On Wednesday morning, The Hollywood Reporter broke the news that after talks surrounding a Superman cameo in Shazam! broke down between Henry Cavill and Warner Bros., “the door is now closing on other potential Superman appearances.” The report went on to detail how Warner Bros. and DC will now most likely shift focus to a Supergirl movie, eliminating the need for Cavill to appear in any DC films for the foreseeable future. “Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors,” a source told the outlet. Who should that new actor be? The staff of The Ringer has some suggestions.
Austin Elias-de Jesus: Tyler Hoechlin is the only obvious choice to be the next Superman. Why? Because he’s done it before. Hoechlin’s take on the Big Blue Boy Scout in the second season of Supergirl was like a breath of fresh air. His Superman is the perfect blend of Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh. It holds an air of moral authority while also having a calming sense of lightness and warmth. His Clark Kent is like an improved-upon version of Dean Cain in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. Hoechlin brings to the character what Cavill’s often-grim portrayal lacked: a sense that we’re looking at the quintessential American hero. Cavill’s Superman was good at beating the living crap out of villains, but I could never imagine him saving a cat from a tree or helping an old lady cross the street. Hoechlin’s Superman can do all of that, and robbing us of him would be just another mistake in the DCEU’s long line of screwups. Let’s not overthink this. Just give the role to this guy, so we could, once again, really believe a man can fly:
Kate Halliwell: The last thing the world needs is another Superman origin story, which is why Cavill’s replacement should be older, wiser, and way past his farmboy days. This effectively rules out some of Hollywood’s most dashing young men—sorry, Noah Centineo—and forces us to look at established actors stuck in a career rut.
Namely, Wes Bentley.
“That guy with the swirly beard in the Hunger Games?” you ask. Seneca Crane himself, I say! Looks-wise, he’s got it all—the piercing eyes, the dark hair, the ability to grow exceptional facial hair for maximum CGI over-budgeting. But he’s also got this vibe, in all of his projects, that implies he’s seen some shit. Wes Bentley’s Superman knows he’s the millionth iteration of this character, and he’s ready to shoulder the burden anyway. Besides—even if Clark Kent’s print journalism days are numbered, he’s the perfect man for a pivot to video.
Kate Knibbs: I want Armie Hammer to play Superman because he looks like Superman. Also, he’s a good actor who could probably lean into the extreme weirdness of the Superman story. Let’s not forget this guy is a vigilante literally from outer space who voluntarily chooses to work in the media industry. He’s not really all that wholesome on paper, and Armie could dial into the strange.
Michael B. Jordan
Andrew Gruttadaro: I’ll acknowledge a few things right off the bat: 1. That this isn’t the most creative pick ever—Jordan is very famous, and used to playing characters who are physically shredded; 2. That Jordan already took a stab at playing a superhero, and that it did not go well (personally I’d put this more on Josh Trank, but whatever); 3. That casting a black actor to play a traditionally white superhero, one who is perhaps the most iconic of them all, would set off a firestorm in the worst, loudest corners of the internet, and that fact alone means that Jordan would likely never even be considered for this part. (Just ask James Gunn what that kind of online noise can do.) That’s unfortunate, because Michael B. Jordan would be a great Superman—he’s endearing but also mysterious, can play green, looks good in glasses, and as aforementioned is already in superhero shape. He also almost never has a mustache, so there wouldn’t be any recurring issues there.
CGI Christopher Reeve
David Shoemaker: There’s a problem with Superman. Well, I mean, there are a lot of problems with Superman, starting with the fact he’s a deus ex machina masquerading as an underdog protagonist. But the pertinent problem with Superman is that, for all intents and purposes, Superman is Christopher Reeve. When Reeve first slid into the spandex in 1978, he so embodied the part that DC was eventually forced to basically retcon his portrayal into the comic books, both in story terms and in John Byrne’s iconic visuals. Even 40 years later, it’s hard to watch Superman on screen and not think “Eh, he’s OK but he’s no Christopher Reeve.” BUT WAIT! This is a new era in blockbuster moviemaking. This is an era when the Star Wars franchise can reanimate Grand Moff Tarkin and Princess Leia with a wave of the CGI wand. This is an era when Andy Serkis can mo-cap trolls or monkeys or actual people and the audience stands to applaud. This is an era when, well, Superman can be played by a guy with a mustache and have the mustache digitally removed! So for a moment let’s forget actors’ estates and ethics and all the blog snark that will inevitably ensue. Forget recasting—let’s retro-cast. Bring back Christopher Reeve—a fully CGI version—as the Man of Steel. He was always the best man for the part.
Miles Surrey: The DCEU’s issues notwithstanding, I thought their decision to cast Henry Cavill—much like Brandon Routh for Superman Returns—was inspired, given he was a relative unknown before donning the red cape and tights. It’s one hell of an introduction for a young actor, and in keeping with this tradition, I nominate Steven Strait.
You probably don’t know who Strait is unless you’ve watched The Expanse, but he’s great in the show, serving as its conflicted moral center. As James Holden, Strait becomes a mythologized hero for leading a space #Resistance, burdened with the weight of saving humanity on his shoulders, much like our beloved Man of Steel. He’s also tall, fairly jacked, and can easily flip a switch to Bespectacled Clark Kent—just look at this screengrab from an Expanse YouTube clip:
My dude looks like he brews his own kombucha at home.
Amanda Dobbins: I heard he’s available!