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Before Zack Snyder Chose Henry Cavill, Brandon Routh Was Desperate To Play Superman in ‘Man of Steel’ after Superman Returns Debacle

zack snyder henry cavill brendon routh

Superman Returns was one of cinema’s greatest missed potential. With a new star helming the iconic IP, this was the first live-action return of Superman since the Christopher Reeve saga of the late 70s and 80s began to dwindle commercially with each sequel. As such, Brandon Routh already had a lot to live up to, and even though the film wasn’t able to bring back the magic that Richard Donner had served in 1978, Returns was still great in its own right. However, a sequel to the ’06 film was not exactly in the cards for DC and Warner Bros., although Routh did come close to securing his well-deserved follow-up to the debut soon after.

Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Returns (2006)

Also read: Brandon Routh Returning as Superman To DCU Following Henry Cavill’s Exit? Superman Returns Star Reacts To James Gunn’s Superman Casting Update

Brandon Routh’s Plans to Return as Superman in MoS

The story of Superman Returns was just as great as the first two Christopher Reeve-Superman films. In a sense, Returns was fated to be an extension of the Richard Donner stories and not only feature a comeback of the Kryptonian god-hero to Earth after a lengthy absence but the same in the live-action silver screen after the final Reeve film, Superman IV: The Quest for Peace in 1987. Bryan Singer was tapped in as the director and with his skill for CBM films already evident by then, the film proved to be a stellar success.

Brandon Routh as Superman
Brandon Routh as Superman

Also read: “It’s gonna be chipped on your gravestone”: Brendan Fraser Reveals He Was Almost Cast as Superman Before Henry Cavill and Brandon Routh, Claims Didn’t Want to Become a One-Trick Pony After The Mummy Fame

Brandon Routh was iconic in his red-caped, trunks-equipped suit and as symbolic of hope as Superman can be. Paired against an equally great Kevin Spacey as Lex Luthor, the film brought back the nostalgic and wholesome air that always cloaked a Man of Steel film. Within four months of the release of Returns, a sequel slated for ’09 was greenlit with the Singer-Routh-Spacey trio signed to reprise their duties.

But the project fell through due to a lot of factors juxtaposing at the wrong time and through no fault of his own, Routh’s Superman was left to scour the planet for a likely home to harbor him. Rumors say he found one with Zack Snyder in the then-projected 2013 film, Man of Steel, before ultimately losing out to Henry Cavill for the role. And understandably so.

Factors Why Brandon Routh’s Superman Sequel Fell Apart

Primarily, the Superman Returns sequel slated for 2009 had begun to gather dust within a few months of its announcement. Singer’s reputation was increasingly under fire and Brandon Routh later commented –

“At the end of the day, the studio, Warner Brothers, decided it was too much of a gamble for them to do a sequel. The creative entities, the writers, and the directors were on to other things. Certain people at the studio who were excited about Superman had left to go on to other projects at other studios. So, it was both the passion and the interest in Superman [that] dissipated…”

Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel
Henry Cavill as the Man of Steel

Also read: “Brandon Routh as Kingdom Come Superman?”: After James Gunn Hints Kingdom Come, Fans Demand a No Way Home Style ‘Supermen of the Multiverse’ Movie With Henry Cavill, Brandon Routh

Routh’s lookout for the next big Superman project then took him to the gates of Snyder’s massive DCEU and already being the Superman that he was, this version of Kal-El would not fit in with the world-building that Snyder had in mind. An invocation of the events that now replaced Henry Cavill as Superman in DCU then happened a decade ago when Snyder cast a new actor instead of bringing back Routh into his new universe – the arc would be too confusing if he did the latter.

However, Routh’s optimism – sometimes even emulating his onscreen alter ego – continued to see him return time and again in his red and blues throughout the DC television projects, including Crisis on Infinite Earths and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.

Source: Geek House Show

Written by Diya Majumdar

It's 2023 and Diya Majumdar's social life is defined by a 365-day binge-marathon of films and television shows. Having graduated with honors in literature from Miranda House, she now has more than 1000 published articles on Fandomwire, and her passion and profession both include dissecting the world of cinema. She happens to be a liberally opinionated person with an overbearing love for Monet, Edvard Munch, and Van Gogh, and hardly anything fascinates her more than painting exact replicas of all their troubled works – in oil, of course.