“Superman is like James Bond, and after a certain run you have to look at new actors.”
That quote, credited to an anonymous source, appears in The Hollywood Reporter’s initial story about Henry Cavill quitting the DC Extended universe. As of this writing, there is still no firm confirmation one way or another regarding Cavill’s departure (WB issued a frustratingly cryptic response to THR’s story) but it’s very likely that we’ve seen Cavill play Superman for the last time. THR’s story also notes that WB currently has no solid plans for a new Superman movie going forward, so it’s doubtful the studio is in any hurry to recast the role.
Even when the recasting process does begin, tradition would suggest that WB will opt for a relative unknown over an established actor, so it’s difficult to predict who would even be in the running for such a role at this juncture. That being said, it’s hard not to speculate whenever an actor leaves a big role, so we have a few names in mind for who we’d cast as Superman if the superhero were being recast right now.
It feels like Scott Eastwood’s name gets tossed around a lot when it comes to superhero casting speculation and with good reason. He’s a young up-and-coming actor with a strong jawline and built-in name recognition thanks to his famous dad, Clint. Eastwood actually had a role in the DCU already, playing Lieutenant GQ Edwards in 2016’s Suicide Squad, but it was a minor role that also saw his character die. Therefore, Eastwood would be totally freed up to graduate to something bigger like Superman and even though we’d like to see him do some more dramatic roles to see if he has the necessary acting chops, he definitely has the right look to play Kal-El.
Back in 2011, before Warner Bros. officially announced that Henry Cavill would be playing Superman in a series of upcoming films (that would eventually become the DC Extended Universe), there were plenty of rumors that the Matthew Goode was also in the running for the part.
He may have finished as the runner-up last time, but now is the perfect time to reconsider Goode. He’s received positive reviews for his roles The Imitation Game and the prestige Netflix series The Crown, and has history appearing in comic book movies. Fans of DC Comic movies will remember his role as anti-hero Adrian Veidt aka Ozymandias in Zack Snyder’s epic Watchmen, where he unleashed the full energy force of Dr. Manhattan on an unsuspecting New York, ending the Cold War in the process.
It wasn’t long ago that we would have never considered someone like Zac Efron to play Superman. Mostly known for appearing in the cheesy High School Musical series before transitioning into sophomoric comedies like Neighbors and romantic comedies like That Awkward Moment, Efron’s career overall is lacking in particularly memorable performances.
However, as he hits 30-years-old, Efron has started to branch out. He was surprisingly good in 2017’s Baywatch alongside Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, even if the film was a shallow R-rated comedy big on boobs and explosions, but low on any real plot. One of his next roles, though, is playing infamous serial killer Ted Bundy in the upcoming movie Extremely Wicked, Shockingly Evil and Vile. That’s a stark change of pace for Efron, and could do wonders to remove his reputation as a typecast pretty boy with no real acting skills.
Efron has the physical look to play Supes, no doubt. And he’s proving with each new role that he probably has the range to go from pre-teen musicals to a sprawling cinematic universe shared with Batman, Wonder Woman, and the rest of the DC characters.
Jake Gyllenhaal has come a long way since Donnie Darko. The Los Angeles-native actually started out as a child actor, but really hit it big in the trippy indie cult hit playing the title character. Since then, he’s also appeared in memorable films like Brokeback Mountain, Jarhead, Zodiac, and Nightcrawler.
There’s a potential conflict here, since Gyllenhaal has been cast as villain Quentin Beck, aka Mysterio, in the upcoming Spider-Man: Far From Home film for the MCU. However, there’s no hard rule saying actors can’t appear in both universes. Gyllenhaal is a perfect fit, really, with both the incredible physique (see: Southpaw) and stunning good looks to pull off playing Superman.
There may be better choices on this list than Jon Hamm, but we have to admit that he was still the first name that came to mind when we heard that Cavill was stepping away from the DC franchise. His iconic role in Man Men already showed us he has the chops to play Clark Kent (although maybe with a little less drinking, smoking, and womanizing), and he certainly has the pleasing face and granite jawline to play Krypton’s most famous son.
Hamm has never truly blossomed into the huge A-list movie star that many people expected he would after the Mad Men finale. We still enjoyed his performances in the likes of Baby Driver and Million Dollar Arm, and especially his cameo in the sci-fi dystopian Netflix series Black Mirror. Landing the role of Superman might finally be the gig to earn Hamm a spot about Hollywood’s elite leading men.
Michael B. Jordan
This is an out-of-the-box choice, for sure, but it’s not as far fetched as you might think. To address the elephant in the room, yes, Michael B. Jordan is black and the character of Superman/Clark Kent/Kal El has traditionally always been portrayed as a white dude with dark hair. But so what? Jordan has more than proven himself as a capable actor, receiving high praise for his starring role in Creed and as one of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe when he played Killmonger in Black Panther. So while a small portion of fans will scream heresy at the idea of a black actor playing the Man of Steel, Deadline has already reported that Warner Bros. is seriously considering Jordan for the role “down the line”.
We admit that we’d prefer to see film studios spend the money and the marketing power on giving black actors interesting, original characters to call their own (something that Black Panther did so well) instead of, say, casting Iris Elba as the next James Bond. But if WB wants to really shake things up, they could do a lot worse than casting one of the hottest young actors around in Jordan.
Armie Hammer has had an incredible run over the last couple years. From his critically-acclaimed role in last year’s Oscar-nominated Call Me by Your Name to his hilariously unhinged turn as cult leader Steve Lift in this summer’s Sorry to Bother You, Hammer has continued to prove he’s a talented actor capable of more than just having his name attached to The Lone Ranger. With a 6’ 4” build and handsome features, it takes no difficulty at all to picture Hammer wearing the red and blue. Besides, this is a guy who had his big break postponed by a few years when George Miller’s Justice League movie went belly-up in 2007 (he was cast as Batman); it’s only right to let him back in the DC fold.
Tyler Hoechlin gets the top spot because, well, he’s already been Superman before! Hoechlin has made several appearances as the Man of Steel in the CW series Supergirl and even though his take on the character could really benefit from a Kryptonite-powered razor to get rid of that 5 o’clock shadow, we like what we’ve seen so far. Hoechlin’s Supes strikes a perfect blend between Christopher Reeve and Brandon Routh’s takes on the character, delivering the warmth and heroic presence that Cavill’s lacked much of the time (thanks a lot, Zack Snyder). Plus, the ‘Arrowverse’ isn’t even connected to the DCU, so it’s not like there’s any sort of weird overlap here. We’re not going to hold our breath here, as TV actors never seem to get breaks like this, but WB could do a lot worse than Tyler Hoechlin.