Justice League has an extraordinary cast of talented actors. It’s a testament to how good modern superhero movies can be that so many accomplished performers are clamoring to be in any one of them. From nominal star Ben Affleck all the way down to supporting players like J.K. Simmons and Diane Lane, the movie is packed with some of Hollywood’s best. It’s even got hot up-and-comers like Ray Fisher, who plays Cyborg.
There is one unavoidable truth in acting: no matter how good you are, eventually you will do something that doesn’t work. This is perfectly fine. An occasional failure is part of what makes an actor interesting. It means they’re taking chances. It means they’ve learned something about what their particular limitations might be, or what techniques they may need to drop in the future. The Justice League actors have had their share of missteps, which is what this list will look at.
Please keep in mind that our intention is not to ridicule these stars. We love them and think they’re great. We do, however, just want to look at some of the times when their skills were not put to the most effective use.
Here are 16 Embarrassing Roles Justice League Actors Want You To Forget.
16. Gal Gadot – Entourage
After starring in the soap opera Bubot in her homeland of Israel, Gal Gadot was eager to break into Hollywood. In 2009, she was cast in two high-profile American projects. The first was playing Gisele in Fast & Furious. It’s not the deepest role, but it at least gave her the chance to show a little of what she could do and got her into a huge franchise. The second was a guest stint on the “Amongst Friends” episode of Entourage that completely wasted her talent.
The future Wonder Woman plays a generic beauty who attends a movie premiere with lead character Vinny Chase. Gadot’s job is to sit in the back of a limo, sip champagne, and cuddle up to star Adrian Grenier at a party. As for dialogue, she only gets a couple two- or three-word throwaway lines, usually delivered as other characters are also speaking.
15. Jason Momoa – Johnson Family Vacation
Johnson Family Vacation is a dopey family comedy that marked Cedric the Entertainer’s attempt to establish as a Clark Griswold-type role for himself. His character, Nate Johnson, takes his clan on a cross-country road trip during which all sorts of comic complications occur. One of them finds him coming face-to-face with future Aquaman Jason Momoa.
The joke is that Cedric and his daughter stop at a Native American establishment looking to find “where the real Indians are.” Momoa plays an employee paid to dress up and give them directions. The scene consists of his character attempting to seduce the teenage girl right in front of her clueless father. There is a very icky quality to the sequence, as it’s basically a grown man wielding his sexuality at a naive adolescent. Not Momoa’s finest onscreen moment by a long shot.
14. Ezra Miller – Cakey! The Cake from Outer Space
Cakey! The Cake from Outer Space is a web-based show about a 13-year-old boy named Duncan (played by much-older-than-13 actor Gavin Speiller) who befriends a magical cake that hails from — you guessed it — outer space. The cake has a face and can talk. In a 2006 episode called “Birthday,” the Flash himself, Ezra Miller, appears as a bully who torments Duncan in the park.
Obviously, this whole concept, with anthropomorphic cakes and an adult playing a child, is designed to revel in absurdity. Still, there’s a line that can be crossed, and Cakey! crosses it. The low-rent visuals and unrelenting weirdness of the material prove to be somewhat off-putting.
13. Amy Adams – Charmed
Lois Lane is often saved from peril by Superman onscreen and in the pages of comics. In a second season episode of Charmed titled “Murphy’s Luck,” Amy Adams was saved by someone else. The actress appears as a kind-hearted young woman driven to the brink of suicide by a Darklighter. She stands atop a tall building, ready to jump. Shannen Doherty’s character Prue is dispatched to the scene, where she tries to talk the woman down from the ledge.
The reason why Adams would probably like everyone to forget this cameo is because of how hilariously awful it is. After her character slips and falls off the building, Prue casts a spell that flings her to the safety of a nearby canopy. The visual effects use to accomplish this are rudimentary and unconvincing, to the point of being comical. Poor Adams is left yelling and screaming through some of the worst FX work you’ll ever see.
12. Jesse Eisenberg – Camp Hell
Jesse Eisenberg, known to DC movie fans as the current portrayer of Lex Luthor, really was not happy when the movie Camp Hell was released in 2010. The movie is about an evil entity that invades a Christian summer camp. The actor did a cameo that amounted to less than five minutes of screen time as a favor to the producers, who were personal friends.
When the film was released on DVD, his name and face were prominently featured on the cover, making it seem as though he was the star. Eisenberg sued for $3 million, saying his “reputation and goodwill with the public and his fans will be severely harmed if they are duped” into purchasing Camp Hell.
