April 21, 2013 at 07:38 PM EDT

Henry Cavill had nearly 75 years of Superman comics to consider before putting on the red cape, but four books in particular from the character’s recent history helped him shape Man of Steel.

“I read as much as I could, purely because I wanted to get a great reservoir of knowledge from the source material,” Cavill tells EW. “There are so many different representations of the character that it was easy to draw a baseline and pick and choose some flavors. They’re all facets and aspects of the same character, so you’ve just got to combine them and can play around with them and apply it to the script.”

As we await Man of Steel’s arrival on June 14, here are the books Cavill cited as strong influences on his approach to Superman’s psyche:

• The Death of Superman (1992)

• The Return of Superman (1993)

• Superman: Red Son (2003)

• Superman/Batman: The Search for Kryptonite (2008)

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