When it comes to comic book franchises, there are plenty of fans who have an affinity for Marvel or DC (and any of their associated smaller imprints), but actors don’t always stick to one creative line over another.
After all, the more comic book properties to go around, the merrier, right?
Plenty of actors crossed the divide between Marvel and DC. Most people recognize that Ben Affleck got his start in comic book properties by playing Daredevil on the big screen before throwing on Batman’s cape for the current DC slate of movies. He’s just one of many who have appeared across the comic book divide. There are actually many more who have crossed the line on the small screen instead of the big screen.
The larger number likely comes from the amount of parts available to them. The current longest running Marvel television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., for example, is closing in on its 100th hour of television, so it’s had plenty of its recurring cast members switch sides to appear in the Arrowverse, which also boasts far more than 100 hours of television in its combined four shows.
For those actors who like working in television, there’s a wealth of comic book shows to choose from.
We’ve got a small sampling of 20 Actors Who Appeared In Marvel And DC TV Shows.
20 Serinda Swan
Just four years after beginning to act professionally, Serinda Swan landed a role in an episode of DC’s Smallville as the very magical Zatanna.
Zatanna began her time on the series as an antagonist for Clark Kent and friends, complicating their lives with magic. Over time, she became an ally, offering up her services to Oliver Queen if he ever needed help with a supernatural enemy.
Zatanna was a fun addition to the show, though she only appeared twice.
Cut to eight years later and Swan nabbed a very different Marvel series regular role. Instead of having to learn how to make magic on camera, Swan played Medusa, queen of the Inhumans, who had prehensile hair. Unfortunately for fans who had long looked forward to the Inhumans on screen, Medusa’s hair was quickly shaved to prevent her from using her powers throughout the series.
19 J. August Richards
August Richards did something not a lot of other actors on this list can claim - he appeared in a Marvel and a DC show in the same year. In 2013 Richards appeared in the freshman seasons of both Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and DC’s Arrow.
For Arrow, the appearance was a single episode with Richards appearing as the assassin Mr. Blank. Not a comic book character, Mr. Blank was actually used instead of Onomatopoeia. Richards played the character cold and nearly emotionless as he attempted to carry out orders.
In contrast, Richards’ Marvel role was almost always ready to blow. As Mike Peterson, a man whose emotions were influenced by the experimental substances in his system, he lashed out in the pilot episode, ultimately being brought down by S.H.I.E.L.D. and becoming an agent. He later became the show’s version of Deathlok, giving him recurring status.
18 Jamie Chung
With an unconventional start in the entertainment industry - as a cast member of MTV’s Real World - Jamie Chung became one of the hardest working entertainers in the industry with movies, television, and a fashion blog under her belt.
Both of Chung’s major forays into comic book television occurred on FOX.
For Gotham, Chung appeared in a handful of episodes to shake up the status quo. She played investigative reporter Valerie Vale, aunt to DC comic book character Vicki Vale, who has yet to be introduced on the show. Her stint on the series was too short-lived for some fans.
Not long after, she appeared in The Gifted as Blink, an X-Men character from Marvel comics. As a main cast member, she’ll likely stick around for a long time. With pink in her hair, colored cat-eye contacts, and special effects for teleportation, Chung completely transformed for the role.
17 Neal McDonough
One of only three actors on this list to reprise a Marvel movie role for TV, Neal McDonough went from playing a Marvel hero to a DC villain in the blink of an eye.
In Captain America: The First Avenger, McDonough brought Howling Commando Dum Dum Dugan to the big screen. He reprised the role in flashbacks on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Agent Carter, being one of Peggy’s team members in her quest to take down Hydra.
In the Arrowverse, McDonough initially appeared in Arrow as the villain Damien Darhk before his role expanded to include The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. Instead of a sympathetic soldier, he’s cold and bent on making himself the most powerful villain around.
16 Dichen Lachman
Dichen Lachman became known in the U.S. for her role in the Joss Whedon series Dollhouse, where her character grew into the role of a hero over two seasons. More recently, she’s been taking on comic book villain roles.
Season two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. introduced Jiaying, the leader of a hidden Inhuman community who does not appear in the comics. Initially, Jiaying was friendly, getting to know her daughter Daisy. Revealed as a snake in the grass after the pain of being tortured over the years, she plotted to use impure Terrigen on the world, which would have killed humans, but allowed Inhumans to flourish.
She segued from one villain to another as she appeared in Supergirl shortly after as Roulette, a lady with a love for gambling. A shrewd business woman, Roulette ran an underground fight club that pitted aliens against one another.
15 Annie Wersching
One of the newest actors to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Annie Wersching stars as one of the parents in Hulu’s Runaways, but long before that, she appeared in a lesser known DC television property.
Birds of Prey ran for a single season on the WB. The series was a loose interpretation of the comic book team up with a focus on the daughter of Batman and Catwoman instead of the other heroines who usually form that superhero team. Wersching wasn’t one of those heroes. Instead, she appeared in a single episode as a district attorney created for the series.
