10 Superhero Actors Who Became A-Listers (And 10 Who Flopped)

As of late, superhero movies have been all the rage, making studios millions orsometimes billions of dollars. Each movies studio seems to have the rights to at least a few superheroes whether it be DC or Marvel.

Even though there have been more and more superhero movies coming out each year, fans just can not get enough. 

While having a ton of fans watching movies should be good for actor’s careers, sometimes it hinders their progress in Hollywood. Some actors make their way to the very top of Hollywood because of their superhero roles, while others get left in the dust because of theirs. 

Like any actor in a popular franchise, stars can get stuck in the shadow of their famous role. This can make casting agents stray away from casting them again since people will always associate the actor or actress with that certain role.

Other times, the superhero movie could just be critically destroyed, which in turn can also damage the careers of people acting in them. 

Other actors continue to strive in the tough world of Hollywood because of their casting in certain superhero roles. This allows them to live luxurious lives and continue to find work in other roles outside of their superhero ones.

So throw on your favorite superhero flick and enjoy the 10 Superhero Actors Who Became A-Listers (And 10 Who Flopped). 

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20 A-Lister: Chris Evans

Chris Evans has been at the top and bottom when it comes to superhero movies. His first superhero gig was back in 2005 when he was still a relatively new actor.

That year he played the character Johnny Storm, aka The Human Torch, in Tim Story’s Fantastic Four. Evans would return to the role two years later for Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but neither one of them struck gold at the box office or with critics. 

Fast forward a few more years and Evans would be on his way to being in one of the biggest movie franchises to date.

He started his Marvel Cinematic Universe career with Captain America: The First Avenger and got pegged as an A-Lister soon after. 

You can catch Chris Evans back up on the big screen in a few days when Avengers: Infinity War takes the world by storm. 

19 Flopped: January Jones

January Jones Emma Frost

You may remember January Jones for her character Betty from Mad Men, but fans of the X-Men movies will know her as Emma Frost. January Jones appeared in the X-Men prequel called X-Men: First Class. 

Since then her career has somewhat flopped besides her role on Mad Men.

Jones only has eight acting credits to her name since her role of Emma Frost in X-Men First Class. Both X-Men: First Class and Mad Men are critically acclaimed so it is puzzling why January Jones cannot find more work in Hollywood. 

Despite the reasoning, January Jones' acting career not only seems to have flopped, but also gone through a massive cutback in roles.

Fans of hers can still catch her every Sunday night when she appears as Melissa Chartres on Fox’s The Last Man on Earth.

18 A-Lister: Ryan Reynolds

It is hard to imagine a world where Ryan Reynolds was not playing Deadpool. Ryan Reynolds is one actor who has lent his acting abilities to both Marvel and DC. He played a version of Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and also Hal Jordan in Green Lantern. 

In X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the filmmakers decided to sew the character’s mouth shut even though Deadpool is known for being a smart aleck. In Green Lantern, Ryan Reynolds wore a completely CGI superhero suit which just looked atrocious. 

Thankfully after footage leaked online of a rated R Deadpool movie, the film came to fruition and is even getting a sequel this May. Without Deadpool, Ryan Reynolds might not have been as big of a celebrity as he is now, but thankfully the merc with the mouth is here to stay. 

17 Flopped: Nicholas Cage

Good old Nicholas Cage. Some people hate him, while other people love him. No matter what side you are on, there is no doubt that he has made some interesting movies; good and bad.

Lately, however, Nicholas Cage’s career has pretty much flopped.

In 2007, Nicholas Cage starred as Johnny Blaze in Ghost Rider. The movie itself was mediocre and Cage’s acting didn’t really help the film at all. Somehow the movie got a sequel in 2011 called Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance which was even worse than its predecessor. 

Since then Nicholas Cage has starred in nothing but bad movies. Props to Nicholas Cage though for staying busy with multiple projects each year.

Hopefully, his career will turn around if his new films Mandy and Looking Glass get a wide release.

