Superhero movies are practically the stuff of legend in today’s world. By introducing mainstream audiences to heroes and villains they might otherwise be unfamiliar with, the power of the genre has become second to none. Studios like Marvel Studios and Disney, and DC Comics and Warner Bros., have created entire cinematic universes out of their fables character, and neither show any sign of slowing down. With Marvel announcing movies up through 2024 and DC following close behind, superhero films have a bright future.
That said, part of the reason these movies are so successful is because of the actors who sign on to take over these iconic roles. While granted, having a great screenplay and story certainly helps, A-list actors help to draw in viewers who otherwise might not be interested in attending your movie.
These actors often give performances that are so memorable, it’s easy to remain ignorant in the scuffles that take place behind the scenes. Not every movie is a great experience for those that decide to get involved. Because of the nature of these blockbuster films, sometimes, actors have no say in how a film is developed, and, for better or worse, studio executives get the last word. If a movie fails because of this, you might later hear an actor talk about the loathsome experience, as these sort of incidents seem to occur most frequently on movies of tremendous magnitude. Today we’re looking at 15 actors who have come to regret their roles in superhero movies.
15 BEN AFFLECK - BATMAN
There was a time not too long ago when Ben Affleck swore off superheroes permanently. Daredevil probably had a major impact on his disposition on the genre, but when the time came and he was offered the part of Batman, it was too tempting of an offer to pass up. First appearing as the Caped Crusader in Zack Snyder’s blockbuster film, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, Affleck, and the movie itself proved incredibly (and unexpectedly) divisive. After everything was said and done, it was pretty evident that Ben Affleck believed the movie should have turned out better.
Screen Rant mentions a series of evidence that demonstrates the actor’s dissatisfaction with the film. Firstly, Affleck did admit that he abhorred wearing the motion capture outfit, which later got turned into his CGI armored suit. While not scathing, the fact that Ben Affleck would go on to become the executive producer on the upcoming Justice League films is rather telling; the position gives the actor more creative control. Furthermore, he’s putting a lot of personal time and effort in overseeing his upcoming Batman movie. When you put all these puzzle pieces together, it screams to just how unhappy Affleck was with his role as Batman and how he’s determined to do it his way from now on.
14 CHRIS EVANS - HUMAN TORCH
Before Chris Evans was an A-list star and known for his role as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, he’d taken an earlier foray into superhero movies. In 2005, Fox Studios produced Fantastic Four. Starring Chris Evans, Jessica Alba, Michael Chiklis, and Ioan Gruffudd as the movie’s titular heroes, Evans played the part of the Human Torch.
While the movie made over $50 million dollars in its opening weekend and would even receive a sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, a couple years later, critical reception was anything but positive. Over on Rotten Tomatoes, Fantastic Four has an approval rating of 27%, and other movie review websites are equally harsh.
Jessica Alba has made her displeasure known in regards to working on the Fantastic Four movies, and especially its sequel, but she wasn’t the only one. Chris Evans didn’t find the experience a rewarding one. According to EMGN, these days Chris Evans looks back on Fantastic Four as a cautionary tale in regards to getting locked into contracts. Because of his contract, Evans couldn’t leave the movies, despite the lack of enjoyment he felt in the filming process. Yet, considering where he’s at currently, it’s safe to say that the actor is satisfied. Having learned from past mistakes, Chris Evans has made it abundantly clear that the next Avengers movie is his last film for Marvel; likely, he learned from his history.
13 RYAN REYNOLDS - GREEN LANTERN
While Marvel Studios was chugging away nicely with their cinematic universe, with Iron Man and Iron Man 2 making the film studio a juggernaut in the industry, DC Comics wanted to try its own hand at constructing a movie universe of their own. Even before Warner Bros. and DC committed themselves to beginning the DCEU with Man of Steel, two years prior, they went ahead and launched Green Lantern. Angela Bassett as Amanda Waller is noticeable, as it shows the early stages of the company’s efforts at world-building. Despite having Ryan Reynolds as part of the project, and even the established director, Martin Campbell, Green Lantern bombed at the box office, with critics and audiences alike panning the dud of a movie.
Just like with his role as Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Ryan Reynolds would parody Green Lantern in subsequent years. According to Screen Rant, Ryan Reynolds felt the movie relied too heavily on visual effects, as was seen in Deadpool when his character Wade Wilson says, “Please don’t make the super suit green… Or animated!” Reynolds also stated that studio executives edited the film beyond repair. After Green Lantern, while DC wanted to continue building their cinematic universe, Reynolds said he didn’t want to return as Hal Jordan in later films.
