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Brandon Routh Is the Kingdom Come Superman, but What Does That Mean?

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BY April 24, 2020
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The news that Superman will return rocked Comic-Con, even more so when the character revealed a stylized “S” logo that looked familiar. The first picture of Brandon Routh as Superman again revealed that the theories were right about the character he’s playing. Brandon Routh will play the Kingdom Come Superman, which excites a lot of fans.

Yet, if you’ve never heard of Mark Waid’s and Alex Ross’s landmark series about the aging DC heroes, this might be confusing to you. Fear not, dear readers, because we here at Comic Years are eager to explain everything to you. Will tell you all you need to know about this version of the character. We’ll also tell you what we think it means that Brandon Routh will portray the Kingdom Come Superman in the Arrowverse.

There will be light spoilers for the Kingdom Come comic series below. We promise we won’t spoil the ending, just how it all begins.

Who Is the Kingdom Come Superman?

Brandon Routh Kingdom Come Superman Comic Image via DC Comics

As well all know, there are many more worlds than just one, at least in the world of comic books. In the mid-1990s, Mark Waid and Alex Ross teamed up to tell a unique superhero tale called Kingdom Come. Like Ross’s work on Marvels, this series unfolded from the perspective a regular human. In this continuity, Superman, Batman, and the rest all existed for decades. The golden age version of the Flash, Green Lantern, and other heroes all served with Superman. Then, a new breed of heroes showed up. They destroyed property, caused casualties, and killed their enemies. Aghast, Superman left the public eye. He retired first to his Fortress of Solitude and then Smallville.

In the story, Superman eventually changes his mind about retirement. He comes back and decides to build a super-prison for villains and heroes who won’t follow his code. (The prison also looks like the 1980s Legion of Doom headquarters.) Naturally, Batman and Lex Luthor take exception to this. As the story unfolds, Superman grows more unhinged. The climax of Kingdom Come happens when Superman is made to face his actions and compare them to the ideals he supposedly fights for. So, if Brandon Routh will be the Kingdom Come Superman, he’ll have more emotional weight (guilt) on his shoulders than any version we’ve seen in live-action before.

Will Brandon Routh Portray the Kingdom Come Superman from the Comics?

Brandon Routh Kingdom Come Superman Returns Image via Warner Bros.

The beauty of the DC Multiverse is that anything can happen a bunch of different ways. In the Arrowverse, stories about the Suicide Squad and the League of Assassins happen in that world. Yet, they happen differently than they do in the films or the comics. So, just because Brandon Routh looks like the Superman from Kingdom Come, it doesn’t mean he is that specific Superman. Of course, he also might be. The original Crisis On Infinite Earths pulled the Golden Age Superman into the modern DC continuity as a different entity entirely. Those writers trusted fans to go and learn about Earth-2’s Superman on their own.

The storytellers might simply draw on Kingdom Come directly to provide Superman with a backstory. (Though why he looks like Brandon Routh is a whole ‘nother question.) They might simply use the continuity of the Kingdom Come storyline to quickly flesh it out. Of course, that this will likely help sales of the Kingdom Come trade paperback is just a bonus. This is an approach Damon Lindelof takes with Watchmen, as seen in the trailer. The series takes place in a world where the events of the original Watchmen series happened. It’s up to the fans to do their homework to catch up. Yet, given the way the Arrowverse storytellers do things, it might not be that simple.

How the Brandon Routh Version of Superman Could Become the Kingdom Come Version

Brandon Routh Kingdom Come Superman Comic Comparison Images via DC Comics and Brandon Routh’s Instagram

When Superman Returns hit theaters in 2006, it served as a sequel to the Richard Donner films, Superman and Superman II. This reading of the character is the one we’re most familiar with. Superman is, simply, the perfect person. He’s compassionate, self-sacrificing, and a little witty, in a cornball All-American way. Ignoring the third and fourth films in the Christopher Reeve era, Superman returns to Earth after trying to find Krypton. He also has a son with Lois Lane. (Comic book science!) In this continuity, there are no other heroes or even super-villains. Still, it’s possible that they pop up after the events of the film.

Brandon Routh could combine his Superman with that of the Kingdom Come version of the character. He was his Earth’s first superhero, but not it’s last. The events on his Earth might loosely match what happens in Kingdom Come. A new breed of more violent heroes might arise, and Brandon Routh’s Superman quells that rebellion. Whereas Kingdom Come was a meta-commentary on the state of comics, this could do the same for television shows. DC Universe’s Titans second season premiere showed that they are eagerly pursing “darker” stories about reluctant, imperfect heroes. The Arrowverse itself toys with that, balancing the dark nature of Arrow with lighter shows like The Flash or Supergirl. There’s no limit to the story possibilities an older, wiser, but once-purer Superman could provide.

How do you think Brandon Routh will incorporate Kingdom Come into his Superman portrayal? Let us know in the comments below or share your thoughts with us on social media.

Featured image via DC

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Joshua M. Patton is a father, veteran, and writer living in Pittsburgh, PA. The first books he read on his own were comics, and he's loved the medium ever since. He is the greatest star-pilot in the galaxy, a cunning warrior, and a good friend. His book "What I Learned: Stories, Essays, and More" is available in print from Amazon and from all electronic booksellers.

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