In an alternate timeline, Clint Eastwood could have taken on the lead role in 1978’s Superman, according to MTV. Citing a fear of being typecast as a superhero during that time in his career, the Dirty Harry star turned down the offer when it was presented to him, and Christopher Reeve ended up donning the cape instead. Though he respectfully declined to portray Superman, Eastwood did mention that he was a huge fan of the Marvel mutant Namor the Sub-Mariner, and went on to say that he had all of the Namor comics when he was a child.
While he passed on the chance to play Superman, Clint Eastwood says he would’ve loved to have played Marvel’s Namor the Sub-Mariner.
One of the primary reasons that Clint Eastwood didn’t want to take on a superhero role like Superman back in the 70s was his fear of being typecast as a superhero, and locked into the role for years to come. In hindsight, he was right to assume that he’d be roped into some sort of multi-picture contract. Christopher Reeve went on to reprise the role of Superman three times throughout the next 11 years.
Though Clint Eastwood was in many ways a mainstay in westerns and crime films, he felt that this was a different kind of typecasting that he could get behind. In other words, if he had accepted the offer to play Superman, or even Namor, he’d probably have to play the same character over and over again throughout the entire run of the franchise.
Though the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly actor acknowledged that his characters were often portrayed as larger than life, he considers characters like Dirty Harry to be different from those that have actual super powers.
In the western and crime genres, however, Eastwood wouldn’t necessarily be stuck playing the same character over and over again, and would still have the ability to take on different roles across the genres.
It’s not that Clint Eastwood didn’t have respect for the DC property by any stretch of the imagination, but rather that he preferred to play characters that were more “grounded in reality.”
Though the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly actor acknowledged that his characters were often portrayed as larger than life, he considers characters like Dirty Harry to be different from those that have actual super powers. So it makes sense that he’d gravitate toward a character like Marvel’s Namor, a mutant anti-hero with a short temper.
But make no mistake, Namor has powers of his own in the form of superhuman strength, speed, durability, and flight, to name a few. Given Clint Eastwood’s emotional connection with Namor, he probably felt that his life-long appreciation of the character would better lend itself to the role if it was offered to him.
Tenoch Huerta became the first actor to play Namor in live-action in 2022’s Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
It would be pretty wild to see what kind of gruff charisma Clint Eastwood could have brought to the role of Superman. But as history has shown us, he had other things in mind at this point in his career.
Maybe if we’re lucky, some content creator could reimagine the classic Superman films through the use of deepfake technology, and we can at least see what it would look like if Clint Eastwood put down the six-shooter, and strapped on a cape.