There’s just something about Superman that keeps us coming back. After countless movies, TV shows, sequels and remakes, we’re excited to be back. But Superman’s appeal has changed over time.
Now, James Gunn has delivered his new speech Superman: Legacy Movie with David Corenswet as Clark Kent / Kal-El. But this young actor could learn a few things from the first modern Superman actor, Christopher Reeve.
Superman in 1978
In 1978 the car’s logo was new Superman was the movieYou will believe that man can fly. It summed up exactly what people would get, a fresh look at a character that’s been in comic books for years. Superman hadn’t been brought to life on the big screen since the days of black and white cartoons, and now, here he is in all his glory.
The actor chosen to portray the character was Christopher Reeve. He was a tall, lanky actor with a gorgeous, likable smile that director Richard Donner was sure could hold the key to the entire enterprise.
This was a different time. It wasn’t just superhero movies that were unpopular; They did not exist. The last time superheroes were truly shown was in the ’60s Batman TV show, where they are portrayed as goofy and total caricatures. In fact, the characters were often more cartoonish than their comic book namesake.
Donner decided that his Superman would live in a world that felt real, lived, and populated by the actual problems the world was experiencing. This means that Superman has to be a very specific type of hero. Christopher Reeve was up to the challenge.
Reeve was twenty-four years old and 6 feet 4 inches in height. When he got the part, the costume department was told to dress him in a suit so he would have muscle, but Reeve said he’d change that and it took two months for him to bulk up. Needless to say, the fashion department ditched the fake muscles.
But beyond the muscle, Reeve brought something else to the character. He understood how Superman needed to portray himself to the audience and how he needed to act when under his alter ego of Clark Kent. The two couldn’t be more different except for the fact that each was charming in their own way.
Reeve would go on to star in four Superman movies before hanging up on his tights and cape. But not before he established himself in people’s minds for decades as the one true Superman.
What David Korenswet brings to the table
Corenswet is not an untested actor who has never made the spotlight. At 29 years old, he is older than Reeve but matches his height of 6 feet 4 inches. He’s got a decent build, but it’ll be interesting to see if he decides to upsize for the role. Other Superman actors have gone further than Reeve in their attempts to create muscle (see the DCEU’s Henry Cavill), but many people believe that Superman just needs to be fit, since his strength doesn’t actually need to match his muscles.
But Corenswet also brings with it charm and boyishness, even for a man about to turn thirty. In fact, his age may have been a deciding factor as James Gunn tried to find his ideal captain. In this movie, Superman is no beginner and tries to balance his life on Earth with his Kryptonian heritage.
Corenswet brings an air of strength and innocence to the role that will help him portray the dichotomy between being a man of steel and a reporter of mildness.
Balance Reef is a master class at Corenswet
The way James Gunn seems to want to play is by showing the two faces of Superman and how he keeps them balanced. This is an important aspect of the character and should be addressed in any Superman movie. If the character is seen with only one personality, there is likely to be an issue with how the audience perceives them.
Christopher Reeve took Clark Kent’s personality and gave him a well-balanced upbringing that would result in a well-rounded individual. His parents make sure he understands the seriousness of his personality and the importance of using his powers for good. Reeve plays this character as somewhat naive but generally a good person who, in his attempt to be normal, overcomes embarrassment.
On the flip side, Reeve’s Superman is confident, decisive, and a true role model for people everywhere. He is not seen as a threat as he has always been a defender. When he flies over Metropolis, people look on in amazement and pride, not fear and loathing.
Good thing Corenswet learned from Reeve’s photography. If he can bring the same broad innocence to Clark as he stands tall as Superman, he will please himself with audiences everywhere. It is also important that he shows the same empathy that Reeve brought to the role. Superman doesn’t kill, he doesn’t get hurt, and if people get hurt, he makes sure everything is done to help them. He works with the authorities to solve problems and doesn’t go rogue. Reeve took the idea of being a model of virtue and airbrushed it on screen for people to admire.
Corenswet needs to follow Reeve’s lead and give audiences a real hero to look up to. It does not need the darkness of previous films. He should be proud to wear blue and red in defense of those who need his help. James Gunn understands that, and the hope is that he can pass that knowledge on to Corenswet for the sake of Superman: Legacy.