Fan casting is a fun thing to do. As soon as a new superhero property is announced, the internet fires up with infinite possibilities over who should play who. It’s a modern-day version of a medieval play where you gossip about which person will be fated to play your favorite character.
Rarely, though, do we get it spot-on, as there’s always some actor whom we never even dreamed of chosen. Seriously, did anyone see Brenton Thwaites as Dick Grayson coming at all, as one of the more recent examples?
While some of the castings elicit a begrudging head nod or customary shrug, there are others that summon the wrath of a thousand internet trolls. People really lose their minds, starting petitions, sending hate mail to the studios, and getting outraged to a point that’s not really healthy for their hearts.
Over the years, we’ve seen more than our fair share of anger over superhero castings, but there are some that stand out like a burning building. Some of them were justified after the resultant movie, while others turned out okay in the end.
So, join us as we take a stroll down memory lane and remember the 16 Superhero Casting Decisions That OUTRAGED Fans.
16. Hugh Jackman
It’s ridiculous to think of it now, but at one point a lot of people were unhappy that our mate from down under, Hugh Jackman, was cast as the Ol’ Canucklehead. Back when Bryan Singer took charge of X-Men, many fans’ pick for Wolverine was Glenn Danzig, better known as one of the founding members of the horror-punk band the Misfits.
Naturally, that was never going to happen (thank the bright casting agents for that one), as Singer wanted Dougray Scott for the role. Since Mission: Impossible 2 went over schedule, Scott had to pull out of the project. Jackman was soon cast as his replacement.
15. Gal Gadot
When the announcement was made that Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot had been cast as Diana Prince/Wonder Woman, many people didn’t even know who she was. Apart from her three relatively small parts in The Fast and the Furious series, she was still an unknown quantity in Hollywood.
Heck, even the likes of YouTuber John Campea weighed in, saying an underwear model shouldn’t be Wonder Woman and questioning Gadot’s talent or lack thereof. While Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice didn’t exactly shut all the critics up – even though Gadot was one of the best parts about the film – Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman sure did.
Gadot has been heralded as the new face of the DCEU and skyrocketed to A-list status. She’s so popular that it’s rumored the Justice League reshoots were to include more Wonder Woman scenes, purely because Warner Bros. knows she’s hot at the moment. So, how does that humble pie taste now, naysayers?
14. Heath Ledger
If you ever feel like seeing the one time that the internet’s big mouth was silenced, look no further than the case of Heath Ledger’s Joker. Suffice it to say, when Ledger was announced as the man to bring the Clown Prince of Crime to life in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight, there were more than a few sniggers and ‘Brokeback Joker’ gags.
In the biggest FU of all time, though, Ledger dedicated his everything to the role and locked himself in a hotel room for weeks to perfect his unique interpretation of Gotham City’s numero uno villain. When he reemerged, he sent shockwaves throughout the film industry, delivering one of the most iconic performances in cinema history.
Unfortunately, Ledger passed away before the film’s release so he didn’t get to see the impact he had on the superhero and film genre, but his posthumous Oscar win tells you everything you need to know about how good he was. He still stands tall as the definitive Joker of a generation.
13. Zazie Beetz
While the run-of-the-mill outrage is understandable, occasionally the racist portion of the fandom likes to pop its head out of the 1800s to leave its opinions on people of color being cast as superheroes. When Zazie Beetz was cast as Neena Thurman/Domino for Deadpool 2, the ugly side of the comic book community slithered out of the cracks to spew its vitriol.
Truth be told, the fury was stupid because Domino’s skin color has never had any impact on her personality. Also, you have to admit that Beetz’s new physical interpretation of the character looks pretty great – rather than just looking cool, it’s representative of people who battle with vitiligo as well.
12. Jesse Eisenberg
Has anyone let Jesse Eisenberg in on the joke that he was actually playing Lex Luthor and not the Riddler in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice yet? All kidding aside, this was one casting decision that sent the internet into a catatonic state, and with good reason too.
After the likes of Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey had portrayed Luthor in films before him, it was a bummer to hear that Superman’s greatest foe was going to be played by Jesse “I swear I’m not Michael Cera” Eisenberg.
