15 Actors Whose Careers Were Destroyed By Superhero Roles

It seems almost as if you can’t turn your head without getting a faceful of superhero these days. Comic book movies have inundated Hollywood for years. However, along with that oversaturation, these superpowered flicks have completely shaken up not only comic book movies, but also the entire film industry.

The crossovers and cinematic universes have changed the way stories are told. Powerhouse performances and surprisingly realistic plot lines have forced the Academy to take notice come awards season. Not every hero’s journey is so successful, however.

While some actors’ careers are totally made (or resurrected) by their superhero roles-- like Chris Pratt and Robert Downey Jr.-- others find themselves floundering in box office failures and D-list roles. Some even go on to find some form of success for years (or decades) after their superhero debuts, but things never really seem to go back to the way they once were.

From Topher Grace’s premature confidence in his turn as Venom to Alicia Silverstone’s career-ending performance as Batgirl, here are the 15 Actors Whose Careers Were Destroyed By Superhero Roles.

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Halle Berry in Catwoman costume
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15 Halle Berry As Catwoman

Halle Berry in Catwoman costume

For awhile Halle Berry was on top of the world. She was an X-man and a Bond girl. She was a triple threat, easily earning herself a Golden Globe, Emmy and an Oscar. However, she made one crucial career mistake: she agreed to play Patience Phillips in the 2004 film Catwoman.

With a devastating 9% Rotten Tomatoes score and four Razzies, Catwoman was a hot mess. Most described the film as shallow and boring. Berry herself referred to it as a “piece of s**t,” while collecting her own Razzie for the titular role.

Berry’s resumé became a lot more sparse (and a lot less impressive) after she donned those infamous cat ears. Berry has slowly started to regain the star power she once had, but things have never fully gone back to the way they were.

14 Tom Welling As Superman

At first, everyone was excited about The CW’s Smallville. A slow burn origin story with the time to really develop America’s Boy Scout? Superman had never really been done properly on screen before and fans were hopeful the teen drama would get it right-- and it did, depending on who you ask. However, it certainly didn’t help Tom Welling’s leading man status.

Welling had no other roles during his time on the show and waited a good two years before jumping into anything else. Unfortunately, he lacked any major projects for six years after ending his reign as the Original Superhero.

Welling has finally made a new mark on television with Lucifer, but it was a long and winding road back to the spotlight.

13 Jessica Alba As The Invisible Woman

Jessica Alba - Fantastic Four 2

Between Dark Angel and Sin City, Jessica Alba proved to be a real Hollywood dark horse. She was attractive, talented, and fresh. The 2003 dance flick Honey wasn’t exactly a wise move, but what young starlet didn’t have an ill-advised dance film on her resumé in that era? It was practically a rite of passage. It really seemed as though Alba could do no wrong... then she did Fantastic Four.

Following her unfortunate stint as the Invisible Woman, Alba found herself downgraded to unpopular (and unfunny) comedies and nonsensical children’s movie sequels.

She would eventually go on to start her own company (which became equally as controversial thanks to some seriously shady business practices) but this Hollywood star would never shine as brightly as it once had.

12 Uma Thurman As Poison Ivy

Uma Thurman in Batman & Robin

Uma Thurman has always had star power, right? Uma/Oprah right? You don’t become an Oscars oneliner for nothing. However, the truth is that Thurman all but vanished from the public eye for nearly a decade after her turn as Poison Ivy in the critically maligned Batman & Robin.

The movie was widely considered to be a massive joke. The costumes were goofy, the puns were relentless, and the cast couldn’t apologize enough. Fans were excited to see a live-action Poison Ivy — the popular character hasn’t gotten much love outside of cartoons — but the film’s poor execution left them wanting.

Thurman went six years without a major role until close friend Quentin Tarantino cast her as The Bride bloodthirsty for vengeance. 

11 Topher Grace As Venom

Topher Grace burst on the scene in 2006 as That ‘70s Show’s as Eric Foreman. He was goofy and geeky and seemed to have a star quality about him… and then played Venom in Spider-Man 3.

