From the 1948 movie serial to his latest incarnation, a brief history of Superman CBM/TV shows and a look on all the actors who has don the cape of the Man of Steel in the small and big screen.
Kirk Alyn as Superman
1.] Superman (1948, 15 part serial)
Stars an uncredited Kirk Alyn. It is notable as the first live-action appearance of Superman on film and for the longevity of its distribution. It was originally screened at movie matinées and after the first three scene-setting chapters, every episode ends in a cliffhanger. The Superman-in-flight scenes are animations, in part due to the small production budget.
The story centers upon the hero and the nefarious Spider Lady, who is trying to rule the Earth. If she cannot have complete control, she plans on shrinking it with her powerful reducer ray. Much of the episodes center upon Superman's relationship with Lois Lane and upon his ability to fly.
2.] Atom Man vs. Superman (1950, 15 part serial)
Lex Luthor (the Atom Man), invents a deadly amount of devices to plague the city, including a disintegrating machine which can convert people in to their basic atoms and reassemble them in another place. However Superman manages to thwart each scheme.
George Reeves as Superman
3.] Superman and the Mole Men (1951, feature film)
Superman and the Mole Men is a 1951 black and white film starring George Reeves as Superman. It was the first theatrical feature film based on the Superman characters. It was shot in 12 days on a studio backlot. Fifty-eight minutes long, it served as a trial run for the syndicated TV series Adventures of Superman, for which it became a two-part episode titled "The Unknown People".
Reporters Clark Kent and Lois Lane are sent to the small town of Silsby for the inauguration of the world's deepest oil well. Unbeknownst to the drillers, however, the drill shaft has penetrated the underground home of the "Mole Men", a race of small, furry (though bald-headed) beings. The Mole Men come up through the shaft at night to explore the surface.
4.] Adventures of Superman (1952-1958, TV series)
The show is the first television series to feature Superman and began filming in 1951 in California. The show's first two seasons (episodes 1–52, 26 titles per season) were filmed in black-and-white; seasons three through six (episodes 53–104, 13 titles per season) were filmed in color but originally telecast monochromatically both on the ABC network and in first-run syndication.
John Rockwell as Superboy
5.] Adventures of Superboy (1961, unaired pilot)
The Adventures of Superboy was a proposed TV series that was put into production in 1961. It was meant to capitalize on the success of Adventures of Superman, which was cancelled years earlier. A revival was planned, but abandoned following the death of George Reeves, but only a pilot episode, "Rajah's Ransom", was produced. It featured the first non-comic book portrayals ever of Superboy.
David Wilson as Superman
6.] It's A Bird, It's A Plane, It's Superman (1975, Televised production of the Broadway play)
"It's a Bird...It's a Plane...It's Superman" was made into a TV special on February 1, 1975. The show was significantly shortened, and the ethnicity of a troupe of evildoers was changed from Chinese acrobats to Mafia-style gangsters. The show was broadcast on the ABC network under its Wide World of Entertainment late-night umbrella title to poor critical reception. It starred David Wilson as Superman/Clark Kent.
Christopher Reeve as Superman
7.] Superman, The Movie (1978)
Superman: The Movie is a 1978 superhero film based on the DC Comics character of the same name. Richard Donner directed the film, which stars Christopher Reeve as Superman. The film depicts the origin of Superman, from infancy as Kal-El of Krypton and growing up in Smallville. Disguised as reporter Clark Kent, he adopts a mild-mannered attitude in Metropolis and develops a romance with Lois Lane, while battling the villainous Lex Luthor.
8.] Superman II (1981)
Superman II is the 1980 sequel to the 1978 superhero film Superman. It was the only Superman film to be filmed by two directors. For this reason, the film is surrounded with controversy since original director Richard Donner had completed, by his estimation, roughly 75% of the movie in 1977 before being taken off the project. Many of the scenes shot by second director Richard Lester in 1979 are refilmed Donner sequences.
9.] Superman III (1983)
Superman III is a 1983 superhero film and the third film in the Superman film series based upon the long-running DC Comics superhero. The film was the last Reeve/Superman film produced by Alexander Salkind and Ilya Salkind.
10.] Superman IV: The Quest For Peace (1987)
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace is a 1987 superhero film, the last of the Superman theatrical movies starring Christopher Reeve as the Man of Steel. In this film, Superman battles Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) and his creation, a solar-powered evil clone of Superman called Nuclear Man.
John Haymes Newton as Superboy
Gerard Christopher as Superboy
11.] Superboy (1988-1992, TV series)
Superboy was a half-hour live-action television series based on the fictional DC Comics comic book character Kal-El's early years as Superboy. The show ran from 1988–1992 in syndication. It was renamed The Adventures of Superboy at the start of the third season. John Haymens Newton played Superboy on the 1st season of the show and on the last three season Superboy wa played by Gerard Christopher.
Dean Cain as Superman
12.] Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman (1993-1997, TV series)
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman is a live-action American television series based on the Superman comic books. Lois & Clark aired on ABC from September 12, 1993 to June 14, 1997, and starred Dean Cain as Superman/Clark Kent. The series loosely follows the comic philosophy of writer John Byrne with Clark Kent as the true personality, and Superman as a secondary disguise. As the show's title suggests, it focuses as much on the relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane as on the adventures of Clark's alter-ego.
Brandon Routh as Superman
13.] Superman Returns (2006)
Superman Returns is a 2006 superhero film based on the DC Comics character Superman. Directed by Bryan Singer, the film stars Brandon Routh as Superman. It is a sequel to Superman (1978) and, to a lesser extent, Superman II (1980), and ignores the events of the two previous installments in the Superman film series –– Superman III (1983) and Superman IV: The Quest for Peace (1987). The film tells the story of the title character returning to Earth after several years of absence. He finds that his love interest Lois Lane has moved on with her life, and that his archenemy Lex Luthor is plotting a scheme that will destroy the United States.
Tom Welling as Clark Kent
14.] Smallville (2001-2011, TV series)
Smallville is an American television series developed by writers/producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, based on the DC Comics character Superman created by Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster. The television series was initially broadcast by The WB, premiering on October 16, 2001. The longest-running comic book based series in television history, Smallville began its tenth season in September 2010. The series follows the adventures of Clark Kent (Tom Welling), who resides in the fictional town of Smallville, Kansas, during the years before he becomes Superman. The first four seasons focused on Clark and his friends' high school years. Since season five, the show has ventured into more adult settings, eventually focusing on his career at the Daily Planet, as well as introducing other DC comic book superheroes and villains.
See other DC comic book characters in Smallville [HERE].