In the world of superhero and comic book movies, there are two distinct time periods. There’s the litany of movies before the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and then there’s everything that has come afterward. Christopher Reeve made us all believe that a man could fly. Michael Keaton convinced us that perhaps a guy would dress up as a giant bat and pummel criminals with his bare hands. Near thirty-year-old Tobey Maguire barely pulled off playing a college-aged Peter Parker, and instead of dividing the fan base on his Batman, Ben Affleck was dividing the fan base on his Daredevil.
Even though there is a superior increase in the quality of storytelling, no matter which era of comic book movie you’re looking at, there are always casting choices to praise and bemoan. Similar to the books themselves when new creative teams take over, new actors come and go into roles all of the time. That’s why the Marvel model has worked so well. Most of the time, their stars are contracted to be a part of a certain number of movies. With Avengers: Endgame looming on the horizon and stars like Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. being tight-lipped about their merry Marvel futures, fans are going to have wait with bated breath to find out who, if anyone else will be donning the iconic costumes of Captain America and Iron, respectively.
Here are some other recastings that have happened in superhero movies - 15 Superhero Recastings Better Than What We Got (And 10 That Didn’t Work At All).
25 Better: Don Cheadle (Iron Man 2)
Over ten years and twenty films later and it’s still a little crazy to think about just how small scale the first Iron Man was. Terrence Howard didn’t think so though and somehow wound up being the highest paid actor from that film.
When the MCU got hot, which didn’t take long, Howard thought he’d try to get even more money to reprise the role of Janes Rhodes in the sequel and any other MCU film. The Academy nominated actor wound up pricing himself out of the role and Don Cheadle slipped on to play the role so much better.
24 Better: Samuel L. Jackson (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
When the creative team of Mark Millar and Bryan Hitch updated the Avengers for the new millennium, the dubbed their team The Ultimates. The duo crafted their version of Nick Fury to look a heck-of-a lot-like Samuel L. Jackson.
It was a drastic shift in the way Fury looked in the proper Marvel Universe, where he unintentionally looked like David Hasselhoff. The Hoff actually donned Fury’s eyepatch in a made-for-TV Fox movie. Not to hassle The Hoff, but there’s no way he could pull off Fury the way that Sam Jax did.
23 Didn’t Work: George Clooney (Batman And Robin)
There is a story Joel Schumacher once told of how he looked at a picture of George Clooney and for whatever the reason drew the Batman mask over the actor’s head. Let that be a lesson to everyone – sadly, we can’t all be Batman.
Batman And Robin even now, over 20 years later, is still looked at as a big black mark in the history comic book cinema. Even when looked at as a cinematic update to the Wham-Bam-Pow 60’s show, this movie and Clooney’s performance just doesn’t cut the bat-mustard.
22 Better: Tom Holland (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Tobey Maguire was ok as Spider-Man. But that’s all fans had in 2002. X-Men, Spidey, and Blade is all Marvel had. Andrew Garfield was at least closer to high school age and scrawnier looking. With Marvel’s mascot waning in the cinema, Sony and Disney struck a massive deal that would allow the wallcrawler to join the MCU.
So far, Tom Holland has been pulling off the perfect mix of a kid coming to grips with his powers, wanting to help, and in awe of everything else happening around him. Holland, so far has been being the best cinematic Spidey hands down.
21 Better: Ryan Reynolds (Deadpool)
Yes, Ryan Reynolds has been the only person to be The Merc With A Mouth. But oh boy, do they feel like two different characters. Reynolds even wrote his own lines for the Deadpool that was in Origins, and it still didn’t work!
It took nearly a decade for Reynolds to convince Fox to let him do the character justice. Essentially, he was begging to be recast as himself. The result has been not one, but two of the funnier films in recent memory – whether the movie was a comic book or not.
20 Didn’t Work: Adrianne Palicki (Wonder Woman)
In small doses, Adrianne Palicki is a memorable addition to any show or movie she’s a part of. Her turns in Friday Night Lights, Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D., and John Wick are all key examples. She’s seldom had a starring role though.
That might have changed in 2011 when Palicki was given the chance to bring Wonder Woman back to the screen. The un-aired pilot for NBC garnered a lot of buzz while filming, but that buzz went away once early returns came in. Ultimately NBC didn’t order the series.
19 Better: Stephen Amell (Arrow)
After watching Justin Hartley play Oliver Queen for a few episodes of Smallville, fans were pretty psyched for the reboot of the character in his very own show. Instead of bringing Hartley back, they recast the role.
Stephen Amell has brought a charisma and gravitas to the role that has helped to launch an entire shared universe of shows on the CW. Thanks to Amell as the Green Arrow, fans have gotten probably the only real shared DCU that we're going to get for a while; sorry DCEU, but the best DC stories are currently being told on TV.
18 Better: Ross Marquand (Avengers: Infinity War)
Another actor that didn’t like his Marvel experience was Hugo Weaving. He had openly spoken up about how he couldn’t stand his makeup and had no interest to anymore Marvel movies unless he was contractually forced to do so.
