From Kirk Alyn To Henry Cavill: The Many Faces Of Superman
Introduced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938, Superman turns 81 today. Over all those years, many actors have had the opportunity to depict the character onscreen, but only a select few have made a lasting impression. With that in mind, check out what we believe to be the five most memorable depictions of Superman in movies and TV—and find out when Season 2 of the Superman-centric Krypton will be premiering on Space here.
It took 10 years for an actor to portray Superman onscreen and that actor was Kirk Alyn, who played the Man of Steel in a late ’40s serial. Geared toward young audiences, this wasn’t just any serial—it was the most popular serial of all-time.
George Reeves has the double distinction of being the first actor to play Superman in a movie and a TV series. It all started with 1951’s Superman and the Mole-Men, which served as a kind of extended trailer for Adventures of Superman, the popular television series that ran from 1952 to 1958.
Easily the most iconic of all Supermen, Christopher Reeve played the character in a string of four movies from 1978 to 1987. While the last of these (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) was bad enough to kill the franchise, nearly two decades passed before any actor dared attempt to fill Reeve’s boots on the big screen.
Superman was relatively quiet in the ’90s, but Dean Cain had a respectable run as the character in four seasons of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. However, Tom Welling earned significantly more acclaim and success playing a pre-cape Clark Kent in the long-running Smallville.
Brandon Routh attempted to bring Superman back to theatres in 2006, but his film (Superman Returns) was met with a mix of indifference and outright disdain. Seven years later, Henry Cavill had more success with Man of Steel, a darkly revisionist take on the character that stripped him of his iconic innocence.