All 9 Superman and Lois Lane actor pairings ranked from worst to best

The Man of Steel and the intrepid reporter have headlined many live-action movies and TV shows, but which pair of actors played Superman and Lois Lane the best?
Superman & Lois -- "Last Sons of Krypton" -- Image Number: SML115a_0337r1.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Bitise Tulloch as Lois Lane and Tyler Hoechlin as Superman -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved
Superman & Lois -- "Last Sons of Krypton" -- Image Number: SML115a_0337r1.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Bitise Tulloch as Lois Lane and Tyler Hoechlin as Superman -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved /

Wherever Superman goes, Lois Lane usually isn't far behind. DC's intrepid reporter has made a career out of covering breaking news stories and reporting on the truth, and in Metropolis the Man of Steel is usually at the center of those breaking news stories.

Their romantic relationship is every bit as iconic as the characters themselves, as Lois and Clark is considered one of the most elite of all comic book couples - perhaps even the most elite. This is certainly the case when it comes to live-action portrayals, because the duo have appeared in a lot of adaptations across the years, both in the movie theaters on the big screen and in your homes on the small one. They will be arriving on the silver screen again in the near future, as David Corenswet and Rachel Brosnahan will play the roles in James Gunn's upcoming Superman movie.

To get Lois and Clark right, the actors have had to convey a certain energy, a spark that captures both their chemistry and their unique appeal as perhaps DC Comics' best couple. Not every adaptation has gotten it right, though. So, without further ado, let's find out which ones did (and which ones didn't).

Actor Kirk Alyn as Superman to the rescue of Lois Lane (Noel Neill) in Superman (1948)
Actor Kirk Alyn as Superman to the rescue of Lois Lane (Noel Neill) in Superman (1948) / George Rinhart/GettyImages

9. Kirk Alyn and Noel Neill

Appeared in: Superman (1948), Atom Man vs. Superman

The very first live-action adaptations of Superman and Lois Lane came in the 1940s movie serial Superman. Kirk Alyn was cast as the Man of Steel and Noel Neill played Lois Lane, becoming the first actors to ever bring them to life on the screen, and the pair did a wonderful job in doing so - ultimately reprising their roles in sequel serial Atom Man vs. Superman two years later.

The production values of the serials were pretty low so that unfortunately means they haven't aged all that well. The good news is that Alyn and Neill's performances have, as the pair make for a convincing on-screen partnership, reflecting much of what Clark and Lois' relationship was like in the comics at the time. While the quality of writing wasn't as high as it might be in a more modern adaptation, their dynamic sold the duo's back-and-forth chemistry well.

8. Brandon Routh and Kate Bosworth

Appeared in: Superman Returns

I have no problem reiterating that Superman Returns is a highly underrated film. Brandon Routh's understated performance as the Man of Steel nailed the character, capturing the classic triumph of the Superman of yesteryear and the hope that tomorrow needs all in one. However, the movie struggles a bit when it comes to its portrayal of Lois Lane. Kate Bosworth is assured in the role, but the material doesn't often serve her well. It's a significant step-up from how the previous two movies treated Margot Kidder's Lois, but it does leave us wanting more for her nonetheless.

The silver lining is that there is strong chemistry between Bosworth and Routh, and that does the heavy-lifting on multiple occasions. But when those occasions involve the layered interview scene or the moment in which they fly together, then it's easy to overlook.

If Superman Returns had gotten a sequel, I feel like these two would have been higher on this list.

7. Henry Cavill and Amy Adams

Appeared in: Man of Steel, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Justice League, Zack Snyder's Justice League

Henry Cavill and Amy Adams are two wonderful actors who got dealt a bad hand by the movies that they appeared in. The DC Extended Universe's grim adaptation of Superman caused a lot of division among fans, simply because he lacked the heart, charm, or triumph that the Man of Steel is all about there. It was there beneath the surface at times, but not nearly enough. And then there's Lois Lane who, though intrepid and determined, never really felt like Lois Lane. To make matters worse, she began to fade into the background after Man of Steel - something that should never happen to Lois.

The thing that Cavill and Adams did have going for them was their chemistry. The DCEU may have overlooked the strength of the characters they were cast as but they went out of their way to sell us on their relationship. For the most part, it worked, as you could really feel yourself drawn into their world whenever they shared scenes together. Their final farewell before Clark's sacrifice is a perfect example of that, as is their reunion in the Snyder Cut of Justice League.

It wasn't a typical Clark Kent and Lois Lane relationship but the pair sold us on their version of the relationship anyway.

Superman & Lois Lane
Superman & Lois Lane / Hulton Archive/GettyImages

6. George Reeves and Phyllis Coates

Appeared in: Adventures of Superman (season 1)

George Reeves and Phyllis Coates were television's first ever Superman and Lois Lane. The duo acted opposite each other for just one season in TV juggernaut Adventures of Superman but it was clear that they had a strong energy from the very beginning.

Coates' Lois was firmer than her modern day counterpart, less enthused but more determined to get to the truth. Reeves struck a nice balance between Clark Kent and Superman, having a charisma all of the time, and a more reserved Clark Kent nature half of the time. Together, they made for an exhilarating watch.

It was always nice to see Lois interact with Superman as he brought out a different side to her, but the show wasn't as interested in exploring their relationship in its early years due its more serious tone. Nevertheless, Coates and Reeves were a fantastic pairing.

5. George Reeves and Noel Neill

Appeared in: Adventures of Superman (season 2 - 6)

Noel Neill returned to the role of Lois Lane when she was called upon to replace Phyllis Coates in Adventures of Superman, who left after the first season. She quickly slotted back into the role with ease, but the real challenge would be whether she could strike up an on-screen kinship with a different Clark Kent in George Reeves. Thankfully, that's exactly what she was able to do, as the pair quickly found their groove.

