Speculative Superman art imagines what the hero would look like if Will Smith had accepted the role years ago. As one of the biggest stars in Hollywood, Smith has a plethora of iconic roles under his belt, including Mike Lowery in the Bad Boys franchise, Agent J in the Men in Black series, and the one that started it all, Will from The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. However, Smith could’ve gotten another major role tacked onto his filmography, as he was once offered the part of Clark Kent himself in Superman Returns.
Smith turned down the chance to play Superman, seemingly because he didn’t wish to deal with the backlash that often comes with an actor of color playing a typically white character. In the years since, Smith has ventured into the superhero genre with parts in films like Hancock and Suicide Squad. Still, it’s hard not to wonder what a Smith-starring Superman movie would be like. While the world may never know exactly how it would have worked, they now at least have an idea of what he could’ve looked like as the iconic Man of Steel.
Digital artist ApexForm designed a piece where Smith dons the Superman suit. Though Smith would’ve played the character for the 2006 Superman Returns, this image looks like it would fit perfectly within the DC Extended Universe. Based on this piece alone, it’s a shame that audiences will never get to see Smith bring his Superman to life. Check it out down below.
The disappointing response to Superman Returns led DC to reevaluate the character’s big screen prospects, and he was eventually rebooted in the DCEU-starter Man of Steel. Henry Cavill played Superman for that film before going on to appear in two more DCEU installments. Currently, Cavill’s future with the franchise is a question mark, though he will at least be seen in next year’s Snyder Cut version of Justice League.
It’s impossible to say for sure how Smith’s Superman Returns would’ve performed had it been made, but it can’t be denied that it would’ve offered a unique take on the character. In that sense, it’s disappointing that it never happened. On the other hand, Cavill’s take on the character has earned much praise from fans, and it might never have come to pass if Smith had accepted the role. Smith as Superman is one of many Hollywood “what if” tales that are fun to imagine, but will have to remain just that: Within one’s mind.