New Superman Movie Finally Has Its Man Of Steel

Soap star Brandon Routh nabs role.

A member of the MTV family will soon be leaping over tall buildings in a single bound — 25-year-old Brandon Routh, who played “Wade” on the MTV soap opera “Undressed,” will star as the Man of Steel in the upcoming Superman movie.

Warner Bros. announced on Friday (October 22) that the largely unknown actor has been confirmed to star in the film, slated for a summer 2006 release.

“It was always my absolute intention to hire an unknown for this role,” the film’s director, Bryan Singer, said in a statement. “Brandon is an extremely fine actor who possesses the physical qualifications of Clark Kent/ Superman. But he also embodies the legacy and history of this character in a way that makes me certain he’s the right choice.”

So who is Brandon Routh? His short résumé includes a few guest spots on shows like “Will & Grace” and “Gilmore Girls,” but he’s most known for his stint as Seth on ABC’s “One Life to Live.” Known to his friends and family as “B.J.,” he grew up in Norwalk, Iowa, where he graduated from high school in 1998. He was active in both sports and music during high school, and had planned a career in writing after attending the University of Iowa, but then went into modeling instead in 1999. Modeling soon turned into acting; Christina Aguilera’s video “What a Girl Wants” is one of his first credits.

The Superman project has had a long list of potential candidates, not only to play the Man of Steel, but also to write and direct his latest adventure, referred to as both “Superman V” and “Superman Returns.” Nicolas Cage, Brendan Fraser, Josh Hartnett, Jim Caviezel and even Tom Welling of “Smallville” have vied for the role, which has subtly shifted in the hands of screenwriters from Kevin Smith to J.J. Abrams to current scribes Michael Dougherty and Dan Harris (“X2″), who recently turned in their final script. Though Tim Burton was originally set to direct, that job, too, has changed many hands — Brett Ratner and McG were once attached to the project — until Bryan Singer ultimately landed the job.

One of the main changes Singer made once he signed on was to make the commitment to cast an unknown. He came across a screen test Routh did with McG in June, which is when rumors first linked the actor to the project. Singer viewed those tapes and met with Routh in August.

“We respect and appreciate the intense interest that our fans around the world have in Superman,” Jeff Robinov, President of Production for Warner Bros. Pictures, said of the casting decision, “and we went everywhere in search of a talented actor who would represent his look, character and presence. We think Brandon is a gifted young performer who can re-energize this iconic character and excite new audiences about the legend of Superman.”

The as-yet-untitled Superman film is expected to begin principal photography in Australia early next year. No other casting decisions have been announced.

The last actor to play the Man of Steel on the big screen, Christopher Reeve, died on October 10 of heart failure (see ” ‘Superman’ Star Christopher Reeve Dies At 52″ ).

Visit MTV Movies for more from Hollywood, including news, interviews, trailers and more.