Muhammad Ali Almost Played Superman In 1978’s Classic Film

From Heavyweight Champion Of The World to saviour of the universe?

It sounds too strange to be true, but before the then-unknown Christopher Reeve signed up to play Superman in the 1978 movie, Muhammad Ali was considered for the blockbuster role.

Producer Ilya Salkind revealed the extensive list of actors considered for the role as part of the film’s 40th anniversary rerelease back in 2018, which was compiled for DC Comics to individually approve before they began reaching out to talent.

DC Comics

Ali, of course, didn’t bag the role, but that didn’t stop him from teaming up with the Man Of Steel elsewhere.

In 1978, the 72-page comic book Superman Vs. Muhammad Ali saw the unlikely pair fight an alien invasion before going head-to-head in the ring – a match that ended with the boxing legend declaring “Superman, WE are the greatest!”

When the comic book was first published, Ali had lost his World Heavyweight title, but had gained it back by September 1978. Kal-El has to be thanked for helping him get his mojo back in the ring.

DC Comics

Other notable names considered for the role of Superman included Al Pacino, Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Elton John. Yes, really – we can only assume Elton turned it down because Superman fights crime every day of the week, whilst he thinks only Saturday night’s alright for fighting.

At one point, the casting search got so desperate that producer Salkind even gave a screen test to his wife’s dentist. It’s safe to say that version of the film probably wouldn’t have become Warner Bros. highest grossing movie of the 1970s.

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Alistair Ryder

Alistair Ryder


Alistair is a culture journalist and lover of bad puns from Leeds. Subject yourself to his bad tweets by following him on Twitter @YesItsAlistair.