Landing a part in the latest major superhero movie release represents the pinnacle of many an acting career. Michael Keaton, Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans and, to some extent, Robert Downey Jr might not be the household names they are today were it not for their comic book exploits.
However, while headlining the latest cinematic effort involving a caped crusader of some kind represents a dream come true for many, it’s proven to be something of a nightmare for a rare few. Bad scripts, difficult directors and a toxic work environment are just some of the many myriad reasons cited by the actors and actresses in this list – yet that’s really only the tip of the iceberg. Studio politics, stalled contract negotiations or issues around costume, make-up and iffy computer effects have also played a role in making these superhero movies not-so-super for the stars involved.
More often than not, the resulting movie has been forgettable at best and downright terrible at worst – but there are exceptions to the rule. Sometimes, an actor ended up enduring a miserable time on an otherwise enjoyable project. Other times, far sinister things were going on, unbeknownst to many involved in the finished movie.
Plenty of flops feature on this countdown but some major moneymakers can be found too, with comic book movie properties tied to Marvel, 2000AD, DC and Titan Comics all present and not very correct. Yes, landing a part in the latest superhero movie blockbuster has represented the pinnacle of many an acting career down the years but for this lot, it represented the pits.
Here are 30 Actors Who Regretted Superhero Roles.
30 Hugo Weaving – Red Skull
Hugo Weaving originally signed a multi-picture deal to play the Red Skull across various future Captain America movies. However, when the character returned in Avengers: Infinity War the character had been recast with The Walking Dead’s Ross Marquand taking Weaving's place. It wasn’t a huge shock.
A few years prior, The Matrix actor told Collider playing the Red Skull was "not something I would want to do again."
"It’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by," he said. "I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with."
29 Ryan Reynolds – Green Lantern
Ryan Reynolds has made no secret of the fact things didn’t exactly go to plan with 2011’s Green Lantern. He even went as far as to include a gag, poking fun at the project, in Deadpool 2. Though it’s something he is able to laugh about now, it’s clear the actor regrets signing on that particular dotted line.
"When we shot Green Lantern, nobody auditioning for the role of Green Lantern was given the opportunity to read the script because the script didn't exist,” Reynolds told The Hollywood Reporter. The experience did at least teach him some valuable lessons about making superhero movies which was good news for Deadpool fans.
28 Jessica Alba – Invisible Woman
Jessica Alba’s experience playing Sue Storm in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer was so bad it left her considering a career change. "I wanted to stop acting. I hated it. I really hated it," Alba told Elle [via SyFy].
"I remember when I was dying in 'Silver Surfer'. The director [Tim Story] was like, 'It looks too real. It looks too painful. Can you be prettier when you cry? Cry pretty, Jessica.' He was like, 'Don't do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.'" She continued: "It all got me thinking: Am I not good enough?"
27 Ben Affleck – Daredevil
Ben Affleck doesn’t just regret starring in the 2003 movie adaptation of Daredevil, he hates it. Affleck let his feelings be known to TimeTalks [via NME] during a discussion about why he signed on for Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck said: "Part of it was I wanted for once to get one of these movies and do it right – to do a good version. I hate Daredevil so much."
"The Netflix show does really cool stuff," he added.
"I feel like that was there for us to do with that character, and we never kind of got it right. I wanted to do one of those movies and sort of get it right," Affleck stated.
26 Terrence Howard – War Machine
Terrence Howard has always blamed Robert Downey Jr for the fact he never got to reprise the role of James Rhodes in the Iron Man sequels. "It turns out that the person that I helped become Iron Man, when it was time to re-up for the second one, took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out," Howard told Watch What Happens Live [via Vulture].
Howard claims the studio offered to pay him "one-eighth of what we contractually had" and when he tried to call Downey Jr to talk about it "he didn’t call me back for three months."
25 Idris Elba – Heimdall
Idris Elba’s experience working on Thor: The Dark World was so bad the actor described parts of it as "torture" to The Telegraph. In the interview, Elba recalled how he was forced to complete reshoots in London for the Thor sequel just days after return from filming the prestige biopic Mandela, in South Africa.
"In between takes I was stuck there [hanging from a harness], fake hair stuck on to my head with glue, this fucking helmet, while they reset, he said. "And I’m thinking: ‘24 hours ago, I was Mandela.’ … Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out."
