Superheroes are dominating both the big and small screen right now. DC and Marvel are pop-culture phenomenons and only seem to keep growing more popular. This increase in popularity leads to more and more television versions of fan-favorite characters.
These shows, however, don’t always impress fans. Just because a show gets the green light doesn’t mean every part of it will be perfect. The casting, in particular, is a hot topic of discussion among fans of the Arrowverse and other superhero universes.
While some roles have helped define actors, such as Stephen Amell as the Green Arrow, others aren’t so lucky. It’s not that the actors don’t have talent, per se, but that the roles simply weren’t right for them or the character wasn’t written well.
Casting a superhero role is always incredibly stressful, for both the creators and the fans. People have even made petitions to try to control who gets a certain role. It’s not a decision to take lightly.
Anything related to superheroes is always going to cause a bit of debate among viewers, but there are some casting choices that the majority of fans agree are either great or horrible.
Here are the 8 Incredible Superhero Show Casting Decisions (And 7 That Were Terrible).
15 Great: Krysten Ritter as Jessica (Jessica Jones)
A lot of people were skeptical about Jessica Jones because it was the character’s first appearance onscreen, but it ended up being incredibly successful. Krysten Ritter provided the perfect balance of cynicism and charisma that Jones should possess.
The show was entirely different from any other projects that Marvel had at the time, and fans were obsessed.
It was intense, adult, and dark- radically different than the Marvel films people have seen. Rather than donning a costume and fighting villains using cheesy one-liners, Jones often refuses to use her powers and falls victim to vices like alcohol. She’s also an incredibly progressive and refreshing female lead.
They had to pick the right kind of actress to embody that kind of realistic, empowered female superhero or else it wouldn’t work. Luckily Ritter fit that mold perfectly.
14 Terrible: Katie Cassidy as Laurel Lance/Black Canary (Arrow)
Arrow’s interpretation of the character Laurel Lance has frustrated fans since the show first premiered. People have even gone as far to call her the most annoying character on the show.
Some of it isn’t necessarily Katie Cassidy’s fault, like the character’s poorly written character development. The Arrow character isn’t very similar to the comic-book version. But Cassidy also wasn’t the right choice to play Black Canary. She’s always been better at darker, more conflicting characters, like when she played Ruby in Supernatural.
While she was alright as a no-nonsense lawyer, once she took the identity as Black Canary, fans weren’t having it. She just seemed stiff and uncomfortable playing the character. Now that she’s playing Black Siren, a more villainous character, her presence on the show has become more tolerable to fans again.
13 Great: Robin Lord Taylor as Penguin (Gotham)
The world of Batman has been portrayed in many different ways on television, but none of them are quite like Gotham. The series dives into the world of Bruce Wayne when he was still a child. It gives fans a new and unique look at their favorite heroes and villains.
One of the biggest villains portrayed on Gotham is Penguin, also known as Oswald Cobblepot. Robin Lord Taylor’s performance as Penguin is incredible.
He plays him broken, unhinged, and impulsive. His version of the character is dark and maniacal, but he also shows a certain amount of charm and humor. Fans get to see the abuse he endures when he’s younger and how it contributes to his evil ways.
It’s strange to see the iconic crime boss so young, and at times vulnerable, but Taylor pulls it off perfectly.
12 Terrible: Finn Jones as Iron Fist (Iron Fist)
While most of the Marvel shows on Netflix have been praised among fans, like Luke Cage, they weren’t very impressed with Iron Fist. It has even been dubbed the worst thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe has done. The biggest issue was the casting of Finn Jones as the hero.
For starters, many fans were expecting an asian lead, but Jones is white. His portrayal of the character is also all wrong. He should be powerful and charismatic, but Jones plays him as whiny, boring, and a completely unconvincing fighter. The choreography is almost laughable. At no point was the character a believable martial arts master.
Casting someone not at all intimidating as Iron Fist was a huge mistake. Fans need a hero they can root for, and Jones just didn’t do the character justice.
