In what feels like a never-ending war between two comic book companies, Marvel currently has the upper hand over DC, thanks to the success of their connected cinematic universe. DC tried to put up a fight by creating their own universe, but a rushed product that has delivered mediocre films, at best, has quickly turned this war into a one-sided beatdown. If actors want to be a part of a virtually guaranteed successful franchise, Marvel is the place to go. However, that wasn't always the case, as both companies have had their moment at the top, which means that for years, actors have been jumping from one side to the other in hopes of landing a part in a franchise that will lead to sequels and massive paydays.
But since it's impossible to predict the future, it's always a massive risk when an actor decides to switch sides. Some have joined one side too early and switched over too late. Some looked like they would never recover from the mess they were in, only to go on to become massive stars for the other team. There are even some actors who seem doomed to never find success in the superhero genre. If one thing is for certain though, it's that comic book movies are not going away any time soon, which means the momentum can shift at any moment. And considering the fate of some beloved Marvel characters are up in the air following Infinity War, and DC is looking to make more standalone franchises, we could be in for some massive shakeups in the future. But for now, here are 15 Actors Who Switched Sides In The Marvel Versus DC War!
15 Ryan Reynolds Has Fans On His Side
This was one of the more talked about changes from DC to Marvel, as Ryan Reynolds was not shy about his disappointment with how Green Lantern turned out, and rightfully so. According to Reynolds, the movie almost ruined his career and made him undesirable. This seems unfair considering Reynolds was the only good thing about Green Lantern, and with the right script, it could have been a huge franchise for DC and Reynolds.
Luckily, a few years later, someone leaked test footage of what a possible Deadpool film would look like starring Reynolds, and it blew up.
Sure, Hal Jordan was a smart-ass, quick-witted superhero that fits perfectly with Reynolds personality, but it was a PG version. Reynolds is best suited for an R-rated version, and he proved it when Deadpool broke box office records upon its release. Reynolds even found a way to throw a dig at Green Lantern in Deadpool, when he famously asked for his suit not to be green or animated.
14 Michael Fassbender Is Suited To Be A Loveable Villain
Michael Fassbender kicked off his comic book movie career with a dud in 2010, appearing as the villain in Jonah Hex. Calling this movie a box-office bomb would be an understatement, and it was met with well earned poor reviews. However, the silver lining came in the performances from Fassbender and his co-star (who we'll get to later). It wouldn't take Fassbender long to redeem himself in the eyes of comic book movie fans, as in 2011, he jumped over to Marvel to take on a young Magneto in X-Men: First Class. Not only did Fassbender get to play a more complex villain, who starts off as a good guy and slowly delves into villain territory, but it came in a well-made film.
Filling in the footsteps of Ian McKellen, who first appeared as Magneto, albeit an older version, in the original X-Men trilogy, is no easy feat, but Fassbender pulled it off, making the character his own.
He would go on to star in two more sequels, but his involvement with any future X-Men films is up in the air after the acquisition of the property by Disney and Marvel Studios.
13 Zoe Saldana Made The Right Decision
Like Fassbender, Zoe Saldana appeared in a little-known DC property and box-office bomb, The Losers, about a special forces team who is betrayed by the government and looking for revenge. The cast is fairly impressive by today's standards but wasn't enough to convince paying customers to go see it.
If anything positive came out of this for Saldana, is that it prepared her for another ensemble movie she would appear in later on in her career.
Saldana co-starred in another little-known property, Guardians of the Galaxy, this time for Marvel, that performed beyond expectations and was beloved by fans and critics alike. Saldana kicks ass as the green-skinned assassin Gamora, who helps saves the, well, galaxy, as a member of the Guardians of the Galaxy. After a successful sequel, an appearance in Avengers: Infinity War, and a planned third Guardians film, it's safe to say Saldana switched to the right side.
12 Idris Elba Should Have Waited
Another member of that illustrious Losers team mentioned above, Idris Elba appeared in the DC movie before making the jump to Marvel and appearing as Heimdall in the Thor films. With that being said, I'm sure there's definitely a large number of people reading this who either forgot Elba was in the Thor films or didn't even know. He has appeared in all three of them, but spends most of his time standing in one place spewing exposition, hence being forgettable.
This feels like a waste for someone as talented and popular as Elba, and there's a good chance that if he had waited a bit longer and not taken the role, he could have been cast in a more significant one later, possibly even as a lead.