It isn’t that Eisenberg is a bad actor — but he was set to fail right from the start here. Not only does he lack the persuasive qualities that he’s a genius-level, ruthless businessman (no, his Zuckerberg was wimpy and not ruthless), but he’s also missing the charisma to play the other side of Luthor: the charming manipulator. Everyone in Batman V Superman found him annoying, and that’s not what Luthor is about.
When Zendaya was cast in Spider-Man: Homecoming, there were a few eyerolls and mutters of “Disney helping their own,” but nothing more outrageous than that. Then, the rumor dropped that she might be starring as Mary Jane Watson, aka the future Mrs. Peter Parker, and that’s where the “fun” started as the outrage police rushed to their keyboards.
The reasons for the anger varied from Zendaya not having red hair, the race swapping of the character, and the ridiculous notion that it’s uncool to like former Disney stars. The dust settled, however, when it was revealed that she would be portraying a character named Michelle, i.e. not Mary Jane.
Yet, director Jon Watts had the last laugh as Zendaya was casually referred to as “MJ” at the end of the movie. Whether it was just an elaborate troll or it means she’s definitely Peter’s future beau, we’ll have to wait and see.
10. Michael B. Jordan
The casting of Michael B. Jordan as Johnny Storm/Human Torch in Fantastic Four did leave many fans confused since his blood-related sister, Sue, is Caucasian in continuity, and no one knew what the deal was in Josh Trank’s movie. In all fairness, this was addressed adequately in the film’s narrative (where there still was some semblance of a story), so it made sense at the end of the day.
Unfortunately, Jordan still had to deal with a lot of heat (pardon the pun) when his casting was announced. While some of the other character picks and designs were far more bizarre, Jordan’s seemed to be the one that drew the most ire from the fanboys.
The criticism didn’t stop after 2015’s Fantastic Four disappointed in every single way possible. Jordan, though, shrugged off the film’s failures and has taken on his next comic book role as Erik Killmonger in Black Panther. Let’s hope this one is a roaring success for him.
9. Anne Hathaway
If there’s one thing that we should learn from Christopher Nolan’s movies, it’s that we should trust Nolan knows what he’s doing. Yet, even after the success of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight, fans still questioned his casting of Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises.
The biggest mistake everyone made was assuming Hathaway lacked the necessary sultriness to play a convincing Catwoman. While her major film credits are mostly girl-next-door roles, Hathaway’s lesser-known filmography had already showed glimpses of what she’s capable of doing.
Sure, she had big stilettos to fill after Michelle Pfeiffer’s portrayal in Batman Returns – but boy, did she slide right into them. The Dark Knight Rises was a smashing end to a terrific trilogy and Hathaway played her role to purr-fection.
8. Finn Jones
To be fair, Finn Jones got the short end of the stick here. After he was announced as Danny Rand/Iron Fist, a segment of fans and journalists said this was a missed opportunity for Marvel to have cast a person of Asian descent in the role – even though the character isn’t historically known for being Asian.
There were many pieces written about this, including how the casting of a Caucasian actor as Rand only furthered the “white savior” narrative. Finn defended himself and the decision, which only seemed to enrage his doubters even more and he ended up shutting down his Twitter account for a brief period because of this.
Ultimately, Iron Fist wasn’t a resounding success, and is cited as the weakest of Marvel’s Netflix entries to date. Additionally, Finn’s Rand didn’t win any accolades in The Defenders either, leaving one to wonder how long Marvel will keep him or this character around for.
7. Anna Diop
You’d think anyone chosen to portray Koriand’r/Starfire in Titans would escape any casting debacle since the character’s an alien princess, but nope. Apparently, Anna Diop doesn’t look orange or alien enough for the role. Yes, you read that right. Oh, and we face-palmed, too.
While Diop has been around for quite a few years, her breakout role was as Nicole Carter in 24: Legacy. So, technically speaking, she’s a relative newcomer as a leading lady, which is something that should be celebrated in this day and age of recycling the same group of actors. Rather than receive yet another Gossip Girl alumni in a TV superhero property, we’re getting someone fresh.
6. Keanu Reeves
It’s not difficult to see why Keanu Reeves was chosen to portray John Constantine in 2005’s Constantine. Warner Bros. wanted a big star for the project, and Reeves fit the bill to play an edgier leading man in the occult-inspired film.
