Brandon Routh

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Brandon Routh
Brandon Routh Photo Op GalaxyCon Columbus 2022.jpg
Routh at GalaxyCon Columbus in 2022.
Brandon James Routh

(1979-10-09) October 9, 1979 (age 43)
Alma materUniversity of Iowa (attended)
Years active1999–present
Height6 ft 2+12 in (1.89 m)[1]
(m. 2007)
Brandon routh signature.svg

Brandon James Routh (/ˈrθ/; born October 9, 1979)[2] is an American actor. He portrayed Superman in the 2006 film Superman Returns, which garnered him international fame. In 2011, he played the title character of the film Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. He also had a recurring role in the NBC series Chuck, as Daniel Shaw. Routh also has supporting roles in the films Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.

In 2014, he was cast in a recurring role as Ray Palmer / The Atom on the TV series Arrow. He later played that role on two other series in the Arrowverse shared universe: The Flash (a guest role) and Legends of Tomorrow (a starring role). Routh also reprised his role as Superman in the 2019 Arrowverse crossover event "Crisis on Infinite Earths". His role on Legends of Tomorrow ended in 2020.

Early life[edit]

Routh, the third of four children, was born in Des Moines, Iowa, to Catherine LaVaughn (née Lear), a teacher, and Ronald Ray Routh, a carpenter. He was raised in nearby Norwalk.[3][4] Routh was raised in a Methodist family,[5] and has English, Scottish, German, Irish, Welsh and Dutch ancestry.[6][7]

Routh grew up in Norwalk, approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Woolstock, the birthplace of George Reeves, the first actor to play Superman on television.[3] During his childhood, Routh thought a full-time acting career was unrealistic, citing his small-town background.[3] In his spare time, he played the trumpet and the piano.[3]

Routh attended Norwalk High School,[8] where he played sports, and participated in music and theatre. He attended this school at the same time as Jason Momoa, who would also later become an actor in film adaptations of DC comics. He has described himself as a "momma's boy" and not "the most popular kid" during his school years.[9] Routh has also noted that during his younger years, he was fond of the Superman films and comic books.[10]

Routh attended the University of Iowa for a year, aspiring to be a writer.[3] During this time, he modeled and acted in order to earn his tuition expenses.[3]

Routh has said he was often told that he bore a physical resemblance to Christopher Reeve, who had previously portrayed Superman in a film series.[3] His former manager signed him on because of the resemblance, telling him that he thought Routh would be cast as Superman if there were another film in the series.[9]


Early career[edit]

In 1999, Routh left the university and moved to Manhattan and then Los Angeles, where he pursued a full-time acting career, first appearing as an extra in Christina Aguilera's 1999 music video for "What a Girl Wants".[8] He was cast in his first acting role that same year, in an episode of the short-lived ABC television series Odd Man Out. In 2000, he had a four-episode role on season 3 of MTV's nighttime soap opera Undressed. Routh subsequently appeared on the WB's Gilmore Girls (in a February 2001 episode, "Concert Interruptus", playing a Bangles concert attendee), and earned steady work on the soap opera One Life to Live, playing Seth Anderson from May 23, 2001, until April 17, 2002.


Prior to Routh's casting as Superman in the film Superman Returns, Warner Bros. had spent over a decade developing a plan to relaunch the franchise, entitled Superman Flyby, with possible stars including actors such as Nicolas Cage, Josh Hartnett, Brendan Fraser, Tom Welling, Paul Walker, Henry Cavill (who eventually became Superman in Man of Steel (2013)), James Marsden (who would go on to play Lois Lane's fiancée in the film), Ashton Kutcher, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, Johnny Depp and James Caviezel,[11] and planned directors including Tim Burton, Wolfgang Petersen, McG, Brett Ratner, and Shekhar Kapur. When director Bryan Singer came aboard the project, however, he insisted an unknown actor be cast in the part, in the tradition of the casting of the best-known film Superman, Christopher Reeve.

