Brandon Routh: A Superman For All Seasons?


I would love to be writing an article right now, straight off the success of the “Superman Returns “sequel “Man Of Steel,” on where the third installment of the Superman franchise could go next. I would love to. Sadly, I will never get that chance …

I am one of those (seemingly) few people who loved “Superman Returns.” I feel like I’m not too short-sighted so as to see what an amazing franchise it could have become. I look back and I can see faults in it. Some things that grate on me that I think I wish they’d done differently, and maybe if they had, I could be writing the aforementioned dream article right now. However, of the things director Bryan Singer might have gotten wrong, one thing he got spot on was Brandon Routh.

Iowa native Routh originally auditioned when McG (shudder) was trying to launch the franchise again. But when Singer took over and saw the (then) 24-year old’s previous audition tape, he knew he had found something special. The rest, as they say, is history. But what I want to discuss is whether Routh could launch Superman again in a brand-new franchise?

Warner Bros. have pretty much stated, if not always explicitly, that they have no plans for a “Superman Returns” sequel any time soon, and let’s not even try and wade through the legal snafu that WB are in the with Siegel/Shuster families at the moment. If WB got off their backsides and decided to get things rolling on a new “Superman” film, could Brandon Routh take on the mantle again? I would love for him to have another go. Routh just exudes everything that is Superman. There was the common joke doing the rounds on internet message boards in recent years that Brandon Routh was actually Superman’s real identity. I met Routh a few years back when “Man of Steel” was supposedly in the planning stages and he was genuinely one of the nicest guys I’ve met. No one from the Superman film universe has ever put themselves out for the fans as much as Routh has — not even Christopher Reeve. Routh truly invested in his character and in the fandom that came with it.

Onscreen, the guy (even whilst wearing questionable costume choices) haemorrhaged Super from every pore. Any shortcomings on his part in “Superman Returns” are easily revealed to be wrong decisions by the powers that be. His lack of lines in the film was down to script and director choice. His slighter frame was due to the costume designer asking him to stop working out so he didn’t rip the outfit. If you’ve seen him in the TV show “Chuck” recently, you know he can bring the cannons to the gun show (see a recent picture of him below).

His Clark Kent was as near to perfect as you could get. A fine balance between Reeve’s klutz and Dean Cain’s everyman, with a little George Reeves “charm” too. I hate the line how Routh’s Superman looks like Christopher Reeve’s Superman. No, Routh AND Reeve look like Superman.

Now, people might bring up the argument that if he starts a new franchise he brings the baggage of the old franchise and confuse Joe Public. Not necessarily so. For one, I think enough time has passed now from “Superman Returns” for people not to make the immediate connection. Two, surely if people truly believe its Superman they are seeing on the screen, they will happily go with it. Forget Routh or Reeve for a minute — Superman as a character has been through many questionable storylines over the years in both comic, TV and film forms. He’s survived it all. So if the public can be sold on the fact it’s Superman up there on the screen, not Reeve or Routh or even Tom Welling (but that’s a whole other story!), they will happily follow the story unfold. And if you want evidence that Routh is the guy to sell them Superman, just read the last few paragraphs!

Simple enough then, it just needs to go back to basics. No twisty-turning “conflicted” storylines. Go for a simple origin story. People always want to skip the origin saying that we already have the perfect origin film in “Superman: The Movie.” That one doesn’t cut it anymore. We all have warm and fond memories of those films, but if you want Superman to last, you need to invest the time into him and the franchise. Can you really imagine an average teenager these days getting excited to see a film from the ’70s? No, we need to put the effort into Superman again.

Oh yeah, one more thing. Make it fun. Make us want to be Superman, not make us glad we’re not!

It is with a melancholic tone I finish this piece as this idea is more of a pipe dream than what could actually come to reality. But like most fanboys with any of their passions, I will cling onto my dream for as long as possible. And if any WB execs are reading this article, to you I simply say …

… don’t doubt the Routh!

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26 Comments Add Yours ↓

  1. 1

    Be Sure To Also Check Out Brandon In Dead Of Night!

