James Gunn Surprisingly Ditches Jimmy Olsen Race-Swapping Trend, Casts Skyler Gisondo As Red-Headed Reporter In ‘Superman: Legacy’

Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) lies about his life in Hollywood in The Righteous Gemstones Season 2 Episode 1 "I SPeak in the Tongues of Men and Angels" (2022), HBO / Jimmy Olsen believes he's heard an intruder within The Daily Planet's offices on Ryan Sook's cover to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special Vol. 1 #1 "From a Cub to a Wolf" (2008), DC
Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) lies about his life in Hollywood in The Righteous Gemstones Season 2 Episode 1 "I SPeak in the Tongues of Men and Angels" (2022), HBO / Jimmy Olsen believes he's heard an intruder within The Daily Planet's offices on Ryan Sook's cover to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Special Vol. 1 #1 "From a Cub to a Wolf" (2008), DC

Credit where credit is due: In breaking from Hollywood’s recent trend of race-swapping the intrepid photojournalist for all of his adapted appearances, DC Studios head James Gunn has officially selected actor Skyler Gisondo as his choice for the role of Jimmy Olsen in his new DCU.

Jimmy Olsen attempts to get an exclusive with Parasite on Ben Oliver's variant cover to Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Vol. 2 #1 (2019), DC
Jimmy Olsen attempts to get an exclusive with Parasite on Ben Oliver’s variant cover to Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Vol. 2 #1 (2019), DC

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Known for such roles as Eric Bemis in Santa Clarita Diet and the rebellious Gideon Gemstone in The Righteous Gemstones, Gisondo will make his first appearance as the bow-tied redhead in Gunn’s upcoming Superman: Legacy, wherein he’ll star opposite David Corenswet’s Superman, Rachel Brosnahan’s Lois Lane, and Nicholas Hoult’s Lex Luthor.

Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) is confused by his parent's latest news in The Righteous Gemstones Season 2 Episode 7 "And Infants Shall Rule Over Them" (2022), HBO
Gideon (Skyler Gisondo) is confused by his parent’s latest news in The Righteous Gemstones Season 2 Episode 7 “And Infants Shall Rule Over Them” (2022), HBO

Thanks to his role as one of The Daily Planet’s most trusted talents, it’s likely Olsen’s job will also lead him to come into direct contact with the film’s other confirmed metahumans, including Isabela Merced’s Hawkgirl, Edi Gathegi’s Mister Terrific, Nathan Fillion’s Guy Gardner, Anthony Carrigan’s Metamorpho’s and María Gabriela de Faría’s incarnation of The Engineer.

Further, as announced alongside Gisondo’s casting, Portuguese super model and Victoria’s Secret Angel Sara Sampio will also make an appearance in Metropolis as Luthor’s seductive assistant Eve Teschmacher.

Eve Tessmacher has a delivery for a certain red-headed reporter in Superman's Pal, Jimmy Olsen Vol. 2 #12 (2020), DC. Words by Matt Fraction, art by Steve Lieber, Nathan Fairbairn, and Clayton Cowles.
Eve Tessmacher has a delivery for a certain red-headed reporter in Superman’s Pal, Jimmy Olsen Vol. 2 #12 (2020), DC. Words by Matt Fraction, art by Steve Lieber, Nathan Fairbairn, and Clayton Cowles.

As suggested above, Gisondo’s casting as Superman’s Pal comes as a genuine surprise given the recent attempts by DC to establish ‘black Jimmy Olsen’ as a significant institution.

This push began in earnest in 2015 beginning with The CW’s Supergirl, wherein Mortal Kombat actor Mechad Brooks portrays a version of Olsen who is not only black, but also exists as the Arrowverse’s version of the Metropolis-based superhero Guardian.

James Olsen (Mechad Brooks) reveals his identity to Kara (Melissa Benoit) in Supergirl Season 2 Episode 10 "We Can Be Heroes" (2017), The CW
James Olsen (Mechad Brooks) reveals his identity to Kara (Melissa Benoit) in Supergirl Season 2 Episode 10 “We Can Be Heroes” (2017), The CW

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Next, in 2022, DC once again race-swapped Olsen for their animated Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons, with Dragon Ball Super: Super Hero voice actor Zeno Robinson being tapped to bring this version to life.

Lois Lane (Laura Bailey) goes to Jimmy Olsen (Zeno Robinson) for help in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons (2022), Warner Bros. Animation
Lois Lane (Laura Bailey) goes to Jimmy Olsen (Zeno Robinson) for help in Batman and Superman: Battle of the Super Sons (2022), Warner Bros. Animation

Then came 2023 and Adult Swim’s My Adventures of Superman, which upon its premiere revealed to the world that Olsen had once again fallen victim to the entertainment industry’s obsession with identity politics, this incarnation voiced by Ishmael Sahid.

Jimmy Olsen (Ishmel Sahid) shows off his glow light in My Adventures with Superman Episode 4 "Let's Go to Ivo Tower, You Say" (2023), Warner Bros. Animation
Jimmy Olsen (Ishmel Sahid) shows off his glow light in My Adventures with Superman Episode 4 “Let’s Go to Ivo Tower, You Say” (2023), Warner Bros. Animation

And while, in that same time frame, comic book accurate depictions of Olsen have appeared in such non-comic book productions as the animated Superman: Red Son and The Death of Superman/Reign of the Supermen films, the Young Justice animated series, and even Zach Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and even Young Justice, his roles therein are either extremely limited or – in the case of the Snyderverse’s version – end in his outright death.

Combined with the heavy marketing push DC gave to the above trio of race-swapped Olsens, it’s not hard to see that the classic red-headed version of the classic character was slowly but surely being nudged towards the recesses of history.

Superman strikes a pose for Jimmy Olsen in Superman: Secret Origin Vol. 1 #5 (2010), DC. Words by Geoff Johns, art by Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Brand Anderson, and Steve Wands.
Superman strikes a pose for Jimmy Olsen in Superman: Secret Origin Vol. 1 #5 (2010), DC. Words by Geoff Johns, art by Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Brand Anderson, and Steve Wands.

At current, Gunn’s Superman: Legacy is set to land in theaters on July 11th, 2025.

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