Even if he had not made himself a household name by playing Superman in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, Brandon Routh's all-American, bright-eyed superhero Ray Palmer/The Atom would naturally draw comparisons to DC's Man of Steel. Routh says, though, that there are things he can do on DC's Legends of Tomorrow that he was unable to do during his time as the Last Son of Krypton.
The role, for instance, is definitively Routh's. Whereas Superman was a pop culture phenomenon with several previous memorable incarnations, Routh's take on Ray Palmer is the first time the character, first created for comics in 1961, has had a memorable role in outside media. This gives Routh leeway as a performer that Superman actors do not typically have.
"I'm proud to give Ray Palmer and the Atom more recognition. [He's a] character that deserves it," Routh told ComicBook.com. "To bring somebody that we haven't seen a million times to life is awesome; I got to bring my own stuff to it. Playing Superman was an amazing opportunity, and I take great pride and gratitude in being able to follow Chris, in his footsteps and all the other gentlemen who played Superman prior to me. But I had to kind of walk in their path a little bit. In this, I got to create it myself which was very satisfying."
He also told us that after two and a half seasons of Legends of Tomorrow and an introduction on Arrow, he is beginning to get fans of his Atom who may not even remember Superman Returns.
"A lot of people only now know me as that. They're like 'Oh you played Superman?'" Routh said with a laugh. "It's great because that means, even if it's another comic book character, I've redefined myself in another way, which is again good for actors to be able to do."