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Who's your favourite Superman? We ranked all the actors to play him on film (including the new one)

David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan
David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan Copyright AP
Copyright AP
By Katy Dartford with AP
Published on Updated
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Who's your favourite Superman? With the new cast announcement for the upcoming 'Superman: Legacy', we count down our favourite actors to wear the cape.

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Actors David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan have been cast to play Superman and Lois Lane in the upcoming film Superman: Legacy.

There has been much speculation over who would fill Superman’s shoes after Henry Cavill was dropped from the superhero franchise last year.

The film, due for release in the summer of 2025, is part of an ambitious 10-year plan to revamp the DC superhero brand. 

Superman: Legacy, deals with the superhero’s journey to make sense of both his Kryptonian alien heritage and his small-town, midwestern upbringing as Clark Kent.

Superman through the ages

Only three actors have ever played Superman on the big screen, others have played the superhero on the radio or in mini-series, such as 'Superboy' (1988), 'The Adventures of Superboy' (1989-1991), 'Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman' (1993-1997) and 'Smallville' (2001-2011).

With the news of Corenswet's casting, we thought we'd rank the four actors who have put on the red and blue suit. 

4. Brandon Routh

Superman Returns (2006) and Crisis on Infinite Earth (2015)

Someone had to come in last place. 

Routh was the first live-action Superman on the big screen after Christopher Reeves' final appearance in 1987. It's safe to say, he had big shoes to fill. Superman Returns flopped financially, despite good reviews from critics. But Routh's less physical man of action portrayal did earn him a following and he made the role his own with his more thoughtful Superman, who was haunted by his own decisions about his personal life and his position as the Last Son of Krypton.

3. David Corenswet

Superman: Legacy (2025)

It's only third place on this list for Corenswet. He certainly looks the part, hence placing above Routh, but before we see him in action, he won't be flying any higher. 

Corenswet reportedly won the role over the likes of Nicholas Hoult and Tom Brittney. The 29-year-old Philadelphia native starred in Ryan Murphy’s Netflix series 'The Politician' and 'Hollywood', as an aspiring actor. He more recently played a theatre owner who gets mixed up with Mia Goth’s aspiring actress in Ti West’s Pearl.

His Lois Lane will be played by Rachel Brosnahan who recently concluded her run leading 'The Marvelous Mrs Maisel' for five seasons. Her portrayal of Midge Maisel earned her an Emmy and two Golden Globe awards. Emma Mackey and Phoebe Dynevor were among the actors reportedly also testing for the Lois Lane role.

2. Henry Cavill

Man of Steel (2013) Batman v. Superman (2016), Justice League (2017)

More Superman than someone in a suit, Henry Cavill didn't spend much time as the bespectacled Clark Kent, but Cavill did strike a balance between Reeve’s serene and Routh's haunted version of the action hero.

Despite his chiselled looks and incredible physique, Cavill's grittier Superman could punch people through buildings when needed but also show emotion: from humour to anguish, he gave a more passionate, psychological performance.

Is there any actor working today that looks more like the chiselled cultivated symbol of American machismo than Cavill? The films he's appeared in may not have always been well received, but the British actor was a clear personification of the Superhero archetype.

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1. Christopher Reeve

Superman: The Movie (1978), Superman II (1980), Superman III (1983), Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987)

It couldn't have been anyone else. The most wholesome Superman, and arguably the best-known, Christopher Reeve only wore the cape for four films, starting with the 1978 Superman: The Movie.

Stage-trained Reeve had also trained as a pilot which may have helped make his flying sequences more convincing. Most impressive was his ability to turn his 6-foot-four-inch frame into Clark Kent with just a pair of glasses and an ill-fitting suit. 

A 1995 horse riding accident left Reeve paralyzed from the shoulders down, and he used a wheelchair and ventilator for the rest of his life. 

Reeve was also an activist for environmental and human-rights causes and after his accident, he lobbied for spinal injury research. He also returned to creative work appearing in the Superman-themed television series 'Smallville'.

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Reeve died in 2004. 

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