Routh, then 24, had previously auditioned for director McG[3] and was spotted by Singer after he viewed Routh's videotaped audition.[11] Singer, who has since stated that Routh was the embodiment of "our collective memory of Superman,"[12] was impressed by Routh's resemblance to the comic book icon and found the actor's humble Midwestern roots perfect for the role, as well as his "combination of vulnerability and confidence", which Singer said reminded him of Christopher Reeve.[8] Singer decided to cast Routh after the two met on August 13, 2004, but did not tell Routh until two months later, when Routh's casting was announced in October 2004,[11] making him an "instant celebrity".[3]

Before filming began, Routh bulked up for the role, gaining 22 pounds to reach a high of 218 pounds. Filming for Superman Returns began in Sydney in February 2005. The film was released in the U.S. on June 28, 2006, and earned decent reviews from most critics, but was a box office disappointment, grossing only $200 million in the US compared to its estimated budget of $270 million.[13] Routh was signed on to appear in two potential sequels, but due to mediocre box office results those never materialized.

Reviews of Routh's performance were generally positive, with Newsweek noting he "effortlessly lays claim to the iconic role."[14] On the other hand, film critic Roger Ebert felt that "Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and I suppose as Clark Kent, he isn't supposed to have any."[15]

At the 2006 Spike TV Awards, Routh won the award of "Best Superhero" as Superman in Superman Returns, beating out among others, Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.

In August 2008, Warner Bros. officially announced they intended to reboot the Superman franchise. Routh was still set to reprise the role, according to DC Comics president Paul Levitz. In 2009, however, Routh's contract to play Superman in another film expired, but he said at the time that he would like to return if given the chance.[16] However, British actor Henry Cavill was cast to play Superman in the reboot of the series, Man of Steel.

Subsequent projects[edit]

Routh in 2011

After the release of Superman Returns, Routh signed on to play CIA agent John Clark in Without Remorse, under the direction of John Singleton with a screenplay by Stuart Beattie. Routh would be the third actor to portray the character, after Willem Dafoe and Liev Schreiber. The film was intended for a late-2007/early-2008 release. However, Paramount Pictures put the film into turnaround. Routh's future participation on the project is unknown.

Routh appeared in the independent drama Fling (formerly titled Lie to Me) (2008), co-starring his wife Courtney Ford, and the ensemble film Life is Hot in Cracktown (2009).

Routh was signed to star in The Informers (2009), a film based on Bret Easton Ellis' novel, with Kim Basinger, Amber Heard, and Billy Bob Thornton,[17] but his scenes ended up scrapped with the decision to excise the "vampire" subplot from the film entirely.[18]

At Comic Con 2008, it was revealed Routh was to have a cameo in the Kevin Smith comedy Zack and Miri Make a Porno - he instead appeared as a minor character, Bobby Long - and would serve as a judge on Platinum Studios 2008 Comic Book Challenge. In addition, he has a cameo where he plays himself in the Bollywood film Kambakkht Ishq (2009).

In January 2009, Routh was officially cast to play Todd Ingram in the action comedy Scott Pilgrim vs. the World which was directed by Edgar Wright, based on the Scott Pilgrim series by Canadian artist Bryan Lee O'Malley. His character is an arrogant, narcissistic bass player who derives psychic powers from his vegan lifestyle, and is the third of the seven Evil Exes the title character must fight.

Routh plays Daniel Shaw in season 3 of spy series Chuck, in a recurring, supporting role. He again played this character in the show's fifth season.

He portrayed supernatural detective Dylan Dog in the 2011 film Dylan Dog - Dead of Night.[19] The film is based on the Italian comic series created by Tiziano Sclavi.[20] The film was a box office flop.

On February 22, 2012, it was announced that Routh had been cast in David Kohan and Max Mutchnick's (the creators of Will & Grace), new CBS half-hour, multicamera comedy pilot, Partners. He played Michael Urie's character's steady partner, alongside David Krumholtz and his Table for Three co-star Sophia Bush.[21] The series was cancelled after only six episodes had aired.

