When Cavill was cast as Superman in 2011 for Snyder's first DC movie - which wasn't yet the true founding stone for what would be called the DCEU - he was largely unknown outside of playing Charles Brandon in The Tudors. His film work amounted to smaller parts in the likes of Stardust and Hellraiser: Hellworld, but his Man Of Steel casting would turn him into a major player. Or it should have. While Cavill managed to avoid the supposedly career-ending, so-called "Superman curse" that had killed Brandon Routh's progress after Superman Returns, he flirted perilously with fading into obscurity as the biggest casualty of the DCEU.
So how did Henry Cavill manage to escape both the Superman curse and the impact of Batman v Superman to become a legitimately well-loved actor suggested as one of the real possibilities to take over from Daniel Craig as James Bond? The answer, incredibly, lies with an infamous mustache, a white wig and Tom Cruise.
Though Cavill has always been a good Superman, his faltering profile wasn't without evidence. On the back of his announcement as Superman, Cavil's next projects were the divisive Immortals and the critically panned The Cold Light Of Day, and any goodwill Man Of Steel picked up was still built on shaky foundations. Add to that the reception of Batman v Superman, which Ben Affleck won the lion's share of plaudits for, the frankly baffling apathy to the excellent The Man From UNCLE's release and then the mediocre Sand Castle and the suggestion that Cavill may be struggling to live up to such high-profile casting wasn't without some merit. On paper, Superman was becoming an albatross around the neck of an actor failing to make a hugely positive impact. But then came Mission: Impossible - Fallout.
Not only was Cavill's performance as August Walker a great part of the best Mission: Impossible film to date - instantly elevating his cool rating - it also provided the actor with a Teflon-coated alibi. The saga of his mustache culminated in stunningly dramatic fashion with a digitally unsheathed top lip that became the poster-child for Justice League's many problems. It was a rush job for the ages, it looked terrible and it was emblematic of Warner Bros. disastrous decision to get Justice League out no matter what. All of a sudden, Cavill was handed a get out of jail free card that meant he could probably do anything in Justice League and fans would say Zack Snyder's plans were always.
From there, Cavill's career choices were inspired. While his casting in The Witcher raised eyebrows and the first reveal of Cavill's Geralt was met with harsh criticism (partly thanks to competing with Joker's first look), his performance is legitimately excellent (and often better than the series overall). Add to that Zack Snyder's inspired slow dripfeed of information on what his Superman would have looked like in Justice League and Cavill turning up in Netflix's Enola Holmes as a new take on Sherlock Holmes and his personal brand as an actor is as strong now as it was shaky a few years ago. A second Man Of Steel movie with Cavill in place is now right at the top of fans' DCEU future movie wishlist. Ironically, the actor has arguably become as bulletproof as his superhero alter-ego. If he's cast as Bond - despite the strong rumors that the job is Tom Hardy's already - Henry Cavill's rise to beloved actor will be complete. And it's hard to argue he hasn't worked for it.