Playing a superhero or super villain on the big screen is often the biggest dream for aspiring actors. While they may not be too keen on wearing the skin-tight costumes, having superhuman abilities is the stuff that all kids dream about. There are some actors that have been able to use their comic book character role to further their careers and have transformed themselves onto the big screen. Evan Peters transitioned from being a TV actor to being a bona fide film actor once he appeared as Quicksilver and Robert Downey Jr. completely rejuvenated his acting career once he appeared as Iron Man. However, not all actors have been that lucky when it comes to portraying comic book character on the big screen.
Fans are notorious for being overly protective about their favorite comic book heroes and villains and they’re known for scrutinizing casting choices before they even see them on the silver screen. Studios often have their own agendas when it comes to casting actors in comic-related films but just because an actor is at the height of their popularity doesn’t mean they will be able to convey the character. In fact, some of the worst casting choices in film has nothing to do with the star power of the actor since some of the hottest leading ladies and men have become huge disappointments on the big screen. Check out our list of the 15 actors who never should have portrayed comic book characters and see how Hollywood got it wrong more than a few times.
15 Seth Rogen
There are some actors that are able to portray characters in a wide array of different genres of film, from comedies to heartbreaking dramas. However, the majority of actors can find it extremely difficult to break out of the type of roles they’ve been pigeonholed in from the start of their careers. Seth Rogen is a prime example of how an actor can get stuck into one particular type of role since he has been consistently played comedic roles throughout his career. When he was cast in the 2011 film, The Green Hornet, he had the opportunity to show a different side to his acting ability. However, it seemed like the script catered towards his comedic style and he wound up playing the role of the same stoned out character he’s played so many times before. While Rogen probably didn’t regret taking the role at the time, he should have thought twice about playing a role that showed off his inadequacies in the realm of acting.
14 Jamie Foxx
As an Academy Award-winning actor, there were high expectations for Jamie Foxx to continue in roles that would really inspire moviegoers. However, he went through a series of poor film choices and it seemed like he was motivated more by money rather than substance. When he became attached to The Amazing Spider-Man 2, comic book fans couldn’t imagine which character he would portray. When it was discovered that he was going to play Electro, he became highly criticized even before he was seen on the big screen. After the film was released in 2014, it became evident that he wasn’t able to silence his critics based on his performance. Not only should Foxx have passed up the role based on the substance of the character but he should have taken into consideration the extremely unattractive look he would have to portray prior to becoming Electro.
13 Heath Ledger
It’s undeniable that Heath Ledger’s portrayal of The Joker in the 2008 film, The Dark Knight, was his most memorable of his career. However, it was also the role that took the most out of him and greatly affected his mental state. In preparation for his role, Ledger gave an interview with Empire magazine and said that he locked himself away in a hotel room for over a month. He also carried around a diary of ominous photos and drawings in order to keep him tied to the character. After putting so much into the character, it was undoubtedly extremely difficult for him to let all of that go once filming had concluded. The official cause of death was deemed accident by the New York City medical examiner’s office and stated, “acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam, and doxylamine.” He was 28-years-old and died before he could ever see his iconic portrayal of The Joker when it was released onto the big screen.
12 George Clooney
Although George Clooney had already appeared in a number of films on the big screen, prior to appearing on the hospital drama, ER, he was still predominantly thought of as a TV actor. Once he started to transition into a Hollywood film star, there were high hopes that he would become the next go-to leading man on the big screen. Clooney had received a favorable response from his role in the 1996 film, From Dusk till Dawn, and it seemed like a great opportunity for him to portray a superhero on the big screen. However, the 1997 film, Batman & Robin, was a huge failure in regards to the plot line and casting choices. Clooney had the misfortune of being cast in one of the worst Batman films ever made and was heavily scrutinized by fans of the franchise. Critics claimed that his performance appeared strained and uncomfortable and the cartoon-like characters didn’t exactly help him out. He’s undoubtedly embarrassed at being tied to such a flop of a film but at least he went on to redeem his reputation on the big screen.
