The verdict is in. Spider-Man: Homecoming has successfully reignited the Spider-Man franchise, finally incorporating the web-slinging everyman superhero into the celebrated Marvel Cinematic Universe, and catapulting young actor Tom Holland into stardom. Though Spidey’s next appearance will be as one of the numerous characters featured in Avengers: Infinity War, all eyes are now on the much-anticipated, currently untitled sequel to Spider-Man: Homecoming, with debates already raging about what villains will feature, if Donald Glover’s Prowler will get suited up, and how the movie will deal with the “aftermath” of the upcoming Avengers movies.
Here’s one thing we know for sure. If the next Spider-Man is going to continue showing Peter’s high school days, then he’ll be entering his junior or senior year. That means he’s going to be at least 16 years old, which also means that it’s time for him to embark on that scary, perilous journey that so many 16 year olds face: getting his first part-time job. And in Homecoming‘s first scene, we all saw how much he likes playing with cameras…
The odds are that Spider-Man: Homecoming 2 will finally reintroduce a classic comic book character that hasn’t seen the big screen since 2007: J. Jonah Jameson, editor-in-chief of the Daily Bugle, a character played to absolute perfection by J.K. Simmons in Sam Raimi’s trilogy. While nobody can ever take J.K.’s place in our hearts, the time has come for a new Jameson to enter the MCU, and we can’t wait to see this cantankerous, furious newspaper tycoon crush this newer, younger Peter’s ego. Let’s take a look at 15 Actors Who Could Play J. Jonah Jameson.
15. Hugh Laurie
While we’ll always miss J.K. Simmons, we have to admit that this casting could be absolutely amazing. Ironically enough, Hugh Laurie actually almost played a different comics-based newspaper editor-in-chief in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns — Perry White, of the Daily Planet — but seriously, if there’s any comic character Laurie was meant to play, it’s J. Jonah Jameson.
Jameson is a loudmouthed jerk with a quick wit, no concern for anyone else’s feelings, and an authoritarian ego — but he also has heart of gold, even if it’s buried pretty deep down. In his eight years playing the character of Dr. Gregory House in the medical drama House MD, Laurie embodied all of these qualities. He was nasty, unpleasant, insulting, and threw hilarious (but incredibly mean) barbs at everyone around him, but the depth in Laurie’s performance, particularly in his eyes, was able to take what could have been an unlikable character and make him into a TV icon. We’d love to see him sink his teeth into Jameson, and see what sort of insults he’d hurl at Tom Holland’s Peter Parker.
14. Kurtwood Smith
While we’re talking about TV jerks, let’s not forget this guy. Though many older fans remember Kurtwood Smith’s villainous turn as Clarence Boddicker in the original Robocop, a younger generation will always remember him as cranky, obnoxious dad Red Foreman on That ’70s Show, where he spent his days bossing around Topher Grace, the future Venom, years before Spider-Man 3 was even on the horizon.
Though Kurtwood Smith has technically already appeared in the MCU, since he starred as Vernon Masters in the series Agent Carter, that doesn’t put him out of the running; after all, Alfre Woodard played totally different characters in Luke Cage and Captain America: Civil War, and no one batted an eye. Kurtwood Smith would definitely capture the humorous elements of Jameson’s character, while still showing hints of the vulnerability beneath the mustache.
13. Bryan Cranston
Okay, yeah, we’ll admit it. The big reason that Bryan Cranston is here is because Bryan Cranston is a fantastic actor, so he can basically do anything. Whether he’s playing a brilliant teacher-turned-meth-dealer like Walter White or a cosmic hero like Zordon in this year’s Power Rangers, Cranston has proven that he can pull off just about any single role that gets handed to him. Could he play Norman Osborn? We’d love to see it. Doctor Octopus? Absolutely. Uncle Ben? Sure.
But we really think that Bryan Cranston could bring something truly special to J. Jonah Jameson. After watching Breaking Bad, we definitely know that he can command authority like nobody’s business — he’s the “one who knocks,” after all — but Cranston’s incredible acting range could also show some of the deeper, more complex sides to Jameson, such as why he hates Spider-Man, that the Raimi movies never quite got the chance to explore.
12. Bob Odenkirk
While we’re talking about Breaking Bad alumni, here’s another possibility. When it comes down to it, there are really two specific ways that Jameson could be portrayed in the MCU, or perhaps some combination of these two: if they want to stay more true to the standard comics depiction, he could be portrayed as an angry, honest, old-fashioned, out of touch baby boomer who isn’t comfortable with the current state of the world — and wants to blame his own insecurities on Spider-Man. But on the other hand, if they wanted to do something different, Jameson could also be portrayed as a sort of cheap, sleazy snake oil salesman who’s really in it all for the money, and doesn’t care if that means dragging Spidey’s name through the dirt.
