Published On: Apr 18 2013 08:37:49 AM EDTUpdated On: Jun 14 2013 02:00:00 AM EDT
With the newest incarnation of Superman hitting the big screen, join us for a look at the different actors who have portrayed the superhero, from his radio days to the newest "Man of Steel."
Superman made his first appearance in "Action Comics No. 1," which was published on April 18, 1938. It didn't take very long for the superhero to make the leap off the comic book page.
Bud Collyer voiced Superman in the long-running radio serial "The Adventures of Superman" that originally aired from 1940 to 1951. Collyer also voiced Superman in the Fleischer and Famous Studios cartoons in the 1940s and in the 1960s animated series "The New Adventures of Superman." He's seen here with Joan Alexander, who voiced Lois Lane on the radio series.
Character actor Ray Middleton was the first actor to play Superman in public, which he did on July 3, 1940, during the 1939 New York World's Fair's "Superman Day."
But it was Kirk Alyn who got the chance to be the first to play Superman on screen, first in the 1948 film serial "Superman" and then in its 1950 sequel "Atom Man Vs. Superman."
George Reeves first took on the role of Superman in the 1951 movie "Superman and the Mole Men." The 58-minute movie served as a trial run for the TV version Reeves would become best known for.
Reeves continued to play Superman throughout the 1950s in the TV show "Adventures of Superman." The show came to an end with Reeves' death from a gunshot wound in 1959.
Bob Holiday actually played Superman more times than any other actor, thanks to his lead role in the original cast of the 1966 Broadway musical "It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!"
"It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's Superman!" was made into a TV special that aired on Feb. 1, 1975, starring David Wilson as Superman/Clark Kent and Lesley Ann Warren as Lois Lane.
Christopher Reeve is the actor most associated with the role of Superman, thanks to portraying the superhero in four movies, starting with 1978's "Superman."
Reeve as Superman in 1980's "Superman II"
"Superman III" in 1983 took on a comedic and campy tone, including the addition of comedian Richard Pryor.
Reeve played Superman one last time in 1987's poorly received "Superman IV: The Quest for Peace." The film series would go into hiatus until 2006 following the movie.
Dean Cain put on the tights and cape for the TV series "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman" from 1993 to 1997.
Starting in 2001, the TV series "Smallville" took a "no tights, no flights" approach to Superman, starring Tom Welling as Clark Kent during the years before he becomes Superman. The show ran for 10 seasons before ending in May 2011.
Superman returned to the big screen after a 19-year hiatus with 2006's "Superman Returns," starring Brandon Routh.
British actor Henry Cavill, who has appeared in the films "The Count of Monte Cristo," "Stardust" and "Immortals" and the Showtime series "The Tudors," is the latest to take on the role of Superman, in director Zack Snyder's reboot "Man of Steel."
Along with the various incarnations of Superman over the years, there have also been different incarnations of his villains and friends, including archenemy Lex Luthor. The 1950 movie "Atom Man vs. Superman" also featured the first on-screen appearance of Luthor, played by Lyle Talbot (right).
While Lex Luthor was missing in action for the 1950s TV series, the villain returned for 1978's "Superman" movie, portrayed by Gene Hackman. Hackman reprised the role in "Superman II" and "Superman IV."
John Shea played Lex Luthor in the 1990s TV show "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."
In "Smallville," Michael Rosenbaum played a version of Lex Luthor who becomes friends with Clark Kent after the latter saves Luthor's life. Over the course of the TV series, their relationship crumbled until the pair considered themselves enemies.
In the first movie incarnation of Lex Luthor since Gene Hackman's in "Superman IV," Oscar-winner Kevin Spacey took on the villainous role in "Superman Returns."
Noel Neill (right) was the first to play Lois Lane, appearing in the 15-part 1948 film serial and in "Atom Man vs. Superman" alongside Kirk Alyn's Clark Kent/Superman.
Phyllis Coates (right) took over the role of Lois Lane for "Superman and the Mole Men" as well as for the first season of the 1950s TV show "Adventures of Superman."
However, Neill returned to the role of Lois Lane starting with the second season of "Adventures of Superman" in 1953.
Lois Lane returned to the big screen with 1978's "Superman," with Margot Kidder taking over the role. Kidder reprised the role in each of the three sequels.
Teri Hatcher stepped into the role for TV's "Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman."
While Lois Lane wasn't a character on "Smallville" when it began in 2001, Erica Durance starting playing Lane as a recurring character in the show's fourth season and became a series regular the following season.
In 2006's "Superman Returns," Kate Bosworth took over the role of Lois Lane.
The character again returns in "Man of Steel," this time played by four-time Oscar nominee Amy Adams.
While the "Man of Steel" doesn't feature Lex Luthor, it does bring back a villain familiar to fans of the Christopher Reeve film series. "Boardwalk Empire" star Michael Shannon (right) plays General Zod, a super-powered psychopath from Superman's home planet of Krypton, in the newest film. British actor Terence Stamp (left) first portrayed General Zod in 1978's "Superman I" and 1980's "Superman II."
Now that you've caught up with the various Superman actors, take a look at the trailer for "Man of Steel," which besides Henry Cavill, Amy Adams and Michael Shannon also stars Russell Crowe, Kevin Costner, Diane Lane and Laurence Fishburne.