Although Superman first appeared in pages of 1938’s 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 world’s 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 Tomorrow’s signature red trunks, I’d 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, Superman’s 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.