Friends and colleagues often commented on his likeness to Christopher Reeve, so it was no surprise when unknown actor Brandon Routh, then 25, was cast to play the DC superhero in Superman Returns in 2006.
And while the movie grossed almost US$400 million, reviews were unkind and he wasn’t invited back, Henry Cavill later replacing him as the Man of Steel.
Unable to fully surrender the cloak and tights, he has since played Superman in various iterations of TV’s so-called Arrowverse – Supergirl, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow and Batwoman.
It would be unfair to call Routh one-dimensional, since he has portrayed Ray Palmer/The Atom, also in the Arrowverse, but one wonders whether his resemblance to Reeve was a curse or blessing. Perhaps it was his Kryptonite?
Refuting the curse of Superman, he told a Canadian outlet: “There is no curse of Superman. My life has changed in the most amazing ways since playing that role and that’s the simple fact of it. Without that I would not be the working actor that I am.”
In rare forays into non-Superman related work, Routh has appeared in small roles in Kevin Smith’s Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, and was briefly a regular on the TV series Chuck.
Wed 13 years to actress Courtney Ford – whom he would later work with on the indie drama Life is Hot in Cracktown – the couple have an eight-year-old son.
Routh, now 41, and Ford received a small pandemic boost when they both featured in an all-celebrity fan-film remake of The Princess Bride a few months ago. Also starring Hugh Jackman, Tiffany Haddish, Jennifer Garner and Taika Waititi, the film played on Jeffrey Katzenberg’s now defunct streaming site, Quibi.