Who should be the next Superman?

Who should be the next Superman?

Now that James Gunn has unveiled Chapter One of DC's massive reboot, the big question remains, who will don the red cape in 2025's Superman: Legacy

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Clockwise from left: Henry Cavill, Michael B. Jordan, Glen Powell, Austin Butler
Clockwise from left: Henry Cavill, Michael B. Jordan, Glen Powell, Austin Butler
Graphic: The A.V. Club

DC Studios co-honchos James Gunn and Peter Safran have finally unveiled Chapter One of their long awaited reboot of the DC Universe. Now speculation turns to who’ll take the coveted lead role when Superman: Legacy, which Gunn is writing but may or may not direct, gets underway. Safran says the film, slated for release on July 11, 2025, is “not an origins story. It focuses on Superman’s balancing his Kryptonian heritage with his human upbringing. He’s kindness in a world that thinks of kindness as old fashioned.”

During Tuesday’s announcement, Gunn noted that he didn’t fire previous Superman Henry Cavill despite his recent mid-credits cameo in Black Adam. But he did drive a final Kryptonian dagger into the idea of Cavill returning by saying, “this Superman is not Henry.” Now the question, of course, becomes, “then whose Superman is it?” It’s a crucial casting decision since Safran admitted that the new Superman film will mark “the start of the DCU.”

In mid-January, Gunn shot down the fan-driven notion that red-hot Euphoria star Jacob Elordi might step into the role. So while we wait to learn who’ll be the linchpin for “Gods and Monsters,” the 10 film and TV projects that collectively comprise the first part of Chapter One, here are some options, in alphabetical order. These take into account a previous Gunn tweet in which he said the next Superman movie will focus “on an earlier part of Superman’s life.”

This article originally published on January 18, 2023.

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George Burcea

George Burcea

George Burcea
George Burcea
Photo: Jerod Harris (Getty Images)

George Burcea is something of a long shot in the Superman sweepstakes. He’s tall, dark, and hunky, but pretty much an unknown. Of course, that didn’t stop Richard Donner from casting Christopher Reeve decades ago. Audiences might recognize the Romanian actor best for his role as Lurch, the Addams family’s manservant, on the new Netflix series, Wednesday. If fate/alchemy/coincidence factor into the equation, it’s worth noting that Wednesday’s co-creators and showrunners are Al Gough and Miles Millar, who created the long-running Superman series, Smallville.

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Austin Butler

Austin Butler

Austin Butler
Austin Butler
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

If the Superman powers that be choose to go with a big name to replace Cavill, then look no further than Austin Butler. He’s the man of the moment thanks to Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, Elvis, and the upcoming Dune: Part Two (as Feyd-Rautha Harkonnen). At 31, he might be a bit older than the ideal Clark/Superman, but he comes across on screen much younger. Heck, he could even pass for a teenager. So, it should surprise absolutely no one if Gunn taps Butler for the role.

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David Corenswet

David Corenswet

David Corenswet
David Corenswet
Photo: Jemal Countess (Getty Images)

On a roll thanks to The Politician, Hollywood, and Pearl, David Corenswet has momentum on his side. It doesn’t hurt that fans are busily creating Corenswet-as-Superman art, and it looks pretty damn good. He’s got the right dark hair and chiseled face. And he wants the gig. As he told Entertainment Weekly in 2019, “… My pie-in-the-sky ambition is definitely to play Superman. I would love to see somebody do an upbeat, throwback [version of Superman]. I love the Henry Cavill dark and gritty take, but I would love to see the next one be very bright and optimistic.” We agree.

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Adam DiMarco

Adam DiMarco

Adam DiMarco
Adam DiMarco
Photo: Momodu Mansaray (Getty Images)

Adam DiMarco impressed The White Lotus fans with his breakout performance as Michael Imperioli’s sweet, if naïve son, Albie, in season two of the blockbuster HBO Max series. That sweetness and naivete could translate well into both Clark Kent and Superman. The Canadian actor’s credits date back to 2011 and include memorable recurring stints on The Magicians and The Order. DiMarco is at least 32 years old, but much like Austin Butler, he doesn’t look his age.