16 A-Lister: Gal Gadot

Gal Gadot was already known in Hollywood prior to Wonder Woman thanks to her role in the Fast and the Furious franchise. 

Her breakout role truly came about in 2009 when she played the beautiful Gisele in Fast & Furious. She would later continue the role of Gisele in the next three Fast and Furious films while having smaller roles in movies like Date Night and Knight and Day. 

Today, Gal Gadot is mostly known for her role as Diane Prince or Wonder Woman.

Anybody who follows comic book movies knows that DC has been in trouble ever since they started their cinematic universe with Man of Steel in 2013. 

Wonder Woman seemed to put the DCEU back on track for a short period of time which was mainly credited to Gal Gadot’s acting and Patty Jenkins’ directing. Gal Gadot is an A-Lister in every sense of the word, and rightfully so.

15 Flopped: Topher Grace

Topher Grace’s days as a funny teenager from the '70s are over. Topher Grace was in a handful of projects prior to That 70s Show's debut in 1998 but one of his biggest roles was as Eddie Brock a.k.a. Venom in Spider-Man 3. 

Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man movies were very well received except for Spider-Man 3. People tend to ignore Spider-Man 3 because of how bad it was. 

Unfortunately for Topher Grace, Spider-Man 3’s reception also put a strain on his career. 

He has not been in a lot of content since 2007 and certainly not the star in the projects he is in. Grace snagged roles in American Ultra and Interstellar, the latter of which won an Oscar for visual effects, but Grace really had nothing to do with either films' success.

14 A-Lister: Michael B. Jordan

Michael B. Jordan had some big roles before his superhero days. You may remember him from Josh Trank’s Chronicle or even Ryan Coogler’s Fruitvale Station. A few years later, Michael B Jordan would star in Fantastic Four as The Human Torch. 

The 2015 Fantastic Four has been called one of the worst superhero movies ever made, but thankfully it did not negatively impact Michael B. Jordan’s career. That same year, Jordan played Adonis Johnson in the academy award nominated movie Creed.

Much like Chris Evans, Michael B. Jordan played Johnny Storm in an awful Fantastic Four movie only to be given a second chance for the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Jordan most recently played Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Not only did this movie reunite Jordan with Ryan Coogler, but it also gave him a role that is often referred to as one of the best villains in the MCU. 

13 Flopped: Tom Welling

When it comes to Superman, Christopher Reeves often comes to mind but there are dozens of actors who have portrayed Clark Kent. One of those actors is named Tom Welling who played Clark Kent/Superman for 10 years in the show Smallville. 

Smallville aired for an entire decade and had an impressive 217 episodes. Since his role on Smallville came to a close, Tom Welling seems to have dropped off the face of the Earth.

He has only been in three movies since his superhero show ended in 2011 and he did not even act in 2012, 2015, or 2017.  

Tom Welling was most recently on the show from Fox called Lucifer as the character Marcus Pierce. Even though his career may have flopped, he still has a ton of fans thanks to Smallville.

12 A-Lister: Robert Downey Jr.

Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark in Iron Man 2

Robert Downey Jr. has had a troubled past. Because of his substance and alcohol abuse, people had thought Robert Downey Jr.’s career was over.

Downey Jr. never really stopped acting despite his personal troubles and had at least one acting credit each year except for 2001. Even though he has been acting since 1970, Robert Downey Jr.’s biggest role of his career came in 2008. 

Of course, Robert Downey Jr. is known for Tony Stark, aka Iron Man, in the MCU. Iron Man was the first film in the ongoing Marvel Cinematic Universe and Downey Jr. will be playing the role again in the highly anticipated sequel Avengers: Infinity War. 

There are many superhero actors in the MCU, but none are quite like Robert Downey Jr. He is often called the real-life Tony Stark since his lifestyle closely resembles that of his on-screen counterpart.

11 Flopped: Jennifer Garner

Jennifer Garner in Elektra

Jennifer Garner starred in both Daredevil and Elektra as Elektra Natchios, but both of them were met with scathing reviews.

Since then, her acting career has not quite been the same.

