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Remembering 5 of Brandon Routh's greatest genre roles ahead of his 'Quantum Leap' guest appearance

From Superman to a super-powered vegan, Mr. Routh has truly done it all!

By Trent Moore
Brandon Routh as XO Augustine in Quantum Leap, in Superman Returns (2006), Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010), and Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

Brandon Routh never quite became a blockbuster movie star despite his star turn as Superman, but he carved out one heck of a great career as a sci-fi and superhero star over the past couple of decades. With Routh set to next show up on NBC's Quantum Leap revival, we took at look back at some of his best genre roles over the years.

Routh will appear in the episode "S.O.S.," which airs Monday, March 6. He'll be portraying Addison's (Caitlin Bassett) father, in a story set during war games on a naval warship in 1989. Having Ben (Raymond Lee) leap into someone who reports to Addison's dad? Yeah, we're intrigued.

RELATED: Original 'Quantum Leap' producer Deborah Pratt on 'coming home' to direct her first episode, 'Family Style'

Over the past several years, he's probably best known in genre circles for his long-running gig in the Arrowverse, playing Ray Palmer/The Atom across Legends of Tomorrow, The Flash and Arrow. But he's also popped up in plenty of other genre flicks and shows along the way — heading everywhere from deep space to the comic book-tinged world of Scott Pilgrim.

Superman in Superman Returns (2006)

Brandon Routh in Superman Returns (2006)

Routh's big break came in Bryan Singer's Superman Returns, a film aiming to revive the world and timeline of Richard Donner's Superman film legacy. Routh did an admirable job stepping into the blue tights and fake glasses, but the film itself landed to a bit of a mixed reception, with some fans saying it was a bit too long and a bit too slow for a modern superhero blockbuster.

Despite that, it put up solid box office numbers and critics generally liked it, but it just wasn't enough to launch a new era of Superman films. So the studio axed Singer's continuity and brought in Henry Cavill to take over the role in Man of Steel, kicking off yet another new DC continuity in the process.

Todd Ingram in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2010)

Edgar Wright's live action adaptation of Bryan Lee O'Malley's visually stunning comic book Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, about a guy (Michael Cera) having to face off with his new girlfriend's (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) super-powered ex-boyfriends, remains a cult hit to this day.

One big reason? The supporting role of Routh's Todd Ingram, an incredibly douche-y blonde hunk with vegan super-powers (yes, really). He's one of many highlights in a cast loaded with A-listers, including Chris Evans, Brie Larson, Alison Pill, Anna Kendrick, Aubrey Plaza and more.

Brandon Routh in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World (2011)

Dylan Dog in Dylan Dog: Dead of Night (2011)

You could be forgiven for not knowing this film existed, and based on its abysmal 5 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, you admittedly haven't missed much. But this action-comedy, based on the comic of the same name, follows Routh as a detective who specializes in supernatural cases. It has some Constantine vibes in there, and if you go in with low expectations, it can be a fun B-movie.

Routh remains a redeeming factor, and is clearly having a good time playing in this kind of dark, supernatural world.

Brandon Routh in Dylan Dog : Dead of Night (2011)

Ray Palmer/The Atom/Superman in the Arrowverse (2014-2019)

Ahh, the role that made Routh a true legend among a certain sub-set of sci-fi fans. He played tech genius Ray Palmer across The Flash and Arrow, before finally spinning off with a starring role on the team-up series Legends of Tomorrow. Routh was a key player for most of the series' run, and the role was the perfect conduit for his likable nature, comedy chops and action skills. Along the way, he got to travel through time and space, and save the world more than a few times.

With the Arrowverse pretty much done these days, it's nice to know we'll always have a half-decade of super-Routh on DVD and Blu-ray.

Brandon Routh as Ray Palmer in The Flash

Captain Theo Cooper in 400 Days (2015)

Routh reunited with his Arrowverse co-star Caity Lotz for this mid-budget sci-fi mystery, which bites off a bit more than it can chew but still tackles some fascinating ideas along the way. The film finds Routh playing an astronaut taking part in a 400-day simulation designed to study the effects of time travel on future space explorers. But is it really a simulation? What's happening in the outside world?

Routh does his best answering those questions, bringing his charm to some big sci-fi concepts and swings. Plus, the ending? It's something straight out of a nice Twilight Zone twist.

Brandon Routh in 400 Days (2015)

New episodes of Quantum Leap air Mondays at 10 p.m. ET on NBC, then stream next-day on Peacock. A second season is currently in development.