Best known for his role as Charles Brandon on Showtime's "The Tudors," Cavill, 27, will take on the iconic role in director Zach Snyder's film, which is expected to hit theaters in December 2012.
In a statement, Cavill expressed his delight at being cast in the role, which was previously held by the late Christopher Reeve in four feature films in the 1970s and 1980s and Brandon Routh in Bryan Singer's 2006 film "Superman Returns."
"In the pantheon of superheroes, Superman is the most recognized and revered character of all time, and I am honored to be a part of his return to the big screen," Cavill said.
The announcement marks the third time in the past six years that a British actor has taken on the cinematic role of an American comic book hero: Welshman Christian Bale landed the part of Batman in 2005 and Brit Andrew Garfield has been cast as the new Spiderman.
Speaking with Deadline.com, a Warner Brothers executive outlined why Cavill was selected for the role.
"He's got an amazing quality. He doesn't look too much like Reeve and Routh but he's big and strong and he has a very modern feel to him [...] We're really going to try and make Superman as contemporary as possible," the executive said.
Cavill was in the running to portray the Man of Steel in the 2006 re-boot, but was replaced by Routh after Singer took over the project from director McG, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Action movie fans who are unfamiliar with Cavill will become more acquainted with the actor after this November's "Immortals" is released, where he will portray the mythical Theseus in an ensemble cast that includes Mickey Rourke, John Hurt and Stephen Dorff.