Today the superhero movie or television show is all the rage. Throughout history, there have been certain periods that took over the cinema. First it was the black and white, no sound movement. Moving pictures alone were seen as revolutionary, then "talkies" were brought on and the world just fell over themselves. This opened the world to musicals, which ended up dominating at the box office.
Eventually "epic" movies were all the rage, with war movies following. Westerns were a gradual but easy movement during this time that would end up dominating the box office. The same style would be seen on television too, as people in the 1970's seemed to be invested in what happened 100 years prior. Gangster movies would come out of this, but also the animated movie for children would grow.
In the end, we would get to today where the superhero movie or television show would dominate anything else worthy of our time. From television shows like Arrow, The Flash, and Walking Dead to movies like The Dark Knight, Captain America: Civil War, and Black Panther. However, throughout all of this one thing was massively important. During periods of domination the world is going to remember the person playing in the movie.
If you cast the wrong actor, it could be an entire production that ends up losing itself. The right actor can help to make a movie that much better. More than that, it could make the movie legendary and one that goes down in history as one of the best of all-time. In this list, we're going to point out some of the best casting decisions in superhero movie or TV show history. However, we're also going to point out some that should have been recast. Enjoy.
25 Spot On - Margot Robbie As Harley Quinn
It truly is hard to get a proper casting at the end of the day. Sometimes you see so many actors or actresses for a part that you could truly pick the wrong person. Even if they ace the audition, there can be an issue. So when Suicide Squad was going to be made, it made sense to freak out over casting. However, one character did not need much of an audition to get the right girl for the job. Fans dream-casted Margot Robbie for the Harley Quinn character.
The issue was only going to be trying to get one of the hottest young actresses in Hollywood to take this character on and not another job. She is nominated for an Oscar now, but she had already done well with other movies like Wolf of Wall Street, Tarzan, and Whisky Tango Foxtrot. They managed to get their girl, and she was just as good as everyone hoped she would be. While Suicide Squad failed to deliver for critics, Robbie was praised for her role in the movie. She was indeed the best part of the movie, and few can argue it.
24 Recast - Ben Affleck As Daredevil
With the new Daredevil show on Netflix being amazing with Charlie Cox as the title character...it highlights even more how bad Affleck was for this part. While he ticked every box in terms of upcoming actor whose young and looks good, he did not deliver the best acting performance. That ultimately led to the issues, which could not be overlooked.
23 Spot On - Grant Gustin As The Flash
When deciding to expand the superhero world on The CW, Warner Bros. wanted to bring The Flash to television. It worked out well, as Flash might take some CGI budget but not as much as heroes like Green Lantern. They simply had to bring in ratings and everything would work out. Not only did they bring them in, but they shattered expectations with them too. This worked so well due to the acting chops of Grant Gustin.
While Grant is not the perfect actor, he is the perfect Barry Allen. It is hard to see anyone playing the part better than him, which is why people seem to dig everything he does for the show. Oh yeah, and the dude can sing too. Which only made us cry our eyes out when he asked Iris to marry him. You tell me another Flash who could do that. I'll save you the trip, nobody! Now go to YouTube and watch the marriage proposal again, you saps!
22 Recast - Halle Berry As Catwoman
When you assume people are going to do a movie about somewhat of a minor character from the comics, you expect it to be at least heavy comic driven. Halle Berry was clearly a great actress when she was cast for Catwoman. However, it seemed like the studio did not care if the character was given a good story. To be fair to Halle, she very well may have known nothing about Catwoman before taking the role.
However, she was led down a wrong path by assuming she had to literally act like a cat the entire movie. Catwoman is a cat burglar, that is the story on the name and not much else is behind it. She loves cats too, but she did not get powers from one or act like a cat. The entire movie was considered one of the worst superhero movies ever made, and Berry bombed it in the entire movie. Let's hope the check was big.
21 Spot On - Henry Cavill As Superman
When Warner Bros was planning to bring Superman back to the big screen, a lot of people feared this idea. The last attempt was a failure, and it may not have been the man who played the part as much as the movie script itself. Either way, Warner Bros could not screw up Superman again. The script was going to be done by Jonathan Nolan with Christopher Nolan in a producing role, so we felt at least THAT would be in good hands. But what of the man to play the Man of Steel? Enter Henry Cavill.
Before he took on the role of Superman, he was most notable for The Count of Monte Cristo film and The Tudors TV show. He was a skilled English actor, but not someone who was well-known. This made him perfect for the job of taking on a critical role that would likely take up a good chunk of his time for the next number of years. Cavill has played the role very well in three films now, and it is likely he continues to do so in the coming films as well.
