When it comes to the world of television and movies, the right casting choice can make or break the entire thing. The wrong actor can bring down a production and kill a possible franchise before it ever gets going. Meanwhile, the right casting can surely help something become bigger than even the studio didn't know it could do.
Superhero castings are far bigger than other types of casting, at the end of the day. When you become a superhero, especially in today's market, you're instantly going to be put in a box office blockbuster. People will see you play a notable character, and your performance will be remembered by several people for years to come. You'll either go down as great or terrible, regardless of how you feel you did. So actors and actresses have to bring it when they play these roles.
Every role is a big deal for an actor, but playing a superhero or even a super-villain can be bigger than many others. Most of the best in these movies have gone on to get huge roles in Hollywood. It does not even matter if the movie is Marvel, DC, or a comic from another company. Your role can be crucial to your upcoming career, because not only will fans see this but future casting directors. That is why these movies are bigger for an actor than ever before.
While Marvel has been great with their movies for the most part, Warner Bros and DC have had some issues with movies and even TV shows over the years. While some casting decisions have been perfect, others left a lot to be desired. In this list, we're going to break down ten good and ten bad casting choices for DC TV and Movie roles. Enjoy.
20 Terrible - Jesse Eisenberg As Lex Luthor
Jesse Eisenberg proved to be a relatively good actor over the years and stood out massively when he played Mark Zuckerberg in the movie The Social Network. It was about, of course, the Facebook owner and how it was formed. When you're a big name in Hollywood, it makes sense to see bigger roles offered to you. When Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice planned to bring in Lex Luthor, it obviously made sense to hire someone who fit the part greatly of Superman's biggest rival.
Sadly, Jesse and his trademark awkwardness did not land well with critics of the movie or fans. While some have considered his performance to be fine, especially since he was not a movie built on him...it was still a bad thing. Jesse fit the part of Lex in some ways, but the Lex most fans grew up watching and liking as a villain did not seem to be the one Eisenberg brought to the movie. While he could always get better in upcoming films, and he is a good actor, Jesse simply isn't the right man for Lex. He either needs to get better fast, or Warner Bros needs to recast the character.
19 Perfect - Matt Ryan As Constantine
It seemed that the Arrowverse was going pretty well, so it made sense to assume that other superhero TV shows could work as well. Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was also landing pretty well for ABC at the same time the Arrowverse killed on The CW. NBC and CBS both wanted in on the superhero market due to the success of these shows, so they pushed to bring DC heroes to their networks. While CBS got Supergirl we saw NBC get Constantine. Constantine was actually pretty good to most fans, but the network truly never seemed to give it legs to run with.
They put it on late in a random night that seemed to just throw the show from what it could have done into nothingness. However, Matt Ryan seemed to do very well in the role of Constantine and even critics of the show felt that Ryan was not given the right chance. Though the show still holds a 72% on Rotten Tomatoes and a 7.8/10 score on TV.com, all mostly due to Ryan and his performance. The CW agreed with that assessment, which is why they have brought Ryan in numerous times across the Arrowverse to reprise his role as Constantine. It is also widely assumed that with CW being interested in another superhero show for Sunday nights, Constantine could be given another chance to see if the show can truly work or not. Here's hoping.
18 Terrible - Halle Berry As Catwoman
While Halle Berry was a proven hero due to her performance as Storm with the X-Men, she seemed to be the worst possible Catwoman imaginable. For some reason, DC wanted to get in on the superhero market so desperately yet they were ignoring major heroes. So when a Catwoman movie was announced, it was truly surprising for fans. No one seemed to feel the idea of bringing Catwoman in for a solo movie made any sense, especially when she had not been set up in the universe since the 1980's. However, casting a major actress could bring attention to the movie and the character.
This is what ultimately led to Halle Berry getting the role as Catwoman. However, the script she was given was absolutely terrible. No matter what she did, the movie would have sucked regardless. However, Berry would be allowed to play the role in the dumbest of ways. From speaking like a cat, to just overall bad dialog in general...she seemed to lack an understanding of the character. Clearly, even the director seemed to not know about Catwoman at all. The attempt to speak like a cat had been done with previous versions, but not to the extent Berry used. Combining her horrible acting with a bad script, we had a terrible performance all-around.