Garner is probably most known for her role as Sydney Bristow in J.J. Abrams Alias. The series ran for 105 episodes in which Garner starred in each one. Since then she has been in some great films, but also some awful ones. 

Jennifer Garner may have been in Dallas Buyers Club and Love Simon, but her bad movies outweigh the good. The entire idea of the film Nine Lives seems like something moviegoers could have caught in theatres in the early 2000s but it came out only a few years ago.

She has also starred in some sub-par family movies such as Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, Not Good, Very Bad Day and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. 

10 A-Lister: Samuel L. Jackson

People have known the name Samuel L. Jackson long before he started acting in superhero movies. Whether he was in a Quentin Tarantino movie, a theme park about dinosaurs, or playing a Jedi Knight, Jackson knows how to act and make a memorable character. 

When Samuel L. Jackson first appeared in Iron Man in 2008, the role was just icing on the cake for his career. Now 69 years old Samuel L. Jackson continues to act and has numerous upcoming projects including some for Marvel. 

His career does not seem to be dying down anytime soon and is worth over $200 million which are two reasons why he is one of Hollywood’s biggest A-listers.

You can catch Samuel L. Jackson in Avengers: Infinity War and also in The Incredibles 2 in June!

9 Flopped: Jessica Alba

Jessica Alba has been in numerous projects ever since the mid-'90s. Her first big project was in 2000 when she starred as Max Guevera in James Cameron’s Dark Angel.

The TV show only lasted for two seasons but she continued to act and landed roles in Sin City and Fantastic Four. 

In Fantastic Four, Jessica Alba played Sue Storm who eventually becomes The Invisible Woman. She starred in the first movie and Fantastic 4: Rise Of the Silver Surfer, but neither one of them really hit with fans or critics. 

Jessica Alba continues to act, but it seems like filmmakers and moviegoers don’t have a ton of faith in her acting ability anymore.

Even though her acting career might have flopped, she has become focused on her children and becoming an entrepreneur.

8 A-Lister: Hugh Jackman

No matter what type of movie you are into, Hugh Jackman should be no stranger to you. Hugh Jackman has starred in everything from musicals to superhero flicks.

While he has a ton of acting experience under his belt, Jackman is most known for playing the role of Wolverine in the X-Men movies. 

Since his appearance in the first X-Men movie, Jackman’s muscles weren't the only things that grew. Since X-Men’s release in 2000, Jackman’s career has blown up making him one of Hollywood’s top A-Listers. Hugh Jackman played Wolverine in a whomping nine X-Men movies until his character was cut off in Logan last year. 

Despite his superhero career ending, Jackman doesn’t look like he will be stopping anytime soon.

7 Flopped: Aaron Taylor-Johnson

Aaron Taylor-Johnson may have been in a few superhero movies but none of them made his career flourish. Taylor-Johnson’s first flick about a crime-fighting vigilante came in 2010 when he played Dave Lizewski in Kick-Ass. 

Kick-Ass was a highly acclaimed and fresh take on a superhero movie. The film was rated R and was as much a comedy as it was an action flick.

He would return to the role three years later for Kick-Ass 2, but his big superhero gig came in 2015 when he played Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Pietro Maximoff was cut off after one movie which caught a lot of fans off guard. 

Aaron Taylor-Johnson only acted in Nocturnal Animals in 2016 and The Wall in 2017, so one might say that his role in Avengers 2 could have caused his career to flop.

6 A-Lister: Chris Pratt

Chris Pratt has come a long way from being a beach bum living out of his van in Maui. First starring in a short movie called Cursed Part 3, Pratt quickly gained a lot of acting experience.

After movies like The Extreme Team and Strangers with Candy, Pratt was cast in more memorable roles like Andy Dwyer in Parks and Recreation.

The year 2014 was a good one for Pratt, as he had not one, but two smash hits at the box office.

Pratt landed a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord, and also voiced the character Emmette Brickowoski in The Lego Movie. 