Comic book fans lamented Grace’s scrawny Eddie Brock, while critics blasted the film for containing too many villains, a confusing plotline, and retconning Uncle Ben’s death.

Grace left the sitcom early to embark on a career as a film actor. However, the ridicule he endured from his Venom role essentially killed whatever the rising star once had. Grace would find himself in short films and voiceover work for years following his big supervillain turn. This has to make you wonder whether or not he would have fared better had he stuck it out in Point Place.

10 Wesley Snipes As Blade

Blade - Wesley Snipes - WWE Studios

Wesley Snipes used to be a formidable Hollywood presence. From cult classics to science fiction masterpieces, there was seemingly nothing that he couldn’t do. Even the first two Blade films were comic book treasures. Snipes was cool, the movies were fun, everything was dandy… and then Blade: Trinity happened.

It was almost as if Snipes simply gave up... on everything. Co-star Patton Oswalt revealed the insane stubbornness that was Snipes. He would only film close-ups, communicated almost entirely through Post-It Notes, and smoked a lot.

Yet, Snipes was reportedly so deep into character that he would only refer to himself as "Blade" on set. Oswalt’s retelling of the filming is hilarious and fun, but it made for a disjointed movie that killed a longstanding and respectable career.

9 Alicia Silverstone As Batgirl

Batgirl Alicia Silverstone in Batman and Robin

Once an up-and-coming cult figure, Alicia Silverstone had a promising future. She made a name for herself by starring in a string of Aerosmith videos and captured the world’s attention with her ditzy yet sweet portrayal of the seemingly shallow but surprisingly deep Cher Horowitz in 1995’s Clueless.

Silverstone followed up her cult hit with a major role: Batgirl. Then everything fell apart. Silverstone’s Barbara Wilson role was in the very same Batman & Robin that put a halt on Uma Thurman’s career, but the former teen star never really found her footing following the film.

She went on to work in a string of lackluster comedies and performed some obscure voicework. However, she hasn’t really had a major role since her unfortunate superhero debut.

8 Ron Perlman As Hellboy

Ron Perlman as Hellboy

Yes, believe it or not, Ron Perlman has been negatively affected by a superhero movie. Though he had a major hit on his hands with Sons Of Anarchy 2008, his resumé became heavily cluttered with voicework after his turn as the titular Hellboy four years earlier.

Perlman’s disappearance from the screen can’t be attributed to a box office bomb. Hellboy received rave reviews from fans and critics alike.  It would appear the actor simply fell victim to the superhero curse.

Perlman has made it a point not to talk about the upcoming reboot starring Stranger Things' David Harbour-- a common stance taken by ex-superhero actors. However, he isn’t quite done with the spotlight-- he’s just looking for a grander stage.

He’s even considering running for office. We could get behind Hellboy for president.

7 Chris O’Donnell As Robin

Batman & Robin just won’t quit. Half of the titular characters caused the deaths of their respective actors. For Chris O’Donnell, the role of Robin ended what could have been a career of Affleck or Dicaprio proportions.

The former leading man didn’t exactly disappear from the public eye, but his star roles slowed down drastically for a good 12 years before he finally found his calling on NCIS: Los Angeles in 2009.

O’Donnell has maintained steady work on the crime drama to this day. However, his days of blockbuster dramas and romantic comedies are long over.

Sadly, O’Donnell made the mistake of playing Dick Grayson twice, starting with 1995’s Batman Forever, but it was the widely hated Batman & Robin that finally brought him down. 

6 Terrence Howard As War Machine

Terrence Howard in Iron Man

Terrence Howard made a name for himself in 2005’s critically acclaimed Hustle & Flow. Then he killed that name with Iron Man, but Howard’s downfall wasn’t his doing.

According to Howard, co-star Robert Downey Jr. snatched up a larger paycheck and an actor who would be willing to work for less money was brought in as his replacement. Talk about a heart of iron.

Howard took on a bunch of obscure roles before finding himself on Law & Order: LA. Then he disappeared again before finally resurfacing in the infamous practical joke of a film Movie 43.

