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Brandon James Routh (born October 9, 1979) is an American actor. He grew up in Iowa before moving to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career and appeared on multiple television series throughout the early 2000s. In 2006, he played the titular superhero of the film Superman Returns, and in 2011, he played the titular character of the film Dylan Dog: Dead of Night. He also had a recurring role in the NBC series Chuck, as Daniel Shaw. Following this, he had supporting roles in the films Zack and Miri Make a Porno and Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. In 2014, he began a recurring role as Ray Palmer / The Atom on Arrow, which spun-off into a guest role on The Flash and followed by a starring role on Legends of Tomorrow.

Brandon Routh
Brandon Routh by Gage Skidmore 2.jpg
Routh at the 2016 WonderCon
Brandon James Routh

(1979-10-09) October 9, 1979 (age 39)
Alma materUniversity of Iowa
Years active1999–present
Courtney Ford (m. 2007)


Early lifeEdit

Routh, the third of four children, was born on October 9, 1979 in Des Moines, Iowa, to Catherine LaVonne (née Lear), a teacher, and Ronald Wayne Routh, a carpenter and raised in nearby Norwalk.[1][2] Routh was raised in a Methodist family,[3] and has English, Scottish, German, and distant Dutch ancestry.[4][5]

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.[1] During his childhood, Routh thought a full-time acting career was unrealistic, citing his small-town background.[1] In his spare time, he played the trumpet and the piano.[1]

Routh attended Norwalk High School,[6] where he played sports, and participated in music and theatre. He has described himself as a "momma's boy" and not "the most popular kid" during his school years.[7] Routh has also noted that during his younger years, he was fond of the Superman films and comic books.[8]

Routh attended the University of Iowa for a year, aspiring to be a writer.[1] During this time, he modelled and acted in order to earn his tuition expenses.[1]

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.[1] 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.[7]


Early careerEdit

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 music video for "What a Girl Wants".[6] He was cast in his first acting role in 1999, 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 an attendee of a Bangles concert), 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 name actors Nicolas Cage, Josh Hartnett, Brendan Fraser, Tom Welling, Paul Walker, Henry Cavill (who eventually became Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), and Justice League (2017)), James Marsden, Ashton Kutcher, Keanu Reeves, Will Smith, and James Caviezel,[9] 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[1] and was spotted by Singer after he viewed Routh's videotaped audition.[9] Singer, who since noted Routh was the embodiment of "our collective memory of Superman,"[10] 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.[6] 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,[9] making him an "instant celebrity".[1]

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 impressed most critics, but was a box office disappointment, grossing only $200 million in the US compared to its estimated budget of $270 million.[11] Routh was signed on to appear in two potential sequels, but due to mediocre box office results those never materialized.

Routh has commented he feared his performance would too closely resemble Christopher Reeve's. Routh has said that he hopes to "remind people of Christopher while at the same time making them feel like they're seeing a totally new Superman."[12]

Reviews of Routh's performance were generally positive, with Newsweek noting he "effortlessly lays claim to the iconic role."[13] On the other hand, film critic Roger Ebert noted that he thinks "Routh lacks charisma as Superman, and I suppose as Clark Kent, he isn't supposed to have any."[14]

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.[15] However, British actor Henry Cavill was cast to play Superman in the reboot of the series, Man of Steel.

Subsequent projectsEdit

Routh in 2013

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

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,[16] but his scenes ended up scrapped with the decision to excise the "vampire" subplot from the film entirely.[17]

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.

In January 2009, Routh was officially cast to play Todd Ingram in 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 shows fifth season.

He portrayed supernatural detective Dylan Dog in the 2011 film Dylan Dog - Dead of Night.[18] The film is based on the Italian comic series created by Tiziano Sclavi.[19]

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.[20] The series was cancelled after only six episodes had aired.

In 2013, Routh voiced David "Hesh" Walker 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.


