Whenever a comic book is adapted into a film, there is always a lot of buzz around the project. The popularity of comics books is high, and the interest in comic book film adaptations has never been higher than after the massive successes of The Avengers, Captain America: Civil War, and Wonder Woman. It’s no longer a multi-million dollar industry, but a billion dollar industry, so when a studio takes the helm on a comic book project, they need to make sure it pans out.
Well, it doesn’t always work out that way. In fact, some studios have squandered tons of resources trying to get a faithful film adaptation and whiff on it super hard. Millions were lost in the production of Green Lantern, and many critics have panned the Fantastic Four films that have made it to the screen.
But then, there are weird, middle-of-the-road performances from the actors that lead many members of the audience to debate the merit of the performance. Was it actually a good performance? Was the actor just saddled with bad material? Or was the actor doing something wrong, which brought the film down?
There are several examples of this concept which will now be explored as we look upon the 15 Most Divisive Comic Book Characters In Movies.
15 Margot Robbie - Suicide Squad
When Margot Robbie was cast as Harley Quinn, the comic book world was abuzz with excitement. Robbie is a bona fide megastar these days and people were eagerly anticipating what she would do with the role.
Then Suicide Squad came out. Many people panned the movie, the reviews were awful, the plot was disjointed, and a lot of the relationships between the characters felt flat. It wasn’t the movie that would right the ship of DC.
One thing that was oft debated was Robbie’s performance as Harley Quinn though. Many critics cited her as a bright spot in the weak film, but comic fans still weren’t impressed. Was this an issue of Robbie being cast in a bad film? Or was her performance part of the reason why the movie dragged? Depends on who you ask…
14 Ryan Reynolds - Deadpool
There is no denying that Deadpool was a surprise smash hit. The Merc with a Mouth’s first solo adventure was a pleasant surprise as it made millions at the box office, thus causing studios to feel more confident about having some superhero movies be rated R.
While the film was generally well-received by critics, some didn’t find Reynolds’ performance all that incredible. Most of the detractors thought the humor brought on by Reynolds was simply too juvenile, and it seemed like he was dropping f-bombs and sexual jokes for the hell of it. A bit of the humor felt forced and childish at times, and some people put the blame on Reynolds for that.
Regardless of how you feel, there is going to be a sequel for the movie, where it will probably be more of the same.
13 Brandon Routh - Superman Returns
When Superman flew back onto the silver screen in Superman Returns, no one knew what to think about it. It had been such a long time since the Man of Steel was in a movie that people may have forgotten what he was all about. The last person to play Superman was Christopher Reeve, and many consider him the gold standard actor for the character.
Enter Brandon Routh, who undoubtedly had some big shoes to fill when he took on this role. Everything about Routh seemed right. He had the perfect look, he fit the costume well, and was generally believable as the Kryptonian savior.
The problem was, the movie was just kind of boring. Aside from the action scene where he saves a crashing plane, Superman doesn’t really do much Superman-ing. So we never really got to see Routh flourish in the role. All we got was a ton of potential that left audiences unsatisfied.
12 Henry Cavill - Man of Steel, Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
Once Superman was recast after Routh’s mixed performance, Cavill had the unenviable task of donning the cape. This iteration of the character was going to be a dark and gritty reboot (since that type of thing was all the rage around the time Man of Steel came out).
Again, Cavill has the look and is believable in the role, but with the material he was given, it just didn’t seem right. He was certainly a far cry from Christopher Reeve and made the role his own, but some critics felt like the adaptation was too dark and gloomy, with Superman moping around a lot and not really being the beacon of hope he is meant to be for humanity.
This criticism continued in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. The film was deemed too dark and depressing by the viewers, but can Cavill really be blamed for that? Maybe he’d actually be an incredible Superman is given the right material, but he just hasn’t gotten that chance yet.
11 Tom Hardy - Dark Knight Rises
Tom Hardy is an amazing actor so when it was announced he would take on the role of Bane in the last of the Christopher Nolan Batman trilogy, the buzz around the film was palpable. After the huge success of The Dark Knight, many people were expecting an epic conclusion.
Tom Hardy’s Bane that had many people scratching their heads, trying to decide if his adaptation was good or not. First, there was the issue of simply understanding what he was saying. The voice modulation used for Bane in this film was hard to hear, to say the least, not to mention he sounded like Darrell Hammond’s impression of Sean Connery.
There was also the fact that Hardy’s Bane wasn’t very comic-faithful, and by the end of the film, he was ultimately just a pawn in Talia Al-Ghul’s larger plan to destroy Gotham.
10 Jared Leto - Suicide Squad
Where to begin with this one.
Jared Leto is an actor known for getting incredibly invested in his roles. When he was tasked to follow up Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker, he knew he had to nail it. He went full method on the role, playing the character on and off camera, constantly tormenting his castmates - sending them dead rats, used condoms, and other weird stuff.
With such weirdness around Leto, surely his version of the Joker had to be good, right? Well, the jury is still out on that, considering the small amount of screen time the character got in Suicide Squad. This led to the crowd being split on his performance. Half of the people thought it was a fairly decent portrayal, while others thought his antics were stupid, along with the tattoos and grill.
We will need to wait until the character pops up again to really get a full grasp on whether or not this was a good casting choice. Until then, it’s still very much up in the air.
9 Jesse Eisenberg - Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
You have to admit this about Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Lex Luthor in Batman v Superman — it certainly was different. We need to give him props on that, as the actor set out to create a version of Superman’s nemesis that no one had seen before.
But since it was so different from every other portrayal we’ve seen of Luthor, not many people knew what to think about it. One the one hand, you have to commend Eisenberg’s courage for taking the role and making it his own.
On the other hand, what the hell was that? He made Superman’s greatest foe a nebbish, annoying weirdo who pees in jars and gives it to people. It certainly wasn’t very faithful to the source material - this version of Lex had hair for a good portion of the film. Lex Luthor is famously bald. Sure, by the end he was bald, but still...
Eisenberg set out to make his portrayal of Luthor different, but different doesn’t always equal good.
8 Topher Grace - Spider-man 3
Fans of Spider-Man generally have an image of Eddie Brock in their head. He’s Peter Parker’s rival, he’s got a temper, and he’s incredibly buff.
Now think about Topher Grace. Grace is best known for playing the timid, scrawny Eric Foreman in The ‘70s Show.
Some outside-the-box casting choices were definitely made here, but people were receptive to the idea based on the good will Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise had built up.
But Spider-Man 3 is a bit of a mess. With so many villains playing a part in the film, it was just too much. And Grace’s adaptation of the Eddie Brock character left people wondering if it was any good. Sure, he didn’t really look like the typical Eddie Brock, but he was given a chance to hit the ball out of the park and he bunted.
7 James Franco - Sam Raimi’s Spider-man Trilogy
Before he was known as a jack-of-all-trades, Franco was cast as Harry Osborn, the son of Norman Osborn, in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. He had a full character arc; shown wanting his father’s approval, then mourning his father’s death, seeking revenge on Spider-Man, and finally becoming a villain in the third installment of the franchise.
Through all of this, the best thing that can be said about Franco’s performance is“meh.” He didn’t really click with the audience, and almost no one would call his performance memorable. It was just kind of there.
What is odd about Franco’s performance here is that he had several opportunities to give an excellent portrayal of Harry Osborn, and it just never got out of first gear.
6 Tobey Maguire - Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy
Tobey Maguire’s version of Spider-Man started out with a bang. The first installment of the trilogy was well-received and Maguire seemed to be the perfect casting choice for Peter Parker. He was believable as a nerd, he was believable as a hero, he was funny, he was tragic; he did it all right.
The second film did much better, and Maguire put in another stellar performance.
Then came Spider-Man 3, which, as stated earlier, was a jumbled mess. And Maguire’s performance was a big part of that. His weird, emo take on the black suit Spider-mMn is the stuff of cringey legends. That scene where he is dancing around New York is shameful and the film as a whole put a damper on a once-great franchise.
