The 4 Actors Who Won’t Be Superman (and Why It Doesn’t Matter Who Plays Him Anyway)

By  · Published on January 31st, 2011

So that one guy from that one show is going to be playing The Man of Steel, and it’s big news. However, since we live in a beautiful age of information, we can also daydream about the movies that might have been if only that one other guy had been cast instead.

In the case of the new Superman, Henry Cavill is taking on the tights, which happens to leave four other actors back out looking for work.

Who are they, and would it have mattered who got the job?

Matthew Goode

Goode worked with director Zack Snyder before on Watchmen, and he’s also got about the same status as Cavill (albeit with a bit more film experience). He’s a passable actor who looks handsome and could probably handle sticking his arm out mid-flight, even though some looking for a more muscular Supes would have been sorely disappointed had he gotten the job.

Armie Hammer

Again, another young actor on the rise with a high profile, Oscar-nominated movie under his belt but not much else. If the casting team had been looking for all-American, it’s tough to argue with the guy who played both Winkelvoss twins in The Social Network.

Joe Manganiello

Currently best known for his work on True Blood, Manganiello came from a stunt background, had a small role in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 2, and has done far more television work than film. While it would have been cool to see an actor play Superman who had once played a character named Black Dildo, Manganiello continues the trend of fairly unknown, averagely talented actors who look the square-jawed part.

Colin O’Donoghue

Let it never be said that Zack Snyder’s team didn’t have a type. O’Donoghue was in an episode of The Tudors, but he’s only really hitting the big screen in a bigger way with The Rite – which came out last weekend.

That One Guy

The point to pointing out who didn’t get the job? That the actor almost doesn’t matter. They could have chosen anyone on this list, and the performance would have been in the same ballpark. Every single one of these actors is still relatively unknown, all basically talented without having shown stellar acting chops yet, and they all even look similar.

Did it even matter who was put in the blue and red suit? Probably not. Superman is a character that has to connect in the right way – a charming man who is strong without being cocky, old worldly polite with a bit of humility and the ability to burn you to your skeleton with his eye beams.

A lot of the work is already done for Cavill (or whomever would have ended up playing the role) because the character is so iconic. Slap that suit on a guy close enough physically for the part, and he is Superman. If Dean Cain can do it, so can just about everyone else.

Superman: Man of Steel might be impressive or it might impugn the good name of superheroes everywhere, but the lead actor will have little to do with the success or failure of the movie.

What do you think?

Movie stuff at VanityFair, Thrillist, IndieWire, Film School Rejects, and The Broken Projector Podcast@brokenprojector | Writing short stories at Adventitious.