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Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich

Alden Ehrenreich
Alden Ehrenreich
Photo: Jon Kopaloff (Getty Images)

Alden Ehrenreich has already dared to step into the boots of Harrison Ford to play Han Solo in Solo: A Star Wars Story, and he survived the remarkably negative pre-release publicity storm, delivering a playful, energetic turn as the legendary character. He also gave strong performances in Beautiful Creatures, Stoker, Blue Jasmine, and Hail, Caesar! and he co-stars in Christopher Nolan’s upcoming Oppenheimer. There’s no reason to doubt he could portray a convincing Superman.

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Eli Goree

Eli Goree

Eli Goree
Eli Goree
Photo: Vivien Killilea (Getty Images)

For a sneak peek at what Eli Goree might bring to the role of Superman, look no further than Regina King’s One Night In Miami, where the Canadian-born actor played boxing legend, Cassius Clay. At 6-foot-4, the Riverdale star is an imposing presence but he also has a softer side that could make him a great Clark Kent. He’s still only 28 years old so he could conceivably play the role throughout the entirety of Warner Bros. Discovery CEO David Zaslav’s 10-year plan for the DC Extended Universe. Even better, Goree’s star is on the rise with recent appearances in Antoine Fuqua’s The Guilty and Amazon’s The Peripheral. Give this talented young actor a shot at Superman and he won’t be on the peripheral anymore.

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Tyler Hoechlin

Tyler Hoechlin

Tyler Hoechlin
Tyler Hoechlin
Photo: Kevin Winter (Getty Images)

This one might be too on-the-nose, but Tyler Hoechlin kills it week after week as Superman on Superman & Lois. He’s been at it a long time, first playing the character in Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, Batwoman, and Legends Of Tomorrow, either on the individual shows or as part of the Arrowverse crossover event, Crisis on Infinite Earths. Hoechlin—who’s about to revisit his breakthrough role as Derek Hale in a Teen Wolf movie—brings charm, humor, and physicality to Superman, but he’s an unlikely choice to make the leap to the big screen. Television viewers have watched him play Superman for free since 2016. Would fans pay to see him in a movie? Also, he’s 35 years old. That’s still young, but if the next Superman film spins an origin story, it wouldn’t work.

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Tom Hopper

Tom Hopper

Tom Hopper
Tom Hopper
Photo: Jesse Grant (Getty Images)

Superman fans first included Tom Hopper on the shortlist to replace Cavill several years ago, mostly on the strength of his work in Black Sails. The Brit has only added good project and strong performance after good project and strong performance since then, including Game of Thrones, Terminator: Dark Fate, and his current gig, The Umbrella Academy. Hooper would be a solid choice, but he’ll turn 38 at the end of January and would likely be 40 by the time a new Superman adventure arrived in theaters.

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Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult

Nicholas Hoult
Nicholas Hoult
Photo: Stuart C. Wilson (Getty Images)

The awkward little kid from About A Boy is all grown up and a handsome major star who effortlessly flits back and forth between offbeat indie projects (The Favorite, Skins, The Great, and The Menu) and mainstream fare (the X-Men movies, Mad Max: Fury Road, the upcoming Renfield). And though he’s British, Hoult can swing a good American accent. He also fits the Superman bill looks-wise, age-wise, talent-wise, and gravitas-and charm-wise. In other words, he’d be a very wise choice.

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Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan
Michael B. Jordan
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images)

Michael B. Jordan is at the stage of his career where he can do pretty much anything he wants. He’s that popular, powerful, talented, and bankable. He has already visited the superhero realm with Fantastic Four and Black Panther, and was reportedly at one point under consideration to play Black Superman, then Superman, but nothing came of it. Jordan was also attached, as a producer, to a proposed Val-Zod series for HBO Max. Given the Warner Bros. Discovery merger, no one knows what’s happening with that, but at least it’s not publicly been dropped from the slate.

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Barry Keoghan

Barry Keoghan

Barry Keoghan
Barry Keoghan
Photo: Jon Kopaloff (Getty Images)

Is the world ready for an Irish Superman? Barry Keoghan would be an interesting choice. He’s a terrific actor who’s worked his way up the call sheet over the years and impressed audiences with his work in The Killing Of A Sacred Deer, Dunkirk, Eternals, and The Banshees of Inisherin. Working against Keoghan’s casting as Superman is his cameo as “Unnamed Arkham Prisoner”—aka The Joker—in The Batman, especially if that cameo results in a larger role in The Batman 2.