The Captain America movies had been better without the Red Skull anyway. Ross Marquand, on the other hand, is no stranger to dealing with makeup, as he’s part of The Walking Dead. His spot-on Weaving impersonation allowed him to be a surprise part of Infinity War.
17 Didn’t Work: Brandon Routh (Superman Returns)
The last two Christopher Reeve Superman movies were clearly cash grabs, but Reeve was still known to just about every fan as the quintessential version of The Man Of Steel. If not the quintessential hero, period. That didn’t mean fans were pumped for Superman Returns.
However, Bryan Singer’s direction of Brandon Routh doomed the entire production. Instead of bringing something new to the table, Singer’s film was drenched in nostalgia for Reeve and his portrayal of Superman. Routh never stood a chance.
16 Better: Olivia Munn (X-Men: Apocalypse)
When X-Men: The Last Stand came out, it was and still is a shining example of what NOT to do when making a comic book movie, or any movie for that matter. Don’t cram in a heap of storylines that took years to tell, and don’t bring in characters that aren’t fully fleshed out just for fan service.
It was a big disservice to have popular mutie Psylocke part of the film. Years later when Apocalypse came around, geek goddess Oliva Munn was tapped to play the role. She even donned Psylocke’s iconic purple ninja outfit.
15 Didn’t Work: Jesse Eisenberg (Batman Vs. Superman: Dawn Of Justice)
To be fair, a huge bulk of the moviegoing fans have been split on the entire DCEU since Superman injured Zod’s neck. Jesse Eisenberg had the very daunting task of taking on the role of the greatest criminal in all of Superman lore – Lex Luthor.
Eisenberg didn’t do a bad job, especially if you were watched the special edition. But you shouldn’t have to watch extra footage to see what a good performance he had. Not to mention, overcoming the shadow of Gene Hackman would be rough for any actor.
14 Better: Liev Schreiber (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)
The first X-Men movie had a bunch of memorable moments. Tyler Mane as Sabretooth was not one of them. There wasn’t even a mention of his past with Wolverine. When Hugh Jackman set off on his own for Origins, Mane wasn’t invited.
The first Wolverine movie didn’t have a bunch of memorable moments. Liev Schreiber was definitely one of the bright spots of the movie. Had the movie actually been worth watching, Schreiber’s portrayal of Victor would probably still be spoken about to this day, instead of how bad the film was.
13 Better: Charlie Cox (Daredevil)
The recent news of all of the Netflix Marvel cancellations have a huge hole in a lot of fans’ hearts. Charlie Cox and his performance of Daredevil has been on par if not better than anyone else in the movies. The recent third season being a masters class in the art of restrained fury.
Cox and the entire crew deserved better after bringing the character back from the depths, where Ben Affleck left it in over a decade ago. Cox in the role had the right amout of moxy needed to play Matt Murdock.
12 Didn’t Work: Jared Leto (Suicide Squad)
The DCEU has gotten all kinds of divisive criticisms from fans. After The Dark Knight trilogy and the brilliant performance of Heath Ledger, it was going to be a rough job to try and fill the Joker’s shoes.
For the completely batty (no pun intended) Suicide Squad, Jared Leto was tapped to play the Clown Prince Of Crime. It was a huge hump to overcome And Leto did all he could do, heading way out on the ledge to play Batman’s greatest foe. But surpassing the combination of great performance with a near-perfect film was just not going to happen.
11 Better: Heath Ledger (The Dark Knight)
Batman casting choices have always been headscratchers right from Michael Keaton. A lot of people questioned it, until they saw the finished product. Heath Ledger had just come off his Oscar nomination for Brokeback Mountain and the casting choice seemed odd. But all the naysayers forgot what a method actor Heath Ledger was.
There aren’t a lot of words to describe how amazing The Dark Knight is, or Ledger’s performance was in it. The force of nature he played instantly became the quintessential Joker and, especially after winning the Academy Award for it, will be the measuring stick for comic book villainy for years to come.
10 Better: Tom Hardy (Venom)
Sam Raimi’s Spiderman saga concluded with the extremely lackluster Spiderman 3. It was clear the studio was imposing their will on him to introduce Venom. Maybe that’s why he went Topher Grace, best known for playing scrawny Eric Forman on That 70’s Show. Then again, the casting was a nice analog for Tobey Maguire. Besides Emo–Peter, Grace and the long–awaited debut of Venom were the worst parts of the film.
Just about anyone would have been better. Tom Hardy has made a career out of altering his voice and already did the dual personality thing when he played the Kray twins. Hardy was more than capable of pulling it off and while Venom had some problems to nitpick, Hardy was not one of them.
9 Didn’t Work: Tye Sheridan (X-Men: Apocalypse)
Despite not giving the leader of the X-Men a lot to do, James Marsden played Cyclops with the kind of brash confidence he should’ve been played with. Just a few years younger and even less story to work with has made Tye Sheridan’s version of the character a waste of screen time.
