What a difference a year makes. Last spring, Supergirl looked like a sure-fire success, a suitable path for CBS to attract younger viewers, and a smart way to integrate an important female character into DC’s televisual universe. Weirdly, the show actually delivered on all that potential, only for a disappointed CBS to orchestrate a relegation to its younger, cheaper corporate sibling, The CW. And as you’ve probably heard, Supergirl plans to celebrate its new home by doing something its producers suggested they’d never do: make Clark Kent/Superman a real character and not just a plot device, talking point, or pair of boots in the corner of a frame.
Whether a living, breathing CK will serve as anything more than promotional fodder—and/or a Kryptonian dog whistle for a certain segment of the DC fan base that may have been turned off by Supergirl’s consistent nods toward feminism—remains to be seen. However, who is cast in the show’s take on the world’s most popular alien will go a long way in telling us what Supergirl has in mind for Kara’s cousin.
By now, we’re all familiar with the web’s Superhero Fantasy Casting Industrial Complex. Everyone—from fans to writers and directors to studios—has their default favs and the entire process gets drawn out with rumors, costume fittings, and chemistry tests. But don’t let the Superman of it all, or the rumor mill, fool you, this isn’t your normal superhero casting process. It’s time to be realistic.
Right now, the role is only slated for a few episodes, it’ll still serve a supporting role to Supergirl’s other titular hero, and it surely pays CW money. Meanwhile, in the show’s canon, Superman is likely a decade or so older than Kara, who was 24 when the series began last fall. A mid-30s version will likely still hit that balance between the bumbling Midwesterner needed for Clark and the Crossfit pro needed for Superman, but it does age the character out of The CW’s normal age range, if even by a little. Finally, while savvy TV viewers are bound to suggest some names and faces associated with The CW, DC properties, or just shows produced by Greg Berlanti, the expanded connectivity of all these DC shows means that a number of potential choices are already occupied or have previously appeared on Arrow, The Flash, and Legends of Tomorrow.
With all those categories in mind, you can simply cross off a bunch of names: Smallville’s Tom Welling never wanted to be in the suit. Brandon Routh, Robbie Amell, and Colton Haynes play notable characters in the DC TV universe and the latter two are probably too young. Colin Donnell’s Tommy died on Arrow and now he’s making that Dick Wolf money on Chicago Med. Older generation WB heartthrobs like Josh Jackson (too busy), Chris Pratt (too Marvel), Jason Behr (too MIA), Matt Long (too small), Gregory Smith (too Canadian), and Chad Michael Murray (too Chad) are out as well. And as much as we’d all love to see Nic Cage finally get to achieve his destiny and play Kal-El, even he is probably too costly for Supergirl at this point.
But don’t fret—even with our properly measured expectations, there are still good candidates that meet some of these broad criteria. Here are five perfectly dope yet still realistic options for Supergirl’s take on Supes.