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.[21]

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.[22][23]

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.[24] The show, DC's Legends of Tomorrow, premiered in January 2016.

In July 2019, it was announced that Routh would be reprising his role as Clark Kent / Superman in the 2019–2020 Arrowverse crossover "Crisis on Infinite Earths".[25] The following month, it was announced that Routh would depart Legends of Tomorrow as a series regular during the upcoming fifth season.[26]

Personal lifeEdit

Courtney Ford and Brandon Routh in February 2006

On August 23, 2006, Brandon became engaged to his girlfriend of three years, actress Courtney Ford;[27] the couple married on November 24, 2007, at the El Capitan Ranch in Santa Barbara.[28] In 2012, the couple had a son.[29]

Routh knew actor Kal Penn, a co-star in Superman Returns, for several years during the time he lived in Los Angeles.[30] Routh and Penn were both also featured in The Lonely Island's Awesometown MTV pilot music video "The Avon Lady".

Routh's sister, Sara, has a musical track entitled "You're Never Gone" on Sound of Superman, the companion soundtrack of the film. Routh is a fan and player of the video game World of Warcraft.[31] During the 2008 Presidential Election, Routh spoke at an Iowa rally in support of Democratic candidate Barack Obama.[32]



Year Title Role Notes
2006 Karla Tim Peters
2006 Denial Man Short film
2006 Superman Returns Clark Kent / Superman
2006 Look, Up in the Sky! The Amazing Story of Superman Himself Documentary
2008 Fling James Also co-producer
2008 Zack and Miri Make a Porno Bobby Long
2009 Life Is Hot in Cracktown Sizemore
2009 Stuntmen Kirby Popoff
2009 Table for Three Scott Teller
2009 Kambakkht Ishq Himself Cameo
2009 Miss Nobody Milo Beeber
2009 The Informers Bruce Deleted scenes
2010 Unthinkable Agent Jackson
2010 Scott Pilgrim vs. the World Todd Ingram
2011 Dylan Dog: Dead of Night Dylan Dog
2011 Cost of Living Silus Short film
2011 Number Nine John Short film
2012 Crooked Arrows Joe Logan
2014 Missing William James Anderson
2015 400 Days Captain Theo Cooper
2016 Lost in the Pacific Mike
2019 Anastasia Tsar Nicholas Post-production


Year Title Role Notes
1999 Odd Man Out Connor Williams Episode: "You've Got Female"
2000 Undressed Wade 4 episodes
2000 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"
2004 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
2014 Enlisted Brandon Stone 2 episodes
2014 The Millers Officer Dixon Episode: "Carol's Surprise"
2014 The Nine Lives of Christmas Zachary Stone Television film
2014–2016 Arrow Ray Palmer / The Atom
Clark Kent / Superman
20 episodes
2015–2016 The Flash 2 episodes
2016–present Legends of Tomorrow Main role
2016 Lady Dynamite Jack Tripper Episode: "Jack and Diane"
2019 Black-ish Banner Copeland Episode: "Is It Desert or Dessert?"