Sheridan’s performance in Apocalypse is a little stiffer than one of Groot’s branches. Depending on which version of Dark Phoenix the filmmakers use, Sheridan’s role will be integral to the story. He needs to be a lot better.
8 Better: Aaron Eckhart (The Dark Night)
Billy Dee Williams was the first person to play Harvey Dent and took the role assuming he’d get to be Two–Face. Somehow the usually reserved and menacing Tommy Lee Jones was allowed to ham it up as Two–Face, effectively ruining how dangerous the character has been portrayed.
Aaron Eckhart, on the other hand, was able to pull it off in The Dark Knight. One of the great aspects of Harvey is that he’s so likable – a necessity when it comes to watching a tragic fall.
7 Better: Melissa Benoist (Supergirl)
Since 2015, Supergirl has been one of the better shows in the Arrowverse. Media like to depict Gal Gadot and very soon Brie Larson as the preeminent female superhero role models. Melissa Benoist is the farthest thing from chopped-liver in this category.
Her Supergirl inspires saccharine goodness in fans and the rest of the Arrowverse. With all of the other shows being dark and gloomy, Supergirl inspires hope in something better and having the courage to rise above adversity. That is all thanks to Benoist.
6 Didn’t Work: Everyone Not Named Brandon Lee (The Crow)
When The Crow came out in 1994, it was the bittersweet and defining movie moment of alt-rock, grunge kids everywhere. Girls had their crush, guys had their hero, and all had their instant classic. The tragedy of Brandon Lee only added to this film’s somber mood. You’re not watching Brandon Lee as Eric Draven, you’re watching Brandon Lee as a myth.
Between that, the great movie, and the dirge of crud that come out since is nowhere near the level of excellence that was reached in the original film; each performance more comical than the last – did anyone even watch the one with Edward Furlong? The original story was and has always been a good one, but three failed sequels and an abyssal TV series is a little headscratching. Hollywood knows there is a slew of money to made here, but have yet to crack the code that Brandon Lee and director Alex Proyas cracked so amazingly.
5 Better: Jon Bernthal (Punisher)
Fans have been praising Charlie Cox’s Daredevil from minute one. But Jon Bernthal has been on another level bringing Frank Castle to life. The Punisher has been played by three other actors over the years, but in two hours time, it’s hard to flesh out anything about Frank past the intense-soldier out for vengeance.
But in expanded TV form, Bernthal’s Frank can be a complete person hiding the monster inside of him. He’s even charming when arguing with a kid about the Red Wings and the Rangers. Because you can see him as a complete person, you can actually get to feel the man’s pain.
4 Better: Hugh Jackman (X-Movies)
Thank goodness for Tom Cruise and Russell Crowe. Had it not been for the two industry titans, we might have never known a world where Hugh Jackman as Wolverine. Dougray Scott was originally cast in the role, but he was still filming Mission Impossible II.
Bryan Singer tried to cast Crowe, but he suggested his buddy Hugh. We’ll probably never know what a Dougray Scott Wolverine would look like, but at this point it’s hard to see anyone else in Logan’s claws.
3 Didn’t Work: Katie Holmes (Batman Begins)
Every Bat-flick had a love interest. The new Bat–love interest for Batman Begins was Rachel Dawes, played by Katie Holmes. Her performance in the film just seems out of place. Maybe because the usual women in Batman’s life are either trying to end him or socialites – Rachel was neither.
But it was also right at the apex of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise’s whirlwind romance. It didn’t derail the adventure of Batman Begins, but it probably didn’t help it either, not to mention it was Holmes’ first big-time role post-Dawson’s Creek, and she seemed a little wooden.
2 Better: Mark Ruffalo (Marvel Cinematic Universe)
The 2008 Edward Norton Incredible Hulk picture is one of the better Phase I movies that Marvel produced. Norton’s filmmaking desires caught up with him, which is why Marvel didn’t invite him back to the family – he doesn’t play well with others.
That’s not a trait in an actor that Disney and Marvel are looking for. The guy just wouldn’t look right standing next to Chris Evans or RDJ. Mark Ruffalo does. Plus, he’s clearly willing to play nice with Disney and not try to rewrite the whole movie.
1 Didn’t Work: Halle Berry (Catwoman)
Without question, Halle Berry is one of the most gorgeous women in Hollywood, nay, the planet. In comic book land, she is also best remembered for the abysmal line from X–Men, “do you know what happens to a toad when it’s hit by lighting? The same thing that happens to everything else.”
Catwoman was a complete and udder mess of a film. Even the costume, which found a way to show as much of Berry as possible somehow wasn’t even flattering of her beauty. If that wasn’t a sign of how ridiculous a movie this was shaping up to be, then go watch Barb Wire or Tank Girl. Those two horror shows look like classics compared to Catwoman.