Clark Kent first appeared in a comic book 78 years ago, in June 1938. The Great Depression was underway, the Nazis were in power in Germany, and the world needed an incorruptible hero -- a 'super'hero
After Christopher Reeve's accident and George Reeves' suicide, there was talk of a 'curse of Superman'. Brandon Routh's career stumbled for a while, though he now plays Ray Palmer/The Atom in DC Comics' Arrow.
The men who played Superman through the years: Kirk Alyn, George Reeves, Christopher Reeve, and Brandon Routh. Superman is believed to be the most human of superheroes, despite being an alien, because of the moral code he lives by.