These days, any actor worth his or her salt has generally appeared in a comic book movie of some description. Unlike days gone by, the genre isn’t considered to be one of lesser quality or a poisoned chalice – in fact, it’s considered to be something of a goldmine and some of the most commercially successful movies of all time are part of the genre (the likes of The Avengers, Avengers: Age of Ultron, Iron Man 3, Captain America: Civil War and The Dark Knight Rises are all in the list of the top twenty highest-grossing movies ever).
Gone are the day when “actors” like Pamela Anderson and Shaquille O’Neal were recruited to play characters in the genre. Instead, comic book movies can now boast a near-endless list of Oscar-winning talent; Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, Jeff Bridges, Christian Bale, Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey, Sally Field, Holly Hunter, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Gwyneth Paltrow, Halle Berry, Natalie Portman, Jared Leto, J.K. Simmons, Marisa Tomei, Anna Paquin, Jennifer Connelly, Cate Blanchett, Nicolas Cage, Brie Larson, Tommy Lee Jones, Tilda Swinton, Benicio del Toro, Anne Hathaway and Chris Cooper are amongst the genre’s acting ranks – you’ve got to admit, that’s a pretty impressive list and a) it’s not even complete and b) it doesn’t even consider actors in the genre who have been nominated for Oscars without winning one.
Such is the willingness of actors to appear in the genre these days, a number of them have appeared in movies based on both Marvel and DC movies – heck, several of those just mentioned have done so or will have done so in the near future (Affleck, Berry, Portman, Simmons and Jones, for example) – and we expect more of them to do so in the coming years.
With that in mind, here are fifteen actors, who have already appeared in movies (and a television show, in one case) based on Marvel properties, whose stints have come to an end, and who should now go on to play DC characters (and we will, of course, specify who those characters are).
15. Nicolas Cage (Ghost Rider) as The Scarecrow
Nicolas Cage is crazy. So crazy, in fact, that he is sometimes quite frightening. Do you know who else is frightening? Batman villain The Scarecrow. His whole shtick is that he uses fear toxins to terrify his victims, causing them to hallucinate, go mad, and see him as a truly terrifying figure.
Cage would have that nailed. In spite of the fact that he’s done some terrible movies in recent years, he’s actually a very talented actor when he wants to be – he’s won an Oscar, for goodness sake – and he certainly has terrifying down to a T (even if it is in the “insane” sense of the word, rather than the type of terror we typically associate with horror movies). Imagine a live action Scarecrow in the DC Extended Universe whose hallucinogens cause his victims to view him as a being behaving like Nicolas Cage at his most crazy. The former Ghost Rider actor would be great at portraying that.
14. Terrence Howard (James Rhodes) as John Stewart
Terrence Howard had a bad experience with Marvel Studios that may well have put him off appearing in another comic book movie. That being said, it was back in 2008 and Marvel Studios and Warner Brothers are completely different companies, so perhaps he could be tempted to star in a DC movie.
He’d be brilliant as Green Lantern John Stewart, should the character appear in the DC Extended Universe as expected. Let’s not forget that Howard was actually great as James Rhodes in Iron Man – and it was only a disagreement with the studio over money that resulted in him being replaced by Don Cheadle. As Lieutenant Colonel Rhodes, he was regimented and disciplined in the same way John Stewart – a member of the U.S. Marine Corps – would need to be. Moreover, he’s around the right age to play the experienced veteran.
13. James Spader (Ultron) as Brainiac
Although this would be a clear case of DC “copying” Marvel, there’s absolutely no doubt that it would be a great casting. Although 2015’s Avengers: Age of Ultron was a big financial success, some would say it was a bit disappointing, but James Spader was undoubtedly the movie’s highlight in the role of the titular villainous robot.
With that in mind, he would certainly be able to portray Brainiac – an extraterrestrial android – in a future DC movie. He has the creepy voice and the ability to be either emotive or emotionless when the situation calls for it. Brainiac is a distinct future possibility for the DC Extended Universe too, as his iconic symbol appeared on Kryptonian armour and technology in Man of Steel, hinting at his potential appearance in movies going forward in the franchise.
12. Djimon Hounsou (Korath) as Martian Manhunter
Idris Elba would actually be a great fit for the role of Martian Manhunter in the DC Extended Universe but, seeing as he’s still playing Heimdall in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’s ruled out for the purposes of this list. Bearing that in mind, another great pick for the role would be Djimon Hounsou.
