Back in the mid-2000s when Warner Bros. were desperately trying to get a new Superman movie off the ground, a torturous process that had already seen Tim Burton’s Superman Lives implode before Wolfgang Petersen’s Batman v Superman and McG’s Superman: Flyby bit the dust, a lot of fans believed there was a perfect Man of Steel staring the studio in the face.
Tom Welling played Clark Kent for ten seasons and 217 episodes of Smallville, but the strict ‘no-fly’ rule put in place by showrunners Alfred Gough and Miles Millar meant that the actor would never get the opportunity to suit up in the superhero’s iconic costume and fly around Metropolis in all of his glory.
He was linked to the feature film version of the character more than once, but it never ended up happening, with Brandon Routh ultimately cast in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns in the midst of Smallville‘s run on television. However, Welling revealed in a new interview with The Hollywood Reporter that no less an authority than Christopher Reeve wanted him to play the Big Blue Boy Scout, not just his mild-mannered alter ego.
“I remember in the end he says to me, ‘I’m really glad they chose you to be the next Superman.’ I was like, ‘Well, they didn’t.” That’s when Brandon had gotten the role. And he said, ‘Well they should have.’ I get chills thinking about that. It was so cool to feel like he had put the sword on my shoulders and knighted me somehow. It was very special.”
Most people still regard Reeve as the best Superman there’s ever been, so it must have been a huge seal of approval for Welling at the time to be endorsed by someone with such strong ties to the Kryptonian favorite.