11 Great: Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor (Smallville)
Before shows like Arrow and The Flash, comic-book fans had Smallville. There was a lot the show did right, and a lot it did wrong, but Michael Rosenbaum as Lex Luthor was definitely one of the good elements.
He was much more similar to the Lex from the comics than Jesse Eisenberg’s version in Batman V. Superman. Rosenbaum’s Luthor was contriving, logical, and cold.
The young version of Luthor wasn’t quite the obsessive entrepreneur fans know and love, but it’s because he was still developing into a villian. The audience could see the character slowly unraveling and descending into his obsession.
While there haven’t been many young adaptations of the character, Smallville did a great job giving the character a believable backstory, and Rosenbaum was the perfect casting choice.
10 Terrible: Mehcad Brooks as James Olsen (Supergirl)
James Olsen is an iconic character in the Superman comics. He’s a dorky investigative journalist and Superman’s best friend. On the CW’s Supergirl, he works with Kara Danvers at Catco Worldwide Media.
Mehcad Brooks plays the photojournalist, but he just doesn’t do the character justice. While he’s been great in other television roles, like when he played Eggs on True Blood, his portrayal of James Olsen just feels boring and flat, whereas the character is typically enthusiastic and full of charisma.
Not to mention James is meant to be sort of a dork, but on Supergirl he’s a muscular stud. It’s like he’s just there to look good.
While Brooks is a decent actor, he just isn’t right for the part of Superman’s best friend.
9 Great: Victor Garber as Martin Stein (Legends of Tomorrow)
Victor Garber played Martin Stein, half of Firestorm, and was in both The Flash and Legends of Tomorrow. While he wasn’t necessarily one of the most important characters, he certainly stole the scene whenever he was involved.
Garber is an award-winning actor, so it’s no surprise he was so great as Stein. Even if the performances around him weren’t amazing, he always seemed to elevate the scene. Fans felt emotionally connected to the character.
He was an incredible performer to have on the Arrowverse, and often underutilized, but unfortunately left Legends. While there are more critical characters the show can now focus on, none of them have quite the same charm and emotional weight that Stein carried. That wouldn’t have been possible with any other actor.
8 Terrible: Casper Crump as Vandal Savage (Legends of Tomorrow)
Vandal Savage is supposed to be one of DC’s biggest, baddest villains. He’s supposed to be a bad guy that’s so charismatic and insane, you almost like him. The Vandal Savage on Legends of Tomorrow, however, was bland and underwhelming. Fans didn’t love to hate him. They just hated him.
Casper Crump was chosen to play the immortal villain, and although he’s been successful in other roles, this one just didn’t work for him. It wasn’t necessarily his fault.
The show was still figuring out what kind of tone it wanted to set, stuck somewhere between campy and serious. Crump played Savage in a serious way, which just didn’t fit with the comedic, time-traveling vibe the show had set up.
Rather than coming off as intimidating and scary, Savage was an easily forgettable creep. The performance was misguided and, quite frankly, boring.
7 Great: Manu Bennett: Slade Wilson (Arrow)
Whoever plays Deathstroke in any show or movie always has to impress fans. He’s such an iconic character, and if an actor messes him up, fans will never forgive him. Luckily, Manu Bennett’s version of the character on Arrow has been accepted by the viewers.
Arrow took a few liberties with Deathstroke, so he’s not quite the same character from the comics. Rather than being a straight-up villain, he’s sort of an anti-hero. This gave Bennett a chance to win over fans with a unique take on the character.
He’s so good as the character, in fact, that fans were pushing for him to appear in the DCEU. Joe Manganiello got the role instead, but the fact that people pushed so hard for Bennett proves he was a great casting decision.
6 Terrible: Ciara Renee as Hawkgirl (Legends of Tomorrow)
Hawkgirl is widely considered one of the worst characters in the Arrowverse. While the actress that plays her, Ciara Renee, is very talented, she just was not the right choice to play the hero.