12 JESSICA ALBA - INVISIBLE WOMAN
Back in the mid-‘00s, the name Jessica Alba was synonymous with beauty and success. Though Jessica Alba might be known for her career in acting, she’s an extremely intelligent woman who’s also made a name for herself by running the billion-dollar company, Honest. Yet back in 2007, Alba wasn’t overseeing the manufacturing of clean and organic products but was stuck working Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, the sequel to the original Fantastic Four movie from 2005. Say what you will about Rise of the Silver Surfer, it was met with more praise than the 2015 reboot.
Alba, according to Screen Rant, had a rather miserable time while she was filming the movie. In fact, the experience was so horrifying, that she even considered quitting acting then and there. When talking about the movie’s director, Tim Story, Jessica Alba had nothing but disparaging remarks, saying he told her to, “be prettier when you cry.” It was even implied by Story that he’d consider going so far as to use CGI to insert tears, rather than letting the talented actress do her thing. Such comments gave Jessica Alba a pretty clear idea about where the direction of the movie was headed. A sour experience as one can imagine, it’s understandable why there wasn’t a third Fantastic Four movie, especially when the first two did nothing to help her get taken seriously as an actor.
11 BEN AFFLECK - DAREDEVIL
When it comes to superhero movies, Ben Affleck can’t seem to catch a break. Forever disgruntled with the way characters he plays are interpreted on screen, his first brush with superhero problems began with Daredevil. In fact, it was the experience of playing attorney, Matt Murdock, by day and the vigilante, Daredevil, by night, that caused Affleck to swear off such films for over a decade. It’s a pretty sad, especially since Affleck was genuinely passionate about superheroes.
While he wanted to play Batman, the opportunity wasn’t available, so he took what he assumed was the next best thing. Alas, critics and fans absolutely thrashed the film and it only made a paltry sum in the box office. Even though there were whispers in the wind about a sequel, the closest thing made was Elektra, which failed in spectacular fashion. The only good thing about the lack of success for both movies is that it allowed Marvel to require the rights to the characters and revisit them years later in the studio’s Netflix series.
In an interview with Playboy, Affleck stated that the only movie he genuinely regrets doing is Daredevil. At the end of the day, Affleck felt a huge disserve was done to the Man Without Fear.
10 TERRENCE HOWARD - JIM RHODES
Creative differences aren’t all that uncommon in the world of Hollywood. Even less uncommon are disagreements involving paychecks. When Robert Downey Jr. took on the role of Tony Stark in 2008's, Iron Man, no one could have anticipated the success the film would have and how it would allow for Marvel Studios to officially jumpstart their Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, when Marvel needed to cast their Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. was considered a risk, due to previous legal problems. Because of this, Hypable indicates that Downey made less than $500,000 for the first Iron Man. His co-star, Terrence Howard, on the other hand, made substantially more money. When Iron Man 2 was released, Downey’s salary took a bump up into the millions of dollars, and Howard also wanted an increase.
Yet, in an argument that would never be forgotten, Marvel Studios asked Terrence Howard to take a lower salary for the superhero sequel. Howard refused, so the movie studios went ahead, fired Howard, and replaced him with the actor, Don Cheadle. To this day, interviews with magazines like Rolling Stone indicate that Howard has not truly forgiven either Downey or Marvel for letting him go and not paying him what he felt owed.
9 IDRIS ELBA - HEIMDALL
Idris Elba is many things, and a well-decorated actor is among them. When he first appeared in the movie Thor as the Asgardian Heimdall, he wasn’t a big name, but rather, the sort of individual who’d you find in art house films. Since then, the world has changed, and there’s even a large group of fans who clamor for the actor to be the next James Bond. Regardless of where Elba goes from here, one thing is crystal clear: he wasn’t happy about playing Heimdall. According to Looper, Alba’s greatest irritation with the role was all the many cameos he’d have to film. Appearing in a bunch of Marvel movies one right after the other, each time only a minor role at best, Elba has gone on the record for saying that the experience of being in movies like Avengers: Age of Ultron was “torture." Firstly, he hated having to dress up, what with the massive wig; the costumes were the source of his biggest grievance.
After the quote came out, fans made their heartbreak known, but Elba tried his best to do damage control, saying that the quote was taken out of context. Even so, since Elba’s character Heimdall proved among the first causalities in Marvel’s Avengers: Infinity War, he likely won't be in any more Marvel features, regardless as to whether his disdain for superhero movies is real or a series of misunderstandings.
