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Superman: The Animated Series' Tim Daly Explains What Keeps Drawing Him (And Even His Son) Back To The DC Superhero

Tim Daly's Clark Kent pulling back shirt to show Superman symbol
(Image credit: Warner Bros. Animation)

Wings actor Tim Daly made his debut performance as Kal-El/Clark Kent when Superman: The Animated Series premiered in fall 1996, but even after the show’s conclusion in 2000, he continued to find opportunities to voice the character, including at recently as last year. Much like Kevin Conroy’s outings as Batman, Daly still appreciates getting to perform Superman more than two decades after his original tenure as the popular DC Comics superhero ended. As a bonus, Superman has also become a family affair for him, as his son, Sam Daly, has also voiced the Man of Steel.

When I recently spoke with Tim Daly on behalf of Superman: The Animated Series’ Blu-ray release from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment, I asked him what it is about the Superman role that keeps drawing him back in all these years later. The actor responded:

I think it’s different things. I didn’t realize when I did it how important Superman was to our culture, and maybe world culture. And I’ve since come to believe that, and an anthropologist can talk about this more astutely than I can, that what Superman represents is something that seems to tap into some sort of primordial human yearning. We all dream of flying, we dream of having superpowers, we dream of being a hero and saving the day. And those things seem to be ingrained in human beings no matter what culture we’re from. So I think that Superman is way bigger than I realized at first, and now that I’ve realized it, I’m really anxious to be a part of that. I’d give anything to be able to have another crack at Superman because I think now, in these dark times that we’re going through, we need someone, a hero like Superman, who represents light. Who’s not bitter, he’s not vengeful, he’s not just out there seeking retribution. He’s actually trying to help humanity be better.

At the time Superman: The Animated Series came out, the character had been around for nearly 60 years, and along with his many comic book appearances during that span of time, he certainly wasn’t lacking for attention across various movies, TV shows and other media. However, from Tim Daly’s perspective, he wasn’t initially aware how culturally relevant Superman was to not just the United States, but the entire world. That’s certainly no longer the case, as not only is Daly still eager to play Superman after all these years, he realizes that we need a character who can serve as a beacon of inspiration.

As for his son, Sam Daly was selected to play Superman in 2013’s Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox. While he briefly performed a traditional version of Superman at the beginning of the animated movie, the younger Daly mainly played the character in the altered DC timeline Barry Allen, a.k.a. The Flash, inadvertently created, with this version of Kal-El having been held captive by the government since crash-landing in Metropolis as an infant. Here’s what Tim Daly had to say about how he reacted when he learned from voice director Andrea Romano that Sam Daly was following in his Superman footsteps:

I was absolutely thrilled. Andrea called me and said, ‘Listen, I want Sam to do this.’ And I was like, ‘Are you kidding me? I’m so happy about that.’ I guess that the standard oedipal thing is for fathers and sons to be in competition, but I would be so happy if Sam outshone me in every way possible way, which I actually think he will, given a little time.

So far, Justice League: The Flashpoint Paradox is Sam Daly’s only Superman credit, but perhaps there will come a day where he’s approached to reprise the role. As for Tim Daly, he last voiced Superman for 2020’s DC FanDome, which featured re-enactments of episodes from The Adventures of Superman, the radio serial that originally broadcast from 1940 to 1951. Daly shared the role with Daniel Dae Kim and Wilson Cruz, and other actors featured in the project included Terry Crews, Giancarlo Esposito, Alfre Woodard, Tony Shalhoub, Jason Isaacs and Constance Zimmer.

You can re-experience Tim Daly’s work on Superman: The Animated Series either though the Blu-ray set (which can be purchased now) or by streaming the show on HBO Max. For all the biggest news concerning upcoming DC Comics movies and TV shows, keep checking back with CinemaBlend.

Adam Holmes

Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.