Here's everything we know about Brandon Routh's version of Superman in Arrowverse's upcoming Crisis On Infinite Earths crossover event. This year's Arrowverse crossover promises to be the biggest one yet and will span five series over five nights. The first three chapters of Crisis On Infinite Earths will play out in December on Supergirl, Batwoman, and The Flash. Then, in January, Arrow and DC's Legends of Tomorrow (which Routh stars in as The Atom) will close out Crisis On Infinite Earths' final two chapters.
Brandon Routh's role in the mega-crossover is arguably the most anticipated by fans, since he's reprising the role of Superman. The Arrowverse has made a tradition of honoring past incarnations of DC superheroes in movies and TV, and even makes them canon as part of the Multiverse. With Routh, they scored a spectacular coup of fan service worthy of Crisis On Infinite Earth's magnitude since the actor played the Man of Steel in 2006's Superman Returns. While Bryan Singer's film didn't reignite the Superman franchise as everyone hoped it would, Routh's earnest portrayal of the Last Son of Krypton - a role he inherited from the late Christopher Reeve - was widely praised as the film's bright spot.
Since Crisis On Infinite Earths is about entire worlds and realities being destroyed by an evil cosmic force called the Anti-Monitor (LaMonica Garrett), it makes sense that Routh's Superman would rise up to defend his corner of the Multiverse. However, in typical Arrowverse fashion, there's an intriguing added twist to Routh's return as the Man of Steel that makes it even more exciting for longtime DC fans. Here's why Brandon Routh isn't playing just any version of Superman and what it all means.
Brandon Routh Is Playing Kingdom Come Superman
At San Diego Comic-Con, it was announced that Brandon Routh will be playing the Kingdom Come Superman - a fact the actor cemented on stage at the Arrow panel when he opened his shirt to reveal the distinctive red and black "S" shield. Kingdom Come Superman is one of the most popular incarnations of the Man of Steel; introduced in Mark Waid and Alex Ross' 1996 classic Elseworlds story Kingdom Come, this older, grey-templed version of Superman returns from a self-imposed ten-year exile to impose his values upon a DC Universe run amok with ultraviolent superheroes who don't care about saving lives and protecting the innocent.
As Arrowverse executive producer Marc Guggenheim told EW, playing Kingdom Come Superman was actually Routh's ingenious idea. When Guggenheim confessed that they wouldn't be able to acquire the costume Routh wore in Superman Returns, the affable actor suggested becoming Kingdom Come Superman as an alternative. It's a fascinating spin that plays into how the Man of Steel Routh portrayed in Superman Returns was a continuation of Reeve's version, who was already a hero from a different era. So, naturally, the Reeve/Routh Superman would be an older incarnation of the Last Son of Krypton, according to the Arrowverse's timeline.
Kingdom Come Superman is also a version that has never been portrayed in live-action before, which gives Crisis On Infinite Earths extra voltage as a must-see novelty for the fans. And even though Routh had mixed feelings about donning the red cape again, he realized Crisis On Infinite Earths is a chance for him to get closure for a character he was disappointed he wasn't able to continue playing in films while still getting to do something different and memorable as Superman.
Routh Isn't The Only Superman In Crisis On Infinite Earths
Since the Crisis is about infinite Earths, it stands to reason there would be infinite Supermen in the Multiverse. Arrowverse fans will get to see two different Supermen in the crossover because Tyler Hoechlin will reprise his role as Supergirl's Man of Steel as well. In 2018's Elseworlds crossover, fans were thrilled to see Hoechlin play two versions of Superman since he also portrayed the evil Black Suit Superman, who was, in reality, the villainous John Deehan (Jeremy Davies) turned into a villainous Kryptonian by the Book of Destiny. But in Crisis On Infinite Earths, the two Supermen will be played by Hoechlin and Brandon Routh.
Routh's older and grimmer Kingdom Come Superman will be a terrific contrast to Hoechlin's Man of Steel, who is a bright, sunnier version. Supergirl's Superman is confident that his cousin Kara Zor-El (Melissa Benoist) has become Earth-38's protector, which has allowed him to build a new family with Lois Lane (Elizabeth Tulloch, who is also returning for Crisis On Infinite Earths. Furthermore, Hoechlin's Superman's origin story is strikingly similar to Smallville's Superman and he grew up in Kansas with many of the advantages Tom Welling's Man of Steel had, including the Kent Farm (which was the same one seen in Supergirl), the Fortress of Solitude, and an intrepid best friend named Chloe Sullivan. Clearly, Hoechlin's Superman has not experienced the tragedies that have scarred Kingdom Come Superman.
However, the ominous question hanging over Crisis On Infinite Earths is whether both Supermen will die during the cataclysm. It's possible one or even both Men of Steel will sacrifice their lives to save the universe.
Brandon Routh Was Teased As Superman Three Years Ago
Ironically, Brandon Routh's return as Superman was subtly teased three years ago. At the conclusion of 2016's Invasion! crossover, after the superheroes banded together to repel an attack by the alien Dominators, they gathered for a well-earned victory party at a STAR Labs hanger which curiously resembled the Hall of Justice from the Super Friends cartoon. At the celebration, Routh's Ray Palmer got to chat with Kara Danvers before he turned to Felicity Smoak (Emily Bett Rickards). When she remarked about Kara that, "It's like looking into a mirror", Palmer mused, "She really kind of looks like my cousin."
This was a clever nod to fans about Routh's prior stint as Superman and that the version he shared with Christopher Reeve was the cousin of 1984's Supergirl (Helen Slater). Of course, in Invasion!, Routh was now the Atom so he was remarking that Kara resembles a cousin of Ray Palmer, but it was a welcome wink to Routh's Superman for fans in the know. Little did anyone realize back then that Routh would get to become the Man of Steel once again three years later.
Brandon Routh Could Still Be Playing Atom In Crisis On Infinite Earths
Brandon Routh is likely to be pulling double duty in Crisis On Infinite Earths playing Kingdom Come Superman as well as his usual Arrowverse role, Ray Palmer AKA The Atom. The cheerful inventor of dwarf star shrinking technology and the Atom's battle suit, Palmer was introduced in Arrow season 3 as Felicity's new love interest and rival to Oliver Queen (Stephen Amell), before he went onto become one of the stars of Legends of Tomorrow. Since the ribald, time-traveling Legends of Tomorrow has the honor of hosting the final hour of Crisis On Infinite Earths, the Atom's technological know-how is bound to be called upon to help avert the multidimensional catastrophe.
Kingdom Come Superman is also a welcome consolation prize now that it's been announced that Routh and his wife Courtney Ford are leaving Legends of Tomorrow in season 5. Ford plays Nora Dahrk, Palmer's love interest, who is a sorceress and a reformed villain. Indeed, Ray's sweet fawning over Nora and her redemption from being the vessel of the demon Mallus and the pawn of her diabolical father, Damien Darhk (Neil McDonough), into a hero have been one of Legends of Tomorrow's best and most emotionally resonant storylines. While it's a huge disappointment for Ray and Nora's fans that they are exiting the Waverider, at least Brandon Routh gets one more chance to save the universe as Superman in Crisis On Infinite Earths.