8 RYAN REYNOLDS - DEADPOOL
For all the flack that the actor, Ryan Reynolds, gets for the horribly-received Green Lantern movie, it was nothing compared to the debacle that came when he played the part of Deadpool in the superhero movie, X-Men Origins: Wolverine. While it’s true the movie has become something of a cult classic, this is only because of the awful way Deadpool was depicted and how the Merc With the Mouth would find his redemption in the 2016 adaptation of the character. Still, at the time of X-Men Origins: Wolverine, viewers could only cringe. In both films, Reynolds plays Wade Wilson, the superhuman mercenary who spouts witty one-liners while introducing people to the sharp end of his swords. In Origins, Deadpool gets reduced to a brainwashed lackey who has his mouth sewn shut by Colonel Stryker…and he can shoot lasers from his eyes for some crazy reason.
It was a pretty disastrous move and one that would never be forgotten. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Reynolds remarked on how Origins was a very frustrating experience and was basically told that if he didn’t take the part, it would be given to someone else. Reluctantly, if only because of his love for the antihero, Reynolds signed on.
7 NATALIE PORTMAN - JANE FOSTER
While Thor, and the franchise Marvel and Disney have succeeded in building around him, has become mythic in relatively short order, it appears that many actors who worked on the movies were unhappy with the way things turned out. Idris Elba expressed his discontent, but he wasn’t the only one. Looper reported a short while ago that many rumors indicated that actress Natalie Portman regretted her time on Thor: The Dark World. Apparently, after director, Patty Jenkins, was fired from Thor: The Dark World, Portman was up in arms about the deal and it became widely reported that she even went so far as to threaten to quit the series out of protest. Despite this, she was contractually obligated to finish the film, but that’s probably the reason why we haven’t seen her in any subsequent Marvel movies.
However, in spite of the anger she felt while on set, Portman didn’t hold onto her hostility, going on to tell the Wall Street Journal that she’s not entirely certain about her future in Marvel’s Cinematic Universe. By all appearances, it’s rather clear we won’t be seeing much of in the studio’s films anyway.
6 EDWARD NORTON - HULK
One of the most infamous disagreements Marvel had with an actor occurred when they were first putting together their famous movie universe. The movie studio couldn’t get along with Edward Norton and vice versa. The story is as old as the moon but deserves mentioning, if only to show how some folks aren’t meant for particular roles.
Playing the part of Bruce Banner in The Incredible Hulk, Norton proved so difficult to work with, and the creative difference he had with Marvel were so severe, that he was immediately replaced after the movie was completed. Without a second thought, the movie studio chose to bring in the actor, Mark Ruffalo (who continues playing the Hulk to this day), while Norton went on to take part in independent films like Birdman. According to Zergnet, the director, Louis Leterrier, said everything got out of control after a disagreement involving editing. He went on to say in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “I regret that [Marvel and Norton] didn't come to an agreement where we could've all worked together. "The press is what kept Edward and Marvel from talking to each other. [The argument] was nothing, but then it became something big."
As for Edward Norton and his feelings on the matter, the actor expressed that he enjoyed the chance to experiment with the superhero genre, but ultimately, it wasn’t something he wanted to pursue for any real length of time.
5 GEORGE CLOONEY - BATMAN
Over the years, plenty has been said about the 1997 film, Batman & Robin. Despite having A-list actors, criticism over the years has only grown and grown. Many who watch the movie find its saving grace to be the campy acting delivered by superstar, Arnold Schwarzenegger. Furthermore, the movie proved to be a punch in the gut to the director, Joel Schumacher, as his career remained stagnant for a time following the movie’s release. That said, Joel Schumacher was notably unhappy with the way the film was handled by Warner Brothers’ executives, yet, he remained powerless to turn the movie into anything other a mess and what he referred to as one massive “toy commercial.”
However, while the movie’s director was displeased with the end results, no one involved was more dissatisfied than the star, George Clooney. Clooney’s success, even after the movie flopped, proved that he was an actor capable of coming back from anything. While the role would probably have killed anyone else’s career, George Clooney went on to become one of the most powerful actors in the industry. Yet, at the time, Clooney was fearful about his status in Hollywood. According to Her Moments, the actor even went so far as to say that, initially, the role of Batman seemed too good to pass up, but afterward, Clooney was afraid he’d destroyed the Batman franchise entirely. He’s even outright apologized for the film on numerous occasions.
