I never understand the obsession with the Ross model - a doughty ugly looking man.
Doughy? (there's no "T" in the word... unless you mean something else besides what it seems you mean)
The figure as drawn looks HUMAN. Realize, also, that Superman, as seen in "Kingdom Come" is no longer a 28-year-old... he's aged normally, complete with a big gray beard the first time he's seen, playing "Kansas farmer" inside the Fortress of Solitude.
He looks MASCULINE (something that Routh failed at utterly... seriously, most of the responses I heard after the movie were things like "wow, so that's what a gay Superman looks like" and so forth... not saying those comments are "nice" or appropriate or whatever, just talking about what the audience reactions I heard while leaving the theater were). Superman should be intimidating, awe-inspiring, etc... more like the classical image of Zeus than of anything else... except that while he would be absolutely capable of conquering us and ruling us, he CHOOSES not to, because he values our individuality and our free will.
Alex Ross's figure is not "doughy" at all... he looks like a true superman. Not like a prissy narcissistic fey "male model" who spends 24/7 tweaking his body, getting surgery to hone every hint of imperfection away and to make himself look "pretty.
That's the only rational objection to the "World's Finest" guy... he's almost too "pretty" for the part.
Superman fandom is split right down the center... there are those to whom Superman is the Chris Reeves character (with everything else being ancillary) and those who know most everything about the comic character (with the Reeves character and all the rest of the TV/movie versions being ancillary). To those who love the comic book version, the Ross paintings are near-perfect (albeit as a 50-ish Superman)... while those who think only of Reeves see a reflection of him in Routh's face.
The thing is, while Reeve's version didn't LOOK like the comic version (which Ross painted)... he ACTED like it. And that made him great in the role. Reeves was friendly and nice when appropriate, yet POWERFUL and intimidating when that was more appropriate. He came across as a man who knew right and wrong and wasn't "shades of gray" about ANYTHING.
Routh simply never came across that way. His entire character (whether that was his choice or Singer's or someone elses) was all "shades of gray"... all morally ambiguous and just GENERALLY ambiguous. He was neither forcefull nor powerful (effect sequences notwithstanding... that wasn't ROUTH's performance!)
Could he have done better? It's debatable... but I don't see it. To coin a phrase used (overused?) in politics these days... he may have the height and the general looks, but he lacks the GRAVITAS which the character needs.
That's where Reeves was immeasurably better. And that's what the Ross paintings capture so well.