Race Swap Of A Character From Richard Donner’s 1978 Film In ‘Superman: Legacy’ Confirmed By James Gunn

Reeve as Clark Kent 1
Clark Kent reports for duty at The Daily Planet in Superman (1978), Warner Bros. Pictures

Suspicions, and perhaps fears, that characters will be overhauled for James Gunn’s Superman film and his broader DCU have been confirmed. However, the character that is the focus here is not the first one that would come to mind. 

Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Warner Bros. Pictures
Henry Cavill as Superman in Man of Steel (2013), Warner Bros. Pictures

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Superman: Legacy will introduce a race-bent version of Lex Luthor’s henchman Otis Berg played by actor Terence Rosemore – a favorite actor of Gunn. The director revealed this in a group photo with the cast and crew after they conducted their first table read.

Gunn designates everyone in the film by character. When he gets to Rosemore, who is flanked by Gunn, Nicholas Hoult, David Corenswet, and Mr. Terrific actor Edi Gathegi, the director uses the name “Otis.”

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“After the table read with the #Superman cast. Eve, Mr. Terrific, Superman/Clark, Otis, Lex, producer Peter Safran, Jimmy, Metamorpho, Lois, Hawkgirl, me, Guy, The Engineer all together for the first time! What a wonderful day,” Gunn wrote on Instagram.

The bumbling thug of Lex was introduced in Superman 1 and carried over into Superman II as Richard Donner was working on both films initially. Otis was played by the late Ned Beatty and served as comic relief. He later had incarnations on Smallville and in the show’s sequel comic.

Ned Beatty as Otis “Berg” in Superman (1978), Warner Bros. Pictures

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He rarely came through when given orders but Lex (Gene Hackman) allowed Otis to have a piece of California dubbed “Otisburg” if the mastermind’s evil scheme came to fruition.

Terence Rosemore has had a five-decade career and appeared in all Guardians of the Galaxy volumes as well as the Holiday Special and Brightburn. Given these consistent collaborations with Gunn, it looks as if he could have a place in the DCU for the long term.

Race swapping has been such a common practice for the better part of two decades when it comes to Superman alone. It seemed to all start with Pete Ross and Dr. Hamilton on Smallville, and later Jimmy Olsen and Perry White were cast against type on Supergirl and in Man of Steel.

Otis and Lex
Otis (Ned Beatty) reports back to Lex Luthor (Gene Hackman) in Superman (1978), Warner Bros. Pictures

Gunn doesn’t seem to be aiming for the biggest fish the way his predecessors did, but JJ Abrams and Ta-Nehisi Coates are sure to pick up the slack on that one if their movie gets made.

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