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Famous Actors Who Almost Played Superman

Updated July 13, 2020 8.5k votes 937 voters 69.4k views29 items

List RulesThese notable people were all (somewhat) close to playing Superman. Vote up the ones you wish got the part.

Superman is one of the most iconic American characters of the 20th century, but for whatever reason he’s impossible to perfectly capture on film and television. Directors have tried all kinds of hunky actors, but they never seem to be able to get it right. Man of Steel’s Henry seems like the most comic book looking of all the actors to play him, which might be why he was chosen. But the actors who almost played Superman all have something interesting about them, and you can see each generation’s sensibilities in their casting choices. Take a look at these hunky guys who almost played comic book characters and see if they look like Superman to you.

A Superman actor really only has to do one thing well. Look good in that red and blue suit. The guys who played Superman all looked like Superman when they put on their outfit, so maybe when the actors who were inches away from being Clark Kent put on the famous costume everything fell apart. On the other hand, some of the actors who were considered for the role just didn’t want to deal with the pressure of saving the world every two years – which makes sense. But come on, how fun does it sound to be Superman. Most of these actors will probably never know.

Vote on which actor you think should have played Superman, and leave us a comment if you there’s an actor out there who you think deserves to don the blue and red tights. 

  • Tom Welling
    Photo: Barbara Doduk / Flickr

    Tom Welling was already Superman, duh. He was zipping around Smallville for a decade. But that doesn't mean that when The CW decided that they wanted to add a Superman character to Supergirl he wasn't in the conversation. But according to the star he wasn't all that interested. "I don't know. It would be kind of odd. I don't know who he is at that point. He would obviously be Superman."

    Wish he got the part?

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  • Joe Manganiello
    Photo: Frazer Harrison/Staff / Getty Images

    Zach Snyder's Man of Steel really messed a lot of people up. Patient zero was Joe Manganiello, who revealed that he was super depressed after failing to clinch the coveted role of Clark Kent.

    Possibly speaking to his therapist, Manganiello said, "[Warner Bros] wanted me to screen test and part of the screen test process is that they actually have to settle your deal, as if you were cast going into a screen before you get the screen test. And so that involved settling the shooting schedule. The dates for shooting Superman would have conflicted with 11 weeks of season five [of True Blood]. And as it turns out they had big plans for my character in season five and they were not willing to share me with Superman. So regrettably I never got to screen test and I never got to compete for the role. I never got to put on the suit."

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  • Matt Bomer
    Photo: Third Way / flickr / CC-BY-NC-ND 2.0

    Hunky actor Matt Bomer was so close to being Superman in Man of Steel. If we had to guess, because he looks so similar to Henry Cavill, he was probably neck and neck with the man who would go on to don the blue tights. 

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  • David Giuntoli
    Photo: Gage Skidmore / Wikimedia Commons

    Before the producers of Man of Steel settled on Henry Cavill as their gruff and scraggly Superman, they scoured the earth for anyone to shove into a blue and red outfit.

    In an interview after not getting the part he talked about how absurd the audition process was. “It was a really cool experience to get to go audition for these big hero roles like Superman. And they’re rightfully so cagey about the script, they often send you sides that have nothing to do with the script itself and you’re kind of left to guess what’s going on."

    Wish he got the part?