"Clark Kent is a journalist in his twenties who was adopted as a child by Martha and Jonathan Kent after he was transported to Earth from the dying planet Krypton. Raised with the values of his adoptive parents, he feels alienated because of his unique super abilities and struggles to find his place in life. When the world is attacked, he becomes the hero Superman to protect its people."
- Henry Cavill as Clark Kent / Superman: A Kryptonian sent to Earth by his parents as an infant to survive the destruction of his homeworld Krypton. He is raised by Kansas farmers and becomes Earth's greatest superhero, Superman. Cavill was cast as Superman, making him the first non-American actor to be cast in the role. Cavill was on the shortlist for the 2006 film Superman Returns, but lost the part to Brandon Routh. Dylan Sprayberry was cast as 13-year-old Clark Kent while 11-year-old Cooper Timberline was cast as the 9-year-old Clark Kent in June.
- Amy Adams as Lois Lane: Reporter for the Daily Planet newspaper and love interest of Clark Kent and his secret alter-ego. Adams was selected from a list of actresses that included Olivia Wilde and Mila Kunis.
- Michael Shannon as General Zod: A powerful Kryptonian soldier with superpowers similar to those of Superman.
- Russell Crowe as Jor-El: The biological father of Superman.
- Ayelet Zurer as Lara Lor-Van: The biological mother of Superman and loyal wife to Jor-El.
- Laurence Fishburne as Perry White: The Editor in Chief of the Daily Planet and the boss of Clark Kent and Lois Lane. Fishburne is the first African American to play Perry White in a live-action film.
- Kevin Costner and Diane Lane as Jonathan and Martha Kent: The adoptive parents of Superman. Director Zack Snyder said of Costner "Kevin will be able to communicate the quiet strength of this rural man who raised the greatest superhero of all time."
- Harry Lennix as General Swanwick
- Antje Traue as Faora
- Christopher Meloni as Colonel Hardy
- Richard Schiff as Dr. Emil Hamilton