These days, we’re used to seeing Brandon Routh inhabiting the role of Ray Palmer AKA the Atom on Legends of Tomorrow each week, but it’s arguable that Superman is the character which springs to mind first whenever his name is mentioned. After all, he’s part of a very exclusive club because there aren’t many actors living or dead who can say they’ve played the Man of Steel.
Believe it or not, Routh could’ve played Kal-El much sooner than 2006’s Superman Returns if history had unfolded differently. While detailing the road to the Bryan Singer-directed picture at Motor City Comic Con this past weekend, Brandon revealed how he drew comparisons to Christopher Reeve while first trying to get his name out there, then talked about how he nearly got the Smallville gig:
“So when Smallville came around, I had an audition for that. This was 2000, 2001. I had that audition, and then I had a callback and I was like, ‘oh, this is gonna happen, right?’ Very naive. Then it didn’t go any further and I was pretty crushed.”
In a way, this is quite similar to how Pierce Brosnan had been considered for James Bond in The Living Daylights, though the role ended up going to Timothy Dalton at the time. Still, Brosnan became 007 for four flicks, beginning with GoldenEye.
Getting back to the topic at hand, here’s more of what Routh had to say:
“Then I booked a soap opera shortly after I moved to New York, where there were billboards of Tom Welling everywhere. Shirtless, hunky, handsome Tom Welling on buses – everything! I was like, (in a joking voice) ‘curse you, Tom Welling!'”
Before moving on to Superman Returns itself, Brandon did say he thought Welling was great as Clark Kent, and has since hung out with him at conventions. Furthermore, he made it known that his fellow Kryptonian is “a cool guy.” Having met both, I’d have to say that’s true.
All things considered, I think Brandon Routh did quite well for himself – even if Smallville ended up not being in the cards. Hey, playing Superman on the silver screen and then following that up with top billing on Legends of Tomorrow is pretty sweet in my book.