11. Robin Wright – Hollywood Vice Squad
Every actor has to start somewhere, and sometimes that starting point is in low-budget sleaze. Such is the case with Robin Wright, who briefly reprises the role of Antiope in Justice League. Long admired by both fans and critics, she paid her dues on a soap opera before breaking out in the now-classic fairy tale The Princess Bride. A year before that happened, though, she appeared in a tawdry crime comedy called Hollywood Vice Squad.
Wright plays Lori, a teenage girl adrift in Tinseltown. She becomes addicted to heroin and starts working as a prostitute. Frank Gorshin (the Riddler on the classic Batman TV series) portrays the vicious pimp who employs her. Although the movie isn’t entirely meant to be taken seriously, it does rely on a lot of exploitation cliches, including a scene that requires Wright to strip down to her lingerie. Obviously, the actress would go on to much better material in the future.
10. J.K. Simmons – Postal
One of the great mysteries of modern cinema is how Uwe Boll managed to get so many good actors to appear in his cheap, poorly-made video game adaptations. He even managed to sucker in J.K. Simmons, known to JL fans as Commissioner Gordon, for one of them.
Admittedly, as a character actor, Simmons appears in all kinds of films, many high quality, a few of a lower variety. Still, he couldn’t have needed a paycheck that badly when he signed on for Postal. He cameos as a right-wing extremist who spouts a lot of hateful rhetoric.
Postal marked Boll’s attempt to be as politically incorrect as possible. It opens with a spoof of the 9/11 attack on the World Trade Center (yes, really) and later plays a mass shooting of innocent children for laughs. Simmons, an actor with a reputation for being a nice guy offscreen, can’t feel good about having been part of something like this, or about verbalizing his character’s mean-spirited rants.
9. Henry Cavill – Hellraiser: Hellworld
Henry Cavill, the Man of Steel himself, once appeared in a movie with Pinhead. It’s true! Hellraiser: Hellworld, released in 2005, is the eighth entry in the Clive Barker-created series. By this time, only the most hardcore fans still cared about Pinhead’s deadly antics. Nonetheless, the young Cavill found himself on the receiving end of those pins.
The story revolves around a group of friends who gather at a creepy old mansion to play a game called Hellworld. Cavill is Mike, who, like most of the characters, meets a grisly fate during this process. Hellraiser: Hellworld is pretty clearly an effort to milk every last drop from a franchise that had played itself out.
The writing is sloppy, meaning that Cavill is left reciting silly dialogue and trying to prop up a plot that’s merely going through the motions. Sadly, that task is too daunting. He gives a stiff performance far removed from his work as Superman.
8. Amber Heard – ExTerminators
Stepping into the role of Mera is Amber Heard, an actress unfairly best known for having been the wife Johnny Depp was accused of physically assaulting. She’s actually an interesting performer, whose work in pictures like All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, Pineapple Express, and The Danish Girl have displayed versatility. She can do comedy, drama, horror — just about anything. And then there’s ExTerminators, a movie so bad that it was barely given a theatrical release.
Heard plays Nikki, a punk rock dental hygienist who starts a business getting revenge on abusive husbands and boyfriends with two cohorts (Heather Graham and Jennifer Coolidge) she meets in anger management therapy.
ExTerminators is a dark comedy where all the characters are broad caricatures who in no way behave like actual human beings. Heard is a good actress, but the material forces her to play Nikki as a walking cliche of mental health issues.
7. Jeremy Irons – Dungeons & Dragons
JL’s Alfred, Jeremy Irons, is an accomplished actor and an Academy Award winner, having taken home the Oscar as Best Actor for 1990’s Reversal of Fortune. When you talk about dignified British thespians, he’s someone who pops instantly to mind. That’s what makes his overwrought turn in the dreadful Dungeons & Dragons so shocking. You don’t expect to see such a phenomenal actor doing work this bad.
Truth be told, the movie is virtually unwatchable. The special effects are bargain-basement, the story is annoyingly muddled, and the direction from Courtney Solomon gives new meaning to the term “incompetent.”
Irons plays Profion, an evil magician attempting to find a way of controlling dragons. Perhaps befitting such a trainwreck of a motion picture, he overacts like a madman. Maybe he thought the film’s tone required something larger-than-life. That’s understandable, but it doesn’t make the result any less disastrous.
6. Ben Affleck – Daredevil
After playing Daredevil in 2003’s disappointing screen adaptation, Ben Affleck said that he wouldn’t play another superhero. That changed when the opportunity to play Batman came along. It was widely assumed that part of his motivation for taking the role was to “get it right” this time. His first stab at the Dark Knight, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, wasn’t quite the home run he’d been hoping for, making the pressure for Justice League to succeed even stronger.