Video gamesEdit

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 videosEdit

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

Awards and nominationsEdit

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


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i "". Routh flies high in debut as Superman. Archived from the original on June 23, 2006. Retrieved June 19, 2006.
  2. ^ "Our Routh Family".
  3. ^ "The Religious Affiliation of Comic Book Character Clark Kent/Kal-El Superman". Retrieved June 19, 2006.
  4. ^ "If the tights fit: Newcomer Brandon Routh takes to the sky in 'Superman Returns'". MetroWest Daily News. Retrieved June 25, 2006.[dead link]
  5. ^ Adams, Thelma (2012-06-08). "Former Man of Steel, 'Crooked Arrows' star Brandon Routh talks Superman curse, lacrosse and gay marriage | The Reel Breakdown - Yahoo! Movies Canada". Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  6. ^ a b c "The man behind the cape". Retrieved June 25, 2006.[permanent dead link]
  7. ^ a b Lawrence, Will (June 30, 2006). "From zero to superhero". London. Retrieved June 29, 2006.
  8. ^ "Superman passes cape; boots still hard to fill". The Beacon Journal. Retrieved July 11, 2006.[dead link]
  9. ^ a b c "Word of Routh". Archived from the original on July 7, 2006. Retrieved June 19, 2006.
  10. ^ "Interview : Superman Returns cast & crew". MovieHole. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved July 3, 2006.
  11. ^ "Superman Returns". Retrieved 2008-10-11.
  12. ^ Brooks, Nadia. "Superman's return fear". Bizarre Online. London. Retrieved June 21, 2006.
  13. ^ "Superman charms critics". Sydney Morning Herald (Australia). Sydney. Retrieved October 17, 2012.
  14. ^ "Superman Returns (PG-13)". Retrieved July 1, 2006.
  15. ^ Clint Morris (July 2, 2009). "Routh talks Superman sequel". Archived from the original on 2012-08-08. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  16. ^ "Billy Bob and Kim Basinger Joining The Informers". Not An Exit. August 30, 2007. Archived from the original on 2009-01-07. Retrieved 2008-10-10.
  17. ^ Aftab, Kaleem (2008-03-10). "Exclusive: Undead Removed From Informers". IGN UK. Retrieved 2008-03-30.
  18. ^ "The Official Dead of Night Production Blog". Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  19. ^ "New Dead of Night Images Show Off Dylan Dog's Desk". February 24, 2010. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  20. ^ Andreeva, Nellie. "Brandon Routh, Lucy Davis & Elizabeth Regen Join CBS' Comedy Pilot 'Partners'". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  21. ^ Ausiello, Michael (July 7, 2014). "Arrow Targets Brandon Routh to Play Major DC Comics Superhero in Season 3". TV Line. Retrieved July 7, 2014.
  22. ^ "CW Eyeing 'Atom' As Next DC Series – TCA". Deadline Hollywood. January 11, 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  23. ^ "EXCLUSIVE: ARROW EXECUTIVE PRODUCER MARC GUGGENHEIM TALKS BRANDON ROUTH ATOM SPIN-OFF SHOW!". Nerdist. January 11, 2015. Archived from the original on January 13, 2015. Retrieved January 11, 2015.
  24. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (February 26, 2015). "Arrow/Flash Superhero Team-Up Spinoff In Works At CW; Brandon Routh, Victor Garber, Wentworth Miller, Caity Lotz Star". Deadline Hollywood. Retrieved February 27, 2015.
  25. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (July 19, 2019). "Tyler Hoechlin & Brandon Routh To Suit Up As Superman For Arrowverse Crossover On the CW". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on July 19, 2019. Retrieved July 19, 2019.
  26. ^ Andreeva, Nellie (August 22, 2019). "'DC's Legends Of Tomorrow': Brandon Routh & Courtney Ford To Depart the CW Drama As Series Regulars". Deadline Hollywood. Archived from the original on August 23, 2019. Retrieved August 23, 2019.
  27. ^ "About Brandon". Retrieved January 6, 2007.
  28. ^ "Superman Returns Star Brandon Routh Gets Married". Retrieved November 25, 2007.
  29. ^ Busy Philipps, on Busy Philipps: Motherhood Makes Me Relax (2012-03-14). "Brandon Routh and Courtney Ford Welcome Son Leo James – Moms & Babies – Moms & Babies -". Archived from the original on 2012-08-12. Retrieved 2012-10-17.
  30. ^ "Superman Returns". Premiere. Archived from the original on October 12, 2007. Retrieved July 12, 2006.
  31. ^ "Superman Plays World of Warcraft? Yep". FiringSquad. Retrieved July 10, 2006.
  32. ^ "Superman swoops in to defend Obama". CNN. Retrieved March 14, 2012.

External linksEdit