With production on Zack Snyder’s The Man of Steel being fast-tracked for a December 2012 release date, one can expect a flurry of frequent casting announcements in the coming weeks and months. The obvious questions being, who will play Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, Lois Lane, the as-yet-unnamed super-villain (Lex Luthor, Brainiac, General Zod, or even Parasite), and the titular character himself, Superman?

Well, forget all those rumors about Jon Hamm, Brandon Routh, or whoever you’ve had your heart set on playing the man of steel in The Man of Steel – because casting is only just now getting underway.

According to Deadline, Warner Bros. is casting a wide, err, casting net in their search for the perfect Kryptonian super-man – with an eye on hiring either a television actor or a complete unknown.

Apparently, the studio is seeking actors between the ages of 28 and 32—too young for Jon Hamm and too old for The Social Network star Armie Hammer (who himself was up for the role, long ago, of Batman in George Miller’s now-deceased Justice League of America). Of course, this doesn’t mean that Hamm is out of the running completely, it just means that the possibility he’ll star as The Man of Steel is all the more unlikely. Other casting possibilities include True Blood’s Joe Manganiello, 34, who recently claimed to have been considered for the role, and The Vampire Diaries’ Ian Somerhalder, 32, neither of which particularly scream “Clark Kent” or “Superman” to my comic-book-nerd eyeballs.

In fact, my personal favorite would be Matthew Bomer, 34, star of USA’s White Collar (and once upon a time, Chuck), who is basically the spitting image of Superman/Clark Kent – if a little physically unimposing. He was originally Brett Ratner’s top choice when Ratner was hired to help the movie that would eventually become Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns – and he even starred as Superman in a series of Japanese commercials for Toyota. I’m just saying, a good idea never stops being a good idea.

The casting news comes just a day after a federal judge lifted the delay for the infamous Superman lawsuit, which, according to The Hollywood Reporter, “will allow Warner Bros. to proceed with key depositions of the families of Man of Steel creators, Joe Shuster and Jerry Siegel.”

Basically, this means that the conclusion to this lawsuit, whatever the hell that may be, will come sooner rather than later. Previous rulings have tended to side with the Siegel family, rewarding them with rights to certain facets of the character, including his costume, his alter-ego (Clark Kent), Lois Lane, their reporter jobs, his Kryptonian origin, et cetera. This is because the original Action Comics #1 was created and sold by Shuster and Siegel to DC Comics.

Other elements of Superman’s character, including Kryptonite, Lex Luthor, Jimmy Olsen, Perry White, and Superman’s powers related to vision and flying, will continue to be owned by Warner Bros. and DC Comics because they were created as work-for-hire after the initial purchase.

This will inevitably kick-start fan-conversations painting the families of Shuster and Siegel as evil, greedy jerks hell-bent on stealing their precious character from them. Listen, I love Superman as much as the next guy, and I certainly don’t want him to be anywhere but at DC Comics, but the law is the law. If there was no work-for-hire contract, then Warner Bros. and DC have nothing to go on. You, me, the families of Siegel and Shuster, and everyone you’ve ever met would be a fool not to retrieve the rights that are rightly theirs. Superman isn’t your character until he returns to the public domain, which, with the way our Congress works, will likely be never.

The hope is that Warner Bros. and the Superman creators’ families could work out some sort of deal that rewarded both sides—Warner Bros. with the character of Superman and the families with their just dues. But as this lawsuit becomes more and more vicious, one wonders if that’s even a possibility anymore?

Depositions of the families of Siegel and Shuster are expected to begin immediately. If the Warner Bros. legal team fails, there’s a good chance you can say goodbye to Superman as you know him starting in 2013 – just after The Man of Steel hits movie theaters. Tick, tock.

What are your thoughts on the Warner Bros. decision to cast a relative unknown? Good move? Bad move? And how about the news of the Superman lawsuit going forward? Would you be bummed or ecstatic (or utterly indifferent) if the creators’ families took Superman to Marvel Comics circa 2013? Let us know in the comments!

Sources: DeadlineThe Hollywood Reporter