In Heimdall's defence, he is an all-seeing and all-knowing Asgardian and a powerful character, but a very under-utilized one at that. But who knows, after Infinity Wars, Elba could see his role expand in the MCU. Or he could get murdered by Thanos. It's a toss up really, so don't be surprised that if his contract ends with Marvel, DC is quick to snatch him back up.
11 Chris Evans Flip-Flopped A Few Times
People tend to forget that long before Chris Evans was frozen in ice for 70 years, he was on fire for a few, playing Johnny Storm in the Fantastic Four movies in 2005 and 2007. After that ended, he took his talents to DC and co-starred in the aforementioned The Losers, alongside fellow DC deserters Elba and Saldana. By now, you know how successful that movie was, which allowed Evans to flip-flop and return back to Marvel, this time in a more significant, leading role.
Nowadays, everyone knows Evans as one of the pioneers of the MCU, and the leader of the Avengers in his role as Captain America. As cheesy as the Fantastic Four movies are today, they were fun for their time and Evans was funny in them, but there's no denying he's found his true calling as the super soldier. I'm sure today he likes to pretend that his slip to the enemy side never happened, and considering no one even saw The Losers, in a way, it kind of didn't.
10 Josh Brolin Is Going To Be Big
Josh Brolin's first foray into comic book movies came on the DC side in the movie Jonah Hex, where he played the titular character. As stated above, the film bombed, but just like Fassbender, the blame didn't fall on Brolin, as he was great but the material wasn't up to par with his performance. No better proof of that comes from the fact that Brolin is set to play two huge characters in two different franchises for Marvel.
We've already got a glimpse of him as Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy and we're about to get a lot more in Avengers: Infinity War. Then fans can catch him as the time-traveler Cable in Deadpool 2. There's no telling if these characters will appear in any more movies down the line, so who knows if Brolin will stay with Marvel, or if he will try his luck again with DC, only this time maybe in a more recognizable property.
9 Natalie Portman Was Supposed To Have A Bigger Role
In the comics, Jane ends up taking over as Thor, but that was far from the path her character was taking in the first two films.
Sure, she was integral to the plot and played a part in helping Thor, but she was seen as more of a love interest than anything else. Then came Marvel's handling of Patty Jenkins, who has set to direct the sequel, but left due to creative differences. Jane ended up appearing only in name for Thor: Ragnarok, where it was revealed that she broke up with Thor. Portman has expressed interest in returning to the franchise but it seems like a long shot considering she hasn't been contacted by anyone about it.
8 Joe Manganiello Might Come Back For Batman
Back in the 2002 Spider-Man movie, when high school Peter Parker was played by a nearly 30-year-old Tobey Maguire, his bully, Flash Thompson, was played by a nearly 30-year-old Joe Manganiello. That film went on to have a successful trilogy, but Manganiello only appeared in the first film. Fast forward to today, and Manganiello is the first, and one of only a few, actors on this list to switch from Marvel to DC. He upgraded, too, going from a bit part in Spider-Man to playing notable Batman villain Deathstroke. Unfortunately, he's had even less screen time as this character, so far, with his only appearance coming in the post-credit scene of Justice League.
He was set to appear as the main villain in Ben Affleck's solo Batman movie, but after Affleck dropped out as director and writer, Manganiello's involvement and the movie itself fell into question.
Now, there are talks of Deathstroke getting his own solo movie, but with the shape DC is currently in, who knows when, or if, that movie happens.
7 Tilda Swinton Definitely Delivered
Tilda Swinton's run in comic book movies has been short, with only two appearances, one for DC and one for Marvel, and both were plagued with controversial casting decisions. Let's start with DC and the film Constantine, where Swinton appeared as the angel Gabriel. No issues there, but the same can't be said for Keanu Reeves who starred as the titular character. His version differed from the comics for being a bit too, well, Keanu, and not British or blond. Next up, Swinton appeared in Doctor Strange for Marvel, where she played the Ancient One who teaches Strange his powers. If the name didn't give it away, in the comics, the Ancient One is an old Asian man, something Swinton is not.
There is no word on whether or not she'll be back, or if she wants to keep the balance of one and one between the companies.
6 Tommy Lee Jones Always Impresses
It's easy to forget that Tommy Lee Jones appeared in the MCU as Colonel Phillips in Captain America because it was a straightforward role, but there is no way anyone could possibly forget his involvement in Batman Forever as the clinically insane Two-Face. Jones tried something in that movie that no one ever should, especially in the '90s, and match the energy and craziness of Jim Carrey who played the Riddler. There's no denying he gave it his best shot, and the performance is considered either brilliant or terrible, depending on who you ask. That wasn't the case when he switched over to Marvel, as he played Colonel Phillips like a colonel, and he was convincing at that.