24 Ryan Reynolds – Wolverine: X-Men Origins
Ryan Reynolds’ appearance as Deadpool in Wolverine: X-Men Origins was plagued with problems, starting with the character’s appearance. "He wound up being this abomination of Deadpool that was like Barakapool, with his mouth sewn shut and weird blades that came out of his hands and these strange tattoos and stuff like that," he told GQ.
Though Reynolds objected, the studio pressed on.
"The conversation at the time was 'If you want to play Deadpool, this is your chance to introduce him. And if you don’t want to introduce him in this fashion, we’ll have someone else play him.'"When the film leaked online and fans reacted angrily, Reynolds response was simple: "told you so".
23 Ed Norton – Hulk
Ed Norton clashed with producers behind the scenes on The Incredible Hulk, having only agreed to play Bruce Banner on the proviso he could have a say on the script and direction of the film. Replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the MCU, Norton couldn’t resist having a dig at the film during an appearance on Comedy Central’s Roast of Bruce Willis.
"I tried to be like you," he told Willis [via Indiewire]. "I did a big action movie called The Incredible Hulk. You know what went wrong? I wanted a better script…I thought we should make one Marvel movie as good as the worst Christopher Nolan movie, but what the hell was I thinking."
22 George Clooney – Batman
Joel Schumacher’s Batman & Robin may have fallen flat with critics and fans alike but it proved to be a serious career wake-up call for its star, George Clooney. "Up until that moment, I was an actor only concerned with finding work," he told The Hollywood Reporter. "After the failure of that film creatively, I understood that I needed to take control of the films I made, not just the role."
Clooney successfully banished memories of his time as Batman with next three films: Out of Sight, Three Kings and O Brother, Where Art Thou?
21 Tommy Lee Jones – Two-Face
Tommy Lee Jones hated working on Batman Forever or, rather, he hated working with co-star Jim Carrey. "I was the star and that was the problem," Carrey explained on Norm MacDonald Live [via THR].
The situation came to a head when Carrey ended up in the same restaurant as Jones during filming.
"I went over and I said, 'Hey Tommy, how are you doing?' and the blood just drained from his face," Carrey said. "He went to hug me and he said, 'I hate you. I really don't like you.' And I said, 'What's the problem?' and pulled up a chair, which probably wasn't smart. And he said, 'I cannot sanction your buffoonery.'"
20 Topher Grace – Venom
Topher Grace never felt entirely comfortable in the role of Eddie Brock/Venom having bagged the role in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 3. "I was a huge fan of the character of Venom when I was a kid when Todd McFarlane brought him into the comic," he told Michael Rosenbaum on the Inside of You podcast [via Cinemablend]. "And I was surprised and a little bit like 'Huh?' when they wanted me to play it."
Not only does Grace accept he was miscast, but he also agrees Tom Hardy is perfect for the role. "When I look at it now… [at Tom Hardy’s Venom movie] I go 'That's the guy.'"
19 Mickey Rourke – Ivan Vanko
Micky Rourke trashed the bigwigs over at Marvel Studios for what they did to his character Ivan Vanko, in Iron Man 2. Rourke told Syfy that he had worked hard with writer Justin Theroux and director Jon Favreau to flesh out his Russian villain and turn him into a three-dimensional character. Someone behind-the-scenes had other ideas though.
"I wanted to bring some other layers and colors, not just make this Russian a complete murderous revenging bad guy,” he said. “Unfortunately, the [people] at Marvel just wanted a one-dimensional bad guy, so most of the performance ended up the floor.”
18 Alicia Silverstone – Batgirl
Alicia Silverstone was on the receiving end of some serious body shaming while working on Batman & Robin. According to The Hollywood Reporter, Silverstone, who was a huge star following the success of Clueless, was under intense scrutiny over her weight with one critic reportedly observing she “looked more Babe than babe.”
When rumor got out on set that she was having issues with her costume fittings, a storyboard artist ever put together a joke cartoon of Batgirl, mocking Silverstone’s issues.
The fake poster for Clueless 2: The Casting of Batgirl might have gone down well with the guys in the film’s art department but studio bosses were far from impressed.
17 Nicolas Cage – Ghost Rider
Nicolas Cage has previously spoken of his disappointment at his two Ghost Rider movies, which he felt played it too safe. Speaking to JoBlo [via Bloody Disgusting], Cage explained that he and writer David S. Goyer had always envisioned the films as being gritty and, most importantly, R-rated.
"Ghost Rider was a movie that always should’ve been an R-rated movie," Cage said. "David Goyer had a brilliant script which I wanted to do with David, and for whatever reason, they just didn’t let us make the movie." Though he believes there is the potential for someone else to take on the role and go down that dark path, Cage is done with the character.