11 Halle Berry
Oftentimes, Hollywood likes to reboot certain iconic stories and put a twist on it that includes African American actors. From Cedric the Entertainer in the 2005 remake of The Honeymooners to Jamie Foxx in the remake of Annie, this has become a common theme over the years. So, there were high hopes when Halle Berry signed on to portray Catwoman on the big screen. Yet, those hopes were dashed once people got a look at the ridiculous costume and absurd storyline. There was already a huge expectation when it came to the actress that would portray Catwoman in the first spin-off film since previous portrayals were absolutely captivating. It just seemed like everything was wrong about the film and it says a lot that even Halle Berry couldn’t save it.
10 Michael B. Jordan
As one of the success stories that came out of the hit HBO series, The Wire, Michael B. Jordan became a wonderful new addition to Hollywood’s list of leading men. He had a series of well-received roles in film, including the 2012 films, Red Tails and Chronicle. Yet, his true breakout moment was in the real-life news story turned into a Hollywood film, Fruitvale Station. It shouldn’t have come as a surprise that he would jump at the chance to play the Human Torch in the remake of Fantastic Four, especially when it included his former Chronicle director, Josh Trank. However, the film completely flopped at the box office and was pretty much forgotten by moviegoers completely. Jordan probably wanted to forget about it as well since it was one of his least popular films ever since his early acting career. However, he was able to redeem himself and make fans forget about his flop of a film once he starred in the 2015 film, Creed.
9 Topher Grace
When Topher Grace was first introduced to mainstream audiences through his role on That ‘70s Show, no one could have guessed that he had aspirations outside of being on one of America’s most popular sitcoms. Yet, he wound up quitting the series in order to move on to bigger and better things, which included trying to make a name for himself on the big screen. While he was able to land a few roles, audiences didn’t seem to take to him like they did with some of the other breakout stars from the TV series. When he was cast as the villain in the 2007 film, Spider-Man 3, it had come after the last three of his films flopped at the box office. This seemed like a last ditch effort to try and gain a formidable fanbase and it failed miserably.
8 Thomas Haden Church
Thomas Haden Church isn’t often thought of as a Hollywood leading man on the big screen. Oftentimes, it’s only the older generation that remembers him from his TV appearance in the series, Wings. When it was revealed that he was going to portray the infamous Sandman villain in the film, Spider-Man 3, many fans were left wondering why they would have chosen such an aged and unrecognizable actor. Although there wasn’t too much criticism over how he portrayed the character of Flint Marko/Sandman, it wasn’t exactly a role that helped his acting career. If Church was trying to become known as a serious Hollywood actor, there were other roles he could have taken in order to prove that he had more talent than his comedic role in the Wings TV series.
First becoming famous through the musical group, The Black Eyed Peas, will.i.am made a name for himself outside of the huge shadow cast by Fergie. Yet, he is known for his low-key personality that is far less outspoken than the frontwoman of the group. Although there are some music artists that have been able to transition into acting, it was a little difficult to think of will.i.am as a bona fide Hollywood actor. When he portrayed John Wraith, also known as Kestrel, in the 2009 film, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, he wasn’t exactly doing himself any favors in trying to make it seem like he could truly act. He played the character meekly and didn’t really show off the true mutant powers and charisma of the character. It’s no wonder that the only time he was ever in a feature film again was when he was voicing an animated character.
6 Chris O’Donnell
When it comes to comic book characters, actors are often drawn to the roles that allow them to portray the most villainous or charismatic individuals that can truly show off their acting chops. Playing the sidekick of Batman isn’t exactly the best role an actor can get in the superhero world and it’s definitely not great when the entire film has a myriad of issues. Chris O’Donnell had the misfortune of attaching himself to the 1997 film, Batman & Robin, and had a plethora of hurdles to overcome in order to stave off criticism. From a poor storyline to cartoon-like costumes, there wasn’t much that O’Donnell could do in order to salvage his role in the film. After the film was released and was received with heavy criticisms, O’Donnell undoubtedly regretted his decision in donning the cape to become just another actor that was ridiculed for this flop of a film.
