The Men of Steel
Just like Batman and Bond many actors throughout the decades have tried their hand at being the amazing man from Krypton, Superman. Each of them has brought something unique and defining to the role of the Man of Steel and have had a unique hand in shaping Superman and bringing the character to a mass audience for each generation.
Kirk Alyn: The first actor to bring Superman to bring Superman to the big screen to a mass audience. Early on, the actor understood how to utilize Clark Kent as a proper disguise and portrayed Kent and Superman as two completely different people. Sadly despite his great turn as the character Alyn became the first of many actors to become type cast as a result of playing Superman.
Max and Michael Fleisher: This may be animation and the Fleishers did not actually voice the character but they did give life to this no nonsense war time era take on the character. The version of Superman in these beloved animated shorts rarely uttered a word and instead preferred to do all his talking with his fists, so in a way the Fleisher’s communicated the stories with visual language rather than audible. In order to make his feats of heroism even greater no expense was spared in creating a visually lavish world full of over the top villains and monsters for him to face.
George Reeves: After the Second World War and the controversy from the book Seduction of the Innocent, the initiative was taken to make Superman a much milder and wholesome character. In the comics Superman stories took on a whimsical science fiction take and on television George Reeves gave audiences on televison a friendly and amiable take on the Man of Steel. Being the first Superman to proclaim that he fought for Truth, Justice, and the American Way, which Cold War audiences found reassuring. A lack of budget meant that Superman fought gangsters instead of Braniac and Bizzaro but Reeves did it with great gusto despite the fact he hated the position the role put his career in.
Christopher Reeve: To this day he is the one many think about when they think of Superman, with the look of a Curt Swan sketch come to life and more than enough screen presence to keep the film exciting Reeve proved perfect for the role. Reeve came at a time when movie heroes looked like the jaded Travis Bickle, the roguish Han Solo or the tragic and ruthless Michael Corleone and he made it cool to like the classic flawless Superman. Through four films and many years Reev stayed with the role and became forever linked with the Superman mythos and image of him flashing a smile to the audience as he flew above the earth will forever be ingrained in the memory of movie fans.
Dean Cain: It was the 1990’s and Superman needed a sexy update so in came Dean Cain who along with Terri Hatcher modernized the Superman lore. Doing battle with a Lex Luthor who had hair and finally marrying Lois Lane, this Supes did it all with the panache and glamour of 90’s hedonism.
Tom Welling: When Superman returned to television it was time to take things into a new direction; rather than focusing on the Man of Steel stopping giant robots from destroying the planet, Smallville focused on a young Clark Kent in Kansas growing and maturing into the role he was meant to have. Over a period of ten years through highs and lows, fans got to watch as a young Tom Welling portrayed an evolving Clark Kent learning the ropes in order to fulfill his destiny.
Brandon Routh: One thing shined in Brian Singer’s overly reverent Superman Returns and that’s Brandon Routh as Clark Kent/Superman. Routh cranked up the mild mannered everyman type qualities of Clark Kent while still pulling off a convincing Superman, it’s just a shame he was not given much to do as the actual Man of Steel besides spy on Lois Lane and lift heavy things because he could have made for a very memorable Superman.