But was that Maguire’s fault? Raimi admitted that the third film didn’t go as he planned, so can we really blame Maguire? Did that crap performance ruin all the good things he did previously?
5 Andrew Garfield - The Amazing Spider-man series
When Sony decided to reboot Spider-Man, many people thought, “Really? Already?” But then Andrew Garfield was cast in the lead role, and the opinion of the masses was a resounding, “Yeah, okay. I guess that’s fine.”
When the film came out, it was more of the same. No one could really decide if it was good or bad. It was just kind of there, and didn’t seem very necessary since the last Spider-Man franchise had just finished up.
The same could be said for Garfield’s performance. He certainly didn’t come across as a nerd like Maguire, and his stuttering and stammering turned a lot of people off, but otherwise it just seemed very bland.
The Amazing Spider-Man 2 took a turn for the worse, and ultimately ended this reboot of the franchise, which left many people wondering, “Was Garfield a good Spider-Man?”
4 Michael Clarke Duncan - Daredevil
It’s crazy to think that at the time of its release, Daredevil wasn’t considered a terrible comic book movie. It was pretty middle-of-the-road. Looking back at it now, the movie is almost unwatchable with its cringeworthy CGI and that weird dance-fight between Daredevil and Elektra.
But Michael Clarke Duncan still stands out in his role as Kingpin. Another unconventional casting choice, Duncan had to make people forget Wilson Fisk is generally seen as a fat white guy, as opposed to a physically intimidating black man.
For the most part, he did a decent job, but the movie surrounding him is just so bad that people may not realize or consider his performance. It is just simply forgotten rather than debated as being good or bad.
Good thing the Daredevil Netflix series righted a lot of the wrongs this film made.
3 Aaron Taylor-Johnson - The Avengers: Age of Ultron
First things first, Evan Peters’ version of Quicksilver completely outshone Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s portrayal. Peters was given a pivotal role in the X-Men franchise and had some of the coolest action scenes in the newer films.
Taylor-Johnson, on the other hand, really didn’t have much to do in The Avengers: Age of Ultron. He wasn’t given a special place to showcase his powers, but what he did in the movie was pretty decent. But, given the small role he played in the movie, can anyone really say whether or not his performance was good or bad?
Sure his accent was a little rough, but anyone could argue that he was good or that he was bad in the movie. His sacrifice at the end of the film didn’t really hit the audience too hard, mainly because we weren’t given a real reason to care about him.
Additionally, there hasn’t been any mention of his death in the films after Age of Ultron, so if the Avengers can forget his death that quickly, why wouldn’t we?
2 James Spader - The Avengers: Age of Ultron
James Spader has a creepy, slimy vibe surrounding all of his characters. When he was brought on to voice the evil android Ultron, it seemed like a match made in heaven. He could bring his sinister voice talents to the Marvel franchise and take things to a new level.
Instead, we got a wise-cracking robot who lacked the grit and sheer evilness he was capable of. Age of Ultron was a bit of a disappointment, and led to Joss Whedon’s exit from the franchise.
Ultron is supposed to be an android hell-bent on destroying the Avengers and all of humanity, so why is he making jokes and being a somewhat empathetic character? Was there something Spader could have done to make him more evil? Or did he do a good enough job at the role in a rather uninspired script? The debate rages on.
1 Ryan Reynolds - X-Men Origins: Wolverine
The first scene that introduces us to Ryan Reynolds’ first run as Wade Wilson was epic. The elevator scene where he cracks jokes and annoys everyone around him was great. When he exits and tears through a room full of soldiers was outstanding. “Okay, people are dead,” still stands out as one of the greatest lines Reynolds has ever uttered.
It went downhill in a hurry.
When Wade Wilson reappears in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, his mouth is sewn shut and he starts doing some very un-Deadpool-like things. It was a major reason as to why the Deadpool solo film was demanded; because Fox screwed the character up so much in this film.
But the initial Wade Wilson scene was great, right? Everything after that was garbage, but can we really blame Reynolds for that? Or was everything about this movie just crap, even Reynolds’ first stab at Wade Wilson?
Which comic book movie characters are you unsure about? Let us know in the comments!