bruce Wayne exists in this universe. It would be a different Bruce Wayne from Chris' The Dark Knight trilogy, and it would be disingenuous to say that Zack and I haven't had various conversations on set, around 'what if' and 'moving forward.


That having been said, it's all going to depend on the next few weeks. Warner Bros has hopes that there will be more Man of Steel films, and that this will be the beginning of a shared universe. We could meet Batman, or Wonder Woman, or the Justice League in these movies. But they all hinge on box office reception. If that happens, I would be happy, and nervous, to dive in. …


They're hoping that the film does well, but god forbid it doesn't, things will change. I don't know how many different iterations of Justice League they've tried to mount over the last decade or so. But for one reason or another they haven't happened. I think Warner Bros has seen, and Christ[opher Nolan] deserves the biggest credit for this, that we were able to revitalize Batman and put it into the first billion dollar superhero film. And they're hoping that Superman will be revitalized as well. And if we can do Batman and Superman, then maybe we can move on to Wonder Woman, and The Flash, and characters like that."

So yes, ‘Man of Steel’ and its immediate sequel likely mark the beginning of a much bigger plan. And if these reports prove true, we may see 'Man of Steel 2' in theaters by next year. Details are still coming together, but for the moment, the Man of Steel’s movie future looks bright.