If getting a role as a superhero wasn’t enough, Pratt was also the lead in the Jurassic Park sequel called Jurassic World in 2015. Being in two huge franchises is one way to make yourself become an A-Lister. 

5 Flopped: Burt Ward

Robin Burt Ward Batman TV Show Karate

Many people grew up with Adam West as their Batman. Adam West played Bruce Wayne in the iconic Batman television show from the '60s. Anybody who was a fan of the show should certainly know who Burt Ward is. 

Burt Ward, of course, played Batman’s trusty sidekick Robin. After playing Dick Grayson for 120 episodes of Batman Burt Ward seemingly had a tough time escaping the shadow of his role as Robin.

After the show ended in 1968, Burt Ward went on to act in movies like Robot Ninja and Beach Babes from Beyond. As you can guess by the titles, neither of them were really a success. 

In 2002, Ward took a break from acting and returned eight years later as a voice actor. 

His two most recent voice acting gigs reunited him with the late Adam West and were animated Batman movies that included the 60s era voices and characters. 

4 A-Lister: Henry Cavill

Superhero Movies Man of Steel

Henry Cavill has been acting since 2001, but really had not been in anything impressive until his breakout role as Superman in Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel. Man of Steel was met with mixed reviews, but people tended to still like Henry Cavill. 

Henry Cavill returned to the role of Clark Kent for Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice in 2016 and Justice League the following year.

In between superhero flicks, Henry Cavill starred in The Man from U.N.C.L.E. and will also be starring alongside Tom Cruise in the newest Mission Impossible outing subtitled Fallout. 

Cavill may forever get jokes about the horrendous CGI mustache removal in Justice League but he is still a big A-Lister in Hollywood. 

3 Flopped: Malin Akerman

Watchmen Malin Akerman in Watchmen

When you think of superhero actresses, Malin Ackerman may not be the first person to jump in your head. That being said, Ackerman did star in Watchmen.

Before Zack Snyder was working on the DC Extended Universe, he was working on turning the Watchmen comics into a feature-length film.

Watchmen was critically acclaimed, but that did not help Malin Akerman’s career.

She has been in a lot of titles since 2009, but none of them have been as successful as Watchmen. She has been in several TV shows including one in which she starred called Trophy Wife, but a lot of these shows never made it past the first season. 

Fans of Malin Akerman can find her on the big screen next to Dwayne Johnson in the video game movie called Rampage which is now in theatres. 

2 A-Lister: Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton Spider-Man Batman

Depending on what era you grew up in, you may know Michael Keaton from different movies compared to others. Most people know him as either Bruce Wayne or Beetlejuice. 

Michael Keaton really began to make waves in Hollywood during the '80s, when he starred in Tim Burton’s Beetlejuice.

The next year he would have another hit when he reunited with Tim Burton for Batman. Michael Keaton would be replaced as Batman by Val Kilmer after Batman Returns, but some people will always think of him as the greatest caped crusader.

Even if you are not a fan of '80s movies, you can still catch Michael Keaton in newer movies. 

Last year, Michael Keaton threw away his superhero morals and played the main villain in Spider-Man: Homecoming as the Vulture. Michael Keaton has been acting since the '70s and still has more projects lined up for him. 

1 Flopped: Wesley Snipes

Wesley Snipes in Blade Trinity

Out of everyone on this list, Wesley Snipes may have had the biggest flop when it comes to acting careers. Wesley Snipes is probably most known for his role as Blade in the Blade trilogy.

In 2008, Snipes ran into a bit of legal trouble and ended up spending about two and a half years in federal prison for not filing his income taxes. 

Wesley Snipes began his sentence on December 9, 2010, was released from prison on April 2, 2013, and then finished off his sentence under house arrest in July.

Despite spending time in prison, Snipes acting career has continued but things are not the way they used to be. 

Snipes’ first movie since his release was The Expendables 3. This brought him together with some iconic action heroes but after this, he starred in the failed TV show The Player and a few lesser known movies. 


Are there any actors whose careers flopped that you would like to see more of? Let us know in the comment section!


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