20 Recast - Val Kilmer As Batman
In theory Val Kilmer would be perfect for just about any part. In the 90's few actors could have been a better fit for the Bruce Wayne/Batman role than Kilmer. He had come off of some big movies, including an amazing performance in Tombstone. So we knew when it came to acting that Val could deliver. One of the hottest actors in Hollywood at the time coming together with Nicole Kidman and other big stars for Batman? It seemed like a n0-brainer for casting directors.
However, it ended up not working out well for them. The movie was somewhat liked by kids in the 90's, but it was a very campy version of Batman that fans just did not care for. Kilmer, while a good actor, could never truly shake this film. After Batman, he would continue to work a lot but almost every role he took was not well critiqued. Past Heat, he just could not get things right. While Batman did not destroy his career, it didn't help matters. While the movie was an issue, Val's performance left a lot to be desired when people expected far more from him in that time period.
19 Spot On - Jennifer Lawrence As Mystique
Jennifer Lawrence was brought in to play a major role, Mystique. While the mutant did not play as major a role in the first few films, mostly taking a sidekick role to Magneto, they wanted to reimagine her. Bringing in an Oscar winning actress that was massively popular was a pretty good way to do that. Her performances as the character have been great, and it is truly hard to imagine anyone else playing her these days, despite a relatively good performance being done by Rebecca Romijn in the first three X-Men films.
18 Recast - Jared Leto As The Joker
When it came to casting people for Suicide Squad, a lot of people felt that many were done right. From Margot as Harley to many others, the movie was seemingly cast well on the surface. When it came to casting a new Joker, obviously the search was going to be tough. The last man who did the part was VERY good, so who could you get to at least be close to him? Enter Jared Leto, who had just won an Oscar for his work in Dallas Buyers Club. Leto may have been mostly known as the frontman for 30 Seconds to Mars, but he had proven to the world that he could act. The Oscar proved this at the end of the day.
People seemed to be good with the idea of casting Leto as Joker, as it would be hard to say no to him when he literally just came off of winning awards. Yet when the time came for the movie to be seen, the hype may have gotten to us all. He looked great in the trailer, but the movie fell flat to critics. Leto seemed to be okay, but he was not as good as we had hoped for him to be. Surely he had shoes to fill that few men ever could, but there was a lot that could have been better about The Joker that Leto just did not bring to the movie. Ultimately it hurt him in the end, when things could have been better.
17 Spot On - Brandon Routh As Ray Palmer/The Atom
When the TV show Arrow was looking to cast the right guy for the part of Ray Palmer, it seemed that Warner Bros and The CW did not have to go too far. While the movie Superman Returns was seemingly hated by most, one thing seemed to stand out. Brandon Routh was actually pretty good, it was just that he did not fit the Superman part. It seemed that it did not fit him well, but he was still capable of so much. This allowed the casting to be pretty easy, as Routh would come in to play Palmer with the rest being history.
Eventually he would become The Atom and go on to star alongside other interesting heroes and villains in DC's Legends of Tomorrow. He's played the part of Palmer perfectly, with everything seemingly landing really well. It seems impossible to picture anyone else playing the part other than Brandon. Due to him playing another DC hero, writers have added in little jokes regarding him. Such as thinking he saw his cousin when he met Supergirl for the first time. Get it? GET IT?!?
16 Recast - Jessia Alba As Sue Storm
It seemed that when FOX was planning to bring the Fantastic Four to the big screen, they had gotten things right. The first movie was liked by most, with the second failing to live up to expectations. One thing that seemed to be an issue was Jessica Alba as Sue Storm. While Alba played the gorgeous woman that people could love, it seemed that the character could have been better executed. Sue Storm was a genius the same as others, and the depth of her character was very limited compared to what it could have been. This was not all on Alba, as the writers have a lot of blame when it comes to how characters are written.
However, actors can bring a lot to the part that is not written down. Take Kate Mara who played the role in the much hated version of Fantastic Four. If nothing else she was able to bring a Sue Storm to the screen that could stand out among all. Where Alba was part of a team with no one truly sticking out other than Chris Evans as Human Torch. Kate did not have a great script or much there to go on, just the comics to use and base her performance off of. Alba could have brought a lot more to the table, and while her performance won't ever be considered terrible...it truly could have been better with someone else.