17 Perfect - Christopher Reeve As Superman
When the decision was made to bring Superman to the big screen, the search was on to find the perfect man to play the part. A lot of people were auditioned and many made sense for the job. However, no one fit better than Christopher Reeve, a young actor who looked great and fit the character excellently. It was hard to picture Superman in real life, but Reeve allowed us to see the live action version that fans of the hero deserved to see. While casting was not perfect in all early DC movies, Reeve made sense for Superman.
The first few movies made get laughed at today due to how they look, but at the time everything seen with him was revolutionary. The movies would do well, and Reeve became iconic as Superman. No one else fit the role more, and it was impossible to see anyone else ever play him. Many tried, few accomplished the mission. Sadly, Reeve would have an accident that would leave him paralyzed from the waist down. However, that did not stop him from being a Superman. He would open up the Christopher Reeve Foundation with the mission to find treatments and possible cures for paralysis caused by spinal injury or neurological issues. All of this to help people in the future.
16 Terrible - Arnold Schwarzenegger As Mr. Freeze
Mr. Freeze is a major villain in the Batman Rogues Gallery. It made sense to bring him to the big screen due to all you could do with the character. However, the right man had to play the part. Casting Arnold Schwarzenegger would be a no-brainer in most action films, but the Austrian former bodybuilder made no sense for Mr. Freeze. Sadly, he would get the job and it would end up going exactly as people expected it to...terrible. Arnold never seemed right in the part. Even the sad human moments were more campy than impactful.
Arnold never seemed to grasp what it meant to play the role, but the problem was he never should have played the role to begin with. He would be outshined in the movie by Uma Thurman, who was pretty impressive as Poison Ivy. Combining that with a Batman actor that did not make sense for the part and this entire movie, it made for a not so great film. While Arnold may not have been the only part of the movie, he did not help matters. Arnold has had great success in Hollywood on a number of films and the hope is that he can continue to do that. However, we hope he never plays another super-villain from the comics ever again.
15 Perfect - Caty Lotz As White Canary
In the Arrowverse, they have been known for taking very small characters and blowing them up to make them bigger than they ever were. When the time came to cast a true Sarah Lance, the producers of Arrow had a decision to make. Do they bring back the same girl they used in the first season who played a very small role as Sarah? Or do they recast with a new girl who likely fit the part better? They would go with the latter, and cast Caty Lotz to be the sister of Laurel Lance who had a pretty big secret of being a hero that only Oliver Queen truly knew about.
The first girl was used to be someone who looked enough like Katie Cassidy(Laurel) to be thought of as her sister. Caty was brought in to destroy in the role. While she had played small parts, she stood out in shows like Mad Men and movies like The Machine. She also had a dance background, which likely would help her in learning how to do fight choreography for the role. She became so great with the part that they continued to build her role more and more. She is now a main star in DC's Legends of Tomorrow where she captains the Waverider, a time-ship where she leads her team to correct problems across time.
14 Terrible - Will Smith As Floyd Lawton
It truly is hard to ever say that Will Smith should be recast in anything. He's one of the best actors in Hollywood and the numerous award nominations do not lie. Will Smith is great, but Suicide Squad was not a movie where he made sense. In fact, he wasn't the only reason why there were issues with the film.
Smith was in a world where he was cast only due to name...not for being right for the part. It was also odd seeing Smith tring to be a bad guy, while also try to be good. The role never seemed to fit him right.
While it is uncertain any actor, even the greatest that ever lived, could have played the role and made the movie better...Smith's portrayal of the part had more issues than greatness. His ability to play the Floyd Lawten side of the character seemed perfect. However, his ability in playing Deadshot seemed to lack believability. From his acting with the other villains of the Suicide Squad to the fight and gun sequences, nothing landed as well as it could have. Again, he was not given the best script in the world. So perhaps the role could have been better if that area was fixed. That said, Smith's performance could be far better in the next Suicide Squad movie. Yes, there's another one coming.