16 Jim Carrey – Colonel Stars And Stripes
Jim Carrey stunned social media ahead of the release of Kick-Ass 2 by denouncing the film and its "level of violence" in the wake of the Sandy Hook massacre. Carrey, who is an outspoken advocate for increased gun control, took to Twitter following the incident to explain that he could no longer support the film.
"I did Kick-Ass 2 a month b4 Sandy Hook and now in all good conscience I cannot support that level of violence,” he wrote [via The Guardian]. "My apologies to others involve[d] with the film. I am not ashamed of it but recent events have caused a change in my heart."
15 Michael Jai White – Spawn
He may have been among the first African American actors to portray a major comic book superhero but Michael Jai White has little love for his sole outing as Spawn. In fact, White is a much bigger fan of his small but powerful role as the gangster Gambol in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.
He even went as far as to conduct an interview with The Hollywood Reporter revisiting his performance alongside Heath Ledger.
During the interview, White couldn’t resist having a dig at Spawn: "There is no footage of me ever saying that I liked Spawn. I have never said that I thought that was a good movie." Ouch.
14 Jared Leto – The Joker
Jared Leto was left far from happy with the version of Suicide Squad that made it to the cinemas. Asked by IGN whether any scenes involving the Joker were cut from the film, Leto let rip.
"There were so many scenes that got cut from the movie, I couldn’t even start. I think that the Joker… we did a lot of experimentation on the set, we explored a lot. There’s so much that we shot that’s not in the film," he said. "If I die anytime soon, it’s probably likely that it’ll surface somewhere. That’s the good news about the death of an actor is all that stuff seems to come out."
13 Halle Berry – Catwoman
Halle Berry’s regret at signing up for Catwoman was clear to see when she decided to make an appearance at the annual Razzie Awards back in 2005. A celebration of the year’s worst films and performances, Berry 'won' the Worst Actress gong for her efforts in Catwoman and, in a surprising turn of events, was on hand to deliver a memorable acceptance speech.
"I want to thank Warner Bros. for casting me in this piece-of-sh**, god-awful movie," she said [via MTV], going on to mock the rest of her cast. "I'd like to thank the rest of the cast. To give a really bad performance like mine, you need to have really bad actors."
12 Alan Cumming – Nightcrawler
Back when Alan Cumming was still in the frame to reprise his role as Nightcrawler in X-Men: The Last Stand, the Scottish actor shocked journalists with his response to the news Bryan Singer would not be returning for the third installment.
"I'm not disappointed, I can't deny it," Cumming said [via Movieweb]. "I think he's really talented. I'm very proud of the film. I think it's a great film. I didn't enjoy working with him on the film."
Evidently, Singer and Cumming didn’t see eye to eye on X-Men 2 though the source of their fractious relationship has never been divulged.
11 Ellen Page – Kitty Pryde
Ellen Page took to Facebook in 2017 to accuse director Brett Ratner of harassment during their time together on 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand. According to Page, Ratner mocked her sexuality during promotional work for the film. Page was only 18 at the time.
"'You should f*** her to make her realize she’s gay.' He said this about me during a cast and crew 'meet and greet' before we began filming, X Men: The Last Stand," Page wrote. "He looked at a woman standing next to me, ten years my senior, pointed to me and said: 'You should f*** her to make her realize she’s gay.'”
10 Michael Fassbender – Magneto
Back in 2016, during the Toronto Film Festival’s pre-opening-night fundraising event, honoree Michael Fassbender surprised those in attendance by laying into his performance as Magneto in X-Men: Days of Future Past. According to Vulture, during a segment in which clips from several of Fassbender’s films were shown, Fassbender started "cringing and rubbing his face with embarrassment".
"I don’t actually like that performance there, to be honest," Fassbender said after the highlights reel finished. "I just think it’s me shouting. It’s just like [making a face and flailing his arms around] some dude shouting."
9 Jamie Bell – Thing
Rumoured unrest on the set of Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie, coupled with the movie’s bad reviews left a bad taste in the mouth of its star, Jamie Bell. "There were several things on that movie I was clearly not privy to because I’m just an actor and I just do my stuff on set," Bell told the Los Angeles Times.
"Everything starts with the best of intentions. A production begins with the idea to make something that’s unique and original and with integrity," he said.
"I don’t know what happened between the launch of the voyage and the arrival. I think we were all bitterly disappointed with that film," stated Bell.
