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Top 10 Portrayals of Superman

VO: Dan Paradis
Script written by Derick McDuff Up, up, and away! Join WatchMojo.com as we count down our top 10 portrayals of Superman. For this list we will be looking at both live action portrayals as well as voice work. Special thanks to our user sarahjessicaparkerth for submitting this idea on our Suggestion Tool at http://WatchMojo.comsuggest
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Top 10 Portrayals of Superman


Up, up, and away! Welcome to WatchMojo.com and today we’ll be counting down our top 10 portrayals of Superman.

For this list we will be looking at both live action portrayals of the man of stell as well as voice work from cartoons and other media.

#10: Danny Dark
“Super Friends” (1973-86)

There was nothing quite like the campy ridiculous superhero cartoons of the seventies and eighties, and none was more iconic than the Super Friends. Danny Dark, who was already famous for his voice over work in a slew of commercials and at NBC, was known as the “voice over king”, and the perfect fit to lead the cheesy Super Friends for well over a decade and through seven incarnations.

#9: Tim Daly
“Superman: The Animated Series” (1996-2000)

The nineties saw a renaissance of superhero cartoons, and with almost every iconic superhero receiving their own shows, the Man of Steel was no exception. The show drew inspiration from both the silver age of comics and the retcons of the 80’s and Tim Daly managed to portray a Superman that felt timeless. Daly was so popular among fans that over the years he returned to the role in a number of well received DVD movies, such as "Justice League: Doom."

#8: Kirk Alyn
“Superman” (1948) and “Atom Man vs. Superman” (1950)

Plenty of actors have donned the iconic blue and red, but Kirk Alyn was the first. For years audiences had seen and heard the man of steel in the comics and on the radio, but Alyn gave them their first glimpse of him on the big screen. His films appeared in a serialized format, being shown in segments before feature films, and he helped set the groundwork for Superman films for years to come. Alyn was even given a cameo in the 1978 Superman film as Lois Lane’s father.

#7: Brandon Routh
“Superman Returns” (2006)

Although there weren’t an abundance of high points in this one off Superman film, Brandon Routh’s acting was one of the few. The film emulated the feel of the comic books of the 30s and 40s as well as the films of the 70s and early 80s. Routh’s naturalistic acting made a somewhat lackluster script and rigidly written character engaging. Although, because of a series reboot, Routh never returned to the role, he appeared in various other comic book inspired roles including a superpowered vegan in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World and the Atom in Arrow.

#6: Dean Cain
“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” (1993-97)

As the name suggests, this iteration of Superman largely focused on Superman’s secret identity, Clark Kent, and his romance with Lois Lane, played by Teri Hatcher. Instead of portraying the mild mannered Clark as humbled introvert, he appeared as a highly accomplished and well respected reporter. His portrayal of Clark Kent that truly had a lasting impact, as many subsequent actors have played the reporter far less timidly.

#5: George Reeves
“Superman and the Mole Men”(1951) and “Adventures of Superman” (1952-58)

Superman finally got his first non-serialized big screen appearance in 1951, with the talented George Reeves in the title role. The film led into a highly popular television series, and largely thanks to his acting talents, Reeves became a celebrity and the first actor to become famous nationwide as Superman. Sadly Reeves also became known as the first victim of the alleged “Superman curse.” After growing dissatisfied with his role and a slew of personal problems, Reeves tragically took his own life in 1959.

#4: Tom Welling
“Smallville” (2001-11)

Focusing on the formative years of Clark Kent, Smallville chronicled the days of Superman before he was Superman, including the development of his powers and meeting key figures like Lex Luthor and Lois Lane. Over the course of ten seasons, Welling showed Clark growing from a high schooler, conflicted about his unique abilities, into a force for good. The phenomenal success of the show was thanks in no small part to Welling’s acting, and at the end of the day, he's played the character longer than any live action actor.

#3: Henry Cavill
D.C. Cinematic Universe (2013-)

After the success of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight franchise, and in order to differentiate themselves from rival Marvel, D.C. rebooted the series with a much more serious version of Supes. Fortunately for the team behind Man of Steel, Cavill managed to bring a stoicism to the role rarely seen by someone in tights, while still managing to convey a real sense of hope, wonder, and even joy at times. Things are only bound to get more interesting as Cavill’s Superman is set to face off against Batman next summer in a movie that totally doesn't look dumb at all.

#2: George Newbern
“Justice League/Justice League Unlimited” (2001-2006)

After the success of animated series like Superman and Batman they, along with other heroes, were brought together for a new super show. Due to other contractual obligations Tim Daly was unable to reprise his role as Superman and handed the reins off to George Newbern. Unlike the similarly premised Super Friends, he played the part without a hint of irony or cheesiness. Newbern excelled in the role, with a voice that could only be described as heroic and noble.

Before we unveil our top pick, here are a few honorable mentions:

Bob Holiday
“It’s a Bird… it’s a Plane…it’s Superman” (Broadway Production) (1966)

James Denton
“All-Star Superman” (2011)

David Wilson
“It’s a Bird… it’s a Plane…it’s Superman” (T.V. Movie) (1975)

#1: Christopher Reeve
“Superman" series (1978-87)

If one actor ever could convey a sense of truth, justice, and the American way, it had to be Chris Reeve. Far from a traditional action star, Reeves was plucked from obscurity to play the iconic role. Reeve approached the part as a dual role, drawing inspiration from Carey Grant for Clark Kent, and portraying Superman with a vulnerability not seen before in the character. As a result even a decade after his tragic death and almost thirty years after playing the character, for many, he is still the face of Superman.

Do you agree with our list? Which is your favorite portrayal of Superman? For more superpowerful top 10s published daily be sure to subscribe to WatchMojo.com.
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