Well, it finally happened: Superman has been cast. David Corenswet, the relatively unknown 29-year-old actor best known for his supporting turn in last year’s horror movie Pearl, is the new Man of Steel in James Gunn’s upcoming reboot film, Superman: Legacy. He replaces Henry Cavill, who just 9 months appeared to return to the iconic role, and joins Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh in a very exclusive club of big screen Supermen. (Sorry, Dean Cain).
We don’t mean to toot our own horn, but we kinda called this months ago, when DT assembled a list of 10 candidates who should play the iconic DC Comics character. With his matinee idol looks and solid acting credentials, Corenswet was No. 6 on our list. Who were the others? Read on to see who else could’ve played Superman.
He may be a little young at 21 years old, but that just ensures he will have more time to start as the Man of Steel over the next decade or so. Simpkins has already been a part of one comic book universe as Harley Keener, the young boy Tony helps out in Iron Man 3, so he’s seen how a superhero should act with Downey Jr.’s impeccable performance as Iron Man.
Having starred in last year’s Oscar-winning movie The Whale, Simpkins’ profile is set to rise once again as he returns to the franchise that made him famous: Insidious. As a now college-age Dalton Lambert in Insidious: The Red Door, Simpkins will battle all sorts of otherworldly ghouls and goblins, which isn’t too far off from Superman fighting extra-terrestrial beings like Metallo. In the trailers, Simpkins sports a buff physique and fashionable mullet, making him ideal to play a Superman that is inspired from the mid-90s, post-return from the dead version of the hero.
If Gunn wanted his Man of Steel to be impossibly good-looking and brooding, he can do no wrong with Charles Melton. The former Riverdale actor looks the right age for Gunn’s iteration (he’s 32 but looks almost a decade younger) and in pictures as diverse as The Sun is Also a Star, Bad Boys for Life, and Heart of Champions, Melton shows he can be a plausible romantic lead as well as an action star.
In addition, Melton’s casting would be a first for DC as he’s of mixed Korean heritage. Melton’s Superman would be the first Asian Man of Tomorrow, and would be a refreshing change from past portrayals of the character. He also gets bonus points for already perfecting the hair curl key that is iconic to the character’s look.
Courtney is likely known best for his role as Lee Flynn in Netflix’s Kissing Booth trilogy. However, Courtney first became famous for his childhood role leading J.J. Abrams’s sci-fi gem, Super 8, for which he was given a Saturn Award for Best Performance by a Young Actor, along with many other award nominations.
Courtney has already shown that he is a qualified actor, and he’s already starred in the kind of alien adventures that Kal-El has found himself in. He also just appeared in the upcoming film Jesus Revolution, and based on its trailer, Courtney seems to capture the wide-eyed optimism and the worldly spirit that a young Clark Kent would radiate.
For those who may not remember, Fionn Whitehead had the lead role of Tommy Jensen in Christopher Nolan’s epic war film Dunkirk, for which he was nominated for an Empire Award for Best Male Newcomer, and is hands-down one of the best war movies ever made. Despite this movie’s ensemble cast, he has shown with his performance that he is capable of carrying the kind of huge blockbusters that most superhero movies rank themselves among.
Likewise, Whitehead has had experience working in sci-fi, having led projects like the BBC series Him, the 2020 movie Voyagers, and Netflix’s Black Mirror Bandersnatch. All this shows that Whitehead is fit to join James Gunn’s new DC Universe.
Audiences have seen David Corenswet rise to prominence in recent years with his roles in two of Ryan Murphy’s TV shows, The Politician and Hollywood. He also recently starred in A24 and director Ti West’s beloved horror film Pearl as the projectionist, who had a real Smallville, Kansas vibe to him.
This alone is proof that this up-and-coming actor can bring DC’s favorite superpowered farmboy back to cinemas in Gunn’s reboot. But more importantly, Corenswet has shown that he possesses the charm and charisma needed to play a young Superman.