The Beninese-American actor has the intensity to portray the authority figure side of J’onn J’onzz with ease, but he also the likeability to make him a convincing hero as a potential member of the live action Justice League. Hounsou has, of course, already appeared in a DC movie – 2005’s extremely underrated Constantine, in which he played Midnite – but, more recently, he played Korath in 2014’s brilliant Marvel Cinematic Universe offering Guardians of the Galaxy, in which he was killed by Dave Bautista’s Drax.
11. Ron Perlman (Reinhardt) as Swamp Thing
When it comes to his comic book movies, Ron Perlman is undoubtedly best-known for his role in the Hellboy franchise as the badass titular character, so it’s easy to forget that he was also in a Marvel movie – he was Reinhardt, the leader of the vampiric Bloodpack, in 2002’s Blade 2.
Such is Perlman’s popularity that you could probably cast him as Power Girl in a DC movie and fans would be ecstatic, but the fact is he would make a fantastic Swamp Thing. If the DC Extended Universe was to go in the Justice League Dark direction, casting Perlman in the role of the humanoid/plant elemental creature would be a good start. He can play monstrous characters effortlessly, has a voice that would lend itself perfectly to Swamp Thing, and would bring a level of cool to the character that very few other actors could bring.
10. Brett Dalton (Grant Ward/Hive) as Hal Jordan
We now come to the only actor on this list who’s only appeared in a Marvel television show, rather than a movie – and that man is Brett Dalton. Dalton portrayed the popular Agent Grant Ward on ABC’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – a character who died, before being resurrected as the ancient Inhuman villain known as Hive.
In order to portray Ward, Dalton – initially at least, prior to revealing himself as a member of HYDRA – had to be professional, disciplined and regimented, which is perfect for a Green Lantern, and it’s no surprise that some of his fans have been calling for him to be cast as Hal Jordan in the DC Extended Universe. The character was, of course, last played in a movie by Ryan Reynolds and that… didn’t go well. Reynolds played him too comedically, which Dalton wouldn’t do – and his switch to portraying Hive in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. showed him displaying no emotions and fearing nothing, which is also perfect for a Green Lantern Corps member.
9. Stanley Tucci (Abraham Erskine) as Hugo Strange
Stanley Tucci is a phenomenal actor who probably doesn’t get as much praise and recognition as he deserves. He’s Oscar-nominated, thanks to his performance in 2009’s The Lovely Bones, and can turn his hand to anything. He was great in the understated role of Abraham Erskine in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, and he should now go on to play a very different DC character.
Tucci would make a fantastic Hugo Strange in the DC Extended Universe. The aforementioned The Lovely Bones would have prepared him perfectly for the role. Tucci watched documentaries and read books by John E. Douglas – a criminal profiler – about catching serial killers in order to portray George Harvey in the movie. That’s perfect preparation to play Strange. Moreover, Tucci’s benign appearance would be perfect for a villain who looks sane and harmless, but is actually something of a monster – in fact, the actor could easily completely nail Strange’s comic book appearance.
8. Doug Jones (Silver Surfer) as Deadman
You may not even know who Doug Jones is, but he’s a fantastic character actor whose roles you’re bound to be familiar with (at least some of them, anyway). You’ll often find him under heavy makeup, and some of his roles include; the lead Gentleman in the iconic Buffy the Vampire Slayer episode Hush, Abe Sapien in the Hellboy movies, Joey in 2002’s Men in Black II, and the Silver Surfer in 2007’s Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (he also played Deathbolt in TV’s Arrow and The Flash without makeup, incidentally, so he already has DC links).
Jones is amazing at portraying eeriness and, therefore, his screen presence would be perfect for the role of Deadman, should the character appear in the DC Extended Universe. He wouldn’t necessarily be expected to provide the character’s voice, but his general appearance and the way he carries himself would suit the role brilliantly.
7. Colin Farrell (Bullseye) as John Constantine
There’s a legitimate argument that Colin Farrell should never be allowed anywhere near the comic book genre again, after his dreadful portray of Bullseye in 2003’s awful Daredevil movie. However, the fact is he could actually pull the role of John Constantine off superbly.
Constantine has already been portrayed in live action on the big screen by Keanu Reeves in 2005’s Constantine, while Dominic Cooper has been portraying him on the small screen more recently, but if Warner Brothers are looking to cast him for a Justice League Dark movie in the DC Extended Universe, they should look no further than Farrell. He has proven himself capable of being the leading man on numerous occasions and he has the likeable bad-boy-with-attitude thing nailed – and if he smashed the performance, we might even forgive him for the whole Bullseye thing.
6. Guy Pearce (Aldrich Killian) as Two-Face
Guy Pearce played one of the most maligned villains ever in 2013’s Iron Man 3, but that was hardly his fault – in fact, with the material he had to work with, Pearce did a pretty good job with Aldrich Killian. The whole Mandarin twist wasn’t his doing and, if it hadn’t been included, Killian would have been looked upon in a much more favourable light.