15 Spot On - Christian Bale As Batman
When Christopher Nolan was planning to bring Batman back to the screen, people felt there was a good chance the script could be good. Obviously Nolan exceeded expectations in his trilogy, but a lot of people were having trouble believing in the casting choices he made initially. When he cast Christian Bale as the caped crusader, a lot of us questioned why another guy was not chosen. Especially one that had been more notable in Hollywood by that time. Not only did Bale deliver as Batman, he would go down as possibly one of the greatest, if not the greatest to ever play the part.
Like other Batman actor before him, he had to bring his own version of the character to life. Everyone had a Bruce Wayne voice, and then you had a Batman voice. His unique take on the voice is still debated on by fans. However, the uniqueness of it helped him stand out where others simply did not. On top of this, he would make both Batman and Bruce Wayne unique and stand out on their own. He played two parts in one that ultimately had to be played differently, where others played them similar. Bale delivered in every way for the films, and many to this day are wondering how Warner Bros could not get him back for the Justice League movies.
14 Recast - Jennifer Garner As Elektra
Jennifer Garner was known as a relatively good actress by the time she took on the role of Elektra, as she already had awards for her work in television. She seemed like she could fit the part, though it was kind of odd seeing her take it. She was able to do action, as this was proven by her work in Alias. However, movies are a different game and she fit the part she took for TV. Elektra seemed like it could work for her due to the action, but two bad scripts and a lack of knowledge of the character seemed to do her in. Jennifer simply did not work for this part as people thought she could have given her background.
Interestingly, Ben Affleck who played Daredevil in the movie would get along well with Jennifer. So much so the two began dating and would get married in 2005, the same year the movie Elektra came to the big screen. While her smaller role was fine in the Daredevil movie, people felt since it was her first co-starring film that she would be better 2 years later. They were dead wrong. The part did not seem right for her when the first movie came out, when her own standalone film came out, the facts were known. While she could play a good kickass action star in Alias, she simply was not right for Elektra.
13 Spot-On - Patrick Stewart As Professor X
When it comes to casting great actors for movies, you cannot do much better than Sir Patrick Stewart. The man is respected so much by fans because of how amazing he is an actor. Before he was part of the X-Men universe, he already knew how wild geek culture fans would be. He played a Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation. This was a rough job to take on, considering the previous series and movies that were out. That said, Stewart knew how to take on a critical role and play it well for fans that would have wanted him dead had he failed.
Unlike Star Trek, there had never been another live action take on Professor X. So when he was cast as the character for X-Men, it seemed perfect. Everyone felt that he was possibly the best man for the job the moment he was given the role. It did not take much to see how amazing he was with the part in the movies either. He has played the role in several movies, and it has been tough to no longer see him play the part. However, he was terrific in the role and is respected by most fans as a superhero movie icon.
12 Recast - Topher Grace As Eddie Brock/Venom
When fans heard Venom was headed to the big screen to be in what looked to be the final Spider-Man movie in the three series arc, it made sense. Venom was one of his most popular villains and they had already tackled others like Doc Oc and Green Goblin. However, the movie would run into issues. Sony seemed to want Venom in the movie where the director Sam Raimi did not. Raimi was not crazy about the Venom character, but Sony wanted the major character to be in at least one movie. Raimi likely would have done it in the fourth instalment, but it appeared that he was not going to get it.
This led to issues, and thus they added Eddie Brock with Topher Grace playing him, and just threw the Venom character together. Raimi admits it was likely on him why the character did not work as well as it could have. However, there were a lot of problems in the movie making it absolutely terrible. Grace did not help matters with his performance lacking in every way. However, it was not completely on Topher due to what he was given. Despite this, he was never the best guy for the part and was thrown into a no-win situation from the start.
11 Spot On - Stephen Amell As Green Arrow
When we talk about some of the best castings ever, you don't have to look much further than Stephen Amell for the Green Arrow. The CW wanted to bring in a series to show the start of Oliver Green and his rise to Green Arrow. This would go from his origins to bigger stuff. It was planned to be similar to Smallville, where the same network used Superman in an interesting origin. Amell was cast in what seemed like a crazy situation. He had been in other things, but was most notable from the series Hung. This isn't a show you look for Superheroes in really.
Despite this, Amell aced the audition and would end up blowing people away at how amazing he was as the character. With a great script in the first season, fans were hooked and still are to this day with his series. Amell has been dedicated to the role so much that he even gave Oliver a tick where he feels he needs to reach for an arrow, that is so subtle but perfect. There could never have been a better man to play this part for TV. Truly, if Green Arrow goes to the big screen, there is no other man better you could find to play the part there either.
