[Update: Henry Cavill has been cast as Superman]

Not long after it was announced that Zack Snyder would be directing the upcoming Superman reboot Man of Steel, rumors arose that True Blood‘s Joe Manganiello was in talks for the role of Clark Kent/Superman.

Manganiello’s name joined a growing list of other potential contenders that included Jon Hamm, Arnie Hammer, and Matthew Goode. Hammer indicated that he was definitely interested, but that the filmmakers were looking for someone in the 35-40 age range. Hamm recently put an end to the speculation surrounding his involvement with Man of Steel by declaring the opposite – he insisted that the film was instead “a young man’s game.”

While this means Hammer could conceivably still have a shot, a recent tweet from Hero Complex claims that Manganiello has actually emerged as the frontrunner for the role. That tweet inspired  Ministry of Gossip to dig a little deeper and they heard a similar story:

Here’s what we know: At last week’s Academy Bake Off, a celebration of visual effects in film, talk around the room (especially from the team working on the new “Superman”) said Manganiello kept popping up in serious talks about a new face for the franchise.

Is this the original rumor simply coming back around a second time, or could the Man of Steel team really be centering in on Manganiello? He certainly hasn’t inspired the same groundswell of support that someone like Hamm managed to. Nor does he have a fan base as passionate as Tom Welling’s Smallville followers, who are determined to see him land the role.

I’ll admit that the first time Manganiello’s name came up, I didn’t think he was a particularly strong candidate. Quite honestly, I still have my doubts. I know he’s come a long way since the rather one-dimensional role of Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies and that he’s currently turning a lot of heads on True Blood – there’s just a major disconnect between every photo I see of this guy and the way I perceive the Superman character.

Fan manipulations like the one above definitely hint at Manganiello’s potential, but we all know there’s so much more to Superman than being able to fill out that iconic suit.

I don’t want it to sound like I’m writing off Manganiello, though. I realize that it’s always going to be difficult to disassociate yourself from the incarnations of the character that you grew up with, but it’s been implied that Man of Steel will be forging its own path down Superman‘s cinematic landscape.

I have a feeling that even if it Manganiello doesn’t get the role, whoever does ultimately wind up in the tights might initially strike most of us as a similarly unconventional choice.

Superman: Man of Steel is scheduled to hit theaters around holiday season 2012.

Source: Hero Complex and Ministry of Gossip.