San Diego Comic-Con has revealed some super-special news for the CW’s Arrowverse – and it’s a development we never thought we’d ever see. A familiar face is donning Superman’s cape once again, and he has some feelings about the impending comeback.
As part of the festivities of Comic-Con 2019, it was announced that the CW is cooking up a crossover of epic proportions: former Superman actor Brandon Routh, who played Clark Kent in the 2006 film Superman Returns, and current Man of Steel Tyler Hoechlin, who portrays Supes in a recurring capacity on Supergirl, will both be suiting up as Superman as a part of the Arrowverse’s upcoming “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event.
It’s a role Routh hasn’t played since 2006’s Superman Returns, and at this point, almost certainly never expected to play again.
The announcement, first reported by Deadline on July 19, got fans in the best kind of huff: a fast-talking frenzy that left some commenters already declaring “Crisis on Infinite Earths” as the greatest crossover event ever. Not long after the news hit the ‘net, Routh took to social media just like the fans did to react to his return as Superman.
Routh tweeted in response to Deadline’s post confirming the news, saying that he was “Honored, humbled, grateful, and still pinching myself.”
Hoechlin, who first slipped into the Superman suit in 2016 for Supergirl, expressed his own anticipation for the forthcoming clash of the Supermen by tweeting at Routh,
“Let’s go brother!”
Routh bantered back with a punch and a wink emoji, as well as the comment,
“So excited to share the screen with you as Supes @tylerhoechlin! So fun! I’m so ready!”
Routh also joked that he was immediately heading off to the gym to get into tip-top shape for the crossover, though we doubt he actually needs to, considering that he’s been playing superheroes for years. Arrowverse loyals will already recognize Routh from his role as Ray Palmer, better known as the Atom — a role which he’s taken to Arrow, The Flash, and DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, on which he’s currently a main player.
The actor also opened up to Entertainment Weekly about his return to the role that put him on the map as a younger man. He admitted that he initially experienced mixed feelings about the news before letting himself feel excited. Asked about his outlook, Routh said,
“It’s an opportunity for me to kind of say hello and goodbye to the character in a way I didn’t get to the first time.”
Routh and Hoechlin’s eagerness about playing duelling Supermen is nothing compared to the reactions of their fans, one of whom tweeted,
“The fact that both of you will be sharing the screen as Supes is blowing my mind! Can’t wait to see you both back in the red cape!”
Another said that the news was the best thing they had heard yet from this year’s Comic-Con – even more incredible than the surprise Top Gun: Maverick trailer Tom Cruise dropped on Thursday. According to that fan,
“I was buzzing like a happy bee over the Top Gun trailer… then this Brandon Routh news drops into my hive like a dollop of sweet unpasteurized honey. Yes! Yes! Yes! Best DC news in ever.”
What makes the news of Routh’s return to the Superman role so exciting is that many thought it would never be possible. The idea of seeing Routh as Kal-El again was pretty unthinkable after Superman Returns failed to generate the kind of box office that studio Warner Brothers Pictures needed to greenlight a sequel, taking in just over $391 million worldwide. That’s not much compared to other DC Comics-based fare from WB, which has tended to scoop up anywhere from around $750 million globally on the lower end to over $1 billion at the top.
While Routh did pick up praise for his performance, Warner Bros. decided not to pursue more films with him in the role. The studio wound up rebooting the character seven years later in 2013’s Man of Steel, the film that started the DC Extended Universe as we know it.
It’s unknown which installments of the five-episode “Crisis on Infinite Earths” event Routh and Hoechlin will appear on. Much like previous crossover events in the Arrowverse, the expansive story is set to once again bring together the casts of the CW’s superhero series, this time including Arrow, Batwoman, The Flash, Legends of Tomorrow, and Supergirl.
Even without the Superman news, it’s clear that the event will be the biggest one in the Arrowverse thus far, spanning two months of real time, with three episodes of the crossover seeing release in December, and two more to follow in January 2020.
The crossover’s story is likely to follow, or at least draw inspiration from, the DC Comics storyline of the same name, in which the heroes fight against the nefarious Anti-Monitor with the help of alternate versions of themselves from different universes.