Runaways, on the other hand, nabbed a season two renewal from Hulu, so audiences will definitely see more of her there. There, she’s Karolina Dean’s mother, a woman willing to do whatever she has to for PRIDE, a shady group that gave all of its members their current financial and social power.
14 Adrian Pasdar
If you’ve watched television in the last 10 years, you’ve probably seen Adrian Pasdar. In addition to a high-profile role on Heroes, he’s been in dozens of shows, including some DC and Marvel projects.
He’s got a recurring role on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., known amongst fans for the mustache he sports as General Talbot. The sometimes-ally of S.H.I.E.L.D. is also known for crazy one-liners and jumping to conclusions.
Rather than an ally on Supergirl, Pasdar appeared as an antagonist. There, he plays comic book character Morgan Edge. This version of the character was a ruthless real estate mogul who targeted Lena Luthor and found himself on the bad side of Supergirl. Willing to murder to clean up his own messes, the character wound up in prison.
13 Natalie Alyn Lind
Natalie Alyn Lind made waves this season on The Gifted, but two years earlier, she spent time trying to steal Bruce Wayne’s heart on Gotham.
On Gotham, Lind recurred as a schoolmate of Bruce's whose aunt and uncle happened to be trying to take over Gotham. She was at turns sweet and slightly homicidal as she developed feelings for Bruce while still trying to lure him to his possible death.
The Gifted gave her a chance to play a burgeoning hero. As a teenager learning how to control her mutant abilities, she became part of the mutant resistance. She still plays a character who is part of a tight-knit family, but in this case, her family is made of people well on their way to becoming heroes instead of villains.
12 Glenn Morshower
You might recognize Glenn Morshower from his roles in big budget movies like Transformers where he played a military man. On the small screen… he’s also played a lot of military men. In fact, he’s made a career out of playing generals, secret agents, and detectives.
On Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., he played a military official who didn’t last long, coming into conflict with Bill Paxton’s S.H.I.E.L.D.-turned-Hydra Agent Garrett. When he switched to the DC side of the fence for Supergirl, he also played a military man, but that role gave him a little bit more screen time since he was General Sam Lane, father to DC comic mainstays Lucy and Lois Lane.
Morshower got to play a slightly different type of character for Preacher, a series inspired by DC’s Vertigo book of the same name. There, he put on a religious uniform instead of a military one.
11 Clancy Brown
Like Morshower, Clancy Brown has also built his career on playing law enforcement officers and military types.
His recent Marvel and DC roles have involved him playing military generals as well.
Season two of Daredevil introduced Brown as Colonel Ray Schoonover, the man behind Frank Castle’s unit. He wasn’t just a military man, though. He also happened to be a smuggler known as the Blacksmith who was part of a larger conspiracy.
On the DC side of the coin, Brown also played a corrupt military man, though in a very different way for The Flash. Instead of dealing in drugs, General Wade Eiling commanded an elite Black Ops unit. One of his former soldiers was the metahuman Plastique, whom he wanted to use for his own personal gain.
10 Christine Adams
Audiences recognize Christine Adams for work in British television - including some Doctor Who - but comic book TV fans recognize her as an actress playing characters destined to shape young minds.
In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she directed the S.H.I.E.L.D. Science and Technology Academy right up until the fall of the organization from Hydra infiltration. She battled Hydra, trying to save her students when the Academy was under attack, and became a member of the “real S.H.I.E.L.D.” group that appeared in season two. She hasn’t been seen on the show since.
That might be because Adams has been busy with plenty of other projects, including snagging the role of series regular Lynn Stewart in Black Lightning. The titular hero’s ex-wife, she plays a major part in his life and the life of their daughters. For Easter egg fans, her character is also the sister of a Green Lantern in the comics.
9 John Glover
So good at playing a villain, John Glover has appeared at the top and the bottom of the antagonist food chains in comic book television.
He appeared in a single episode of Agent Carter as an unnamed New York Times reporter. He’s not exactly a bad guy, but when Peggy Carter is the star of the show and dealing with men who don’t think she has any value, he might as well be. Glover’s reporter was an informant for her boss, not giving him a whole lot to do in the episode.
On the other hand, he was a major player in the early seasons of Smallville as the man who turned Lex Luthor into a villain. Glover starred in the series as Lionel Luthor, father of Lex. When the series began with Lex and Clark Kent as friends instead of enemies, it was Glover who got to play the slightly unhinged bad guy.
8 David O’Hara
David O’Hara got to play a blast from the past in a Marvel and DC show in a short amount of time.
For Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., fans glimpsed O’Hara as Agent Fitz’s father in the virtual reality known as the Framework. He only appeared in a few episodes of season four, but he certainly made an impression. His Framework avatar manipulated events around him to try to ensure Fitz killed Simmons, the love of his life in the real world. Time will tell if fans will get to see his real world counterpart or not.
On Gotham, O’Hara appeared as an old friend of butler Alfred. O’Hara was a military man with a shady past who took a job that involved killing his friend and Bruce Wayne. Audiences didn’t get to see much of him, but he did get to participate in one heck of a fight scene.
