Superman is one of the most well-known fictional characters of all time. The son of Krypton has been dazzling screens since 1948, and is sometimes referred to as the first superhero ever conceived.
Even after all these years, every time Clark Kent steps inside a phone booth, one can’t help but feel a tinge of anticipation.
Superman has always worn the same symbol of hope on his breast, though it hasn’t always been the same face. We’re taking a look at every live-action rendition of this timeless superhero today.
Kirk Alyn is number one.
Kirk Alyn will always be known as the first Superman. For the 1948 film Superman, Alyn played the Man of Steel. Two years later, in Atom Man vs. Superman, he repeated his role.
Richard Donner’s 1978 Superman film featured Alyn in an uncredited cameo role. Sadly, the seasoned actor died in 1999, having accumulated 68 acting credits.
George Reeves is number two on the list.
With the 1951 theatrical movie Superman and the Mole Men, Reeves resumed his career after the role of Superman. The film was eventually used as the pilot for his television series Adventures of Superman.
The show first aired in 1952 and ran for six seasons and 104 episodes before being cancelled in 1958. Reeves died the following year at the young age of 45, allegedly by suicide.
Ironically, his life story was later documented in Hollywoodland, with Ben Affleck (Batman V Superman) portraying Reeves.
Christopher Reeve (#3)
Following in the footsteps of Reeves, Reeve became the next son of Krypton. Reeve first played Superman in 1978’s Superman, and went on to star in the three sequels to the film, including 1980’s Superman 2, 1983’s Superman 3, and 1987’s Superman 4: The Quest for Peace.
He is frequently regarded the best rendition of the superhero to date, despite being the third name on this list. Unfortunately, the actor was paralyzed as a result of a horseback riding accident in 1995.
His acting career was cut short as a result of the catastrophe, and he spent the rest of his days as an advocate for spinal cord injury research. He died in 2004 when he was 52 years old.
4. Gerard Christopher & John Haymes Newton
It’s safe to argue that Superboy isn’t the most memorable Superman television show. The show followed Kent throughout his early years, as the name suggests, and aired on television for four seasons.
Newton was cast as the protagonistic lead for the first season, which aired in 1988, but was replaced by Christopher for the remaining three seasons. According to Screenrant, the show was canceled in part due to the creation of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman by ABC.
Dean Cain is number five.
Cain is one of the most memorable Supermen to appear on television. Teri Hatcher, who played Louis Lane, joined him onscreen.
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman aired for four seasons before being unexpectedly cancelled in 1997 due to an unfinished narrative thread.
Tom Welling, no. 6
As of this writing, Welling is the Superman actor who has seen the greatest screen time. Smallville lasted a whopping ten seasons, with a total of 217 episodes.
But, unlike most live-action Superman adaptations, this show focused on a young Kent discovering his ultimate destiny of being the world’s symbol of hope.
The actor was also recast as Superman in the Arrowverse’s Crisis on Infinite Earths crossover storyline.
Brandon Routh (#7)
With his 2006 film Superman Returns starring Routh, director Bryan Singer tries his hand at Superman. The film received positive reviews from critics and fans alike.
Despite this, the film was a financial disaster due to its large production expense. The film was a follow-up to Christopher Reeve’s Superman.
During the Arrowverse crossover, fans saw Routh as the legendary superhero once more. Ray Palmer, as The Atom, was a series regular on DC’s Arrow.
Henry Cavill (number 8)
With his breakthrough film Man of Steel in 2013, Cavill became the latest big-screen Superman. Cavill was Zack Snyder’s first choice for the DC Extended Universe.
Cavill also introduced the most substantial outfit change since Alyn’s time. After starring in the DCEU’s Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016, he returned for Justice League in 2017 and 2021.
Tyler Hoechlin (nine)
Hoechlin portrayed Superman on Supergirl and later on The Flash, Arrow, Legends of Tomorrow, and Batwoman as part of the DC Arrowverse.
He’s also been starring alongside Elizabeth Tulloch’s Louis Lane in the CW’s Superman & Lois since earlier this year.
Melissa Benoist receives an honorable mention.
Benoist has been playing Kara Danvers and her alter identity Supergirl on the CW’s Supergirl for six years, despite not being Superman.
The sixth season of the show is now airing.