Unfortunately, Reeves is neither British, witty, nor blonde, which are all qualities that Constantine is renowned for. Fans weren’t impressed with the casting choice and had reason to vent their frustration. To make matters even worse, it was evident that none of the filmmakers had bothered to read a Hellblazer book either, since this adaptation felt unrecognizable and soulless next to the source material.
In 2014, Constantine was eventually done right as a TV series with Matt Ryan in the titular role. Sadly, though, the show was canceled after one season, leaving us to wonder if the character is doomed in the live-action world.
5. Michael Keaton
No matter who’s cast as the Dark Knight, outrage seems to follow every announcement. In the pre-Internet days of the late ’80s, Tim Burton picked Michael Keaton to be his Caped Crusader in his 1989 Batman film and all hell broke loose.
Keaton was predominantly known as a comedic actor at this point in his career; however, Burton saw something special in him after their time on Beetlejuice. Nonetheless, the doubters didn’t want to hear it, sending a reported 50, 000 protest letters to Warner Bros.
Well, every doubter soon ate their own words once the film was released to critical and fan acclaim. Keaton’s portrayal of Batman is fondly remembered as one of the finest, and the movie is often credited for the birth of Batmania and the superhero film genre as a whole.
4. Idris Elba
Idris Elba is one of the finest actors of our generation, but that didn’t stop a white supremacist group from urging a boycott of 2011’s Thor because Marvel had cast a black actor as a Norse god. Obviously they must’ve had dinner with the gods and seen that Heimdall was a little paler in the flesh, hence the rational basis for their outrage…
Elba addressed the controversy in the best possible way, stating, “Thor has a hammer that flies to him when he clicks his fingers. That’s okay, but the color of my skin is wrong?”
While the vocal minority flapped their mouth skins about him, Elba did what he does best and put on a remarkable show as Heimdall in all of the Thor films to date. He’s coming back for Thor: Ragnarok as well, which must just irk his haters.
3. Michael Clarke Duncan
Even though the late Michael Clarke Duncan was the only actor to have the necessary stature to convince as the hulking Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in a live-action outing, not a lot of people were convinced when he was cast. While there was a certain degree of outrage because of the race swapping, many thought that Duncan was just far too nice to play such an iconic baddie.
As bad as 2003’s Daredevil was – and it was awful for the most part – Duncan was one of the few highlights of the movie, portraying an entertaining and menacing villain. He hardly put a foot wrong and certainly deserved a better script and movie for his efforts.
2. Topher Grace
When planning for Spider-Man 3 began, director Sam Raimi decided that he wanted Harry Osborn and Sandman as the antagonists. A short while later, Raimi identified the need for another villain, with Ben Kingsley in talks to play the Vulture before the character was eventually cut.
Producer Avi Arad tried to convince Raimi to include Venom, a character that the director hadn’t been too keen on before. Deciding it would be good fan service, Raimi folded and gave Eddie Brock/Venom a big part in the film, casting That ’70s Show’s Topher Grace in the role. Considering how Brock had been a big, bullish figure in the comic books, most fans twisted their noses at this odd casting decision.
Sadly, their worst fears came true, as Grace delivered a meek interpretation of one of Spidey’s greatest villains. Not only did he lack any sort of physical presence or intimidation factor, but his symbiote transformation also bordered on goofy. Shocking stuff, really.
1. Ben Affleck
Well, this one was expected. After 2003’s Daredevil, not many people wanted to see Ben Affleck in a superhero affair again. Also, it didn’t help that we’d suffered through a bout of Affleck fatigue, where he appeared in practically everything in the early 2000s.
So, when the news broke that Affleck would be suiting up to play Bruce Wayne/Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, the internet went predictably nuts. Twitter was a nightmare and online petitions were inundated with calls for Warner Bros. to reconsider its decision. Not many people were behind the concept of Batfleck back then.
Now, four years after the news was first released, we can’t imagine anyone else in the role – with even the voice of Batman, Kevin Conroy, being counted as a fan of his. Every day, DCEU fans say a little prayer that Batfleck will stay on as the Dark Knight for many more years to come.
What do you think? Are there any other superhero casting decisions that outraged you? Let us know in the comments!
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