With the recent announcement that the role of Jonathan Kent would be recast for Season 3 of “Superman & Lois,” you might be surprised to find out that major characters have been recast numerous times throughout Superman’s history on television.
After Season 1 of the 1950s “Adventures of Superman” TV series, the role of Lois Lane was recast, with Noel Neill replacing Phyllis Coates who, due to conflicts with the producer and prior commitments, decided not to return to the role when filming resumed in 1953. Noel Neill, who had played the role in the first two Superman serials alongside Kirk Alyn in 1948 and 1950, was called in to replace her. Noel would remain in the role for the remaining five seasons of the show.
In the 1980s “Superboy” TV series the lead actor was replaced, with Gerard Christopher taking over from John Haymes Newton. On comparing Haymes Newton and Christopher Stacy Haiduk, who played Lana Lang on the series said, “Both were great at what they did and brought something different. Gerard’s Clark Kent was just so goofy. John kept it more straight and I think Gerard just sort of went with it. I fell in love with the Superboy of John and the Clark Kent of Gerard.” The role of Superboy wasn’t the only main role to be recast on the TV series. Sherman Howard would replace Scott James Wells as a middle-aged Lex Luthor, something the prior season’s Lex brought about through the magic of plastic surgery.
“Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman” was forced to replace Michael Landes as Jimmy Olsen with Justin Whalin after the first season, because apparently too many viewers thought that Landes looked too much like Dean Cain, who played Clark Kent/Superman. While they weren’t major roles, Denis Arndt was replaced by Harve Presnell as Dr. Sam Lane, while Lois’ mother Ellen Lane was portrayed by Phyllis Coates for the character’s first appearance. The role was recast with Beverly Garland appearing as the character for the remainder of the series.
On the TV series “Smallville,” while no main cast members were recast, the role of Morgan Edge was initially played by Rutger Hauer, who was then replaced by Patrick Bergin, although it was explained that Edge had survived being shot by Lionel Luthor’s security detail and, while he was presumed dead, returned after having plastic surgery.
While there were two actors who played Cat Grant on the TV series “Smallville,” they really were designed as two separate characters and therefore don’t really count as a recasting. One was known as Catherine Grant the other Cat Grant. Catherine Grant, who appeared in the Season 9 episode “Crossfire,” was played by Emilie Ullerup, while Cat Grant, who appeared in four episodes in Season 10, was played by Keri Lynn Pratt.
On the “Supergirl” TV series the role of Alura Zor-El, Kara’s Kryptonian mother was recast. Laura Benanti played the role in Seasons 1 and 2, and was then replaced by Erica Durance, who appeared in episodes for Seasons 3 and 5. While not a major character, the role of Mr. Mxyzptlk was recast in the “Supergirl” TV series, with Thomas Lennon taking over from Peter Gadiot.
As I mentioned earlier, we now know that the role of Jonathan Kent will be recast for Season 3 of “Superman & Lois,” with Jordan Elsass stepping down due to personal reasons. Michael Bishop, an Australian actor who made his American film debut playing DJ Maz in Disney Channel’s Original Movie “Spin,” will take over the role of Jonathan Kent.
So, while some may be disappointed at the need to recast a new actor in a major role, it has been done time and time again throughout Superman’s storied history on television.