10 Recast - Michael B. Jordan As Human Torch
Michael B. Jordan is a good actor, but everyone and the cousin they barely speak with were wondering what he was doing as Johnny Storm in Fantastic Four. Jordan might have been a proven actor who was fantastic in that area, but he made no sense to play this role. They made him the half-brother of Sue Storm, which was never really a comics driven idea. And they gave him a lot of crazy things to do in the movie that seemed to just be odd. To give him slack, he was given a terrible movie to work in that was never going to be good no matter how good he was.
Human Torch was played by Chris Evans memorably, who did great with the role in the original movies. It was a lot to live up to, but not something impossible to accomplish. It seemed that Jordan fell flat in every way. It could have been the script or it could have just been Jordan, either way, Human Torch did not come off as good as he could have. Jordan is not feeling too bad about it though since he killed it in Creed in the same year and he destroyed as Killmonger in the huge hit Black Panther. Sometimes one Marvel movie isn't right for you when another is. From hero to villain, no one is complaining about him now. But it is interesting to look back on his role in Fantastic Four to see how far he has come since.
9 Spot On - Jon Bernthal As The Punisher
When the Daredevil Netflix series was searching for someone to play Frank Castle aka The Punisher, the search was vast. They knew they were not going to reach to the past to bring someone else back. They also knew they could not reach for a very young guy to play the part. Jon Bernthal made sense for the job in every way, and would stand out for his work in Wolf of Wall Street, Sicario, and The Walking Dead among others.
When he would come in for the part, it was an easy thing to see that he was perfect. There are a lot of people on this list who may have been born to play the part they have in these movies. However, it seems like God himself created Jon Bernthal specifically to play The Punisher, as few have been this perfect. So much so, we could see John jump into Marvel movies just as a special surprise. Universally, he has been praised for his work in the role. Netflix saw it too, so much so that they gave him his own series and more episodes are planned as well. Keep them coming Netflix, keep them coming.
8 Recast - January Jones As Emma Frost
It might be tough to find someone who played a female character so badly in any movie really. January Jones is a beautiful actress who showed in TV shows like Mad Men that she had acting chops that could be easily displayed. While X-Men: First Class was overall a good film, January Jones was one part people were trying to forget. As Emma Frost, it was already weird to see her thrown into the film like this to begin with. However, the idea of adding her wasn't the worst part of this.
January played the part seemingly robotic, with no real passion or emotion in the character. Emma Frost was known for being a cold type of woman, but she had multiple levels in the comics that were far from robotic. Jones seemed to almost be uninterested in the entire part, making people wonder why she even took it. We're not surprised if someone does not know a character before playing them, as this happens a lot. However, Jones clearly did not have to know Emma all that well to play her.
7 Spot On - Tom Hiddleston As Loki
When trying to find the right man to play the brother to Thor in the Marvel movie, it took time to get the perfect man. While Thor was likely the hardest to cast, Loki needed to be great as well. Tom Hiddleston originally came in with hopes of trying to be Thor rather than his devious brother. While he clearly did not fit the part of Thor, he surely seemed to fit the kind of guy they were looking to play Loki. With proper make-up and the right costume, it would not take much to get him into the right look for the part.
Tom was already a good actor, but not well-known. Neither was Chris Hemsworth. This meant the movie was carried by two men the world barely knew, which was crucial to setting up an eventual Avengers film. It is unlikely Marvel or Disney realized how good Tom was going to be or how many fans would love him as Loki. It is impossible to see anyone else playing him, and he seems to have been perfect for the part. He has been so beloved that all the Thor movies have used him in some way and he even worked as the big bad in the first Avengers. None of it would have happened if not for his incredible work in Thor, where he stood out in a major way.
6 Recast - Shaquille O'Neal As Steel
The fact that any studio wanted to do a Steel movie should be proof enough they needed to be tested for insanity. However, the idea to do this film and hire an NBA star with no real proven major acting abilities was even worse. In theory, the superhero market was just getting started back in 1997. We saw many cartoons that worked, but few live action movies on superheroes at the time other than Batman or Superman. Going right for Steel made no sense, but at least they were testing the waters on a hero that could have stood out in the superhero world in a major way had they succeeded.
Sadly Shaq may have been a terrific basketball player but his acting chops were nowhere near what they needed to be. Steel was a terrible film, and Shaq's performance in it was absolute trash. Interestingly, Shaq has not been terrible in other movies. So he has proven he can act given the right role. Playing the hero in this movie was not the right role for him and it clearly stands out as likely the worst hire for a superhero standalone film in modern history.