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George MacKay

George MacKay

George MacKay
George MacKay
Photo: Tristan Fewings (Getty Images)

George MacKay is a ridiculously talented 30-year-old English actor who exploded onto the scene with his powerful performance in 1917. He followed that up with some riskier, lower-profile film and television projects, including Wolf, The Trick, and I Came By. If MacKay’s looking for a major Hollywood opportunity, he’d surely be on the radar of Gunn and his co-CEO Peter Safran as they contemplate their options for the pivotal role of Superman. And remember, some folks were touting MacKay as a replacement for the troubled and troublesome Ezra Miller as the Flash.

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Charles Melton

Charles Melton

Charles Melton
Charles Melton
Photo: Pierre Mouton (Getty Images)

A Korean American model-turned-actor, Charles Melton possesses the brooding visage and, let’s face it, the great hair, to play Superman. He’s also earned a following with his role as Reggie Mantle on the series Riverdale. A lot of young fans fell under his spell thanks to his performance in The Sun Is Also A Star. It makes sense that he’s in the conversation, and more than a few folks have fan cast him as Superman. Would Gunn pull the trigger on him? We’ll find out soon enough.

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Dacre Montgomery

Dacre Montgomery

Dacre Montgomery
Dacre Montgomery
Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer (Getty Images)

Stranger Things devotees loved Dacre Montgomery as Max’s doomed stepbrother Billy, and the 28-year-old Australian actor has already played a superhero on the big screen. Yes, that was him as Jason Scott, aka the Red Power Ranger, in the Power Rangers movie from 2017. Montgomery is also currently enjoying the glow of appearing in Elvis. We’re not quite convinced that he’s right for Superman, but stranger things have happened.

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Wolfgang Novogratz

Wolfgang Novogratz

Wolfgang Novogratz
Wolfgang Novogratz
Photo: Randy Shropshire (Getty Images)

A lot of folks may have not heard of Novogratz, but take a second and Google the guy. In every photo, he’s the spitting image of Clark Kent and Superman. So, who is he? A 25-year-old New Yorker and model-actor whose credits include Grown-ish, Sierra Burgess Is A Loser, The Half Of It, and Feel The Beat. Yeah, we’re totally unaware of those last two movies, as well. Still, among the up-and-comers on this list, we feel pretty super about Novogratz.

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Will Poulter

Will Poulter

Will Poulter
Will Poulter
Photo: Kate Green (Getty Images)

Will Poulter, the little kid from Son of Rambow, has carved out quite the career for himself. He’s worked pretty much nonstop since that film, appearing in The Chronicles Of Narnia: The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader, We’re The Millers, The Revenant, and Midsommar, with Guardians Of The Galaxy, Vol. 3 coming up next. The Brit will turn 30 on January 28. As much as we love him, and even though he now stands 6-foot-3, we’re just not convinced that he’s Superman material.

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Glen Powell

Glen Powell

Glen Powell
Glen Powell
Photo: Jon Kopaloff (Getty Images)

Some moviegoers may not recognize Powell’s name, but he’s been that guy in that movie or that show for the past 20 years, amassing dozens of credits, including small or supporting roles in The Dark Knight Rises, The Expendables 3, Hidden Figures, Top Gun: Maverick, and Devotion. He’d be something of a wildcard if selected to play Superman. Also going against him, he’s 34 and though good-looking, not nearly as boyish as, say, Austin Butler or Adam DiMarco.

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Chase Stokes

Chase Stokes

Chase Stokes
Chase Stokes
Photo: John Phillips (Getty Images)

In episode after episode of Outer Banks, Chase Stokes proves that he’s genuine leading man material. He’s that good as the central character, John B. He’s also tall and handsome and still just 28 years old. Cavill was merely a year older when he was selected to play Superman. Stokes falls somewhere between a rising talent and an established name, making him a seriously viable choice for the next Superman reinvention.

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Fionn Whitehead

Fionn Whitehead

Fionn Whitehead
Fionn Whitehead
Photo: Lia Toby (Getty Images)

Whitehead is routinely flagged as an actor to watch, and for good reason. He’s a talented British newcomer, just 25, who attracted attention—from directors and audiences alike—for his work in Dunkirk and particularly Black Mirror: Bandersnatch. He’ll next be seen as Branwell Brontë opposite Emma Mackey’s Emily Bronte in the biopic, Emily, as well as the miniseries Great Expectations with Olivia Colman.

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