Superman is probably the most iconic comic book character ever created. First published in Action Comics #1 in 1938 by DC Comics, the character represents perfect morals, standards, powers, and physique. He usually looks taller than others in the comics, but some shorter actors played Kal-El in movies and series. So, how tall is Superman in the comics and the movies?
In the comics, Superman is 6’3’’ (190.5 cm) – an inch taller than Batman (6’2’’, 188 cm), but three inches shorter than Cyborg (6’6’’, 198 cm). Superman’s height varied from 5’11’’ (180 cm) to 6’4’’ (193 cm) in the movies and TV series.
There’s a certain misconception that Superman automatically has to be the tallest guy in the room. In reality, his powers are the same regardless of his height, in the comics or the movies. Let’s see how the character’s height changed through publication history, both in the comics and big-screen portrayals.
How Tall Is Superman in Comics?
According to DC Comics, Clark Kent, aka Superman, is exactly 6’3’’, or 190.5 cm tall. However, some character versions had him at 6’4’’ (193 cm) – both he and Batman were listed as such in the pre-Crisis era of DC Comics (before 1963). But after that, the Kryptonian remained at a standard 6’3’’ (190.5 cm), while Bruce Wayne is at around 6’2’’ (188 cm).
Although Superman’s height in the comics stays about the same all the time, he’s still one of the taller characters on DC’s Earth. Some pre-Crisis versions had him at 6’9’’ (205.5 cm), considerably more than almost all other characters.
Of course, other beings and entities like Darkseid or Swamp Thing are still taller than that, but the earlier versions of Superman needed him to be physically imposing as well as powerful. So, being incredibly tall was a part of the character.
I find the 6’3’’ (190.5 cm) height ideal for Superman. It’s enough for him to be among the tallest people wherever he goes, but he still appears human and normal. After all, his powers don’t come from his physique but rather his physiology, so his height doesn’t really matter.
Of course, having him below six feet tall would probably feel minuscule and not so imposing psychologically for the reader. Still, some actors who portrayed the character were much shorter than Clark Kent in the comics. Let’s see how Superman’s height changed over the years in various movies and TV shows.
How Tall Are Superman Actors in Movies?
Superman is one of the most popular comic book characters ever, so it’s no wonder that there are so many different movies and TV shows revolving around him. As the actors changed, though, so did the Kryptonian’s height, going from 6’4’’ (193 cm) down to 5’11½’’ (182 cm).
1. Kirk Alyn – 6’1’’ (185 cm)
Although many don’t even know who Kirk Alyn was, he deserves a big homage and a spot on the list because he was the first guy ever to become Superman on the big screen. He starred in Superman (1948) and Atom Man vs. Superman (1950), standing at 6’1’’ (185 cm).
He didn’t quite depict Superman’s physique in any way, neither the height nor the muscle, which is why some people even find this version of the Kryptonian quite funny.
2. George Reeves – 6’1’’ (185 cm)
George Reeves took on the Superman role not long after Kirk Alyn. They were the same height, but George was a bit bigger physically and had that recognizable Clark Kent charm.
He had played the role for seven years – first in the Superman & The Mole Man movie in 1951, and then in the Adventures of Superman TV series, from 1952 to 1958.
3. Christopher Reeve – 6’4’’ (193 cm)
For many, the one and only true Superman is Christopher Reeve. At 6’4’’ (193 cm), Reeve was – and still is – the tallest Superman actor ever, being taller even than the comics’ character he portrayed.
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He played the role in four separate movies from 1978 to 1987. Tragically, only six days after the fourth movie premiered, Reeve fell off a horse and remained paralyzed from his neck down, which came as a huge shock to fans who knew him as the Man of Steel.
4. John Haymes Newton – 5’11¾’’ (182 cm)
Next on the list, John Haymes Newton played Superman (or Superboy) in 1988 and 1989 in the Superboy TV series. He’s one of the shortest guys ever to take the role, standing at only 5’11¾’’ (182 cm). He was physically fit but not that bulky.
