2021 marks the 25th anniversary of Superman: The Animated Series, and to celebrate, the entire show arrived on Blu-ray for the first time ever earlier this week (remastered, of course). The series starred Tim Daly as Kal-El/Superman, Dana Delany as Lois Lane, and Clancy Brown as Lex Luthor, and received nominations for 11 Daytime Emmys between 1997 and 2000, winning two of them.
It's quite rightly considered a classic, and the Blu-ray box set includes all 54 episodes, a new featurette titled "Superman: Timeless Icon," and audio commentary on a number of classic instalments.
Earlier this week, we were lucky enough to spend a few minutes catching up with Superman himself, Tim Daly. The voice of the Man of Steel in this TV show and a number of animated films that followed, he's become synonymous with the role, and clearly doesn't take that lightly. Reflecting on his time as the hero, the actor makes it clear he's hoping for a return, and shares his love for the hero.
Daly also talks to us about where he'd like to see Superman go next on screen, revealing whether he kept any souvenirs from his time on the show and more. He also reflects on getting the opportunity to explore a darker side of Clark Kent when he took on the role of Bizarro in the beloved series.
It goes without saying that you’ve become synonymous with Superman after your work in the series. Of course, only a select number of characters get to play the character, so what has it been like for the Man of Steel to follow you throughout your career to the point we’re still talking about it so long after the show ended?
I was thinking about that today and found myself wishing it had followed me a little more closely. I’d like to still be doing it. I think I would be better as Superman now than back when I was doing it because my voice has gotten richer and I think I understand Superman better. It’s crazy because, and I’ve said this in other interviews before, at the time when I started doing Superman, I honestly didn’t really understand how important this character was to the consciousness of the world. This idea that there’s a person who has these vast superpowers that can right the wrongs of the world. I guess it’s built into human beings to have that sort of mythology as part of our ethos. I have been surprised it’s followed me and I’m glad it has.
I believe it’s been around a decade since you last voiced Superman, so do you find yourself missing the character and are you hoping future projects do crop up whether it’s a revival of the series or even another animated film?
I’m hoping desperately that I can return as the character. It’s interesting. I’m going to say something and I don’t want this to be taken wrong because I think Batman is a wonderful character, but it seems like so much entertainment has gravitated towards darkness. Superman, after all, started as a comic book. That implies it’s all fun, and what I love about Superman and one of the reasons I hope he makes a resurgence is that he is or has been or should be all good. He has some childhood trauma when he lost his parents, but he’s not seeking revenge. He’s not a dark, vengeful, vindictive character. He’s all goodness. He just wants to help people and right wrongs. He wants to help us poor human beings get our act together and I certainly think at this moment in time, we could use that more than ever.
This show is coming out on Blu-ray for the first time, so what’s it like to think that a whole new generation of fans will be discovering your Superman here? It must be quite surreal?
It is. It’s also great. Just the other day - I’ve been working on a show that premieres at the beginning of October - and I’m sort of the old guy on these sets now. A couple of times on the show, these young people have come up to me who don’t know my acting work at all and know me from Superman. They’ll say, ‘There’s something about your voice…I knew you did Superman!’ It’s really kind of thrilling to me that they’re still interested in it and it’s still an important part of their lives and childhoods.
Something I know I loved about your work in the series is that you were only one of a handful of actors who got to play Superman and Bizarro. Looking back, exploring that duality, even in just a handful of episodes, must have been quite an experience?
Yeah, I really liked doing Bizarro. At the time, I was in the thrall of that darkness actors seem to love to delve into, me included. It’s the dark side of humanity and I consider it my job to explore all the sides of humanity, good and bad, dark and light. It was fun to get away for a moment from the boy scout nature of Superman and really go into a dark place with Bizarro. I had a great deal of empathy for him because he is sort of misguided, misunderstood, and used. He wasn’t innately evil I don’t think. He was just manipulated in a way that made him seem so. Anyway, the short answer is, yes, I had a good time doing that.
I remember when the show was on that the toys and merchandise was everywhere. I wish I’d kept some of mine, but did you collect any memorabilia for the show that you still have?
I’m sitting in my office right now. Let me see, I have a big poster of Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, two cells of the Superman cartoon, a Superman hat from the 75th anniversary, and someplace around here is a really cool wooden Superman statue. I have two of those, so the answer is yes!
Even with the show having been off the air for a while, I can imagine it feels like a responsibility because like Kevin Conroy’s Batman, your voice is the definitive Superman for many fans. How does that feel?
The only thing I’m sad about is that I’d like to have another crack at it. I really would like to do Superman again. I just have to be in the right place at the right time and, hopefully, whoever the fans are who read your article will put some pressure on Warner Bros. and say, ‘Hey, we want Tim Daly back to do some of this stuff.’ I’ll come back in a heartbeat.
Superman is a character who lives on, but have you followed the animated or live-action versions, like Henry Cavill, and what do you think about what’s become of him since your time in the role?
Well, I haven’t followed him religiously, I have to be honest. What I have seen, I feel like…I don’t know, in some ways, the fun has diminished a little bit from Superman. For me, the Christopher Reeve Superman was so wonderful because he was so good and Clark Kent had such a great sense of humour. It was a little bit lighter, and I suppose Superman now is reflecting the world as art often does. His dilemmas are mirrored in society, but I would hope that if Superman is revived again, that the light part of Superman could be allowed to come through a little bit more.