It was confirmed Thursday evening after weeks of rumors that Kevin Costner will take the role of Jonathan "Pa" Kent, Superman's adoptive father, in director Zack Snyder's forthcoming reboot of the DC Comics superhero franchise. The veteran American screen actor joins Diane Lane, who will play Martha "Ma" Kent, and Henry Cavil as Superman/Clark Kent/Kal-El in the film, which is tentatively titled The Man of Steel.As everyone knows, Jonathan Kent is the human male credited with helping to instill in the Kryptonian child Kal-El a sense of morality, empathy and justice, prompting him to use his terrifying powers for good and not evil. Zack Snyder addressed that bit of character lore in a Warner Bros. press release:

"Jonathan Kent is the only father figure Clark has ever had, the man who was there to help Clark understand what he was meant to do in the world as Superman. Kevin will be able to communicate the quiet strength of this rural American man who raised the greatest superhero of all time."

Also an Oscar-winning director for Dances With Wolves, Kevin Costner is the latest in a line of venerable actors who've played the iconic role of Superman's pa. Superman: The Movie's Glenn Ford is the best known of the lot, which also includes John Schneider (Smallville) and Mike Farrell (Superman: The Animated Series). Those are big shoes to fill, to be sure, but it must be noted that Costner was indeed nominated for an Academy Award for his ability to stand in fields looking pensive.

The news was broken by Heat Vision, who also noted that in different versions of the Superman myth, including the classic 1978 film starring Glenn Ford, Pa Kent perishes in an untimely or particularly tragic manner. However, recent reports indicate that Costner's Superman film will be completely divorced from all previous Superman movies, so there is reason to suspect that the latest Jonathan Kent may actually survive the plot.

Produced by Christopher Nolan, Emma Thompson, Deborah Snyder and Charles Roven and written by David S. Goyer and Christopher Nolan, The Man of Steel is expected to premiere in the summer of 2012.