— by ANDY BEHBAKHT —
First, I’m going to go through the entire status between what is going on with Chris Nolan’s upcoming Superman movie “Man of Steel” and with “Smallville.” “Smallville” — the longest-running Superman show on television history — is entering its 10th and final season. Just as “Smallville” is getting to the end, the beginning of the reboot of the Superman franchise will begin with Christopher Nolan as producer for the film — or, as many have called him, the godfather. I got very excited when I heard that the man who had made the Batman franchise the best version of Batman in history (no offense to fans who really liked the old movies) would bring the Man of Steel back to the big screen. Since then, there have been a lot of rumors about who is directing and, of course, who will play Superman.
A couple of weeks ago, a rumor was floating that Zachary Levi (of TV’s “Chuck”) had apparently auditioned for the role but it was later denied by Levi himself. I have nothing against Levi at all, “Chuck” is one of my favorite shows but Levi isn’t Superman material. However, people who work at Warner Brothers have stated that it’s a TV star that they are looking for as Superman. Of course, the name Brandon Routh (who played Superman in “Superman Returns”) pops up on many internet forums but there is also one more name that pops up and this name has been known since 10 years ago … Tom Welling. For years, people had been wondering if Welling had any interest in donning the Superman suit on Smallville or on the big screen and this year at Comic-Con in the press room after the final Smallville panel, the actor finally addressed his thoughts of getting to the big screen:
“I’ve always been open to the idea. There’s just … it’s not as simple as everyone would like to think. It’s not as simple as me wanting to do it, or not wanting to do it. Um, I know a lot of people want to jump on me, or jump on Warner Bros., or why … it’s just not that simple. Um, and so there’s a lot of elements that … that have to come together and, you know, I’ve always been open to it.”
So there you have it folks, Welling apparently is interested. Now, it’s just up to the people at Warner Brothers and, most importantly, Nolan. We haven’t actually heard Nolan’s opinion on “Smallville” or on Tom Welling, but I have a few theories on what is going on with Nolan’s film and the involvement with “Smallville.”
Now, maybe Nolan hasn’t paid attention at all to Welling, but that doesn’t mean that the idea of bringing Welling in for the role is gone. WB is still going to have influence on the role and we have heard from the producers of “Smallville,” as well as cast members, that Warner Brothers has provided big support for them through the years, which I totally understand. With the ongoing court issue over the “Superman” rights, “Smallville” is, right now, the only Superman media they have going on. So casting the role before “Smallville” is over is something people won’t need to worry about. Welling has played this role for 10 years and being on for 10 years does prove he could be the right actor to take on the role. As in matter of fact: Welling did actually say a couple of years ago that he was approached for the “Superman Returns” movie before Routh — the only problem was that he knew that it would be very difficult to shoot the movie during the same time as “Smallville” was in its fifth season. It would, in the end, make him choose to either leave the show or do the movie.
I know that there are people out there that aren’t fans of “Smallville” and one of the main problems with bringing Welling in the new Superman movie series is that …
Welling in Nolan’s Movie = ‘Smallville: The Movie’
I understand completely that people are worried about Nolan’s film turning into a “Smallville” film if they go with Welling and perhaps some of the other cast members as well — such as Erica Durance, who also said at Comic-Con that she is open to the idea as well, but with a few demands such as playing with Welling, etc. But what people now really have to realize is that just because Welling has played Clark Kent/Superman on TV that his getting the role on the big screen doesn’t automatically mean the film will relate to “Smallville.” Nolan will make the film in a way that he wants to do and having seen Welling for the last 10 years, Welling has proven he is this generation’s Superman and if he would have to portray Superman totally different from what “Smallville” has done, he could handle it and make it a success.
I know that bringing in an unknown actor — like they did with Routh in “Superman Returns” — was, for people who liked the movie, a really good thing to do. However, superhero movies today are cast differently than they were just four years ago and I just don’t see an unknown actor as an good idea anymore when it comes to Superman. People look at Tom Welling as some kind of teenage-idol in a superhero-drama show — and maybe he was just that a couple of years ago — but now he is so much more than that. Welling, first of all, definitely has the look of Superman and the right personality for the role. Through the years, some have described Welling’s portrayal of Clark Kent as not “Superman-ish,” but season 9 really changed that, and even though it has taken a while, it was definitely worth it. Welling proved, at least to me and to a lot of people out there, that he is the Superman for this generation and I don’t see anyone else being the right person than him. I highly recommend Superman fans watch these two episodes from season 9 to see what I mean: “Absolute Justice” and “Salvation” (especially “Salvation”).
As much as I would love to have most of the “Smallville” cast in the movie, doing that would then make Nolan’s film into a “Smallville” movie rather than just having Welling as Superman. I can imagine Tom and Erica Durance and the rest (depending on which character Nolan is bringing in) recast … but that doesn’t really have anything to do with my main purpose of this article. Welling deserves a chance and he is entering a new step with his character — which is what will make him Superman. I know 100 percent that Welling is the one who Nolan should go for.
Welling hasn’t been in the suit, but he has proven he understands the responsibility of the character. And he has proven that he is worthy of playing Superman.
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Follow Andy Behbakht on Twitter at http://twitter.com/Haoh93.