8 Josh Brolin – Jonah Hex
Production delays, directorial changes, script rewrites, reshoots, and some pretty heavy-handed editing helped make Jonah Hex one of the most disappointing comic book movies of all time. It’s something the film’s star, Josh Brolin, is only too aware of. In fact, he revealed in an interview with the Nerdist that he hates it just as much as everyone else.
"Oh, ‘Jonah Hex,’ hated it. Hated it," he said [via Collider]. "The experience of making it — that would have been a better movie based on what we did. As opposed to what ended up happening to it, which is going back and reshooting 66 pages in 12 days."
7 Jennifer Garner – Elektra
While Ben Affleck bounced back from his Daredevil movie, Jennifer Garner never quite got going again after her spin-off effort, Elektra, bombed. Though Garner has never spoken openly about the film, her ex-boyfriend and close friend Michael Vartan revealed to Us Weekly [via SFGate] that the Alias actress was very unhappy with how the film turned out.
"I heard [Elektra] was awful. [Jennifer] called me and told me it was awful," Vartan said. “She had to do it because of Daredevil. It was in her contract." Garner has never denied Vartan’s claims.
6 Edward Furlong – The Crow
The Crow: Wicked Prayer is an absolute stinker of a comic book movie and currently boasts a 0% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
It’s star, Edward Furlong, struggled to show much in the way of enthusiasm for the role during an interview with Movieweb.
Asked about how he prepared for the film’s starring role, Furlong said: "It's sort of like a really slow process that Lance Mungia, the director, and I went through. Initially, I was just attracted to the script because it was The Crow and I got to put on some leather pants and kick people's ass." Given how it turned out, he must be regretting signing up for such flimsy reasons.
5 Chloë Grace Moretz - Hit-Girl
Chloe Moretz made her name as Hit Girl in Mark Millar’s original Kick-Ass but, despite the first film holding a special place in her heart, she’s always been less enthusiastic about the sequel.
During an appearance on a panel at the Provincetown Film Festival in 2018, Moretz made those feelings crystal clear. "I love the franchise, I think the first movie was really, really special. I wish the second one had been handled in a little bit of a different way," she said [via Cinemablend]. "Because I think we were all kind of looking forward to something a little different than what happened with it all."
4 Kate Mara – The Invisible Woman
Kate Mara played Sue Storm in Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four movie and, in an interview with The Times[via Yahoo] revealed the negative aura surrounding the film made her "a little gun-shy" about seeing the finished film.
"You don’t always have to learn some incredible life lesson when making a s*** movie. Sometimes it’s just what happens," she said. "[Fantastic Four] was a tricky shoot but you know when you know when you’re shooting it that a film isn’t going to be what you want it to be? That was not the case at all."
3 Jamie Kennedy – The Mask
Son of the Mask saw Jamie Kennedy replace Jim Carrey as the franchise’s star, with almost unwatchable results.
Though the movie is widely regarded as one of the worst ever made, Kennedy’s biggest regret may boil down to the make-up he had to wear on the film.
"I wore it 6 days in a row, and after that it gets rough," he told Movieweb. "I had ears in this one, and Jim Carrey didn't in the first one, so they would like press against my real ears and cut the circulation, so I would have to like rub my ears a bit after having on the makeup to get the blood flowing again."
2 Sylvester Stallone – Judge Dredd
Despite starring in such turkeys as Over The Top, Stop Or My Mom Will Shoot and Oscar, Sylvester Stallone’s biggest regret was reserved for another movie. "The biggest mistake I ever made was with the sloppy handling of Judge Dredd" he once declared [via Den of Geek]. "The philosophy of the film was not set in stone – by that I mean, ‘Is this going to be a serious drama or with comic overtones’, like other science fiction films that were successful? So a lotta pieces just didn’t fit smoothly."
"The design work on it was fantastic, and the sets were incredibly real, even standing two feet away, but there was just no communication," he stated.
1 Lori Petty – Tank Girl
Lori Petty had a very particular gripe with the way things turned out for her Tank Girl movie: it was given an R rating. "There is nothing about that movie that is R. Nothing. Except there’s a woman talking s***. That’s why they rated it R. If they were going to rate it R I should have been butt-naked all the time, running around," she told AV Club.
"Tommy Boy came out that weekend, too, which is a hysterical movie, but it was rated PG-13. Do you know how many people bought Tommy Boy tickets and went to see Tank Girl? A billion."
Are there any other superhero actors who regretted their roles? Sound off in the comments!