5 Arnold Schwarzenegger
Arnold Schwarzenegger has been in a number of cringeworthy films throughout his career but there have also been a number of roles that have become iconic in the eyes of moviegoers. Undoubtedly, Schwarzenegger hopes that the acclaim he received for his role in the Terminator franchise will overshadow the embarrassment from taking on roles in flop films like Junior and Batman & Robin. Playing the role of Mr. Freeze, Schwarzenegger had the chance at playing a role that had a bit of heart thrown into a supervillain character but instead, he played it in a cartoon-like manner. To be fair, this coincided with the rest of the film since the plot and costumes were heavily criticized by audiences and comic book fans alike. However, this was a role that definitely had to make the top of the list for Schwarzenegger’s most regretted films.
4 Alicia Silverstone
Alicia Silverstone was once thought of as the “It” girl in the ‘90s and was even slated to become Hollywood’s new favorite leading lady. Fans resonated with her after seeing her in hit music videos by Aerosmith and she had a number of hit films as well. However, there are some actresses that are able to pull off playing a superhero and there are those that definitely can’t. Seeing Silverstone in Batman & Robin was completely unbelievable and people couldn’t seem to get over her Aerosmith days when seeing her in a cape. It was a poor casting choice that was one of many in the film and was undoubtedly regretted by Silverstone since it marked the end days of her acting career. While she appeared in a few roles after her Batman & Robin film, she soon became known as an obsolete actress.
3 Vinnie Jones
When comic book fans heard that Juggernaut was going to be featured in X-Men: The Last Stand, there was a huge amount of excitement over seeing the stepbrother of Professor X on the big screen. There is quite a backstory surrounding Cain Marko, with much of his early life entwined with that of Professor X. There is even a great storyline involving the way Cain Marko was able to transform into Juggernaut, as well as the animosity towards Professor X. Yet, once Vinnie Jones portrayed him on the big screen, he completely drained all of the essence of this supervillain out of the character. He became just a brute force character that was more memorable for the memes that were created from his screenshots rather than the character he brought to the silver screen.
2 Ioan Gruffudd
When Hollywood began constructing a cast for the 2005 film, Fantastic Four, it became obvious that there wasn’t enough thought put into the casting decisions. Jessica Alba was seen as simply eye candy in the film and the script made sure to input a shot of her in her bra and panties in the film in case people got a little bored with the storyline. Yet, the worst casting decision was when Ioan Gruffudd was chosen to portray the role of Mr. Fantastic. Prior to his Fantastic Four role, Gruffudd has solidified himself as a formidable actor from his training at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the success of the British TV series, Hornblower, but he was almost completely unknown to American audiences. While his character was meant to be highly intelligent, audiences expected far more from a comic book character that was nicknamed, Mr. Fantastic.
1 Nicolas Cage
Nicolas Cage is a notorious comic book fan and earlier in his career he was actually slated to play Superman on the big screen. However, talks fell through and it never came to be. Obviously, Cage never gave up hope to one day portray a comic book character but someone should have told him that there can sometimes be an age restriction. When Cage was cast in the 2007 film, Ghost Rider, he was meant to portray the stunt motorcyclist Johnny Blaze. Yet, he was already middle-aged at that point and it was difficult to believe him in the role. On top of his poor performance as Ghost Rider, the overall storyline of the film was hugely criticized. There was an incredibly slow start to the movie and it seemed to take forever for Blaze to finally transition into his superhero character. Critics slammed the film, as well as Cage’s performance. This is definitely one film role that Cage should have passed up since it definitely hurt his reputation as an actor.
Sources: Page Six, New York Daily News, IGN