With the return of Superman to the little screen in the form of Tyler Hoechlin on Supergirl and Henry Cavill as the big blue wonder on the big screen, I thought it would be prudent to do a roundup of all the actors who have ever played the boyscout ranked in the order of greatness.
Note that these accounts will rank not only superman portrayals but also the portrayal of Clark Kent, his alter ego.
5. Dean Cain (Lois And Clark)
This series was....ok I guess. While certain portrayals such as those of Jimmy Olsen in the first season were able to gain a cult following, my main problem with this series is the focus on Lois and Clarks relationship with a weird triangle with Superman. While Lois Lane has always been central to the Superman mythos, she is not the be all end all of Superman. The rest of the adventures seemed as if centred around rather than the main focus of the series which was unfortunately the relationship. Plus some of the villains were god awful.
The limitations of the CGI made some of the powers look pathetic too. However we did get to see the black suit which was a bonus and probably the first and only time we'll get to see the suit.
And the portrayal of Clark was spot on, meeting the requirements of look and feel.
4 Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
I genuinely wanted to give this superman a higher ranking. Unfortunately, he was limited by his movie which was pathetic and boring. Superman returns could have captured everything we needed from the mythos of the return. There was no black suit, the Superman was a bit too emo in certain scenes and the whole premise with crystals and such was a bit poor creative thinking. While the lack of action was a problem, I think what ultimately failed this depiction was that it made superman far too blind to everything around him except Lois. Plus the fact that Lex breached the Fortress of Solitude was something I've never seen in any comic or animated series. This superman is dark and doesn't joke around at all but it's a forced dark not genuine dark tone. Not to mention that Superman has always been somewhat of a lighter character than most. Powers were really shown well, the new techniques would show Superman in all his glory as never before, as this movie came directly after the Christopher Reeve movies and was able to exploit new CGI really well. The space shuttle plane scenes and the bullet in eye scene are really iconic.
However Clark was limited in this movie and couldn't really get the feel of a bumbling farmboy from Smallville rather, it felt like Superman was wearing a bunch of new clothes and that was it.
3 Tom Welling (Smallville)
This was one of the best, if not the best portrayals of Superman and Clark Kent. With 10 seasons and an 11th on comic books, this was one for the books. Each power from heat vision to freeze breadth were explored in detail with the implications of said powers discussed. Superman is not all-powerful or all-knowing and it's the humanity of the character that really makes us truly admire him. His growth and character development are amazing. The producers tried to stick with the original concept of Superman and limited flight till the very end. The rule was no flights and no tights. We also see the development of a mini Justice League with characters such as Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg. There are deep emotional conflicts and traumas as Clark tries to discover who he is and deals with the fallout from the kryptonite that lands with him. Nearly all the villains such as Brainiac and Luthor, even Doomsday, show up and this was probably the most comic book accurate portrayal.
The only bad points were that the graphics have become really dated and the Superman was never seen fully in his suit even by the end of the series, only brief glimpses.
2. Henry Cavill (Man Of Steel / Batman V Superman)
Henry Cavill is the Superman of our time. No movie has fully portrayed the implications of Superman than BvS and no movie has shown us a real life Superman properly than Man of Steel. The former movie perfects his origin in the prologue while showing his conflict and character development in glimpses inot the past. Henry Cavill worked out to obtain the body of Superman. It is not CGI or cardboard and it shows. He battles with his past and future on the planet. Clark wasn't dealt with well in the first movie but the second shows that side too and its a pretty good portrayal. There are of course issues.
Now personally, I don't have a problem with Superman killing Zod for the greater good. It has been done in the comics and the Richard Donner cut of Superman 2. However, unfortunately our recent comics and movies have made superman somewhat of a goody two shoes so thus people were bound to have problems. Plus he's somewhat slow mentally when it comes to Batman Vs Superman. But the emotions, actions and work that went into this character is something of legends.
1. Christopher Reeve (Superman I, II , III & IV)
Reeve is Superman. He perfected the character as no one has and no one sense. His Superman is caring, powerful and remarkable for his humanity. Perhaps our great liking for him results from him being the first live action superman to gain such popular following or cult status. His superman has fought his own demons and the demons Lex produces. His Clark Kent is the best of all and there is real difference between him and Superman. While there were some campy features in Superman II, if you view the Richard Donner cut you would know even this Superman is not afraid to kill for the greater good.
It's not a perfect portrayal. There is campiness and the characters are in black and white with no shades of grey in between. The powers and CGI are truly dated by our standards today. However all its cheesiness aside,he is my favorite Superman and I do believe most people's.
What do you think? Do you agree with this order? Read and comment.