13 Perfect - Gal Gadot As Wonder Woman
It seemed like a no-win situation. Casting the person who could play Wonder Woman was going to be incredibly hard. This woman was going to play an iconic character that would be someone many women would look to, whether young or older. On top of this, the men would also be watching and wanting to see the right woman play the role. It seemed producers and casting directors were never going to find the right person, regardless of who they hired for the role. Then Gal Gadot came along.
Gal had limited experience in major movies like Wonder Woman. She took on a role in Fast and Furious that showed her to be a capable associate actor to a large cast where she did not have to run the movie. However, this was truly it. Despite this, she got the part and many people felt she would not be right for the role. Then we saw her play the part in Dawn of Justice and again in her own solo movie. When you talk about a perfect person to play Wonder Woman, it would be hard to imagine anyone could ever be that, "perfect." Yet Gal Gadot actually is the perfect woman for the job, and is proving it all the time.
12 Terrible - Tommy Lee Jones As Two-Face
Another from the 90's Batman movies that had trouble in his part is Tommy Lee Jones who played Harvey Dent, better known as Two-Face. While Christopher Nolan set up a proper Dent role then slowly brought us to Two-Face, that was not the decision made by Joel Schumacher and the writers of Batman Forever. They decided to bring us right to an already established villain version of Two-Face, which was already a big issue with the movie. From there, the entire campy version of how the movie went did not help him.
Tommy Lee Jones is known as an impressive actor, so the idea of having him play the role did make sense. However, he overacted a lot of the movie and never once played Two-Face the way he was known from the comics. He seemed to make him more of a laughing comedian than the depressive sociopath that he's known for being in the comics. It did not help matters that Jim Carrey actually did a good job playing The Riddler in the same movie. Ultimately making Tommy Lee Jones possibly the worst part of the movie. In the end, it did not make sense for someone like Tommy Lee Jones to be this bad. Yet he was.
11 Perfect - Jackie Earle Daly As Rorschach
While some will claim The Watchmen are not a DC Comics movie or franchise, they are actually under the DC Comics banner now. Therefore, they fit the list. Years ago however, the movie was made using the characters we knew from The Watchmen comics of the past. The characters would be very adult versions of some characters we knew from other comics. However, they differed enough to be considered isolated characters to themselves. One character was unlike any before him, and that was Rorschach.
Casting this character was going to be hard, because fans of the franchise were going to expect a certain type of performance for this man. He's like Batman in the sense of the deep darkness within, and relies more on money and gadgets rather than a power. Jackie Earle Daly had played roles like this in the past, but nothing like Rorschach. Yet he brought the role to life and it was brilliantly done. To this day, many of the lines Jackie said as the character are repeated the exact way he delivered them by comic fans. That takes a special type of performance. As far as many fans are concerned, there is no other man who could play the role better.
10 Terrible - Val Kilmer As Batman
When casting a Batman actor, there is a lot of importance on getting the right guy. This man could play the hero for a number of years, so not only does he have to fit the part but he also has to be willing to be known as Batman for a long time. In the 90's, few actors were as big as Val Kilmer. He truly embodied the look of what a Bruce Wayne needed to be, which in turn pretty much worked for him as Batman too. We cannot possibly blame casting for wanting Val considering he fit in everywhere.
Val was coming off some big movies with amazing performances attached. This meant when it came to up and coming or top actors, Kilmer was on the rise. Sadly, his performance lacked in every way. Most feel he was put in a bad position right off due to the pretty campy script he was provided. However, even in campy movies we can see a good performance. The issue was not the script completely, but that Kilmer seemed to lack the needed acting chops to pull of Batman and Bruce Wayne. The differences are huge, and when even the voice has few alterations, it starts to look as if no one cared. It showed.