7 Sonya Balmores
A former Miss Teen USA Hawaii, Sonya Balmores started her acting career in roles close to home - she played surfers in her home state. Since then, she’s expanded to police procedurals and comic book shows.
She recently made a splash as Auran in Marvel’s Inhumans. As Auran, she had to be commanding, unwaveringly loyal, and a fierce fighter. She spent the season hunting down the royal family and coming back to life; her superpower was regeneration.
Like Preacher, Lucifer was also published by the DC imprint Vertigo. Sonya Balmores appeared in a single episode of the series not long after finishing her run in Inhumans. For the series, she wasn’t one of the well-known comic book characters, but instead she went back to her roots as a surfer named Wild Child, a very different character from the soldier Auran.
6 William Sadler
Another one of the few actors who got a chance to reprise a role on the small screen that originated on the big screen, William Sadler made his way to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but also appeared in an episode of The Flash.
Sadler is the President of the United States in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Or at least he was; his term may soon come to an end. He appeared in several movies for his role, but he also made an appearance in news broadcasts as part of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. He appears mostly for giving flashy speeches.
For The Flash, he’s only appeared in one episode, though his company has made an appearance in more. He played a scientist in the first season, and the founder of Stagg Industries. More of a businessman than anything else, audiences might have forgotten about him with all the superpowered people running around.
5 James Marsters
He’ll always be Spike to most TV lovers, but James Marsters also took on some pretty heavy comic book roles over the years.
Both were menacing in very different ways.
Not long after his time on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Marsters took a role on another WB favorite. He appeared as Brainiac in Smallville. Initially a villain, the character was a living artificial intelligence system whose goal was to destroy the House of El. Logical, but with a sense of humor, he was eventually sent to the future to be reprogrammed.
Less robotic and more volatile, Marsters’ role in Marvel’s Runaways on Hulu is that of a parent of one of the titular characters, but also a scientist. He thrives on discovery and invention, but he also can change his mind on a whim, physically hurting his wife and teenage son when he does.
4 Ruth Negga
There might not be a role Ruth Negga can’t play. She’s received plenty of accolades for her big screen work in the last few years - including a Best Actress Oscar nomination - but she also embraced two comic book shows that allowed her to play very different roles.
She made her comic book series debut early in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s first season as “the girl in the flower dress” who always seemed to be one step ahead of the agents. Eventually, we learned her name was Raina and she was out to unlock her Inhuman heritage. Soft-spoken with a sweet smile, she was a master manipulator.
Tulip on Preacher couldn’t be more different. Tulip doesn’t manipulate someone when she could just as easily knock them out or blow them up. She’s just as resourceful as Raina is, though, making weapons out of anything around her instead of relying on social skills.
Both are huge fan favorites.
3 Elena Satine
Known for playing alluring women in the drama series she’s been part of, Elena Satine also lent her bombshell status to a few comic book characters.
Satine first appeared as a comic book character on Smallville. There, she played Mera, the role Amber Heard currently has on the big screen. Brash and sometimes arrogant, Mera had no problem letting anyone know how extraordinary she was.
The same was true of Satine’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. character Lorelei. The Asgardian only appeared for a single episode, but in it, she controlled every man she met with her magical voice. She was eventually captured and taken back to Asgard.
Most recently, Satine also appeared in a Marvel series outside of the MCU - The Gifted - as the comic book character Beautiful Dreamer where she could access and manipulate people’s memories.
2 Dominic Cooper
The last of the trio of actors who originated his comic book role on screen, Dominic Cooper appeared in Captain America: The First Avenger before reprising the role for Agent Carter. He then nabbed the lead role in Preacher.
Cooper played the smartest man in the MCU in the 1940s and '50s. He was Howard Stark, father to future Iron Man Tony Stark. Fun-loving, with a taste for alcohol and women, Cooper somehow made him charming instead of the cold man who couldn’t connect with his son that we knew from the Iron Man movies.
Though equally charming in his role in Preacher, the character couldn’t be more different. Jesse Custer took up the cloth in tribute to his father, but he’s a grittier version of a man. He’s the kind of person who used to hit first and ask questions later - a grifter - but is now someone who strives to be better.
1 Adrianne Palicki
Adrianne Palicki loves a good genre show. She’s been in Supernatural, From Dusk Till Dawn, and most recently, The Orville. She got her start in Smallville.
A guest starring role as a teenager named Lindsey Harrison on Smallville was one of her first TV roles. Lindsey was a vessel programmed by Jor-El to get to Clark Kent. That role for the WB gave Palicki a chance at another comic book role - she appeared in the pilot for Aquaman that didn’t go to series.
Palicki was also Wonder Woman for NBC’s modern pilot of the show, but that DC series also failed to be picked up.
Palicki finally found what seemed like the perfect fit in the Marvel series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as comic book hero Bobbi Morse AKA Mockingbird. She became a fan favorite and got a pilot for a spinoff, but Marvel’s Most Wanted failed to go to series.
Did you recognize all of these comic book series double dippers? Did we miss any? Let us know in the comments!
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