Now that Zack Snyder is officially directing the Superman reboot, The Man of Steel, new rumors concerning who the villain of the film will be and what actor will don the red & blue spandex are bound to pop up.

There were rumblings last week about how the criminal Kryptonian General Zod could be Kal-El’s foe in The Man of Steel, but this is the first we’ve heard of the rumor that Superman Returns‘ leading man, Brandon Routh, could actually reprise his role in Snyder’s reboot.

Bad Taste caught up with Snyder this week and was told that the the news about Zod is, for now, “just a rumor” – which is essentially a noncommittal response that neither confirms or denies the possibility of Zod appearing in Man of Steel. The fact that Snyder did not flat-out shoot down the suggestion could mean that it is completely accurate, but that Warner Bros. wants to cast someone in the role before they make any official announcements (like Sony did with the baddie in its Spider-Man reboot). Or the Zod rumors could be way off; we’ll just have to wait and see for now.

The news that Brandon Routh might play Superman again in Man of Steel is arguably the more interesting rumor right now. AICN chatted with the actor a few months ago and learned that he had hooked up with a trainer to get him “into full on Superman shape again.” Routh may no longer be in the running now that Snyder is onboard, but this information is nonetheless intriguing.

Brandon Routh as Superman.

One (legitimate) common criticism of Routh’s take on Superman was that the actor not only looked too young, but lacked the onscreen charisma of his predecessor, Christopher Reeve, in the role. Routh is a bit older now and Snyder’s Man of Steel might call for a far different take on the character than Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns did – could Routh now be the right man for the job?

Snyder’s Superman reboot will undoubtedly bear the filmmaker’s signature visual style and love of slow-motion action, but both his and Christopher Nolan’s involvement with the project also suggests that Man of Steel might be a darker and more complex movie than previous Superman pics. Whoever is eventually cast in the titular role will have to reflect that tonal shift in their performance.

Will Snyder deliver a darker Superman movie?

With the news that production on the Superman reboot may be rushed came the logline for Man of Steel, which involves Clark Kent traveling the world as he decides whether or not to actually become Superman. Could the hero’s existential dilemma be all the more complicated by the arrival of an impending threat to the Earth that only he can stop – say, a being with powers equal to his own, a la General Zod?

A situation like that would force Superman’s hand and make him accept his role as a defender of the planet Earth – even if he remains uncertain as to whether or not that is truly a good idea in the long term. It would be a tricky philosophical quandary that The Man of Steel would have to face – and isn’t that exactly the kind of thing that Nolan in particular has already proven he loves?

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Source: Bad Taste, AICN