When it comes to translating a comic book character to the big screen, success can hinge on finding the right actor to play them. Christopher Reeve made the world believe a man could fly as Superman. Tom Hiddleston, with his roguish charm, has made Marvel’s trickster God, Loki, into one of the studio’s most memorable villains. But with so many superhero franchises going these days, it’s impossible for every hero and villain that makes an appearance to find its Robert Downey, Jr. or Gal Gadot, a performer who perfectly embodies everything fans love about the character.
Sometimes the portrayal on screen bears little to no resemblance to the icon (or C-lister) we’ve seen in the pages of the comics. Heck, even if the casting was nailed the first time, that perfect actor can’t play the character forever – franchises end, people get older, and characters need to live on and keep bringing in that sweet box office bank. Whether it’s because of a poor fit or it’s simply time for some new blood, there are always characters who need someone fresh to take the reins and provide a new and improved interpretation. Here’s our list of the 15 Ongoing Superhero Movie Roles That Badly Need To Be Recast!
Let’s get the ball rolling with one of the most iconic portrayals in comic book movie history. Starting with 2000’s X-Men, Hugh Jackman has played Wolverine in nine films over 17 years, making the character his own in a way (and over a length of time) that very few actors get the opportunity to do. At this point, Jackman is so synonymous with Weapon X that it is darn near impossible to picture anyone else strapping on the claws and snikt-ing their way through bad guys on the big screen.
After this year’s incredible Logan, though, it’s clear that the Australian’s time as Wolverine has come to an end (and what an excellent finale it was). Given Logan’s popularity and that there are no signs that Fox is planning to end the X-Men franchise any time soon, it’s naive to think we won’t see another actor take on the role of the fan-favorite mutant somewhere down the road. Whoever does take up the mantle has some big mutton chops to fill.
14. Lex Luthor
Superman’s arch enemy has gone through many phases in the comics. He’s been a mad scientist. He’s been a corporate tycoon. He’s even been President of the United States. But before Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, one thing he had never been is twitchy. Thanks to Jesse Eisenberg, we’ve now seen that version of Lex Luthor, and we can safely say that we never need to see it again.
At the very least, Eisenberg deserves credit for trying something new (and at least Luthor’s scheme in BvS didn’t involve real estate). But in the end, his Lex felt more like his portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg in The Social Network injected with much too high a concentration of Heath Ledger’s Joker from The Dark Knight. It’s a combination that winds up too manic to take seriously, and it would be better for the future of the DC movie-verse if someone else takes over the role.
13. April O’Neil
There are a lot of ways the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movies miss the mark, but the most significant may be in the choice to cast Megan Fox as hard-hitting reporter and close Turtle ally April O’Neil. Fox’s wooden performance does nothing to portray the intelligence, resourcefulness, and kindness that makes April such a trusted member of the team.
Acting aside, Fox’s mere presence on screen next to a lot of over-the-top CGI and slo-mo camera work brings back too many bad memories of the indecipherable Transformers movies that first boosted the actress’ profile a decade ago. If this new TMNT franchise continues – which is no guarantee, given that the first two earned an average rating of 29% on Rotten Tomatoes and the second outing underwhelmed at the box office – April needs to be played by someone who can get across the smarts, charm, and heart that are the essence of her character.
12. Killer Croc
While Waylon Jones, a.k.a. Killer Croc, isn’t exactly a top tier Batman villain, he is one of the Dark Knight’s most dangerous enemies due to his, well, basically being a walking, talking crocodile. Croc may not have the high profile of Joker, Two-Face, or Catwoman, but that doesn’t mean his portrayal on screen should be short-changed as it was when the character was finally brought to live action in last year’s Suicide Squad.
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje, perhaps best known as Mr. Eko on Lost, is simply bad in the role, giving stilted line readings (of the maybe half-dozen he had) and spending all his screen time glaring at the rest of the cast. Maybe it was hard to emote under all the make-up, but the actor should have done more to impart Croc with at least a little personality. Perhaps in the next film, Croc can be more of a motion-capture character (he was awfully small in Suicide Squad, no?) with someone more charismatic providing the voice and performance.
2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse deserves credit for finally bringing comic-book accurate costumes to the X-Men film franchise. While the main team was shown in their slightly muted (but better than black leather) duds in just the final shot of the movie, Olivia Munn’s Psylocke was decked out in a purple unitard and thigh-high boots that could have been ripped straight from the comic book page.