  2. 2

    I don’t necessarily need to see the origin again (although I can see your point, Ben). What we need is a solid story with ACTION. However, bringing back Routh is the right first step. Also, I will happily defend “Superman Returns” to my grave. It is one of my favorite movies of all time.

  3. 3

    But I feel we, the hardcore, old school Superman fans, take the fandom for granted. We feel the Superman deserves his iconic status…and that’s it. He needs to be reintroduced to a new generation. TPTB behind Superman need to work at making him appeal to this new generation and still be loved by the old generation. Not sell it to us by saying its just like Chris Reeve’s Superman. That CAN’T cut it anymore…

  4. begins #

    WB should reboot Superman and let Brandon Routh be Superman, I think there will be no problem, and movie will be a success.

  5. stargazer #

    “Routh just exudes everything that is Superman.”

    Agreed 100%. And Brandon is only 30 years old, he’s still pretty young. I’d love for him to return to Superman. Come on WB, this is the right guy for the job!

    And everything Sean said.

  6. Lori #

    I too loved Superman Returns and thought Brandon Routh was the best thing in it.

  7. Lori #

    Oh, and I really enjoyed reading this story. 🙂

  8. Disco #

    He looks even more like Superman now. I hope he returns to the role in whatever format the next movie takes.

  9. Kat #

    Nice story!

  10. Frankie #

    I thought Routh was just OK as Superman and Clark Kent. I actually liked him quite a bit as CK, but not as Superman.

    What I hated about SR was the story involving the kid. Before anyone says, “well they were going to kill him in the next one,” or whatever; my beef is what it said about our hero to be in that situation. That’s the main reason I didn’t want Superman Returns to have a sequel.

    I imagine they’ll reboot, but if they just did what SR did and continued loosely from the earlier films, I think that’d be just as good. As for “making him appeal to this new generation,” every-so-often, the comics make some arbitrary change to his backstory and say it accomplishes that goal.

    I say: use freakish world-beater villains from the comics and think harder about what you’re saying about his character. Routh has obviously beefed up, and I’m sure his acting can be improved; but the bottom line is that I don’t want Superman to be a deadbeat friggin’ dad!

  11. 11

    I am pretty convinced that if it were not for the kid, we already would have had a sequel. Rebooting with Routh keeps the best part of “Superman Returns” (namely, the actor who portrayed him) and eliminates the worst part (the kid). I’m sure the loss of Kate Bosworth would leave very few people, if anyone one at all, unhappy.

  12. 12

    Honestly Routh was a pretty damn good Superman… And this is from a diehard Tom Welling fan who would love to see him wearing the suit. that being said my problem with SR was never Routh he did what he could with what he had my #1 problem with SR was its Lois Lane KB was a horrible choice she had nothing of the hutzpa that we associate with Lois and that translated into a complete lack of chemistry with her leading man. She had more chemistry with Lex Luther with explains alot actually. The storyline was full of so many wholes it might as well been swiss cheese. I didn’t mind the kid thing that much but i got a problem with Superman being a dead beat dad. And the triangle of Clark/LOis/Superman is the stuff of legends it did not need another character simply because Singer wanted to play with one of his X-men friends. It could’ve been so great and I wanted to love it so bad. Hell i saw it twice. But everytime i’ve seen it scene it think if only they would’ve casted a different lois gotta rid of the extra baggage and just told a classic Superman tale… *sigh*

  13. LisaMarie #

    “I hate the line how Routh’s Superman looks like Christopher Reeve’s Superman.”

    YES. This has driven me up the wall for YEARS.

    “No, Routh AND Reeve look like Superman.”

    THANK YOU. YES. I always felt like people were implying that Brandon was a great Superman because he looked like Reeve. He’s great because he looks like Superman. OMG.

    I adore this entire article. It’s so spot on.