In 2013, Routh appeared in the video game Call of Duty: Ghosts. Routh has since appeared in one episode of The Millers and multiple episodes of Chosen and Enlisted in 2014. That same year, he starred in the Hallmark Channel's Christmas-themed romantic comedy The Nine Lives of Christmas, which drew good reviews and high ratings.

In 2021, Routh appeared in The Nine Kittens of Christmas, a sequel to The Nine Lives of Christmas. In 2023, Routh appeared in an episode of Quantum Leap portraying a naval commander: Alexander Augustine.


On July 7, 2014, it was reported that Routh would once again play a superhero for DC Comics as Ray Palmer / The Atom on The CW's Arrow. He was a recurring character throughout season three, which premiered October 8, 2014.[22]

In January 2015, Arrow's co-creator and executive producer Greg Berlanti stated that they were in the midst of "very early" preliminary talks for an additional spin-off series centered on Ray Palmer/The Atom.[23][24]

In February 2015, it was announced that a spin-off was in development that would co-star Routh as The Atom, along with Arthur Darvill, Wentworth Miller, Victor Garber, and Caity Lotz.[25] The show, Legends of Tomorrow, premiered in January 2016.

Routh reprised his role as Clark Kent / Superman in the 2019–2020 Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Infinite Earths",[26] affected by events adapted from the Kingdom Come storyline.[27] His suit was based on the one worn by the storyline's version of the character.[28] The following month, it was announced that Routh would depart Legends of Tomorrow as a series regular during the fifth season.[29] His final episode as a series regular was "Romeo v. Juliet: Dawn of Justness".[30]

Following this, Routh made two returns to the franchise. First, he returned to Legends for its 100th episode,[31] and to The Flash for the first part of its season eight-opening event "Armageddon".[32] He would then return in the season's eighteenth episode, "The Man in the Yellow Tie".[33]

Personal life[edit]

Courtney Ford and Brandon Routh in February 2006

On August 23, 2006, Brandon became engaged to his girlfriend of three years, actress Courtney Ford;[34] the couple married on November 24, 2007, at the El Capitan Ranch in Santa Barbara.[35] In 2012, the couple had a son, Leo James.[36]

Routh's sister, Sara, has a musical track entitled "You're Never Gone" on Sound of Superman, the companion soundtrack of the Superman Returns. Routh is a fan and player of the video game World of Warcraft.[37] During the 2008 Presidential Election, Routh spoke at an Iowa rally in support of Democratic candidate Barack Obama.[38]

Routh is a distant relative of President Franklin D. Roosevelt.[39]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Karla Tim Peters
Denial Man Short film
Superman Returns Clark Kent / Superman
Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman Himself Documentary
2008 Fling James Also co-producer
Zack and Miri Make a Porno Bobby Long
2009 Life Is Hot in Cracktown Sizemore
Stuntmen Kirby Popoff
Table for Three Scott Teller
Kambakkht Ishq Himself Cameo
Miss Nobody Milo Beeber
The Informers Bruce Deleted scenes
2010 Unthinkable Agent Jackson
Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Todd Ingram
2011 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Dylan Dog
Cost of Living Silus Short film
Number Nine John
2012 Crooked Arrows Joe Logan
2014 Missing William James Anderson
2015 400 Days Captain Theo Cooper
2016 Lost in the Pacific Mike
2020 Anastasia: Once Upon a Time Tsar Nicholas II


