Movies · Podcast Unlimited · Versus

Better Superman: Christopher Reeve Vs. Henry Cavill

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(Editor’s Note: The author of this post is Keith Feltenstein.)

In our next “Versus” round-up, we have 2 actors that have played the same part – Superman! Who was the better actor that have played Superman? There actually have been many, 8 to be exact! In live films! (If we count animation, the count goes into double digits.) But for today, we are focusing only on two: Christopher Reeve and Henry Cavill. I know many might argue to include others, but for this purpose, it’s only these 2! So with that said, who would make the better Kryptonian alien super hero? We will let you decide!

Superman, also known as the Man of Steel, is one of the most powerful superheroes in the DC Universe. His abilities include incredible super-strength, super-speed, invulnerability, freezing breath, flight, and heat-vision. Born as Kal-El on the dying planet Krypton, his parents Jor-El and Lara sent him in a rocket to the planet Earth, where he would be the last surviving member of his race. His rocket was discovered by the kindly Jonathan and Martha Kent, who raised him as their son, Clark, in the town of Smallville, Kansas. His upbringing provided him with strong moral values, and life-long friends Lana Lang and Pete Ross. In his secret identity, he works as a reporter at the Daily Planet in the city of Metropolis. This is where he interacts with his love interest, Lois Lane, his boss, Perry White, and his co-worker Jimmy Olsen. His greatest nemesis is the brilliant super-villain Lex Luthor. To preserve the memory of his home planet and provide him rest from his double-life and adventures, he maintains a Fortress of Solitude at the North Pole.

Superman remains proud of his dual heritage, taking seriously the lessons of his birth-parents and his adopted parents. Although he is an alien to this world, he heavily values his humanity, and fights with conviction for truth, justice, and the American way. There are several other heroes inspired by or directly related to his legacy, including Superboy and Supergirl. He is also a member of the Justice League of America and the Legion of Super-Heroes.

Superman was created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster in 1938, first appearing in Action Comics #1. His supporting cast and his villains have had a lengthy publication history, making him one of the three most important characters at DC Comics, including Batman and Wonder Woman.

Christopher Reeve – The Superman films (1978-1987)

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Reeve was incredible in the role, portraying Clark as a wimpy, fainting small town every-man, every bit mild-mannered. But then he would change that completely, and with such simple effects as deepening his voice, standing straight, and showing some backbone (as well as parting his hair on the other side), he became Superman. He was also the first actor to honestly convey the idea that this man isn’t human, but an alien who, while having grown up on Earth, isn’t truly one of us. While the film series became a little sillier with each additional entry, Reeve always played the role as though it were Hamlet, or King Richard, selling his lines and never seeming condescending of the material.

He had an honest respect for the property, and could have gone on longer with it, had it not been for shoddy scripts and a back injury in 1995 that left him paralyzed. Reeve made the role his own, and became Superman for a whole new generation.

Henry Cavill – “Man of Steel” (2013-present)

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As Superman, Henry Cavill becomes the third British actor to play the lead role of a comic book superhero (Christian Bale as Batman and Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man). He also becomes the first non-American to play Superman. Although he’s turned it around big time, the critics who once felt sorry for him now have the knives out, saying a Brit shouldn’t be playing the all-American Clark Kent and his stars and stripes hero alter-ego. But Henry is unfazed. He explains:

“He is from the planet Krypton. He doesn’t have to be an American, If we were really true to the story, I would be an invulnerable alien. But I’m not, I’m an actor. Superman is an American icon. Whether it’s an American role or not, I can’t be sure… Superman stands for something very universal. He was certainly raised in America but he himself is not necessarily an American, because he’s come from a place very far away… He is very different and therefore all the more beautiful when he tries to do so much for all of us, who are totally different from him.”

At the Man of Steel panel at Comic-Con 2012, Henry Cavill said on what he plans to bring to the Superman legend:

“I just wanted to bring as much of the modern Superman into the world. You, guys, know everything about him, but it’s for everyone out there as well who hasn’t experienced what Superman can be. With this, hopefully I bring a modern version which everyone can associate with…. It is pretty intense, I’m not gonna lie. I’ve just been looking at the trailer and… I get to wear that on my chest. I just really, really hope I’ve done everything I need to do to please you, guys, because this is 100% for you, guys. Thanks for the support.”

Now that you have heard some about each actor that have played The Man of Tomorrow, who would you choose?

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