With that in mind, the British-Australian actor deserves a second bite of the comic book movie cherry – and portraying Two-Face in the DC Extended Universe could be a way to do that. In fact, back when Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy was in full swing, the director was looking to recruit Pearce – whom he had previously worked with on the likes of 2000’s Memento – to portray the villain. Pearce definitely has both the charm and viciousness to play Two-Face, and looking at him again as the potential actor to play him would be a good move on Warner Brothers’ part.
5. Edward Norton (Bruce Banner) as The Riddler
Edward Norton played Bruce Banner AKA the Hulk in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, prior to being replaced by Mark Ruffalo as the character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, following a dispute with Marvel Studios. The Riddler might be a very different character to Banner, but Norton would be a fantastic choice for the Batman villain – who, via Easter eggs, has already been proven to exist in the DC Extended Universe.
If you’ve ever seen 1998’s American History X, you’ll know why Norton would be great in the role. He can be frighteningly cold and calculating, but also darkly fun. Norton also loved the Christopher Nolan Batman movies and, if anything could tempt him back into the comic book movie world, it’d be a role like this. He’s also around the same age as Ben Affleck, which would work for the purpose of narrative. For the record, a great alternative would be David Tennant who, of course, played Kilgrave AKA the Purple Man in Marvel’s Jessica Jones Netflix series.
4. Toby Jones (Arnim Zola) as The Penguin
Toby Jones is another very underrated actor who never plays a bad part. He’s Golden Globe-nominated and was extremely accomplished when he played the role of Arnim Zola in 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger – as well as when he reprised to role in voice form three years later in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He’d make a fantastic Penguin in the DC Extended Universe.
People were divided on Danny DeVito’s version of the character back in 1992’s Batman Returns, with the majority criticising his ridiculousness and the huge changes made from the classic comic book version, so a modern casting would need to be perfect to make up for that. Jones has the acting chops to portray the suave sewer dweller to perfection, as well as the perfect look. He regularly portrays irritating and conniving characters, so Warner Brothers should get this casting done, should he reappear on the big screen.
3. Alfred Molina (Doctor Octopus) as Mr. Freeze
Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus is one of the best – if not the best – comic book movie villains of all time. He’s the main reason 2002’s Spider-Man 2 remains one of the most critically-acclaimed comic book movies ever to this day. It makes sense, therefore, that he should be cast as a comic book movie villain again, now that the genre is truly booming.
Doctor Octopus was a scientist whose wife died, and who gained amazing abilities, which drove him towards becoming a villain – and doesn’t that sound just like Mr. Freeze? Should the ice cold Batman villain appear in the DC Extended Universe, Molina would be the ideal man to play him. Not only could he portray him flawlessly, but with a shaved head he’d also look just how the character should look – and he’d be a massive improvement on the last big screen version of the character (Arnold Schwarzenegger hang your head in shame!).
2. Kevin Bacon (Sebastian Shaw) as Maxwell Lord
2011’s X-Men: First Class is among the most critically-acclaimed comic book movies of all time and is arguably the best movie in the hugely popular X-Men movie franchise – and yet, rather bizarrely, Kevin Bacon rarely receives the credit he deserves for his performance as Sebastian Shaw, the movie’s main villain.
He portrayed a complex character with different shades – it wasn’t always clear that he was the bad guy – and that would be perfect for the role of Maxwell Lord, should the character appear in the DC Extended Universe. He’s a suave businessman, an often absolutely ruthless villain, but he has a friendly exterior, and sometimes even displays a somewhat heroic side. Kevin Bacon has played characters with all of those traits – sometimes even in the same movie. He really is the obvious and definitive choice to portray Maxwell Lord.
1. Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane) as Darkseid
Darkseid is coming to the DC Extended Universe – that we know for sure – but who will be portraying the ruthless ruler of Apokolips in the franchise is yet to be revealed. The potential casting has been discussed for years now, with everyone from the late Michael Clarke Duncan (who, of course, played Kingpin in 2003’s Marvel movie Daredevil) and Ving Rhames to Tom Hardy and Liam Neeson having been discussed as potential candidates to portray the villain – but Jeff Bridges would undoubtedly be perfect.
Bridges has a booming voice, a big build, can portray real nastiness with consummate ease, and previously played the main villain Obadiah Stane in 2008’s Iron Man – one of the greatest comic book movies ever made. If you believe you can come up with a better actor than him to play Darkseid in the DC Extended Universe, we beg you to try. In a nutshell, he’d be absolutely amazing in the role.