Art by Adam Kubert

Oct 30, 2021

The History of the Live-Action Hawkman and Hawkgirl.

By Tim Board (Hawkworld Facebook and Hawkworld Twitter) Updated!

Thirty-nine years ago, on January 19 and 26, 1979, NBC broadcast "Legends of the Superheroes", a two-part special with several DC heroes and villains. This was also the show that gave us our first live-action Hawkman. Do you know how many men and women have played Hawkman and Hawkgirl over the years? While live-action Batman actors are almost too numerous to count, the number who have played the Winged Wonders on silver or small screens have been few and far between. Let's take a look at the actors who have played the Hawks over the years.

Bill Nuckols (Legends of the Superheroes, 1979)
Bill Nuckols is a bodybuilder from the 70s who made his TV debut on the show. He went on to have parts in two more movies, Sunset Cove (1978) and Supertrain (1979). He moved away from Hollywood after that and pretty much disappeared. One fan of the superhero special was able to track him down for an interview but judging from the article, Nuckols seems to be a man of few words. You can find the interview here. He also has an Internet Movie Database page with a bit of info. 
Sidenote: Hawkman's mother, Mrs. Esther Hol, also appears on the show. For some reason, she lives in Peoria, Illinois, not Thanagar. Mrs. Hol was played by none other than Pat Carroll, the actress who did the voice of Ursula. 

Jim Jackman (Baby Ruth commercial, 1997)
The second live-action Hawkman showed up 18 years later on a Baby Ruth commercial. He was played by Jim Jackman, a comedian who had parts in movies like Spaceballs and My Stepmother is an Alien. He was also involved in TV shows such as 3rd Rock from the Sun and Malcolm in the Middle. He is currently 61 years old and has a Facebook page. For the record, I have seen some criticize the commercial as demeaning to Hawkman but I absolutely love this commercial. You can also check out his IMBd page.

Michael Shanks (Smallville, 2010)
After another 13-year wait, we finally got what many consider the best live-action Hawkman to date. During the last two seasons of 'Smallville', Michael Shanks appeared in four episodes as the Winged Wonder. In true Hawkman fashion, he dies while saving Lois Lane in his final appearance. Shanks did a great job in bringing the first serious rendition in Hawkman to the screen so it's a shame that he was limited to only four episodes. However, he did give us the greatest superhero landing ever. 

During the episode titled 'Shield', we were also treated to a vision of Shiera, played by Sahar Biniaz. Shanks was on the 'Stargate' series for years and since 2012, he has been on the TV series 'Saving Hope'. Check out his IMDb page.

Ryan Digger and Allie Haze (The XXX Adventures of Hawkman and Hawkgirl, 2013)
To be honest, I debated adding the next Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The Hawks were played by Ryan Digger and Allie Haze on an adult film called "The XXX Adventures of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. The title pretty much explains everything that needs to be said. I have never watched the film, to be honest, but the costumes on the cover are pretty amazing so I decided to include them on the list. The man responsible for the costumes is cosplayer Brin Londo. He is a member of Hawkworld and has his own Facebook page so check it out! As for the movie, you're on your own. 

Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renee (Legends of Tomorrow, Flash and Arrow, 2015-2016)
Our final entry is from 'Legends of Tomorrow'. Falk Hentschel and Ciara Renee appeared in the Arrowverse during the 2015-16 seasons. Renee showed up first in the final episode of the first season of Flash. She was on two more episodes of the second season Flash before being joined by Hetschel for one episode. They made an appearance in one episode of Arrow in 2015, before joining the cast of 'Legends of Tomorrow!. Unfortunately, Hawkman was killed off in part 2 of the pilot episode but came back for the last six episodes of the season, while Hawkgirl was a regular in all 16 episodes before they were written off the show at the end of the first season. Hawkfans are pretty divided on the look of this version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl. Their costumes were all brown leather, their wings sprouted out of their backs, and their maces could have been a bit bigger. For Legends of Tomorrow's 100th episode, broadcast on October 27, 2021, Falk Hentschel returned for a few scenes. 

Both actors did a good job with what they were given. Maybe they will get another chance to play the characters in one of the Arrowverse series someday. Hentschel is currently working on various TV Shows. Check out his info on his IMDb page. Renee is currently involved in TV appearances and stage shows. Here's her IMBd profile.
Sidenote: In the Legends of Tomorrow titled 'The Magnificent Eight', Kendra meets the 18th-century version of herself named Katherine Manser, aka Cinnamon. Cinnamon is one of Hawkgirl's former lives in the comics. The character was played by Anna Deavere Smith

The Legends of Tomorrow's Hawkman and Hawkgirl are also the only live-action versions to get their own action figure. The figures are not bad but also make you wish the makers of this poor show had thought to add a bit of color to the Hawks' costumes. 

Aldis Hodge has been cast as Hawkman for the Black Adam movie.

Granted, a live-action version of Hawkman and Hawkgirl is an expensive and difficult process, especially for the TV screen. We've seen winged characters in recent years, in movies such as 'Legion' and 'Maleficent' and the sight of the winged characters flying through the sky is wonderful to see. With the announcement of Aldis Hodge being cast as Hawkman in the "Who-knows-when-it-will-actually-happen" Black Adam movie, we may finally see Hawkman fly across the silver screen. That will be an awesome sight to behold! 

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