The character is supposed to be fierce and aggressive, but in Legends of Tomorrow she seems too soft and charming. Renee made a better cute love interest than immortal warrior.
As soon as she was thrown into being Hawkgirl it was not believable. She played a great Kendra Saunders, but a poor Hawkgirl.
The hero should never seem like a damsel in distress, but she always seemed to be in that situation. The writing of the character wasn’t great and Renee just wasn’t a good casting choice for the particular role.
5 Great: Cory Michael Smith as The Riddler (Gotham)
Many actors have pulled off a successful Riddler, but Cory Michael Smith stands out with his portrayal of the young villian on Gotham.
Edward Nygma starts out as a forensic scientist but slowly slips into insanity as the show progresses. Smith is somehow able to evoke sympathy from the audience even as he delves into a psychotic rage.
Nygma is giddy and spastic when excited, but terrifying and impulsive when he’s angry. The Riddler is meant to be neurotic and quirky.
His slow descent into the Riddler persona was played out believably. Audiences have a perfect understanding of the pain and hurt that pushed him towards his breaking point, and much of that is due to Smith’s acting skills. He was the perfect choice to play the young villain.
4 Terrible: Falk Hentschel as Hawkman (Legends of Tomorrow)
Much like his partner, Hawkgirl, Hawkman was not portrayed well on Legends of Tomorrow. Audiences were disappointed by the performance they saw play out on their television screens after so much build up for his appearence.
A lot of it was due to the choice of casting Falk Hentschel as Hawkman. First of all, Hawkman is meant to be Egyptian and they chose a blatantly white actor of German descent.
Additionally, which isn’t entirely his fault, he had zero chemistry with his co-star, Ciara Renee. A central part of his storyline is their love story, so casting two people with no chemistry was a terrible choice.
Hentschel just wasn’t the right choice for an Egyptian prince in love with Hawkgirl. It did not work on any level.
3 Great: Tom Cavanagh as Harrison Wells (The Flash)
Tom Cavanagh is arguably the best casting choice on The Flash. He is consistently good, whether he’s playing one of the many Harrison Wellses or Eobard Thawne.
On The Flash, most of the actors have had to play strange incarnations of their characters. Cavanagh, in particular, has played a ridiculously absurd amount of characters on the show, and all of them have been believable. Each character truly feels like a different person.
It’s astounding he is able to take on that much responsibility and play each role right. A lesser actor wouldn’t be able to keep all his roles straight. Whoever made the decision to cast him made the right call and they are certainly taking advantage of all the talent he has to offer.
2 Terrible: Kristin Kreuk as Lana Lang (Smallville)
While Smallville had its fair share of talent, like Michael Rosenbaum and Allison Mack, others weren’t so great. Kristin Kreuk, who played Lana Lang, is one of the actors fans had the most issues with.
Lana Lang was annoying to the majority of viewers. She’s been described as whiny, moody, and naive. In season one, Clark and Lana were tolerable, but the writers were intent on keeping them separate to the point of frustration. Not only was the writing bad for her character, but Kreuk just wasn’t the right actress to play her.
Her performance was boring and completely lacked emotion. After the first season, she just isn’t compelling. The only real reason she seemed to be there was to be a beautiful damsel in distress.
1 Great: Adam West as Batman (Batman)
The 1960s Batman show was a pop-culture phenomenon. It definitely seems a little absurd with how campy and unserious it was, but Adam West played an authentic, widely praised version of the caped crusader.
People now are used to a tortured, brooding dark knight, but West’s Batman was goofy and cartoonish, like comic books at that time.
West himself had a certain confidence and charm that carried over into his performance. He played such a straight, serious character in vibrant and wacky situations, and it worked. The show was funny, delightful, and iconic.
The events that happen in comic books aren’t supposed to be logical. West’s Batman embraced the wackiness and absurdity of the world of superheroes. There is no other Batman like his.
Can you think of any other amazing or terrible superhero casting decisions? Let us know in the comments!