Is the Daily Bugle a prestigious newspaper, or is it a dingy tabloid? That’s up to the filmmakers, but if the movie wants to go with a sleazier, money-grabbing depiction of the character, there’d be no one better for that version of Jameson than Bob Odenkirk, the actor famous for playing amoral lawyer Saul Goodman in both Breaking Bad and its spinoff, Better Call Saul.
11. Denzel Washington
On the other hand, if the filmmakers would rather avoid a sleazy Jameson, and instead want to show a Jameson who is defined by self-righteous fury, then there are few actors as incredible at channeling that kind of fire as Denzel Washington.
If the movie wants to make a clean break from the sort of slapstick character that J. K. Simmons portrayed, then Denzel Washington could be an entirely different take on Jameson, though just as accurate. Instead of playing the role for laughs, Denzel’s Jameson would likely be a far more serious man, one with anger constantly bubbling beneath the surface. Denzel’s Jameson could still be an authoritarian cheapskate badly in need of anger management sessions, but it’s likely that the reasons for this Jameson’s character flaws would be explored far more in depth, and that he’d be shown as a character with a lot of sincerity, inner goodness, and with a spirit that’s been broken by all of the superheroic happenings within the MCU… so much so that he decides to take all of his anger out by smearing the reputation of a certain masked vigilante.
10. John C. McGinley
Hey, if for some reason Hugh Laurie isn’t interested or available, Marvel Studios could always recruit the other cranky, sarcastic TV doctor — and by that, we mean John C. McGinley, who played the very House-like character of Dr. Cox on Scrubs.
The reasons for casting McGinley would generally be the same reasons to cast Hugh Laurie, though both actors would likely approach the role somewhat differently. While McGinley’s Jameson probably wouldn’t be quite as mean as Laurie’s, McGinley is a master at portraying the sort of simmering, under-the-surface rage that manifests in the vicious, but hilarious comebacks and insults that J.J.J. is known for. McGinley’s comedic experience, from all those years in Scrubs, as well as roles in films like Office Space, would definitely come in handy when it came to displaying the humorous aspects of J. Jonah Jameson’s character.
9. Ron Perlman
Well hey, he’s not playing Hellboy anymore, so…
But in all seriousness, if there is any actor who receives even close to the same level of comic book fan adoration as J.K. Simmons, it’s Ron Perlman, who has played both large and small roles in more genre films, shows, and cartoons than we can count, including a number of voice acting performances. Perlman is a fantastic actor with a commanding, distinctive voice, a man who automatically wields authority as soon as the camera hits him. He’s a big guy with an enormous presence, and we can easily imagine him roaring editorial mandates down the hallways of the Daily Bugle.
8. Ice Cube
This potential casting actually has some history attached to it. When it was first announced that Marvel would be bringing Spider-Man to the MCU, there were a flurry of rumors about J. Jonah Jameson appearing, and Ice Cube was rumored to be up for the role. That rumor was shot down, since Jameson was later revealed not to be part of the film, but what about the sequel?
For those who’ve seen the movie 21 Jump Street, it’s actually pretty easy to imagine Ice Cube doing a fantastic job playing J.J. in a Spider-Man movie. In that film, Ice Cube proves his ability to play a humorously angry character to great comedic effect, who openly shouts and insults anyone who works underneath him, and he would likely take a similar approach to playing the Daily Bugle’s editor-in-chief.
7. Danny Glover
Danny Glover is another actor with some seriously amazing credentials, and he’s demonstrated his ability to channel extraverted fury in movies like The Color Purple. While perfectly embodying Jameson’s anger, however, Glover would also be brilliant at showing the newspaperman’s sincerity, vulnerability, and even a touch of compassion — after all, for all his flaws, Jameson is supposed to be a devoted family man, and most versions of the character depict him as a rather upstanding citizen, or at least, someone who tries to be.
Danny Glover has been somewhat out of the public eye for a few years, so he’s perfectly timed for an integral supporting role in a Spider-Man film; he’s exactly the sort of credible, celebrated, but non-blockbuster actor that Marvel specializes in casting, just like Robert Downey Jr. used to be back in the years before the first Iron Man movie blew up the multiplex.
6. Jeffrey Dean Morgan
Sure, J. Jonah Jameson might be sympathetic. He might be hilarious. But at his core, and as far as what Jameson represents to the Spider-Man mythos, he’s also the absolute worst boss ever. In many versions of Peter Parker’s coming of age story, Jameson is often supposed to symbolize the tyrannical first boss that everyone was terrified to have, and whom poor Peter gets stuck with.