The two worked well together, and even though Lois wasn't written as firmly as Coates' portrayal was, Neill still had a powerful screen presence that bounced off Reeves' attention-capturing Man of Steel nicely. She also got the chance to explore the character further and her dynamic with both Clark and Superman as the show ran for five more seasons. Even though it got a bit more gimmicky as it went on, the partnership between Reeves and Neill sold every single shenanigan the show threw their way.


4. Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher

Appeared in: Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman

You would think that a TV series titled Lois and Clark would do a pretty good job with its title characters and their relationship. Thankfully, you'd be right, because the '90s TV series was pretty pivotal for how the pair were portrayed in live-action and the modern day Superman and Lois Lane relationship owes it a lot.

The show's appeal lay in the fact that it took a different spin on the story. While previous Superman stories on television portrayed Clark Kent and Lois Lane as allies and frenemies in the Daily Planet, they held back on the attraction between them. Clark and Lois leaned into that, taking inspiration from workplace dramedies at the time to showcase how their playful attempts to outdo each other when it came to grabbing stories and solving mysteries often pulled them closer together.

The real selling point was the chemistry between Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher, who sold the pair's quirky dynamic well. Cain was able to sell Clark's nerdiness as more of a quiet confidence and that meant that he could match Hatcher's larger-than-life portrayal of Lois. Their back-and-forth in the office was always a fun watch, and it laid the groundwork for the sparks that came when they began to realize their feelings for one another.

3. Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder

Appeared in: Superman: The Movie, Superman II, Superman III, Superman IV: The Quest For Peace

When it comes to the most important portrayal of Superman and Lois Lane, there is no other option than Superman: The Movie. It was the first time that the pair appeared in a standalone theatrical feature film, and the representation of their relationship would be a formative one for future adaptations, because Christopher Reeve and Margot Kidder's performances were quite literally out-of-this-world. The world was theirs's, and they showed the world how it was done.

Reeve's approach to the duality of Superman and Clark Kent set such a high standard that it has barely been matched since. One of the most underrated aspects of that dual performance is how he behaved differently around Lois depending on whether he was wearing the glasses or not, and that also informed how Kidder's Lois responded to him. And, by the way, Kidder's performance as Lois deserves just as many flowers as Reeve's, as she delivered what was the definitive version of the character for a whole generation.

Together, they were a match made in Heaven and for many they are still the yardstick when it comes to Clark and Lois. "You've got me, but who's got you?" is the perfect example of why. Sweet, endearing perfection.

Smallville, Superman and Lois Lane
Batwoman -- "Crisis on Infinite Earths: Part Two" -- Image Number: BWN108a_0390.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Erica Durance as Lois Lane and Tom Welling as Clark Kent -- Photo: Dean Buscher/The CW -- © 2019 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved. /

2. Tom Welling and Erica Durance

Appeared in: Smallville

If you watch Superman: The Animated Series, you will see the perfect representation of the Clark Kent and Lois Lane relationship. Their chemistry is strong, a perfect blend of Clark's lovable awkwardness and Lois' sarcastic charm that makes them feel like the personification of the source material. All of that, and more, comes across in Smallville's portrayal.

Tom Welling's performance as Clark Kent is vastly underrated. With ten seasons of experience, he knows the character better than anyone, and he had a wonderful chemistry with Erica Durance's Lois Lane right from the off. There was a playful nature to their dynamic in that they didn't particularly like each other, but you could still sense the tension. Durance's powerful performance merged well with Welling's reserved hero, and their exploration of that dynamic in the early years laid the perfect foundation for when they finally became a couple in season 8.

Smallville might not have been a comic-accurate show, but it got its portrayal of Superman and Lois' relationship spot-on. For many this is the perfect version of the iconic pairing, and honestly you would have a tough time arguing against it.

Superman and Lois Lane
Superman & Lois -- "The Best of Smallville" -- Image Number: SML105a_0255r.jpg -- Pictured (L-R): Tyler Hoechlin as Clark Kent and Bitsie Tulloch as Lois Lane -- Photo: Bettina Strauss/The CW -- © 2021 The CW Network, LLC. All Rights Reserved.Photo Credit: Bettina Strauss /

1. Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth Tulloch

Appeared in: Superman and Lois, Supergirl

Clark Kent and Lois Lane are two of the richest comic book characters of all time and you won't find a more layered portrayal of their relationship than Superman and Lois. While Tyler Hoechlin and Elizabeth "Bitsie" Tulloch were already great in a guest capacity on Supergirl, it wasn't until they got their own spin-off that they were given the chance to flesh out these characters. To say they succeeded in doing so would be an understatement.

Superman and Lois showcases these characters at a very different point in their lives than previous adaptations. They are veteran heroes and reporters, having been in each other's lives for two decades, but they are also life partners and parents committed to raising their teenage sons in a world that makes being normal very difficult. Hoechlin and Tulloch capture this beautifully, approaching their roles with such nuance and care that it feels like they have been doing it for a lot longer than they have. Their portrayal of Clark and Lois' relationship is rich, layered, and perhaps the most authentic we have ever seen. And their chemistry is second-to-none.

The DC TV series only consists of four seasons but in that time Tyler Hoechlin and Bitsie Tulloch have gifted us with the best live-action version of Clark and Lois' relationship of all time. It's time we give them the flowers that they deserve.

Next. All 32 DC TV shows ranked from worst to best. All 32 DC TV shows ranked from worst to best. dark