Tom Welling on Lucifer and DC Comics Legacy Casting

Tom Welling on Lucifer and DC Comics Legacy Casting

Actor Tom Welling’s recent casting in a supporting role on Fox network’s Lucifer provides an example of a long tradition of legacy casting in television shows based on DC Comics characters.  Over the recent decades, many television shows based on DC Comics properties have included prior stars as in supporting roles or as guest characters.  Many different production companies have made shows based DC comics and different networks have broadcast them, but this casting tradition continues.

Producers of Lucifer, the supernatural themed procedural on Fox network, recently cast Tom Welling as series regular Marcus Pierce for Lucifer Season 3.  Tom Welling first gained wide acclaim playing Clark Kent on Smallville, in the last decade.  In his new role, he portrays many of the same traits that helped him bring Clark to life: charm, charisma, whilst also being reserved and respectable.  Lucifer is based on a DC/Vertigo title.  Another Smallville alum, Erica Durance recently joined the cast of Supergirl

It was Smallville that really began the tradition when producers cast Annette O’Tool as Martha Kent.  Ms O’Tool had previously appeared as Lana Lang in the Warner Bros. feature film Superman III.  Smallville’s producers also brought prior Superman actors Christopher Reeve and Dean Cain, as well as the original Wonder Woman aboard.  Mr Reeve, who had played Superman in the 1970s and 1980s film series, portrayed Dr Virgil Swann in Smallville, a scientist who had studied Kryptonian artifacts.  Mr Cain, who had played Clark Kent and Superman on 1990s series Lois and Clark, played a physician on Smallville.  Lynda Carter, famous in the 1970s as tv’s Wonder Woman, played the long-lost mother of supporting character Chloe Sullivan on Smallville.  An other recurring actor John Glover, who played Lex Luthor’s father, Lionel, on Smallville, had prviously appeared as a medical researcher in feature film Batman and Robin.

Berlanti Productions continued the tradition in recent years on The Flash, casting stars of the 1990s version of the The Flash in supporting roles.  John Wesley Schipp played the title role in the 1990s, and now plays Henry Allen and Jay Garrick.  Amanda Pays played STAR Labs’ scientist Tina McGee in the 1990s, and recurred several times on the recent Flash as Dr Christina McGee, head of Mercury Labs.  Mark Hamill played slightly different versions of the villain Trickster in each show.

As noted above, Berlanti Productions also continued the tradition on Supergirl with Erica Durance.  Before that, they had brought in several actors from prior DC shows.  From the pilot onward, Helen Slater and Dean Cain have played Dr Eliza and Dr Jeremiah Danvers, Supergirl’s human adoptive parents. Ms Slater starred in the title role in the 1984 Warner Bros. feature film Supergirl.   In the last several episodes of Supergirl Season 2, Terri Hatcher (who played Lois Lane alongside Dean Cain’s Clark Kent in the 1990s series Lois and Clark), recurred as prime villain, treacherous Daxamite Queen Rhea.  In Supergirl Season 1, Smallville alum Laura Vandervoort recurred as villainous alien android Indigo.  In Supergirl Season 1, when fans heard there was a woman president, every fangirl and fanboy wanted to see Lynda Carter in that role.  And Ms Carter did appear several times as the President in season 2.

Warner Bros. Animation has also continued the trend. On Batman shows, when they have cast an actor other than Kevin Conroy as Bruce Wayne/Batman, they usually find a guest role for Mr Conroy.  In The Batman, Rino Roman played the lead, and Mr Conroy voiced Dick Grayson’s father, John.  In Batman: The Brave and the Bold, Diedrich Bader voiced the lead, and Mr Conroy appeared as Phantom Stranger and a parallel version of Batman.  1960s era live action Batman, the late Adam West, has also appeared as Thomas Wayne or Bat-robots in various animated Batman shows.  In Superman and Justice League animated programs, since the 1990s, either Tim Daily or George Newburn has often voiced Superman, while Dana Delaney has usually been Lois Lane.

Lucifer, The Flash and Supergirl all return to the broadcast airwaves this fall.  Check you local listings for your Fox and CW network affiliates and cable systems.  Stay tuned to TVoverMind for continued coverage.  Also, tell us about your favorite DC comics legacy casting in the comments.  Especially if I left out your favorite example, let us know in the comments.


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