Is it a plane? Is it a bird? No, it's Superman! But which one? Since his creation in 1933, quite a number of renowned actors have played this iconic part, both in live action and animation, and some as early 1948. After 50 years of entertaining fans, we have seen the rise of many stars that have proudly draped upon their shoulders the iconic red cape and crest on their chests (the only two features that have remained constant with Superman's suits over the years). Each actor made his own Clark and Superman unique in their own way and today, on National Superman Day, I present to you 5 of the greatest actors I believe to ever have played the part.
1) Christopher Reeve- Superman (1978-1987)
Reeve really did put the steel in "man of steel." Back in 1978, playing the role of Superman was quite a stretch for the young actor and athlete. However, apart from his superb acting skills, Reeve's height, blue eyes and handsome features were what made him the definitive Superman. These were three specific characteristics directors of the time (and these days) were looking for in the perfect Superman. Reeve was the full package but he had one thing against him - he did not have the desired muscled physic. But that didn't stop him. Instead of wearing fake muscles he underwent an intensive two-month regime lead by David Prowse (the guy who played the masked Darth Vader). His will and determination paid off, making Christopher one of the most remembered Superman actors ever cast. Even after all these years, with accident and loss littering his past, Reeve continues to guest star in numerous other Superman related series such as Smalleville.
2) Dean Cain- Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997)
More commonly known as Lois and Clark, Dean Cain stole the show in the mid 1990s. The story focuses more on the relationship and romance that blossomed between Clark Kent and Lois Lane while, at the same time, juggling the alter ego of Superman. As the series proves, Superman may be unstoppable, but Clark isn't prone to such invulnerability. Taking occasions from real life and giving them a super twist, we can see how even the invulnerable Kryptonian is the victim of very human problems, like figuring out what to wear while fighting crime in Metropolis:
3)Tom Welling- Smallville (2001-2011)
We've got a lot of great actors who have played Superman over the years, but very few brought out the essence of Clark Kent as fantastically as Tom Welling did in Smallville. As the actor himself had said multiple times, Smallville isn't a story about Superman, but about the boy and the eventual man behind the name. Smallville is the story of Clark Kent and how he had to grow and control his powers which, let's admit it, was just as exciting to watch. That may be the reason why Smallville was, and still is, so famous. We get the opportunity to watch famous comic characters like Clark Kent and Lex Luther before either chose their respective paths. We got to see a side to the character we don't often, if ever, get to see - their more human side. And Welling was just the man for the role. For ten years audiences watched as Welling's Clark slowly, but surely, grew into the name of Superman - no spandex needed.
4) Brandon Routh- Superman Returns (2006)
Brandon Routh was still an unknown face in Hollywood when he was cast in Superman Returns. Back then, Brian Singer referred to him as the collective embodiment of all the collective Superman legacy. In addition to sharing an uncanny resemblance with Christopher Reeve, Brandon'd humble roots and beginning solidified that he was just the man for the part. Much like Reeve, Routh too had to bulk-up for the role, a task he succeeded quite well in, if I must say. Although the movie itself, Superman Returns, wasn't the box office hit people wished it to be, Brandon still managed to beat Hugh Jackman (Wolverine) to the Spike TV 'Best Superhero' reward. Although Routh's time in the red and blue tights was both epic but short-lived, he didn't retire from he superhero gig, having been cast as the hero ATOM in Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow. Routh's time with heroics is far from over.
5) Henry Cavill- Man of Steel (2013- )
The most recent addition to the Superman family, Henry Cavill, was finally the man to bring an end to the Superman underpants-on-the-outside-problem his predecessors had to to face. Cavill's Clark and Superman, although greatly influenced by the comics, are given a bit more of a modern flair, setting him apart from all past Supermen. Apart from facing-off against iconic Superman villains such as Zod and Lex, Cavill's Man of Steel has also had a number of death defying encounters with Batman and Wonder Woman, thus ushering in the dawn of the Justice League
So there you have it, five of the greatest actors ever to play the iconic role of Superman. However, although these, to me, were the most amazing and unforgettable, we cannot forget the rest who contributed to this great name just as much as the five mentioned above. Today is National Superman Day and we thus commemorate all the men that have ever had the opportunity and fortune to portray one of the most legendary comic heroes ever created.