He finally found himself a steady (and respectable) gig in as Lucious Lyon in Empire, a full ten years after his fateful encounter with the Marvel machine.

5 Gabriel Macht As The Spirit

How about that Gabriel Macht. No idea who he is? What about 2008’s The Spirit? No, not that either? It may be hard to believe now, but at one point in time, Macht was headed for superstardom.

He played charming leading men in popular romantic comedies and then showed off his range in serious, dramatic fare. After that he took up the role of titular spirit and was banished to Hollywood obscurity.

Macht landed the role of Harvey Specter in Suits in 2011 and has done pretty much nothing else of note since his unfortunate superhero role.

Sadly, many of Macht’s Spirit co-stars have gone on to make huge names for themselves, such as Paz Vega and the formidable Sarah Paulson. Of course, no career misstep could slow down superstars like Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson.

4 Lea Thompson As Beverly Switzler

Howard the Duck and Lea Thompson in bed

Lea Thompson captured the hearts of sci-fi nerds everywhere as Marty McFly’s aggressive mother Lorraine in Back to the Future. She followed it up with another quirky film, Howard the Duck, though some fans believe that she should not have done that.

Thompson would be forced to perform one of cinema’s most bizarre intimate scenes ever-- her character was in love with a talking duck. Just, how do you follow that up? Turns out, you don’t. Thompson slipped into obscurity.

She has continued to work steadily in Hollywood ever since and even had a brief stint headlining her own TV series, but her days of starring roles and blockbuster hits mostly disappeared pretty much the minute the credits rolled on her career-ending superhero flick.

3 Billy Zane As The Phantom

Twin Peaks, Back to the Future, Titanic-- Billy Zane used to be the king of the world. However, he made the unfortunate mistake of playing Kit Walker in 1996’s The Phantom and his career has simply never been the same.

Zane went on to voice direct-to-video characters in unpopular children’s movie sequels and carved out a career doing voice work for video games. However, the biggest live-action role he’s had in the time since The Phantom was a short guest-stint on the teen witch soap opera Charmed in 2005, almost a full decade later.

Even Zane’s upcoming slate of projects is filled with somewhat obscure fare that hasn’t demanded much media attention, but he’s still out there giving it his best-- that has to count for something doesn’t it?

2 Pamela Anderson As Barb Wire

Barb Wire Pamela Anderson

None of Pamela Anderson’s roles shied away from the actress’s obvious appeal. She rocked the house as Tim the Toolman’s Tool Girl in Home Improvement. She also captured America's attention as a slow-motion jogging lifeguard in Baywatch. However, when she took on her first major lead role as Barb Wire her prospects seemed to immediately dry up.

Anderson would no longer be handed revealing roles in surprisingly popular franchises. Instead, she would be handed revealing roles in B-movies and various dead-end series.

All of her future characters would be uneducated, ditzy, bimbos without much clothing in various bizarre scenarios that failed to capture an audience. The once up-and-coming talent became more famous for her dysfunctional relationships than for her actual work. However, any press is good press, right?

1 Val Kilmer As Batman

Val Kilmer Batman Forever

Tom Cruise used to have some major competition for the title of kick-butt-action-hero-with-oodles-of-charm-- his Top Gun co-star Val Kilmer. Kilmer took on the role of Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever and killed any chance he had to continue leading the Hollywood pack.

Kilmer followed up his superhero debut with the critically acclaimed Heat and then followed that with the critically ridiculed The Island of Dr. Moreau.

He allowed himself to let his Batman status to go to his head and used that to run all over the set. Kilmer was supposed to replace Bruce Willis as Edward Douglas but found the role to be too difficult and time-consuming to fit into his Batman Forever press tour, so he demanded the easier role of Dr. Moreau’s assistant.

Kilmer’s inflated ego and spoiled behavior became so legendary he began to miss out on major roles before ultimately slipping into obscurity.


Can you think of any other superhero movies that ruined actors' careers? Let us know in the comments.

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