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5 Men Who Were Almost Superman

Matthew Bomer (left), Matthew Goode, Armie Hammer, Joe Manganiello and Colin O’Donoghue

By now most everyone is aware that The Tudors co-star Henry Cavill has been cast as the lead in Zack Snyder’s Superman reboot. But how did the 27-year-old Brit land the coveted role, and who did he beat to get it?

Heat Vision reports that Cavill, who was on McG’s shortlist for the planned Superman: Flyby, was one of the top three or four contenders for this new film from the very beginning. He was among the actors who auditioned for producer Christopher Nolan and Warner Bros. in November and December, and was invited to a callback earlier this month, where he met with Snyder.

Here’s a breakdown of the five actors who, according to Heat Vision, were also under consideration:

Matthew Bomer: The 33-year-old American actor is best known as con man-turned-FBI consultant Neal Caffrey on White Collar, and for his recurring role on Chuck.

Matthew Goode: Reportedly Cavill’s stiffest competition, the 32-year-old Watchmen star was linked to the role in late November. The British actor is said to have removed himself from contention for the lead in Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter so he could focus on Superman (Ben Walker, who originally was cast as Henry McCoy in X-Men: First Class, ended up landing the part of the ax-wielding president).

Armie Hammer: Another actor mentioned early in the race for the role, the 24-year-old American appeared in episodes of Gossip Girl and Reaper, but rose to prominence playing the Winklevoss twins in The Social Network.

Joe Manganiello: Although he appeared as Flash Thompson in Spider-Man and Spider-Man 3, the 34-year-old American gained fame as the werewolf Alcide on True Blood. Manganiello was mentioned just last week as a front-runner for Superman, but Heat Vision contends the production schedule of the HBO series was a factor in his losing the role.

Colin O’Donoghue: The only actor on the list who wasn’t rumored for the role, the 30-year-old Irishman made his Hollywood movie debut over the weekend opposite Anthony Hopkins in The Rite. He also appeared in an episode of The Tudors.

In related news, Hero Complex and’s PopWatch address the trend that’s been mentioned in the comments here and elsewhere: the number of prominent American superhero roles portrayed by British actors (most notably, Batman, Spider-Man and now Superman).

Snyder’s Superman reboot, thought to be called Man of Steel, is written by David S. Goyer from a story by Goyer and producer Christopher Nolan. Charles Rovan, Emma Thomas and Deborah Snyder also are producing. Thomas Tull and Lloyd Phillips are executive producers. Filming is expected to begin in June for a December 2012 release.


  • Squashua

    Regardless of his age, I’d have gone with Jon Hamm.

  • Phineas J. Whoopie

    I was interested in Jon Hamm, but given that they were looking for the age bracket they were, Hamm would be almost Kingdom Come Superman by the time a third movie rolled around. Besides, Superman in the regular comics is supposed to be around the age range they’re looking for. Given that like Nolan, Snyder has a penchant for working with the same actors as other projects from time to time, I’d love it if Hamm came onboard as a villain. Possibly Lex Luthor or Metallo.
    Wasn’t all that pleased with the idea of Matthew Goode as Superman, but I could see him as Brainiac.
    I’m happy with Cavill in the role. And that stuff about his being a brit? Well Superman may be an American made character and an American icon, but let the actor ACT. Besides, white, black, brit, or whatever, we’re all immigrants here in a nation originally populated by the native americans. Just like a certain immigrant from the planet called Krypton.
    Cavill is a fine choice. I’m pleased and look forward to seeing him in the role.

  • nick price

    Why hasn’t Tom Welling been offered role of Superman – surely he is perfect in every way!

  • Kevin Melrose

    Setting aside whether Welling is talented enough to carry a movie, casting him in the feature film would anchor it to Smallville. Producers would either have to saddle Man of Steel (or whatever it ends up being called) with 10 years’ worth of television continuity, or spend a portion of their promotional efforts explaining that, while the film and the TV series share the same actors in the same roles, one has little to do with the other.

  • Superdude

    I agree about Tom Welling, he should have been offered the role, I bet the movie would have been an instant success plus welling is american.

  • Cover55555

    Granted neither the show nor the movie were amazing, Welling or Routh are more than adequate, the scripts weren’t their fault. If this is another origin story forced down our throats with Luthor being the bad guy, I will be very annoyed. If anything it’s Superman and Lex working together against Brainiac.

  • RunnerX13

    Looks wise, I think they’ve made the best choice. I liked Goode in Watchmen, but he’s pretty scrawny looking.

  • Coryjameson

    Matthew Bomer would have been an awesome choice for Superman. Could you imagine the furor over a gay actor playing Superman?!