  14. moviefan #

    Sorry for long post.

    that was a nice article man. Personally for me i thought Superman returns sucked, and singer dropped the ball royally. I didnt really care for the story, and i thought casting wasnt that good. As for routh i thought he was very wooden and didnt really like him at all in the film. Personally i wished back then it was a clear new begining instead of going with lets do reeve’s superman again. Why do that when batman just came off of a good fresh new start. Then we got wb that just doesnt seem to know what they want to do with the character at all. Then all the legal issues. I still say we will probably not see anything for superman for another 5-7 yrs. As for when/if another film happens. I want to see a clean new start, New story, look, setting, feel and all that. I been saying that for yrs now. Personally i know some folks did like routh and wished he had another go. But with where SR put superman. Its best to whip everything clean and start fresh. Take a new look at things. I said this on other boards i dont want the next folks to just base movie on one story or one take of the character like singer did. I want to see the next folks who get reigns of superman to look at the character as a whole all the comics, cartoons, tv shows, movies and take things that best worked from all the different superman takes and make a composited character and have a fresh new story. Then for foes i definately want to see other like toyman, brainaic, metallo, parasite, mongul, darkseid, doomsday have their shot. As for lex i still want to see the character around but not for a first new film in a new series to not be the major threat. Also i want to see him in his business/corp lex self with hints of his political gains he wants. Then have him go through new film series getting all the power and then at the end superman taking him down and the world sees lex for who he really is. But it just sucks that wb just doesnt seem to get how the character should be. I do hope next time around it will be a better film and help fix the fractured fanbase out there.

  15. 15

    Routh was great as Superman/Clark Kent and did the legacy and character proud. But his time has passed.

    The next cinematic Man of Steel will be another unknown.

  16. 16

    Hey Jamie,

    As I said on Twitter, its a pipe dream I admit, but its my pipe dream… 🙂

  17. Disco #

    A pipe dream is better than no dream at all …

  18. moviefan #

    still for me with how things are with wb with superman we are probably not going to see anything for a good number of yrs. At that time routh would be out of the age range they probably want for the character. Plus he doesnt have any current contract with wb reguarding superman any more. Then if it is yrs from now it will more likley be a total new start for things. I just hope they dont mess it up again and do things better. Also hopefully they can fix the fractured fan bases too for superman.

  19. stargazer #

    Life is a dream.

  20. Kat #

    I still think he would be great for the next movie!

  21. moviefan #

    well i think since as its know he doesnt have a contract with them, and most execs were not totally happen with SR. That the best thing to do is clean slate everything and distance itself as far as possible from donner/singer’s take on superman. So the next film has a chance on its own.

  22. stargazer #

    Yup, I think we ‘got it’ Moviefan…

  23. molly #

    Ditto, nice article!

  24. Shaun #

    Excellent story. I hope Routh “returns”, too.

  25. MLC #

    Great article. Although being a huge fan of Donner’s vision, I agree with you. I do think too Superman’s origin needs to be retold for new generations. And with no Christopher Reeve to play Him, I strongly believe Brandon Routh is the one and only actor who can play Superman (he really was Superman in SR, yeah I liked that film with all its mistakes). But now, oh my god, they have that new Henry Cavill to play Superman in Nolan/Snyder’s reboot… well… that’s it… they have just made a huge mistake with the main actor for the whole thing!!… I can’t believe it!…. and let’s talk about dreams: is there any official online petition to bring back Routh for the reboot?…

  26. LWG #

    So who’s fault is it really that Routh isn’t back as Supes? From what I’ve read, there was a go-signal for the sequel back in ’07 or ’08, but Singer was quite busy. And then TDK came. It earned a billion, though I haven’t seen it, not even Batman Begins. I think they’re being unfair to Routh, the cast and the fans. “Returns” wasn’t that bad. There are a lot of reasons why the movie didn’t make $500M as they’d want it to. What makes them think that Cavill can do that at 6’1″? And Snyder’s films are usually packed with a lot of “sex”, so how’s that gonna turn out? Brandon IS Superman. He’s American, but doesn’t look that American, so nice feel for an alien coz he looks almost perfect. I say almost because of his teeth which he obviously tries to hide. The blue contacts even look good on him. And he has that grace when he moves and flies. Given another chance, he would make another Superman movie what WB wants… more money.

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