The 5 Best Actors To Play Superman

Everyone loves the Superman. He’s one of the most identifiable superheroes that was ever created.  Not quite as cool as Batman or Wolverine, Superman is the epitome of everything that is good and wholesome.  Through the years, several actors have portrayed this American icon who was created by a couple of Jewish kids from Cleveland, Ohio.  Here are my favorite actors to dawn the costume of this famous Kryptonian.

Christopher Reeve
The Superman of the movie series that started in the 1970s, this fellow who most people recognize as the movie superhero.  Although not originally a fan of Superman, he learned the part by watching our number four Superman (George Reeves – who was no relation to Christopher).  Standing at 6’4″ tall and having piercing blue eyes, Reeve looked the part of the caped do-gooder, but he was woefully too think to fill out the spandex suit.  The creators did not want him wearing fake muscles, so Reeve worked out with British weightlifter, David Prowse (the body behind Darth Vader from Star Wars).  He put on 30 pounds of muscle for the part and flew into our lives in Superman: The Movie (1978), then again in Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987).  Of the four, only the first two films are worth watching.  Reeve, an avid equestrian, was injured in a riding accident in 1995, which left him a paraplegic.  Reeve died in 2004.

Dean Cain
In 1993, ABC decided to bring Superman back to television with Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman with Dean Cain in the role of the Man of Steel.  Teri Hatcher starred as his love interest Lois Lane.  What made this series interesting were the Beverly Hills:90210 approach to the Superman story in which all of the actors were good-looking people and the way Superman wasn’t the primary focus.  Each episode starred Cain portraying mainly Clark Kent – not Superman.  Superman would appear at least once each episode, but the storyline centered mainly on the love interest between the two reporters. The show lasted for four seasons.

Tom Welling
Tom is the second person on our list to appear as a television Superman.  In this instance, he stars in the WB series and later, the CW, Smallville (2001-present).  Welling has taken on the role of Clark Kent for the longest time in the Superman franchise history.  The tenth season will be the season finale.   The show takes place in the fictional town of Smallville, which is a rural suburb of Metropolis.  Clark Kent is a high school student for the first four seasons who later goes on to live in Metropolis and start his career as a superhero.  For the majority of the series, Kent knows he is an alien with super powers, but lacks the ability to fly.  This is later given to him as he grows older.  Other DC superheroes appear in the series, such as Green Arrow and Aquaman, which have led into less-successful spin-offs.  Tom Welling plays a great part as Clark Kent and the longevity of the role, alone, gives him a place on this list.

George Reeves
The Superman of the 1950s.  Reeves, a movie actor, reluctantly took the role of Superman in The Adventures of Superman, because he felt that no one really watched television (a common thought during the time period).  After the first season of the show, he found that he was extremely popular amongst children who made him an icon of popular culture.  The role of Superman started with a full-length feature film, called Superman vs. the Mole Men (1951).  It’s success led to the television series.  However, Reeves hated that he was typecast as a child’s icon and dreamed for bigger roles – something that never came about. At the age of 45, he supposedly committed suicide in his home during a party, which led to the theory of a “Superman Curse” (which also supposedly affected Christopher Reeve).  Some say that he didn’t kill himself and that he was murdered by the jealous husband of his long-term girlfriend.  The mystery goes onto this day.

Brandon Routh
The newest edition to the Superman saga, Routh gained the role in the 2006 film, Superman Returns.  The movie was panned by critics and fans alike for its Christ-like imagery and flat acting, but when compared to Superman III and IV; this was a masterpiece.  He was chosen for the role of Superman because director Bryan Singer (X-Men and The Usual Suspects) thought he looked like Christopher Reeve, which was the public’s collective consciousness of what Superman looked like.  While he was originally supposed to play the role in three films, after low box office turnout, this idea was scrapped.  Since then, after the success of Batman: The Dark Knight, this plan may have been placed back on the table.  I love the Superman series and I hope this does happen.

Other People To Play Superman:
Kirk Alyn: Movie, Superman (1948), Atom Man vs. Superman (1950)
Gerald Christopher: Television, Superboy (1988-1992)
Ray Middleton: First appearance of a costumed Superman (New York World’s Fair) 1940
Clayton “Bud” Collyer: Radio, The Superman Radio Show (1941-1949) The first radio voice of Superman
Michael Fitzmaurice: Radio, Comic Book Superhero: Superman (1950-1951)
Bob Holliday: Broadway, It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman! (1966)
David Wilson: Broadway, It’s a Bird! It’s a Plane! It’s Superman! (1975)
Tim Daly: Cartoon, Superman: The Animated Series (1999) Best known as Joe Hackett on TV’s Wings