Last year’s The White Lotus: Sicily not only introduced an almost entirely new cast to the critically acclaimed series, but it also introduced the world to Will Sharpe. As the buff and brainy Ethan, Sharpe showcased a charisma and mystique that is inherent in Superman’s character. The Man of Steel is appealing, yet there’s something about him that’s also mysterious and withdrawn. Clark can’t let anyone discover his alien origins, or his fantastic powers, and so he has to constantly hide a part of himself from everyone.
As we saw in his scenes with frequent co-star Aubrey Plaza (who would make a fantastic and idiosyncratic Lois Lane), Sharpe can do that. Sharpe also got lots of media attention for his Superman-like body, so he wouldn’t have to train much at all to look like the Man of Steel; he already does!
According to the Hollywood Reporter, everyone loves Paul Mescal, and with good reason. The 27-year-old actor has been on a hot streak ever since his attention-grabbing debut as the lovestruck Connell opposite Daisy Edgar-Jones in Hulu’s pandemic hit 2020 mini-series Normal People. He’s followed that up with roles in the acclaimed dramas The Lost Daughter and God’s Creatures and is nominated for a Best Actor Oscar for his brilliant work in one of 2022’s best movies, Aftersun.
Hollywood has already tapped him to lead a blockbuster tentpole, Gladiator 2, so it only makes sense for Gunn to select him to inaugurate the second coming of the DC Universe. Mescal’s Superman would be more soulful than others and would tap into the character’s pain of being an orphan and alone in the world. We’ve already had Reeves’ screwball comedic Man of Steel and Cavill’s brawny iteration, so why not go in a different direction and focus more on Superman’s interior life rather than his buff physique?
Audiences likely know Elordi best for his role as Nate Jacobs in HBO’s acclaimed and cage-rattling series Euphoria. While it may be hard for some to see this despicable uber-jock as Superman, Elordi did play a more conventional teenage heartthrob in The Kissing Booth films. This shows that he has the range and experience as an actor to play the Last Son of Krypton on the big screen.
On top of that, Nate’s struggles with his masculinity and insecurity on Euphoria could translate to Elordi’s performance as Clark Kent, who is essentially Nate’s polar opposite. Part of what makes Superman so popular and relatable is his humbleness and vulnerability, so Elordi should know how to convey this character by not acting like Nate. And since his character in The Kissing Booth is a huge fan of Superman, perhaps his casting as the esteemed hero would be a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Bearing a striking resemblance to Tyler Hoechlin, who plays Superman in the Arrowverse, Darren Criss has the look and skill to play the Blue Boy Scout on the silver screen. Not only is Criss famous for playing Blaine Anderson on Glee, but he also won an Emmy and a Golden Globe for his riveting performance as notorious spree killer Andrew Cunanan in The Assassination of Gianni Versace: American Crime Story.
Such an acclaimed and diverse history as an actor makes Criss a worthy candidate to play DC’s first superhero in Gunn’s movie. And Criss is already ahead of the competition because, unlike the other actors on this list, he has already played Superman in film. Having voiced the Man of Steel in the animated movie Superman: Man of Tomorrow, Criss has already proven that he is capable of portraying the hero in live-action.
Eli Goree is the perfect choice for Superman. He’s relatively unknown like former Supermen Christopher Reeves and Brandon Routh, but has already shown enough range and physicality to prove he has what it takes to don the cape and spandex. Even though he’s only 28, he has a vast amount of TV credits on his resume, including sci-fi and superhero shows like The 100, The Peripheral, and yes, even a DC show (Legends of Tomorrow). Plus, he’s already played a real-life Superman, Cassius Clay, In Regina King’s critically acclaimed movie One Night in Miami.
Beyond his impressive previous work, young age, and relative anonymity, Goree has the charm, intelligence, and physique that fits the classic Superman mold. Just as important, his casting would make him the first Black Superman to fly on the big screen. Goree’s casting would shake things up in a good way, and make Gunn’s take more relevant, inclusive, and exciting.
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