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Odd Man Out Connor Williams Episode: "You've Got Female"
2000 Undressed Wade 4 episodes
Gilmore Girls Party Guy at Concert Episode: "Concert Interruptus"
2001–2002 One Life to Live Seth Anderson Recurring role
2003 Cold Case Young Henry Phillips Episode: "A Time to Hate"
2004 Will & Grace Sebastian Episode: "A Gay/December Romance"
Oliver Beene Brian Episode: "Dibs"
2005 Awesometown Officer Dino Wong Television short
2006 The Batman John Marlowe / Everywhere Man (voice) Episode: "The Everywhere Man"
2008 Fear Itself Bobby Episode: "Community"
2010–2011 Chuck Daniel Shaw 12 episodes
2012–2013 Partners Wyatt Plank 13 episodes
2013–2014 Chosen Max Gregory 6 episodes
2013 Newsreaders Miles Van Cleef Episode: "Hedge Fun"
2014 The Exes Steve 2 episodes
Enlisted Brandon Stone 2 episodes
The Millers Officer Dixon Episode: "Carol's Surprise"
The Nine Lives of Christmas Zachary Stone Television film
Arrow Ray Palmer / The Atom 21 episodes
The Flash 5 episodes
Clark Kent / Superman (Earth-96) Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Three"
2016–2021 Legends of Tomorrow Ray Palmer / The Atom Main role (Seasons 1–5), Special guest (season 7)
Clark Kent / Superman (Earth-96) Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Five"
2016 Vixen Ray Palmer / The Atom Web series; voice role; 3 episodes
Lady Dynamite Jack Tripper Episode: "Jack and Diane"
2017 Vixen: The Movie Ray Palmer / The Atom Voice role
2019 Black-ish Banner Copeland Episode: "Is It Desert or Dessert?"
Are You Afraid of the Dark? Theo Coscarelli Episode: "Part Two: Opening Night"
Supergirl Ray Palmer / The Atom Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part One"
Batwoman Episode: "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two"[40]
Ray Palmer / The Atom / Clark Kent / Superman (Earth-96)
2020 Home Movie: The Princess Bride Westley Episode: "The Fire Swamp"
2021 The Rookie Officer Doug Stanton Recurring role (Season 3)
The Nine Kittens of Christmas Zachary Stone Television film
Slugfest Joe Simon Roku Channel documentary series
With Love Leo Recurring role
2023 Quantum Leap XO Alexander Augustine Episode: "S.O.S."
TBA Scott Pilgrim The Anime Todd Ingram Voice role[41]
Magic: The Gathering Gideon Jura Voice role;[42] in production

Video games[edit]

Year Title Role
2006 Superman Returns Clark Kent / Superman
2013 Call of Duty: Ghosts David "Hesh" Walker
2018 Lego DC Super-Villains Billy Batson / Shazam, Ray Palmer / The Atom
2019 Magic: The Gathering Arena Ral Zarek

Music videos[edit]

Year Artist Title
1999 Christina Aguilera "What a Girl Wants"
2006 The Lonely Island "Part 1: The Avon Lady"
2018 Sugarland "Babe"

Awards and nominations[edit]

Year Award Category Nominated work Result
2006 Golden Schmoes Awards Breakthrough Performance of the Year Superman Returns Nominated
Scream Awards Best Superhero Won
Breakout Performance Nominated
ShoWest Awards Male Star of Tomorrow Won
Teen Choice Awards Choice Breakout Movie Star – Male Nominated
Choice Movie Chemistry (Shared w/ Kate Bosworth) Nominated
Choice Movie Rumble Nominated
Saturn Awards Rising Star Won
2007 Saturn Awards Best Actor Won
Empire Awards Best Male Newcomer Won
2010 IGN Awards Best Villain Chuck Won
Detroit Film Critics Society Awards Best Ensemble Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Nominated
2011 Scream Awards Best Villain Nominated
2019 Teen Choice Awards Choice TV Actor: Action Legends of Tomorrow Nominated


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  33. ^ Anderson, Jenna (June 16, 2022). "The Flash Has a Surprising Legends of Tomorrow Cameo in "The Man in the Yellow Tie"". ComicBook. Retrieved June 17, 2022.
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  40. ^ Agard, Chancellor (November 19, 2019). "New 'Crisis on Infinite Earths' photos reveal Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne". Entertainment Weekly.
  41. ^ "'Scott Pilgrim' Netflix Anime Series Reunites Film's Cast, from Michael Cera to Chris Evans". March 30, 2023.
  42. ^ Maas, Jennifer (August 24, 2021). "Netflix's 'Magic: The Gathering' Series to Launch in 2022, Brandon Routh to Voice Gideon (Photo)". The Wrap. Retrieved August 21, 2021.

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