Affleck made Daredevil during a period of his career when he was, by his own admission, trying to be a movie star more than an actor. The film was a modest box office success, although few people really seemed all that enthusiastic about it. A common criticism was that Affleck didn’t bring much to the character — he was essentially himself in a red costume.
5. Billy Crudup – Trust the Man
Billy Crudup, cast as Henry Allen in JL, is used to getting rave reviews. He has established himself as one of those ultra-dependable character actors who comes in and lights up any movie in which he appears. He’s even won a Tony for his stage work. This made it surprising when he got critical slams for his work in the 2005 comedy Trust the Man, where he stars alongside Julianne Moore and David Duchovny.
Crudup portrays Tobey, an immature sportswriter who refuses to fully commit to his girlfriend Elaine (Maggie Gyllenhaal). The problem is that Crudup is an actor who radiates intelligence, so it’s not convincing to see him play a dim-bulb character. Tobey does dumb stuff like sleep in his car in order to avoid losing a good parking spot.
4. Diane Lane – Priceless Beauty
Diane Lane, who plays Martha Kent in Justice League, was a noted child actress who gained acclaim for her work in 1979’s A Little Romance. After reaching her teen years, she solidified her reputation as a rising star with strong work in Walter Hill’s Streets of Fire and Francis Ford Coppola’s Rumble Fish. A few years later, in 1988, she starred in a dopey romantic drama called Priceless Beauty opposite her future husband, Highlander‘s Christopher Lambert.
Lambert plays Menrou, a former rock star who gave up singing following the death of his brother. One day, he finds the proverbial genie in a bottle. That would be Lane’s character, China. She helps him to heal from this tragic event, and the two fall madly in love.
3. Willem Dafoe – Mr. Bean’s Holiday
For a long time, Willem Dafoe’s Justice League character was a mystery. We now know he played Nuidis Vulko, an ally of Aquaman – but his role was shockingly cut from the theatrical release.
Dafoe is a famously intense actor. Part of it is that he has inherently intimidating features. Some of it is his gravelly voice, which has an ominous ring to it. And, of course, a portion of it is that he’s a darn fine actor. Comedy isn’t particularly what Dafoe is known for, though, and broad slapstick comedy really isn’t his forte. So what, exactly, is he doing in Mr. Bean’s Holiday?
The film is about Rowan Atkinson’s mishap-prone Mr. Bean, who makes his way to the Cannes Film Festival. There, he encounters Dafoe’s egotistical director, a pretentious guy who believes in his own genius, even if no one else does. Presumably, the idea was to contrast the silliness of Atkinson with the intensity of Dafoe. The two actors are so different, however, that the mismatch idea seems forced, causing it to fall flat.
2. Connie Nielsen – Demonlover
Connie Nielsen returns as Queen Hippolyta in Justice League. While perhaps not a household name, she has accumulated an impressive resume over the years, often appearing in smart, ambitious indie fare. And then there’s Demonlover, which is a whole other deal.
An early effort from noted French filmmaker Olivier Assayas, the movie casts Nielsen as an executive tasked with obtaining the rights to a Japanese animation studio’s 3D interactive adult films.
Demonlover deals with some pretty edgy themes, including hentai and websites that broadcast live acts of sadomasochism. When addressing material of that nature, you have to be extremely sensitive in the presentation. In this case, the film got mostly negative reviews.
Nielsen, meanwhile, is stuck trying to create an interesting character in the midst of a story that repeatedly assaults the viewer with distracting graphic sex and violence. It’s hard for her to make an impression with all that going on.
1. Ciaran Hinds – Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance
Playing the Devil is tough — perhaps even tougher than playing Steppenwolf in Justice League. Ciaran Hinds has done both, but he probably should have opted not to do the first one. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance casts him as Mephistopheles (referred to here as Roarke), and Nicholas Cage plays the flaming-skulled, motorcycle-riding Marvel hero who tries to rescue a young boy from his clutches.
As directed by the team of Neveldine/Taylor, Ghost Rider:Spirit of Vengeance takes the attitude that the crazier something is, the better. Hinds adheres to that ethic, playing his character with such an excess of menace that it starts to feel like satire after a while. We’re supposed to fear Roarke, yet it’s hard not to giggle at the overload of evil he attempts to project. This is a bad performance in a bad movie that killed the Ghost Rider franchise.
What’s your opinion on these performances? Are there any other embarrassing performances you think the Justice League actors would like everyone to forget about? We want to hear your thoughts in the comments.
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