Little-known US actor Brandon Routh has been cast as the man of steel in the new Superman film, due out in 2006.
Routh has appeared on TV in sitcom Will and Grace
The 25-year-old from Iowa will fill the role famously played by Christopher Reeve, who died earlier this month.
"Contrary to speculation, it was always my intention to hire an unknown for this role," said Bryan Singer, who will direct the currently untitled film.
Routh's TV credits include Will and Grace and he has just finished making his first feature film, Deadly.
He was chosen from thousands of hopefuls from the US, Canada, the UK and Australia.
"We think Brandon is a gifted young performer who can re-energise this iconic character and excite new audiences about the legend of Superman," said Alan Horn, president of film studio Warner Bros.
The fifth Superman film will be shot in Australia early next year. No other cast members have yet been announced.
Reeve played Superman in the first four films
Singer made his name directing X-Men, X2 and The Usual Suspects.
The first Superman movie in 1978 catapulted Christopher Reeve to stardom - Reeve was also virtually unknown before he landed the role.
The film, based on the comic book character, earned him a Bafta award for best newcomer for his natural portrayal of the fumbling Clark Kent, who was transformed into the no-nonsense superhero.
The film was a smash hit across the globe, and went on to become the most successful film in Warner Bros history until that time.
Other actors to have played the role include Kirk Alyn in 1948, George Reeves in a 1950s TV version and Tom Welling in the recent teen TV series Smallville.