But while Bryan Singer got Psylocke’s look right, the same can’t be said for the woman he asked to wear the unitard. Betsy Braddock has a long history in the comics as a spy, a ninja, and one of the most powerful telepaths and telekinetics in the world. While Olivia Munn looks the part as well as any other actress could, she has never demonstrated the kind of acting chops necessary to take on such a rich character. If Psylocke does appear in future X-Men movies, another actress should be given the chance to play her to her full potential. After all, it wouldn’t be the first time her mind’s been switched to a new body.
Few actors have accomplished as much in their careers as the legendary Sir Anthony Hopkins. He’s earned four Oscar nominations – and won one for his iconic turn as Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs – and is generally one of the most respected performers in Hollywood. Naturally, then, it was quite a get when he signed on to play Odin in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor, immediately lending an air of credibility to Marvel Studios’ first trek to Asgard.
However, Hopkins has never seemed to be giving the role his all. Sure, Odin is in many ways a peripheral character in the Thor franchise without much to do but scold one or both of his sons, but even so, Hopkins has pretty clearly phoned it in from the start. It may be time for some fresh blood to try on the beard and eyepatch for any future appearances the MCU may require.
Anna Paquin’s Rogue spent three movies afraid of her powers – timid, shy, and never fully at ease with who she was. Her arc culminated with the end of X-Men: The Last Stand revealing that she finally got rid of her powers completely by taking the cure developed by Worthington Labs.
Paquin’s characterization of Rogue is a far cry from the powerhouse depicted for many years in the comics, as well as in the X-Men animated series of the 1990s. There, Rogue still struggles with her inability to make physical contact with others without siphoning their powers and memories, but she counters those fears with the type of southern charm and confidence that Paquin never exhibited on screen.
Given the reset timeline that resulted from X-Men: Days of Future Past, the writers should take the opportunity to bring a new version of Rogue to the films – preferably one that is more comfortable in her own skin, even with the limitations put on her by her mutant ability. And hey, maybe this new Rogue could have flight and super strength as well!
Angel, a.k.a. Warren Worthington III, is another X-Man who has never gotten their due in live action. Neither Ben Foster (X-Men: The Last Stand) nor Ben Hardy (X-Men: Apocalypse) were given anything more than the shallowest material to work with, with the latter actor’s performance being particularly forgettable when all was said and done. The lack of any sort of character arc is even more unforgivable when you consider that Angel was one of the original five X-Men in the source material.
While his status is in question after the events of the battle in Cairo at the climax of X-Men: Apocalypse, Angel deserves better treatment from the writers moving forward in the franchise if he does somehow return. Let’s forget all about Ben Hardy’s performance and bring in someone who can be given the chance to capture Warren’s conflicted nature as both a wealthy, privileged young man and an outcast.
We are long past the point where Will Smith is anything other than Will Smith when he is on screen. Don’t get us wrong, Smith is a charismatic and entertaining actor, but by and large, he is doing the same thing in every movie, except sometimes with different facial hair. This held true for his performance as Deadshot in Suicide Squad. Floyd Lawton is one of DC Comics’ most deadly assassins – any live action portrayal should include the coldness it takes to be a man of that profession. But any time Deadshot was on screen in Suicide Squad, the audience couldn’t help but root for the guy. After all, it’s Will Smith – he can’t be that bad!
Should Suicide Squad 2 come to fruition, as hard as it may be to jettison someone of Smith’s caliber, the filmmakers should really consider putting a new actor underneath the iconic mask. Any future Deadshot needs to be less on the “hitman with a heart of gold” end of the spectrum – most importantly, the audience needs to believe he’s as dangerous as we’re all told he is.
6. Jane Foster
Natalie Portman is a very talented actress, but she always felt a bit out of her element as the MCU’s Jane Foster; it seemed that she wasn’t diving into the role with both feet. And in an interview with Variety last summer, Portman seemingly confirmed those suspicions, saying that as far as she knew, her time as part of the Thor franchise was over. And that may be for the best, as Marvel Studios may need someone fully committed to the role to wield a certain hammer for a brand new phase of films.
Depending on the events of the Avengers sequels (not to mention Chris Hemsworth’s expiring contract), it could be that Mjolnir – should it be put back together after Hela so rudely destroys it – needs to find someone new who is worthy of lifting it. For the past three years in Marvel Comics, that person has been Jane herself. While Natalie Portman is unlikely to return to the role, that doesn’t mean that Jane – along with a new actress to play her – does not have a place in the future of the Marvel film universe.
