In the eighty-four years since the comic book character Superman was created, there have been seven actors to portray the Man of Steel in movies and television shows (ten if you count the actors that played the titular role in the ‘80s show Superboy and Tom Welling who played Clark Kent in the ten-season run of Smallville). Which of them is the favorite among fans varies on who you ask. Here is a rundown of each actor who has stepped into the role of the iconic character.
Kirk Alyn played the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman in film serials for Columbia Pictures, Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950). Both serials were 15 chapters. After starring in the serials, Alyn faced casting problems. When he was offered to play Superman in the ABC television series, Adventures of Superman, Alyn disgustingly turned it down. Alyn appeared in Superman: The Movie (1978) as Lois Lane’s father.
Hotness rating: Inconclusive
George Reeves would be the actor to play the Man of Steel in Adventures of Superman from 1952-1958. Prior to landing the role, Reeves played Stuart Tarleton in Gone With The Wind and many other roles. Reeves was on his way to stardom playing the male lead in So Proudly We Hail! in 1943 but being drafted into the war brought his career to a halt. After trying in vain to recapture the level of fame he achieved pre-war, Reeves pursued a course change from film to television, where he would land the role of Clark Kent/ Superman in the ABC series for six years. Like Kirk Alyn, Reeves would end up typecast as Superman. On June 16, 1959, police found Reeves in his home naked and dead from a gunshot wound. While Reeves’ death was ruled a suicide, there has been speculation that he was actually murdered.
Hotness rating: Inconclusive
Christopher Reeve was the most well-known actor to portray the last son of Krypton. Reeve would land the dual role of Clark Kent and Superman for the Richard Donner film, Superman: The Movie (1978). Reeve was 24 years old when he was cast as Superman, making him the youngest actor cast in the role.
While Reeve did not have the body at the time to play Superman, he worked out to bulk up for the role.
Unlike his predecessors, Reeve did not end up typecast as the superhero. After the success of Superman: The Movie, Reeve was offered scripts for action films but turned them all down and ended up choosing Somewhere in Time, a romantic fantasy with Jane Seymour. Reeve would go on to play Superman in Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), and Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987).
On May 27, 1995, Reeve’s life would change due to an equestrian accident causing a severe spinal cord injury that would leave him paralyzed from the neck down and unable to breathe without a ventilator.
Hotness rating: 9 (out of 10)
A very shirtless Christopher Reeve in DEATHTRAP ('82) pic.twitter.com/lTlkvK3HCS
— TCM (@tcm) March 6, 2017
John Haymes Newton/ Gerard Christopher
John Haymes Newton would play a teenage Clark Kent and Superboy in the first season of the syndicated show, Superboy.
Newton would be replaced by Gerard Christopher, who would play the titular character to the end of the show’s four-season run.
Hotness rating: Newton 7, Christopher 7.5
Superman would return to ABC via Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Former football player turned actor Dean Cain would land the role of Clark Kent/ Superman. Lois & Clark would focus more on the Superman story in the romantic comedy format. The show lasted for four seasons.
Years after playing Superman, Dean Cain became a vocal supporter of the Republican Party and President Donald Trump. Thinking of himself as the authority on Superman, Cain has spoken out against the new Superman in the comics (who is the son of the original) coming out as bisexual.
Hotness rating: During show run 8, Present Day 0
The Superman story would return to television in a different way in 2001 with the WB Network’s Smallville, which focused on Clark Kent, played by Tom Welling before he became Superman. Smallville had a successful ten-season run without having Welling put on the iconic Superman suit. Fans of the series would get a small glimpse of him sporting the iconic costume in the last shot of Smallville’s series finale.
Hotness rating: 9
Superman would return to the silver screen nineteen years later in Bryan Singer’s 2006 film, Superman Returns. Playing the Daily Planet reporter/ Man of Steel was Brandon Routh, an unknown actor who had a striking similarity to Christopher Reeve. While’s Routh’s portrayal of Superman was deemed positive, plans for a sequel to Superman Returns fell through.
Eight years later, Routh was cast as Ray Palmer/ The Atom on CW’s Arrow and eventually, in the spinoff show, Legends of Tomorrow. Routh would get another shot a playing Superman in the CW’s crossover event for its superhero shows, Crisis on Infinite Earths, in 2019.
Hotness rating: 8.5
In 2011, production began on a rebooted Superman movie with British actor Henry Cavill landing the coveted role, and in 2013, Man of Steel was released with high praise for Cavill’s portrayal of Superman. The British actor would reprise the dual role of Clark Kent/ Superman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. After the latter film, Cavill’s chances of playing Superman in any future DC Universe film were up in the air, however, there is a high-profile star pushing for Cavill to carry on as the Man of Steel.
Hotness rating: 10
Henry Cavill as Clark Kent/ Superman in Justice league pic.twitter.com/YWwkjOv9B8
— anna loves henry (@goldencavill) January 24, 2022
Superman would make his way back to television four years after Smallville ended, but he wouldn’t get his own show until 2021. When the show, Supergirl started in 2015, the first season would make passing references to Superman. The second season would bring Superman in played by Teen Wolf’s Tyler Hoechlin. Hoechlin would make a few appearances as Clark Kent/ Superman not only in Supergirl but in a few other episodes and crossovers in the CW’s Arrowverse including Crisis of Infinite Earths which would lead to Hoechlin co-starring in his own show, Superman & Lois, which will return in 2023.
Hotness rating: 9
— Tyler Hoechlin Updates (@updatesofth) September 15, 2022
Who is your favorite Superman? Who do you think is the hottest Superman? Let us know in the comments or on our social media accounts.
Writer’s Note: This article contains the opinions of one contributing writer and may not reflect the views of Instinct Magazine itself or fellow contributors