5 Spot On - Chris Evans As Captain America
When Marvel planned to bring Captain America to the big screen in hopes of starting up the Avengers a little while after, the search to find the right man was rough. Becoming Captain America was a career altering part for whomever took on the role, and few could ever be seen as something else. With major names now involved with these characters, it seems crazy now that someone would turn a superhero movie down. However, when Chris Evans was first offered the part he was not big on the idea of it. In fact, Robert Downey, Jr. had to convince him to take on the role.
It was clearly the best career decision Evans ever made. Weirdly, he had played a Marvel hero before, Human Torch. However, becoming Captain America would be far different than his role as Johnny Storm. He knew the difficulty of his first superhero role, but he took this one knowing it might work out. Did it ever! Evans is likely the only guy we could see playing the part of the Captain. It will be tough to see his time as the character end, as he has played the part as well as one could.
4 Spot On - Hugh Jackman As Wolverine
When FOX planned to make the X-Men, it was going to be tough to find the perfect people to play every part. However, they mostly succeeded in that effort, with the best decision being Hugh Jackman to play Wolverine. It was an interesting decision, as he is completely different than the comic book character. Jackman is relatively tall while Wolverine is known for being shorter than most other heroes. Jackman may have not seemed like the right man for the job initially. However, he seems like the only man we could ever see play the role.
Wolverine is tough to play, as the look Jackman had to maintain for over a decade has been insanely difficult. Jackman has remained in shape despite not playing the role for years at a time, but he also managed to stand out as an actor outside this role, from his Oscar nominated work in Les Miserables to his work in recent movies like The Greatest Showman. Jackman claimed it was done for him after he finished filming Logan but did say if Disney ever got the rights to X-Men that he may consider playing the role again. We're hoping he was serious about that remark.
3 Spot On - Heath Ledger As The Joker
When it comes to the most insane hire ever, Christopher Nolan knew he needed a Joker that could land well in The Dark Knight, the second instalment in his Batman series. He would give him the role to play in, but the actor had to take advantage and commit to it like no one ever did before. One would assume he would have tried to find a major actor like Johnny Depp or Leonardo DiCaprio who were proven amazing actors at this time. Instead, he went with Heath Ledger and everyone seemed to universally groan at the decision for a guy like Heath to play the role. No one understood it and no one could see why Ledger would ever be able to play The Joker well.
As it turned out, people could not have been more wrong about this. Heath Ledger turned out to be the best choice that Nolan ever could have made. He gave likely the greatest super-villain performance in superhero movie history. He's also the only man to ever win an Oscar for an acting role in a superhero movie as well. Heath went to dark places in order to play this role so well. So dark, many think this ultimately led to his death soon before the movie came out. Whatever place he went to he must have sold his soul to, as that performance was the stuff of legend.
2 Spot On - Ryan Reynolds As Deadpool
When Ryan Reynolds showed up to play Wade Wilson in The Wolverine movie, he seemed perfect to play the part. There likely could not have been a better man for it. Obviously the movie ruined Deadpool, but not enough to where Reynolds felt FOX could not give him a chance to make a movie with the character. After the X-Men universe reset, they had their chance with Ryan managing to be the obvious man for the job. He would absolutely destroy in the part and make fanboys happy everywhere.
While his role as a hero had not worked out well for him when it came to Green Lantern, he was terrific as Deadpool. The studio would give them a small budget to make the movie with, but gave him the R-Rating that the movie needed. The movie broke records and is still loved today. FOX decided to up the budget for Deadpool 2, while keeping it R. Disney now owns the character and they're unlikely to change anything, but hopefully we see him with some new Marvel characters. This could be very interesting for all fans.
1 Spot On - Robert Downey Jr As Tony Stark/Iron Man
There likely would not be a Marvel Cinematic Universe if not for Robert Downey Jr being a success with the first Iron Man movie. A lot of people could have played this role, and many top names actually auditioned or were in the running, including Tom Cruise among many others. Downey had proof of being a terrific actor in his past, but also had other demons. From being involved in some questionable things to some issues with the law, no one thought Robert was a safe pick for any role, much less one under the Marvel banner.
While Robert was out of issues with the law by this time, the idea of putting an entire franchise on him and his success was pretty crazy. Yet there was this thought that he was perfect to play the role. They took the chance and for the last ten years, he's served as the father of the MCU in many aspects. His work as Iron Man throughout the MCU has been notable. He even did work in things he did not have to take part in, such as the latest Spider-Man film. He feels a responsibility to the part and to the MCU. So much so that he's willing to go above and beyond for it, and that's really something you cannot help but respect. They cast the perfect guy, and it's likely the most obvious thing here.