However, he was around for only one season of the show, as his acting was quite subpar, and I believe the entire performance was bleak. That’s probably why the producers changed the main actor in the first place, along with Newton asking for more money.
5. Gerard Christopher – 6’0’’ (183 cm)
Gerard Christopher came as Newton’s replacement in the Superboy series, as he depicted the character over the next three seasons (1989-1992). He was only slightly taller than Newton, standing at 6’0’’ (183 cm), but his performance wasn’t much of an upgrade either.
The entire show just felt cheap and wooden, but Christopher at least appeared more devoted to the character, even though the physique wasn’t quite there.
6. Dean Cain – 5’11¾’’ (182 cm)
Being just below six feet tall isn’t that short by normal human standards, but it’s the shortest version of Supes we’ve ever seen. Dean Cain took the role in Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman TV series from 1993 to 1997, and although he did great being compassionate, morally just Clark Kent, he lacked the authority and power as Superman.
Also, I kind of disliked the whole show, as it felt too much like a soap opera for me. So, as much as Cain tried, he was just not a great choice for the part.
7. Tom Welling – 6’2¾’’ (190 cm)
Although Tom Welling insists he never played Superman, but rather Clark Kent before he became Superman, he fits the bill as one of the actors who portrayed the Man of Steel. And, being 6’2¾’’ (190 cm), he is as close as it gets to the comic book version of Kal-El, at least height-wise.
He portrayed Clark Kent in the TV series Smallville from 2001 to 2011, and it was an awesome show depicting Kent’s life before he moved to Metropolis.
8. Brandon Routh – 6’2½” (189 cm)
Brandon Routh only took the role for one movie that wasn’t all that successful – Superman Returns in 2006. Routh is 6’2½”, so it’s not that far from the real character’s height, but many people didn’t enjoy his performance that much, saying it was stiff and bland.
I felt the same way until I dived into the plot a bit more and realized that he doesn’t even have that many lines throughout the movie. It’s like – stand there, be pretty, and look strong. So, it wasn’t that much about his performance, but the writing and directing.
9. Henry Cavill – 6’1’’ (185 cm)
Henry Cavill is physically the most accurate depiction of Superman on-screen to this date, maybe not height-wise, but with his physique. He is bulk and chiseled and looks superior to almost any character he encounters in the movies; Man of Steel (2013), Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016), Justice League (2017), and Zack Snyder’s Justice League (2021).
It’s unclear if he’ll ever return to the role again, but I found his performance quite amazing – I’d put him at the top as the best Superman we’ve seen on the big screen, right next to (or slightly above) Christopher Reeve’s classic performance.
10. Tyler Hoechlin – 5’11¾’’ (182 cm)
Finally, the last guy to take the role and become Superman is Tyler Hoechlin. I find the choice a bit odd since he’s painfully too short for the role (5’11¾’’/182 cm), but his performance isn’t that bad. Perhaps the height problem wouldn’t be as obvious if there weren’t for the rest of the cast around him, but still, I like what he brought to the table.
Hoechlin took the role in the Supergirl TV Series that started in 2016 but then appeared as Clark Kent in Batwoman, The Flash, DC’s Legends of Tomorrow, and Arrow TV shows. Finally, he’s still Superman for the Superman & Lois TV series that started in 2021, and it’s actually quite good, so I’m excited for season two.
11. Honorable Mention: Nicolas Cage – 6’0’’ (183 cm)
Although the project never came to fruition, Nicolas Cage should’ve played Superman in Tim Burton’s movie Superman Lives in 1998. The project was abandoned, but one can only imagine what a young Cage would be like as Clark Kent, especially under Burton – even though he’s only 6 feet (183 cm) tall.
If you want to hear more about the potential movie and why it was abandoned, check out The Death of Superman Lives documentary, where the movie’s screenwriter Kevin Smith goes into detail on why it all fell apart.