In 2014, Brandon Routh joined that small list of actors including Chris Evans, Justin Hartley, and Adrianne Palicki in being one of those people to play more than one iconic comic book hero.
You may know him as Ray Palmer/The Atom now – and this week’s episode, airing Wednesday, February 25 should be a big one for him – but a decade ago, he was best known as the latest actor cast to play the Man of Steel himself, Superman, in director Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns.
We caught up with Mr. Routh briefly at last month’s TCA press tour to hear some of his stories about that Super-past, what he’d like to see in the future for Ray, and how playing Ray Palmer changed his career. For starters, he spoke about how playing Ray Palmer has gotten people to reassess Superman Returns — and now, they’re “giving props” for the movie, and realizing they like it.
“I think it’s actually winning people over a little bit – like, it’s okay. It’s been so long since Superman Returns came out, and it kind of got a bad rap for some reason for a while there, which was undue, I think. So, people have come back around… I’m not getting so much of that qualification of ‘I might be the only one, but Superman Returns is a good movie!’ They’re losing that disclaimer,” he said.
The most important Super-fan in Brandon’s life, however, might be his son, Leo James, that he has with his wife, Courtney Ford. “I actually broke out my collection of Superman toys for Christmas, that I gave him. The toys don’t look much like me – dark hair, and my physique and whatever – but he kind of has made the association, but he’s only 2 and a half, so I don’t know how strong it is. It’s [still] kind of bizarre to see him playing with the toy,” he said, while adding that even his son emulates a certain Super-identity. “He watches a show called Super Why! that is on PBS Kids, so he’s like ‘I’m Super-Why! I’m Superman!’ So he’s kind of mixed those two up,” he laughed.
Going to the future – where Brandon plays Ray Palmer/The Atom on Arrow – Routh says he likes seeing where his character has gone, and where he could go. He has also read some of the Atom comics. “It’s great to see his evolution, and try to bring some of that. I’ve been reading through Sword of the Atom, and I was like ‘Guys! Maybe Atom could have a sword sometime! That’d be cool!’ That’s where my geekdom lies, with fantasy stuff. I’ve never had to do sword fighting for any role, so I’m trying to talk them into that,” he said.
Finally… we know he’s pursued Felicity, but could we ever see Jean Loring in TV Ray’s future? “A character named Jean Loring has actually been on the show,” he explained, referring to Moira’s lawyer who was played by Teryl Rothery. “My wife’s name is Anna in the show, who we talked about when I give the speech to Felicity, but all those little scenes that are dropped in there, may be watered at some point and become something. But I don’t know any firm plans,” he said.
Watch The Atom suit up this Wednesday on Arrow! Preview images from the episode can be found below, if you missed them before: