Every actor who's played Superman, ranked from worst to best

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  • Superman is one of the most beloved characters ever put on screen.

  • Over the years, 11 actors have played him on TV or in the movies.

  • We ranked them all from worst to best.

11. Brandon Routh ("Superman Returns," 2006)

Brandon Routh in "Superman Returns."
Brandon Routh in "Superman Returns."Warner Bros.

Routh had the deck stacked against him from the moment he put that "S" on his chest.

Playing the first Superman on the big screen since Christopher Reeve played the character in the 1980s, audiences suddenly had to adapt to a new actor in the role.

With a par-for-the-course movie, plus Routh's performance hardly giving audiences a "wow" factor, his Superman is pretty forgettable.

It also didn't help that Routh was one-and-done with the character.

10. Dean Cain ("Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" TV show, 1993)

Dean Cain as Superman.
Dean Cain as Superman.Timothy White/Disney/Getty

Playing the character for four seasons, Cain certainly had the look and great chemistry with Teri Hatcher as Lois Lane.

What doesn't help his case is the show's corny TV sitcom vibe, which made him feel more like a TV dad than a superhero.

 

9. Channing Tatum ("The Lego Movie," 2014; "The Lego Batman Movie," 2017; "The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part," 2019)

Channing Tatum voices Superman in "The Lego Movie" franchise.
Channing Tatum voices Superman in "The Lego Movie" franchise.Warner Bros. Pictures

Tatum's overexaggerated and ego-filled portrayal of the superhero is fun and perfect for "The Lego Movie" franchise.

8. Kirk Alyn ("Superman" TV show, 1948)

Kirk Alyn as Superman.
Kirk Alyn as Superman.YouTube screencap

Having the distinction as the first actor to ever portray Superman in a live-action work, Alyn was so synonymous with the character that when the serial first came out in theaters, his name didn't even appear on the screen.

The 15 episodes, which played in theaters before the main feature — a sequel serial, Atom Man vs. Superman," followed in 1950 — laid the foundation of how we would see the character on-screen for the decades to follow: a beefy actor with striking looks and a proper attitude.

7. George Reeves ("Adventures of Superman" TV show, 1952; "The Flash," 2023)

George Reeves as Superman.
George Reeves as Superman.YouTube screencap

Reeves' TV portrayal leaned heavily on the "American way" vibe of the character, which led to major popularity for the show and for the actor.

6. Bud Collyer ("The New Adventures of Superman" animated TV show, 1966)

Bud Collyer voiced Clark Kent and Superman in “The New Adventures of Superman.”
Bud Collyer voiced Clark Kent and Superman in “The New Adventures of Superman.”CBS/Getty

Collyer was the voice of Clark Kent and Superman in the 1940s for the radio series "The Adventures of Superman." Thanks to the popularity of Alyn and Reeves in the role, Collyer was called upon to take on the character again, this time in animated form.

The Sunday-morning cartoon was a fixture at family houses for four seasons. Collyer would portray Superman differently from Kent by making his voice deeper when he was the superhero.

5. Nicolas Cage ("The Flash," 2023)

Test shots of Nicolas Cage as Superman.
Test shots of Nicolas Cage as Superman.YouTube screencap

OK, we know that Cage never really got to play Superman, as his casting as the Man of Steel in Tim Burton's "Superman Lives" got only as far as photos of the actor in the iconic suit during preproduction before Warner Bros. scrapped the whole thing.

In "The Flash," we get a glimpse of Cage as Superman while Barry Allen races through the multiverse.

So somewhere, we guess, "Superman Lives" is a reality, which means producer Jon Peters' vision of Superman battling a giant spider also came to fruition. And we also have to assume that the combination of Cage and Burton on the project was magic.

It's hard to imagine Cage as Superman not being memorable.

4. Tyler Hoechlin ("Supergirl" TV show, 2016; "The Flash" TV show, 2018; "Arrow" TV show, 2018; "Batwoman" TV show, 2019; "Legends of Tomorrow" TV show, 2020; "Superman & Lois" TV show, 2021)

Tyler Hoechlin as Superman.
Tyler Hoechlin as Superman.CW

Hoechlin has the distinction of being the actor who's played Superman in more projects than anyone else on this list, so he certainly knows how to play the part.

On his latest show, "Superman & Lois," he's still doing a worthy job.

3. Tom Welling ("Smallville" TV show, 2001)

Tom Welling as Superman.
Tom Welling as Superman.The CW

Playing a young Clark Kent for 10 seasons, Welling became a fixture for Superman fans and was perfect in portraying a young man trying to figure out who he really is.

2. Henry Cavill ("Man of Steel," 2013; "Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice," 2016; "Justice League," 2017; Zack Snyder's Justice League," 2021; "Black Adam," 2022; "The Flash," 2023)

Henry Cavill as Superman.
Henry Cavill as Superman.Warner Bros.

Love or hate the movies he was in, you can't argue that Cavill had the look and right performance to play the character convincingly in the world we live in today.

1. Christopher Reeve ("Superman," 1978; "Superman II," 1980; "Superman III," 1983; "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace," 1987; "The Flash," 2023)

Christopher Reeve as Superman.
Christopher Reeve as Superman.Handout/Reuters

From that smile to the bumbling way he played Clark, and, of course, how he flew, Reeve was born to play Superman.

It also helped that the first two movies in the franchise he was a part of are up there as the best superhero movies ever made.

In many ways, we're still looking for an actor who can fully embody the Superman character on screen the way Reeve did.

And, honestly, we might never find one.

Read the original article on Insider