In this regard, it’s hard to imagine anyone who could make for a scarier Jameson than Jeffrey Dean Morgan, who has spent the last few seasons terrorizing the remnants of society in The Walking Dead, where he plays Negan, a cocky, baseball-bat-swinging dictator. Morgan’s already earned his bona fides with comic book fans by starring in The Walking Dead, and also by playing the Comedian in Watchmen. Though Jameson certainly shouldn’t be as horrifying as Negan, it’s pretty easy to envision Morgan playing Jameson as Peter Parker’s worst nightmare, a cigar-chomping authoritarian who rules over the Daily Bugle with an iron fist.
5. Richard Dreyfuss
Speaking of actors who could make for a really scary, ruthless J. Jonah Jameson…
While the world will probably always remember Richard Dreyfuss as oceanographer Matt Hooper in Steven Spielberg’s classic Jaws, he’s actually an incredible talented and versatile actor who has proven his ability to command a wide variety of roles, while always instilling a sense of humanity in characters both likable and unlikable.
One of the more notably Jameson-like characters that he’s played was his villainous take on former Vice President Dick Cheney in Oliver Stone’s biopic, W., whom Dreyfuss imbued with growling intensity. While Dreyfuss would likely play Jameson a bit lighter and louder than he did Cheney, he’s certainly got the chops to bring a highly memorable new take to this classic comic book character.
4. Keith David
If Marvel wants to have a J. Jonah Jameson who really commands authority, who people will fear and respect even when he’s ranting and raving, then Keith David could be just the man they’re looking for. Standing at 6’2″, he would definitely tower over the 5’8″ Tom Holland, and his voice and mannerisms would make for a very solid Jameson that few would ever be brave enough to challenge. The casting of David as Jameson definitely has a lot of fan support online, and he would likely be widely approved of.
As it happens, Keith David also has something of a small history with the Spider-Man franchise, since he at one point provided the voice for the role of the Big Man (AKA Tombstone) in the animated series The Spectacular Spider-Man.
3. Eric Roberts
It’s entirely possible that Marvel might decide to cast a lesser-known actor as J. Jonah Jameson, in order to avoid any possible baggage that a big name, widely-recognized star might bring to the role. If they did take that route, one potential option they could look at is Eric Roberts, an actor who has starred in over 400 films, TV shows, and soap operas, but so far hasn’t quite hit the mainstream. Comic fans will recognize Roberts from The Dark Knight, where he played mob bass Sal Maroni.
If Roberts were to take on the role, he’d likely play a smoother, slicker, and more subdued Jameson than most of the other actors on the list, perhaps more in line with the character’s interpretation in the pages of Ultimate Spider-Man.
2. Gary Oldman
C’mon, this is just too obvious. Now that J.K. Simmons has moved over to the DCEU, where he’ll be playing Commissioner Jim Gordon in both Justice League and The Batman, what’s fair is fair. If J.K. gets to play two massive comic book icons, then veteran actor Gary Oldman should absolutely get the same privilege, and be cast as J. Jonah Jameson in the next Spider-Man movie.
In all seriousness, Gary Oldman is another one of those versatile actors who can pull off any single role that’s handed to him, so we’d love to see what sort of take he would do on ol’ Jameson. Besides that, seriously, how much fun would this be? Just imagine the years of comparisons, between how both Oldman and Simmons played both roles. It would be great!
1. Kevin Bacon
Kevin Bacon might not be the first actor that comes to mind when people think of J. Jonah Jameson, and he’s already played one major character in a superhero movie before, but he’s arguably the single most likely actor on this list to be cast in the role. Why? Because he and Spider-Man: Homecoming director Jon Watts previously worked together on Cop Car, the movie that, in many regards, got Watts the Spidey gig.
But the more we look at it, the more perfect Kevin Bacon seems. He’s another highly versatile actor who has proven his ability to play a lot of different roles. He’s a big name, but still capable of disappearing into a part, and letting the character define the performance. He’s open to doing superhero movies, since he starred as Sebastian Shaw in X-Men: First Class. And he’d definitely be able to nail the grit, the anger, and the tyranny of Jameson, while also capturing the heart beneath the newspaperman’s hard surface.
Honorable Mention: J.K. Simmons
Now, with all of that said, let’s face the facts. If there’s anyone who all of fandom really, really wants to see playing J. Jonah Jameson in the next Spider-Man movie, it’s not a new face, but an old one: J.K. Simmons. J.K. playing J.J. is widely regarded as one of the best castings in comic book movie history, and without debate, he’s one of the main highlights of all three Sam Raimi movies.
Sure, it would break all the continuity rules. Sure, it’d be somewhat meta. Having him play Jameson in multiple franchises would definitely be a bit of a stretch, which is why it almost definitely won’t happen. But seriously, there’s no casting on Earth which would earn such a massive, universal round of applause from all around the world.
So even though it won’t happen, we can dream.
What actors did we miss? Who else could make a great J.J.J.? Let us know in the comments!
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