9 Perfect - Tom Hardy As Bane
Some will disagree with the idea that Tom Hardy was a great Bane. It is still one of the most debated castings for Nolan's Batman series. However, the script was seen as pretty good and they finally did justice to Bane that the 90's movie did not. Bane was shown as he was in the comics, but with some small twists. They removed the serum that would make him larger and simply had Hardy pack on muscle to pull off the role. Tom had worked with Nolan before, and many feel that he got the part only on that merit.
However, Hardy not only changed how he looked to pull off this role, he also made sure to speak differently. While Hardy is an English actor, he made sure he slowed down how he spoke and used the respirator as Bane would. Considering the character had to use this to breathe based on the writings, Hardy had to speak and act certain ways due to this. It was annoying to some that Bane had this, but it was part of the character that made sense. Hardy worked with this and made sure it was part of how he spoke and acted. While no one could have been better than the villain Nolan used in the movie prior, Hardy did great.
8 Terrible - Brandon Routh As Superman
When the late 80's likely brought us the worst Superman movie of all time, Warner Bros and DC seemed to give up on a possible Superman franchise for some time. They put total focus on Batman from then on out, which is likely why we saw so many movie attempts with him. Meanwhile Superman was kept out and the studio would even go after Steel and Catwoman before going to him. Eventually in 2006, they tried to bring Superman back in the Superman Returns movie. This time, they would need a perfect Superman and did not get it.
Brandon Routh would get the job, but seemed to never truly fit the role. From how he looked as Superman to the overall acting...it did not work. The sad part is that the script likely did not help Routh out, as it was terrible too. It would be near another decade until we saw Superman again. However, Routh seemed to work things out for himself in the DC Comics universe. He's now Ray Palmer/The Atom in The CW's Arrowverse, mostly for DC's Legends of Tomorrow.
7 Perfect - Margot Robbie As Harley Quinn
When you look for people to fully make sense for a character, it can be tough to truly find. So many people can make sense for a role that the ideal fan choice can be overlooked. That was not the case for the Suicide Squad movie, where the fans would dream-cast Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn. She would accept the role and the hirings through the film seemed interesting, though not all seemed to work. However, even if you did not like the movie you likely enjoyed Margot's role as Harley.
Many fans felt she made sense for the part due to her already knowing the New York accent well from her role in Wolf of Wall Street. She also had the type of look Harley was known for in the animated shows and movies, as well as the comics. In theory, she was seemingly perfect in every way for the job. Considering Robbie was not born until 1990, she was seemingly born to eventually do a live action version of a character. Harley would soon debut in the Batman animated series a short few years after Robbie's birth interestingly.
6 Terrible - Jared Leto As The Joker
While playing The Joker is always considered to be difficult, most pull the role off pretty well. However, there has always been a progression for whomever dons the face paint and green hair. When The Dark Knight showed off how great the Joker could be, it seemed to be impossible to ever top such a job. That said, Leto was in a bad spot as everyone would still remember the job done before him with the character. Going in, Leto had just won an Oscar for his role in Dallas Buyers Club. We knew he could act, and we knew he could bring a lot to the table for The Joker.
Not only was the script unable to give us a Joker we could really care about, but we also had a bad performance from Leto. While Leto tried to be meta on set the entire time he played The Joker, he was unable to make us enjoy him in the role.
While his laugh was interesting, his acting through the movie seemed to be more of an annoyance than triumph. This made fans not care for him most of the time, resulting in poor critical grades for his role in the movie, though limited to everyone's surprise.
5 Perfect - Jason Momoa As Aquaman
Zack Snyder wanted to make sure he cast a good Aquaman, as the character had been the end of many jokes for years. People never seemed to grasp who he truly was, and a revamp in movie form would allow people to see a side of the hero few had seen before. This meant Snyder needed to cast the right man for the part. This led to him going after Game of Thrones and Conan the Barbarian star Jason Momoa. Jason had a very different look than what people were used to with Aquaman, and his style of acting with the character also took away the overly serious version everyone assumed Aquaman to be.
Jason brought Aquaman to life in a way every fan of the character absolutely loved. It was going to be in easy in some ways to change the role and make him better, but hard to get it right. Jason clearly did a great job, and this allowed for him to truly make the character worthwhile. A solo movie with the character wrapped a little while back, which means we'll be seeing Jason bring Aquaman back to the screen to open up a universe never explored in live action before. If his last performance was any indication, the movie may do very well.
