Ranking the Live-Action Members of Superman’s Supporting Cast – tor.com

Although Superman first appeared in pages of 1938s Action Comics #1, no single medium could contain the Last Son of Krypton. Within ten years, the Man of Steel started showing up on toy store shelves, in a radio show, and, of course, on the screen. Since the 1948 Republic Pictures serial Superman starring Kirk Alyn, we have always had a human face to go with the worlds first superhero, a tradition that continues today with Tyler Hoechlin in the new Arrowverse series Superman & Lois.

But while we could discuss the individual merits of the many men who have donned the Man of Tomorrows signature red trunks, Id argue that any Superman adaptation is only as good as its supporting cast. Superman stories live and die by their portrayals of ace reporter Lois Lane, Supermans pal Jimmy Olsen, Daily Planet editor Perry White, and, of course, the diabolic genius Lex Luthor. Instead of ranking the different Clark Kents (Clarks Kent?) and their alter egos, I find it far more interesting to rank the various live-action takes on his supporting cast.

Below are what I consider to be the best live-action versions of Lois, Jimmy, Perry, and Lex. Ive left off other important charactersparticularly Ma and Pa Kent, Jor-El and Lara, and Lana Langlargely because their portrayals are so uneven. How could I properly judge John Schneider and Annette OTooles many hours as Clarks parents Jonathan and Martha Kent in Smallville against Edward Cassidy and Virginia Carolls 30 seconds of screen time as Eben and Martha Kent in 1948s Superman? For the same reason, Ive left off Elizabeth Tulloch from Superman & Lois. She seems great in the role of Lois, but it isnt fair to pit her scant appearances so far against those of other actors.

Also, I need to lay my cards on the table: I adore Superman, but there have been so many variations on the character over the past 80+ years that I need to be more specific as to what I look for in the character. My ideal Superman stories are John Byrnes Man of Steel, All-Star Superman, and the recent Superman Smashes the Klan. Although I love parts of all the live-action Superman adaptations, so far no one version has fully captured everything I love about Superman and his friends.

Still there? Good! Lets go up, up, and away and count down into the worst to best versions of Supermans live-action supporting cast.

Screenshot: The CW

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Television

Screenshot: Warner Bros. Pictures


Im sure many of you have already made it to the comments to tell me Im wrong about Zack Snyder or that Im disrespecting Hackman. But where else was I wrong? Am I being too mean to Bosworth? Too nice to McClure? Should I have given my Superman rankings too? (Whats the point? Christopher Reeve is the best. No one else is close).

Joe Georges writing regularly appears at Bloody Disgusting and Think Christian. He collects his work at joewriteswords.com and tweets nonsense from @jageorgeii.

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Ranking the Live-Action Members of Superman's Supporting Cast - tor.com

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