4 KIRSTEN DUNST - MARY JANE WATSON
While movies like X-Men and Blade helped mainstream audiences begin to accept the idea of superhero movies, Sam Raimi’s, Spider-Man, brought the genre front and center, claiming the attention of superhero fans and average moviegoers alike. Though actor, Tobey McGuire, and his portrayal of Peter Parker and Spider-Man had a big part towards the success of the franchise, actor, Kirsten Dunst, played an equally pivotal role as Mary Jane Watson, the love interest for the superhero. However, by the time the third Spider-Man movie had rolled around, Dunst was no longer keen on reprising her role as Mary Jane.
The character, Gwen Stacy, was introduced in Spider-Man 3 to try and add some dimension to Mary Jane, but according to Yahoo Movies, it didn’t help matters any. Kirsten Dunst was rather frustrated with how Mary Jane was constantly getting portrayed as little more than a generic love interest who always needed saving from her boyfriend. Though it’s clear she would have preferred to leave, interference from Sony Studios proved too strong and she was forced into assuming the role, regardless as to how she felt. Try as she might, Dunst couldn’t make her concerns taken seriously and the studio executives demanded Mary Jane be the one in peril, regardless of the effect it could have on the finished movie.
3 TOMMY LEE JONES - TWO-FACE
Without question, one of the most bizarre films in the history of Batman’s cinematic career, Batman Forever, is known for being exceptionally polarizing. To be fair, the movie is rather outlandish and incredibly kooky, but one common factor nearly everyone who’s watched the movie can agree on, is that Jim Carrey gave one heck of a wonderfully animated performance in playing the part of Batman’s foe, Edward Nygma, a.k.a. The Riddler. While Carrey’s portrayal of the character was manic, critics found him tolerable and entertaining. One person who felt the complete oppose was Carrey’s co-star, Tommy Lee Jones. Playing the part of the villainous Harvey “Two-Face” Dent, Jones’ interpretation of the character was less Godfather crime boss and more comical, like the Joker.
It’s no secret that Tommy Lee Jones absolutely hated working with Jim Carrey. There’s likely many of reason, but Screen Rant reports that director, Joel Schumacher, said Jones probably felt threatened by the reasonably young and up-and-coming actor and behaved like a complete bully. If that wasn’t enough, during a lull in production, Jones took Jim Carrey aside and said, “I hate you, and I can’t sanction your buffoonery.” All things considered, it’s a pretty safe bet that not only will the two stars never work again, but Tommy Lee Jones isn’t going to be in a superhero movie anytime in the near future.
2 JARED LETO - THE JOKER
When it was announced that Jared Leto would be playing the iconic role of the Joker in the Suicide Squad movie, there was a series of mixed responses. With plenty of credit to his name, Jared Leto is known for taking his work incredibly seriously.
Prior to Suicide Squad, the movies in the DC Extended Universe only included Man of Steel and Batman v Superman. When the trailer for Suicide Squad first appeared, many blogs and movie websites encouragingly noted that it seemed like the shot of adrenaline the DCEU needed. When Suicide Squad was released, it was met with the harshest of criticisms, scoring a 26% on Rotten Tomatoes. In comparison, Man of Steel scored a 55%, while Batman v Superman received a low, 27%.
Someone aside than the critics who didn’t enjoy Suicide Squad was Jared Leto himself. Even though the film marketed him as front-and-center in the movie, he was all but absent during the initial film. Leto has said to many news outlets that most of his scenes wound up on the cutting room floor and that you could make an entire Joker movie with all the absent material. According to Screen Rant, Leto stated that he felt “tricked” into taking part of Suicide Squad. Though these might be hyperbolic, it’s clear he was unhappy with the final product.
1 MICKEY ROURKE - WHIPLASH
It’s not hyperbole or a matter of opinion to say the Iron Man franchise completely resurrected the career of Robert Downey Jr. in a way that’s rarely been paralleled. The sequel continued the trend, as his salary was dramatically increased from the previous movie and audience’s attention was focused squarely on the actor.
Iron Man 2 saw his character, Tony Stark, do battle with the villain, Anton Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash. The casting ended up choosing another actor who, similar to Robert Downey Jr., had also unquestionably fallen on hard times. Mickey Rourke was hired for the role, and by all accounts, the plans for his character were massive. The villain was supposed to receive an entire character arc, so he could be viewed as a fully fleshed-out human character who maintained an authentic reasoning for why he hated Tony Stark and his father with the passion that he did.
But according to Yahoo Movies, the role proved to be a deflated comeback, rather than the rebirth Downey had experienced. After the movie was over and Rourke was promoting another film, the actor expressed disdain for Marvel, saying that he felt most of the stuff they shot with him was cut out of the finished product.