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From Kirk Alyn To Henry Cavill: The Many Faces Of Superman

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Introduced by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in Action Comics #1 on April 18, 1938, Superman turns 81 today. Over all those years, many actors have had the opportunity to depict the character onscreen, but only a select few have made a lasting impression. With that in mind, check out what we believe to be the five most memorable depictions of Superman in movies and TV—and find out when Season 2 of the Superman-centric Krypton will be premiering on Space here.


Kirk Alyn

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It took 10 years for an actor to portray Superman onscreen and that actor was Kirk Alyn, who played the Man of Steel in a late ’40s serial. Geared toward young audiences, this wasn’t just any serial—it was the most popular serial of all-time.


George Reeves

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George Reeves has the double distinction of being the first actor to play Superman in a movie and a TV series. It all started with 1951’s Superman and the Mole-Men, which served as a kind of extended trailer for Adventures of Superman, the popular television series that ran from 1952 to 1958.


Christopher Reeve

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Easily the most iconic of all Supermen, Christopher Reeve played the character in a string of four movies from 1978 to 1987. While the last of these (Superman IV: The Quest for Peace) was bad enough to kill the franchise, nearly two decades passed before any actor dared attempt to fill Reeve’s boots on the big screen.


Tom Welling

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Superman was relatively quiet in the ’90s, but Dean Cain had a respectable run as the character in four seasons of Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. However, Tom Welling earned significantly more acclaim and success playing a pre-cape Clark Kent in the long-running Smallville.


Henry Cavill

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Brandon Routh attempted to bring Superman back to theatres in 2006, but his film (Superman Returns) was met with a mix of indifference and outright disdain. Seven years later, Henry Cavill had more success with Man of Steel, a darkly revisionist take on the character that stripped him of his iconic innocence.