Richard Donner seems to have started a Superman movie tradition when he cast legendary actor Marlon Brando as Superman’s dad, Jor-El, in his 1978 classic. Now Warner Bros., and the team behind Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel are continuing in that tradition, by snagging a famous name to play Jor-El in the upcoming Superman reboot.

That’s right: Superman’s new daddy is none other than Russell Crowe.

Variety has the exclusive on the news, claiming that producer Chris Nolan had been pushing for a headlining name to play Jor-El role for some time, and Crowe is the man they got. It’s also stated that a big-name actress is being sought to play Superman’s mother, though no word yet on who that might be.

We were reminded during a recent panel on upcoming changes to the Superman character that Donner was one of the first to realize that populating a comic book movie with accomplished thespians in supporting roles was a great way to elevate the potentially-campy material to a proper dramatic level. It’s a tactic that Nolan himself has confessed as having borrowed for the casting of his Batman trilogy.

Well, you don’t get much more “accomplished” than an actor of Crowe’s caliber. The one-time Oscar-winner (thrice nominated) has so many hits under his belt that it’s almost pointless to list them (you know the titles). As far as being a match for the role of Jor-El: one of Crowe’s trademarks is his tough-yet-vulnerable demeanor (see: Gladiator, LA Confidential, Cinderella Man) and he can definitely play the nervous smart/clever guy (A Beautiful Mind, State of Play, The Insider). These qualities make Crowe a more than sensible choice to play Jor-EL, a character who is a brilliant scientist and loving family man, forced to face the end of his world and find the courageous resolve to save his only son.

Jor-El (Brando) banishes General Zod to the Phantom Zone in Donner’s ‘Superman’

Considering that Man of Steel will feature Kryptonian villains General Zod (Michael Shannon) and Faora, Crowe may actually get a significant amount of screen time to fill. Recent Superman comics have featured a more extensive exploration of Zod and Jor-El’s history on the planet Krypton; will those comic book storylines influence the shape of Man of Steel? It’s quite possible. Other actors in the film include Henry Cavill (The Tudors) as Superman, Amy Adams as Lois Lane, Kevin Costner as Pa Kent and Diane Lane as Ma Kent.

What do you guys think of Russell Crowe playing Superman’s pappy? Good choice?

Man of Steel will be in theaters in December of 2012.

Source: Variety