No Country For Old SupermenJanuary 8, 2011
With work powering ahead on the latest Superman movie reboot — this time produced by Christopher Nolan and directed by Zach Snyder — the tubes are gurgling with casting rumours the likes of which have not been seen since … the last time Superman was rebooted (Superman Returns). Or the time before that (Tim Burton’s aborted project; bad costume seen at top). Or the time before that (the Kevin Smith script).
The frontrunner is rumoured to be this guy: Joe Mangianello. You may know him from True Blood, or from the first Spider-Man flick, in which he played bully Flash Thompson. I can see this guy in the suit, but he’s a little too cute to be a convincing Clark Kent.
On the other side, we have this other rumoured frontrunner: Matthew Goode. The weak link in Snyder’s Watchmen (Ozymandias, the most advanced human on the planet, should not look like the lead singer in a Wham cover band). If the rumours are correct, Goode would play only Clark Kent, with some kind of stand-in/CGI/facial superimposition technology used to “morph” him into Superman. This is the sort of thing non-fans try to do to explain why nobody notices Clark Kent is Superman.
Playing both characters was something Christopher Reeve did extremely well. Brandon Routh came close, although his Clark was better than his Kal-El. Dean Cain didn’t even bother trying, and Tom Welling hasn’t had to.
Speaking of Welling, he’s in the running, too, and that makes sense to me. Why not move the Smallville TV mythology forward into features? Nolan has hinted that his film will draw on the Secret Origin comic series history of Superman, which is something that has cross-pollinated with Smallville for a decade. Welling, as pretty as he is, could probably surprise us with his take on a 21st century costumed Superman.
However, he may be too old. This is the reason given when Jon Hamm’s name comes up; the Mad Men star kind of looks exactly like Superman, but it’s the Superman of Kingdom Come, not the Superman of today. Too old, most people say — Hamm included. In fact, I suspect that’s one of the reasons Ben Affleck cast him in The Town (a fine film, and I highly recommend it); Affleck was Smith’s choice back in the mid-90s, and could probably still pull it off (he has the Clark Kent whine down pat) and he may have worked with Hamm just to emphasize that he is the younger, buffer alternative.
I still suspect we’ll be surprised when the casting is announced, just as we were when the name Brandon Routh first popped up. Or when we learned that Javier Bardem once played Superman on Spanish television. I am shitting you not, nerds. Check this out:
Anyway, I think the only answer to all of this is to have me play Superman. I could work out or something, or get a good CGI gut-remover on the job. Is Shatner’s digital ass reducer still working? Nah, I’m too old. Like most of these other guys I mentioned.