One can only imagine, though, how great it would have been if halfway through Captain America, Phillips revealed himself to be the Red Skull and went full Two-Face on Steve Rogers.
Fingers crossed if they ever reboot the franchise!
5 Tom Hardy Is Meant To Play A Villain
Tom Hardy had the privilege of being part of Christoper Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy, portraying the muscular, backbreaking villain Bane in the third and final instalment of the franchise. Hardy had the difficult task of following up the Oscar-winning performance of Heath Ledger's as The Joker, and he did as well as anyone could have expected. Plus, his Bane voice is still mimicked by people today. Hardy is now done with DC and recently signed on with Marvel to play another villain, Venom, in a standalone movie of the same name.
The plot of the movie is being kept quiet, and even the first trailer showed so little, no one would have even known it was a Venom movie if not for the title.
Regardless, Hardy is a phenomenal actor and there is no doubt he'll give a memorable performance, especially considering his only competition when it comes to playing the character is Topher Grace.
4 J.K. Simmons Needs Time To Make It His Own
J.K. Simmons' portrayal as The Daily Bugle editor-in-chief J. Jonah Jameson is one of the more memorable performances to come from Sam Raimi's Spider-Man trilogy, and the one Simmons is probably most known for. He towed the line beautifully between making you love him for every witty remark and then hate him for every insult. Which is why his short stint as Commissioner James Gordon in Justice League feels like such a waste.
After making the rare jump from Marvel to DC, Simmons only appeared for a short amount of time in Justice League, where he was in and out of the movie before he even had a chance to truly make the character his own. Knowing Simmons' body of work, he could definitely do something special with the character and even rival Gary Oldman's performance as the commissioner in the Dark Knight trilogy. There's no word on whether or not Simmons will reprise the role, but it could happen in the on again off again Bat-Fleck movie.
3 Michael Keaton Deserves More Credit
Michael Keaton went from being a hero for DC to a villain for Marvel, with a 25-year gap between roles. To this day, Tim Burton's Batman and Keaton's performance as the Caped Crusader are still considered by many as the best ever. People tend to forget that before Nolan's gritty reboot, Burton and Keaton provided a fairly gritty version themselves. So, after mastering the hero, Keaton decided to take a swing at playing a villain.
Keaton landed the role of The Vulture in Spider-Man: Homecoming, and it's safe to say he's just as convincing as a villain as he is a hero.
Black Panther's Killmonger is being hailed as the best Marvel villain ever, but The Vulture deserves to at least be considered for that honor as well. Keaton was great in the role, and delivered the highlight of the movie when he discovers that Peter Parker is Spider-Man by giving a genuinely terrifying performance.
2 Taika Waititi Is Great In Front Of And Behind The Camera
Taika Waititi is quickly becoming a household name, thanks to his directing work, but few people know that he's not afraid to step in front of the camera, too. In fact, he has acted in every feature film he's ever directed, as well as a few he had nothing to do with. Which brings us to Green Lantern. Waititi plays Thomas Kalmaku, who is probably remembered as being the guy who Hal Jordan shows that famous animated suit to. If only DC saw the potential Waititi has as a filmmaker, like Marvel, and let him direct Green Lantern, it could have experienced the same amount of success as Thor: Ragnarok. Which brings us to Thor: Ragnarok.
Waititi was given free rein with the character and ended up making, hands down, the best Thor film ever, and one of the best Marvel films in general.
He also voiced the giant rock dude, Korg, who said all of your favorite lines from the movie. If we don't get another Thor film from Waititi, hopefully at least Korg makes an appearance in a future MCU film!
1 Ben Affleck Is Too Good For His Movies
Ben Affleck seems to be cursed when it comes to comic book movies, no matter what side he's on. It all started back in 2003 when he starred in Daredevil as the titular hero. Although the movie was poorly received, the majority of people agreed that Affleck turned in a solid performance. This issue would follow Affleck over to DC when he was cast as Batman in the highly-anticipated Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Affleck's casting as Batman was originally met with outrage, which is par for the course when it comes to casting comic book movies (Keaton and Ledger were famously lambasted for their casting).
Then everyone saw the movie and universally agreed that although the movie was bad, Affleck was about the only good thing to come from it.
Affleck's days as the Dark Knight seem to be numbered, so if he finally wants that certified fresh comic book movie, his best bet would be heading back to Marvel. They have a decent track record in that department.
References: forbes.com, denofgeek.com, movieweb.com, blogs.wsj.com, cinemablend.com, cbr.com, looper.com, variety.com