It seems that, as far as news concerning director Zack Snyder's Man of Steel went, the last month (or so) of 2011 was devoted primarily to disproving rumors about the Superman franchise revamping. Hence, we now know that Hans Zimmer is not set as composer, that the film's release date has not been pushed back yet again, and that Bradley Cooper will not be making a glorified cameo as the diabolical Lex Luthor in the film.
Today, for a change of pace, we have some confirmed news about Man of Steel - namely, that Emmy-winner Richard Schiff is the latest decorated screen star to sign on for the superhero comic book flick.
Variety is reporting that Schiff (best known for his role as Toby Ziegler on The West Wing) is the newest addition to the Man of Steel cast. His character in the film is said to be that of "Dr. Hamilton" - there's little to reason to doubt that means he is portraying Professor Emil Hamilton, who originated in the Superman comic books.
Hamilton first popped up in "Adventures of Superman" #424 back in 1987 as a decent, but stereotypical bumbling (re: nerdy) professor-type who used his inventions to attack Supes, having gone insane after Lex Luthor took all the credit for Hamilton's work. The scientist thereafter responded well to mental therapy and became a gadget supplier to Kal-El (a la Q to James Bond) as he created useful devices like the Phantom Zone Projector, as well as machinery that allowed Superman to keep doing his heroic duties while his powers were shut down during the "Krisis of the Krimson Kryptonite" storyline.
However, since then (as far as the comics go) Hamilton has often served as a mechanical-appendage-enhanced antagonist for Superman, with his alter egos including the Overmind and Ruin. The professor's villainous actions are usually the result of either pure insanity, his being controlled by technology, or concerns that the Man of Steel is actually a threat to the people of Earth; so, in that sense, Hamilton is generally either a relatively complex ally or foe (or both) of the eponymous hero.
What version of Hamilton will show up in Man of Steel then? Well, it's probably safe to say, the doctor won't be battling Supes directly; still, Schiff's West Wing counterpart was known for holding fast and true to a certain moral code of conduct, so it's possible the actor was brought on to portray a similar character in Snyder's film - that is, a version of Hamilton who supplies Superman with helpful tech, but still often questions the hero's behavior.
In other words: seeing how Man of Steel really does look to be emulating Batman Begins in many aspects (ex. bearded Superman seemingly going on a noble, soul-searching journey around the world) Schiff as Hamilton could bare a passing resemblance to Morgan Freeman as Lucius Fox in director Christopher Nolan's Caped Crusader films. Take that as you will.
Man of Steel is set to hit theaters in the U.S. on June 14th, 2013.