4 Terrible - Megan Fox As Lilah
When the decision was made to bring Jonah Hex to the big screen the idea of it seemed puzzling. However, if done correctly it would be a terrific way to open another great universe in DC that had not been explored very often. While Josh Brolin played Jonah well enough to get by, the curious inclusion of Megan Fox as Tallulah Black made many wonder what the studio was thinking. The character made sense for the movie, as she was often with Hex in the comics.
However, Fox simply never made sense for the role from the beginning. It appeared she was literally only there for eye candy, though she did well with that job. However, her role as the character she was supposed to be simply never landed. She was coming off of the Transformers franchise, and it was an odd situation seeing her jump to this. What made things worse was that Megan was playing the same character, but one of different note from her counterpart.
Instead of being a Bounty Hunter like Black was, she would be a night worker in the movie that merely assisted Hex and went by the name Lilah, with no mention to the previous name. She even appeared different as well. So not only was the character messed around with, but nothing ever seemed right from the way Black was used to casting Megan Fox in the role. Overall, it deserved the less than 20% on Rotten Tomatoes.
3 Perfect - Stephen Amell As Green Arrow
After Smallville had become a major success for The CW for a ten year span, the idea to bring a new hero to life for the network made sense. Instead of going after a big name, the decision was made to go after a median name that would get people interested but not expectant of something major. Oliver Queen, better known as Green Arrow, would get his own television show. The idea would be to do a long-running arc of origin for him, and build him to the superhero we know from the comics today. However, the popularity of the character exceeded expectations.
This was in part due to the script, but mostly due to the man they cast as the main character himself, Stephen Amell. While Amell won't be considered the best superhero casting decision in history, he is one of the best. We can note this due to what The CW has built around him and his show. There are now 4 other shows involving heroes on the network thanks to the success of Arrow. This isn't even mentioning the other superhero shows that came to life after the success of Arrow on other networks. It is likely none of this would have happened if not for the success of Amell and Arrow. So clearly, it was a brilliant casting decision.
2 Terrible - Shaquille O'Neal As Steel
While it made little sense to bring Steel to the big screen over other superheroes that could have been far better, you could not tell that to Warner Bros at the time. What possessed them to take Steel to the big screen likely also had them cast a man that made no sense for the part. Back in 1997, Shaquille O'Neal was in Los Angeles as the star center for the Lakers. Due to being in LA already, it was very easy to get him in for the part after he was done playing for the season or on breaks that he had during the season.
O'Neal was popular, and athletes transitioning to film was certainly not unheard of by that time. However, Shaq was not an experienced actor at this point. He had done Kazaam before this, which was critically panned. Though he would become quite useful in comedy films, a movie like this simply did not fit him. There was no real casting done, as they seemed to pick Shaq right away. It turned out to be terrible. Though it was given a low budget of $16 million, it would only make $1.7 million back. Which is less than Shaq made per year on his NBA contract for the Lakers.
1 Perfect - Heath Ledger As The Joker
Christopher Nolan knew from the beginning that he was going to use The Joker in his series, as he loved the character and knew his version would be terrific. The set-up was made in Batman Begins, which forced many fans to wait with excitement to see what would occur. Then Nolan decided to hire Heath Ledger for the role, which many fans scoffed at and thought was insane. Not only would fans consider it the worst choice he could have made, but some claimed they would refuse to see the film due to a possible terrible performance by Ledger.
At the time, Ledger had been a leading man but was not a proven actor. The Joker is very very tough to play to what the comics make him out to be. This is why no one has ever played anything other than a campy version before Ledger took the role. Ledger would become meta, and go down a very bad path in order to find his Joker. Sadly, he could never get out of it after filming concluded. He would die from an overdose shortly before the film's release. However, his performance was absolutely amazing. He is still the only actor to ever win an Oscar for his role in a Superhero movie, proving it was the perfect choice that Chris Nolan made.