We’re lucky that we live in an age where multiple superhero movies are coming out every year. It definitely gives comic book fans and moviegoers something to look forward to. And why shouldn’t they be excited? Marvel is making some of the best casting choices for their heroes in cinematic history. Robert Downey Jr. was made for Iron Man, Chris Evans is the perfect Captain America, and who could forget Chris Pratt as our favorite outlaw, Star-Lord? Even DC has been making some good choices in that area lately, casting Henry Cavill as Superman and Jared Leto as the Joker.
However, for every well-cast hero, there is a terrible casting decision lingering in the shadows. After all, we’ve seen George Clooney (and Val Kilmer) as Batman, Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern (I’m not even going to get started on how he managed to be both the best and worst Deadpool), and Halle Berry as Catwoman. And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. You’ll probably look at these casting near-misses and breathe a sigh of relief after you hear about the superheroes that could have been.
Just imagine how marred the film of the comics would have been if someone like Johnny Depp ended up playing Superman. That’s exactly the kind of crazy we’re dealing with here. Hold onto your jaw, cause it’s going to drop after you see these 15 awful superhero castings that almost became a reality on the big screen.
15. Tom Cruise as Iron Man
When you hear of Tom Cruise, you think of a serious, stonewalling agent who goes around the world on covert operations, busting the bad guys, and making the world a safer place to live. A billionaire playboy philanthropist he is not. Cruise is a strong actor, but he doesn’t fit the moniker of Tony Stark very well. Stark is out of control and plagued by inner demons. And, not to point out the obvious, but I think Cruise might be a bit short to be Iron Man – would such a tiny Iron Man actually strike fear into the hearts of his foes? I think not.
14. Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man
I just kind of have a laugh at this one. DiCaprio is every man’s dream – he symbolizes what men want to be. He is suave, flirtatious, and charming in every possible way. Peter Parker is geeky, insecure, and struggles with everyday problems, almost the exact opposite of the kind of men DiCaprio portrays. Don’t get me wrong, he’s a great actor, he just wouldn’t make for a good Peter Parker. Luckily, Sam Raimi eventually opted out of this to go with Tobey Maguire (say what you will about his performance as Spider-Man but he was spot on with the Peter Parker half of the character).
13. Will Smith as Superman
I’m sorry, what? You mean to tell me Will Smith was not only considered but personally asked to play the Man of Steel? Will Smith is sassy, clever, and has a big chip on his shoulder – none of those traits coincide with the character of Superman. However, that’s not what the director of Superman Returns thought. He was sent the script, and after looking at it, he turned down the role. Even he knew that he wasn’t cut out to play the All-American alien from Krypton. The spot was filled by Brandon Routh, who arguable wasn’t a good choice either, but at least it was a step in the right direction.
12. Daniel Craig as Thor
When you think of the Asgardian hero wielding the mighty hammer Mjolnir, you think of the masculine Chris Hemsworth, and boy, we’re glad we got him. However, before Hemsworth was given the role, Daniel Craig was considered for the part. For those of you who don’t know, Daniel Craig played James Bond. James Bond. The classy international spy and ladies’ man who relies upon his intelligence and wit to get out of tough situations. Thor relies on his “Viking” brute strength and ability to channel. Hmmm. We love you Daniel Craig, but you wouldn’t make a good Thor.
11. Bill Murray as Batman
Facepalm. Just. A big. Facepalm. Again, another example of taking a great actor and potentially putting him in a role that is nothing like the kind of character he plays. Yes, everybody knows who Bill Murray is and his films are fantastic, but Batman? Before Warner Brothers brought on Tim Burton to direct Batman with Michael Keaton, they originally considered a film that would take the campy nature of the Adam West Batman show, and would focus more on comedy. Overall that doesn’t sound like it would have been a good choice for the Dark Knight.
10. Jensen Ackles as Captain America
Will we ever see Jensen Ackles as anything other than a demon hunting Winchester? Renowned for his quick wit and rough demeanor, Ackles drove his Impala all the way into the hearts of fans everywhere. Apparently, before Chris Evans was chosen for the part of Captain America, Ackles was in talks to play the Star-Spangled Avenger. All I can picture is him calling for Falcon by his first name. “Sam! Come here, Sam!” It would be interesting to see how Ackles would be a superhero, but Captain America doesn’t really fit his area of expertise.
9. Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Octopus
Did Hollywood learn nothing from the last time Arnold played a comic book villain? That resulted in the worst Batman film to date and almost the death of the franchise entirely. When Spider-Man 2 was in the works, that’s apparently who was on the list of actors Sam Raimi wanted for the titular villain. Thankfully, Alfred Molina ended up getting the part, and he ended up doing a spectacular job as the deranged scientist with mechanical arms.
8. Johnny Depp as The Wolverine
Any good list of casting misfires will surely include Johnny Depp at some point. His acting chops are good, and he puts a lot of passion into his work, but most of his characters are either misunderstood, mentally insane, or something else entirely. His unique personality and charisma would not come across very well for a character as grisly as Wolverine. After being offered the role, Depp turned it down, though, most likely to work on projects like Pirates of the Caribbean (where he played a misunderstood and mentally unstable character, albeit a franchise-creating one) while Hugh Jackman became synonymous with Wolverine.
7. David Hasselhoff as Nick Fury
Don’t get me wrong, I loved David Hasselhoff in Knight Rider, and he was phenomenal in The Spongebob Squarepants Movie (I kid, I kid), but Nick Fury he is not. He did play the eye-patched spy in 1998 in Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., but seeing as how poorly the film was received, he didn’t really continue it. When Marvel decided to build the MCU, they knew that they were going to need a Nick Fury, and Hasselhoff was their first choice. He always wanted to revive the character anyway. But for whatever reason, Samuel L. Jackson got it – most likely because of the comic’s redesign.
6. Eddie Redmayne as Star Lord
Yes, he has an Oscar to his name, but how did he get it? By doing a realistic portrayal of Stephen Hawking. What’s his most known trait? His on screen charm coupled with a British accent. Redmayne isn’t the actor you would picture with enough swagger to bring the outlaw Star Lord to life. Besides, he has already tried his hand at a sci-fi flick, and let me be the first to say that it was a big misfire. Gladly, he ended up losing the part to Chris Pratt, a guy who was born to play Peter Quill.
5. Adam Sandler as Rocket Raccoon
Name one amazing Adam Sandler movie in 10 years. Can’t think of one? Me neither. However, that apparently didn’t stop Marvel from putting him on the list for Guardians of the Galaxy. They must’ve wanted to take Rocket in a much more comical direction, because if there’s anything Sandler does well, it’s stupid voices. It’s a good thing he wasn’t chosen for the part, because Marvel would have shot themselves in the foot on a movie that was already a long shot.
4. Isaiah Mustafa as Drax the Destroyer
If the name doesn’t ring any bells, look up an Old Spice commercial. Now before you look at me in disbelief, I am not lying. Marvel actually considered the Old Spice guy to play the role of the ruthless, powerful, scarred Drax. Doesn’t make much sense to me either. All I can picture is him saying to Gamora, “Look at Star-Lord, now back to me, now back to him. Sadly, he isn’t me.” That would’ve been a terrible way for Marvel to try and get some of their most obscure characters on the map. Thankfully Dave Bautista got the part.
3. Nicholas Cage as Superman
Did you really think this guy was going to escape the list? He’s got an Oscar to his name, and has played some (as in hundreds) very loud, chaotic characters, but he is not a good fit for Superman. After doing his work with Batman, Tim Burton wanted to foray into Superman’s world. The film was titled Superman Lives and Nicolas Cage was set to play the title character. However, the project didn’t fall through, and that’s a good thing. Set pictures show that Cage doesn’t even look like Superman; he’s just a grown man in a weird outfit.
2. Jack Black as Green Lantern
It’s clear that if Jack Black was considered for the role of Green Lantern, then Ryan Reynolds was a big step up. Black isn’t a bad actor per say, but he plays very comic, conniving characters who are morally gray. Green Lantern is a symbol of willpower and perseverance, constantly fighting for what’s right, “beware my power, Green Lantern’s light,” and all that sort of thing. Not only does imagining Black flying around in a skin tight green suit give us a headache, he doesn’t fit for Alan Scott, Hal Jordan, and especially not John Stewart.
1. Robin Williams as The Joker
I might take a little heat for this one. Yes, Robin Williams is one of the greatest actors of all time, and there’s no doubt he’s got a ton of talent. However, I don’t think he’s really Joker material. He’s charismatic, yes, but he’s nowhere near the creepy insanity that a role like The Joker demands. However, studios wanted him to play the part so badly that he was considered twice: once for the 1989 Batman, and again for The Dark Knight. He turned it down both times, leaving room for Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger to take center stage.