5. Red Skull
Most of the villains in Marvel’s films meet relatively unambiguous ends – they have either died, or it is clear that the intention is to bring them back in future films. Not so for Red Skull at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger; Skull attempts to grab the Cosmic Cube and simply vanishes, never to be heard from since.
Red Skull actor Hugo Weaving has a history of saying just how unexcited he would be to return to the role, and while his stance has softened in recent months, it could be in the best interests of everyone involved to recast the role and move forward if Weaving’s heart isn’t fully in it. After all, odds are good that Marvel can find a way to bring back such a prominent villain as Red Skull – he may just have a slightly different bone structure the next time we see him.
4. The Joker
Where to even begin with the most recent live-action incarnation of the Clown Prince of Crime? The first reveal of Jared Leto’s take on the iconic character left a lot to be desired for a lot of fans, and his performance in Suicide Squad confirmed a lot of fans’ worst fears about this new version.
Leto’s Joker clearly draws some inspiration (particularly in his vocal inflections) from Heath Ledger’s legendary take on the role from The Dark Knight, but his choice to go over-the-top at every turn meant we wound up with a growling caricature trying way too hard to be manic and intimidating. Thanks to recent reports of a non-DCEU Joker origin tale being in the works, questions have been raised as to whether Leto will be returning as The Joker for future DC films, questions that were (seemingly) dispelled by the confirmation of a Joker/Harley movie as well as comments from Leto himself.
The DC movie schedule seems to be dramatically shifted around on a daily basis, however, so if Leto doesn’t end up coming back for another go, maybe another actor can give us the menacing villain we deserve.
Man of Steel and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice gave us a moody, somber Superman who seems resistant to the idea of being Metropolis’ hero. While much of the blame (or credit, depending on your view of the two movies) for this vision of Kal-El can be laid at the feet of director Zack Snyder, Henry Cavill shares some responsibility as well. Cavill is wooden and emotionless most of the time he is on screen, imparting neither Superman nor Clark Kent with the optimism and inherent goodness that should be at the core of both. His Man of Steel does not make us feel hopeful – ocassionally, he even seems bored and disinterested.
It’s unlikely that a new actor will wear the big red “S” of hope anytime soon, what with Justice League all but assured to be a box office success. But if Cavill’s performance doesn’t take a dramatic turn toward the positive, it may be in Warner Brothers’ best interest to send out a casting call and come up with a retcon.
2. Professor X/Magneto
Few movie concepts require the suspension of disbelief like the gimmicky notion of each X-Men film since X-Men: First Class (set in 1962) taking place in a new decade. X-Men: Dark Phoenix will mark the fourth entry in this “rebooted” series, which means it will be set in the early 1990s. That is a full 30 years after First Class, which introduced James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender as Charles Xavier and Magneto, respectively.
Aside from McAvoy finally having to shave his head for the end of X-Men: Apocalypse, neither actor has been noticeably aged up via makeup or CGI from movie to movie. Come Dark Phoenix, the characters should be in their 50s at least. At a certain point, one has to wonder if recasting both parts with older actors (maybe, oh, Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen?) would be the way to go.
Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne/Batman was nearly unanimously viewed as a bright spot in the otherwise poorly reviewed Batman v Superman. But that movie’s critical drubbing and the subsequent turmoil behind the scenes wherein Affleck bowed out of directing The Batman – Matt Reeves has since signed on to replace him at the helm – have brought speculation that Ben is not long for the role. Fortunately, Affleck calmed many fans’ fears at this year’s San Diego Comic-Con by stating that he is fully committed to the role (though his brother Casey recently did his best to get the rumor mill turning again).
However, the question remains of how long that commitment will last. Affleck is a very talented director in his own right, and while he may enjoy playing Batman now, the demands of the role will continue to take time away from other projects that he has more of a personal creative stake in. Fans and WB would all certainly love to see Affleck shepherd the DCEU for the next decade, but it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were to eventually decide to abandon the role altogether. WB might want to save themselves the future trouble and put someone else under the cowl before Matt Reeves’ Batman trilogy gets underway.
Then again, if he’s committed, then so are we.
What other ongoing superhero roles could use a new star? Let us know in the comments.
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