10 Perfect Superhero Movie Casting Decisions
We've seen plenty of comic book character iterations on the big screen, but we're here to only focus on the good ones. Let's take a look at 10 perfect superhero movie casting decisions to date.
Superhero movies—the modern day Western.
There's no denying that the superhero movie genre has exploded over the past decade or so, and their popularity continues to rise at a meteoric rate.
Seemingly every other day, either DC or Marvel is introducing, or re-introducing one of their titular characters on the big screen—but that's not to say every single one of them has been a home run (cough, Jared Leto's Joker, cough).
However, there's also no denying the plethora of absolutely spot-on casting decisions over the years.
So, for all intents and purposes, let's try to focus on the GOOD things we've seen from the superhero genre over the years. Positivity, people.
Without further ado, let's take a look at 10 perfect superhero movie casting decisions over the genre's history.
For starters, let's get into a pioneer of the modern-day superhero movie—the late, great Christopher Reeve.
While technically two other men, Kirk Alyn and George Reeves, preceded the late actor in playing the Man of Steel on the big screen, it was Christopher Reeve who will forever be associated with the iconic role. He first donned Superman's signature red cape and blue tights in 1978, and to date, there hasn't been an actor able to duplicate the success of Reeve's eerily spot-on performance. He captured the character we saw in the greatest Superman comics perfectly.
He followed up his 1978 performance with three sequels, cementing his legacy of Clark Kent forever—while also helping usher in the modern-day superhero genre we all now know and love.
The Spider-Man films have featured a long line of actors who have been met with mixed reviews, but there's no denying that the MCU got it right when they decided to cast Tom Holland as a hero that Gen Z can idolize. Intelligent, eccentric, quick-witted, and lovably naive, Holland brings fans of superhero movies someone that they can relate to on a personal level, but root for at every opportunity, regardless of the stakes.
In the original comics, X-Men's Wolverine was a short, stocky, trash-talking powerhouse. That's why the casting of the ultra-slender and then-relatively unknown Hugh Jackman was originally met with a great deal skepticism.
However, it's safe to say any of his detractors were silenced when he brought the Wolverine character to life in 2001s X-Men film.
Jackman went on to portray the character in eight other comic book movies—X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, X-Men: First Class in a cameo, The Wolverine, X-Men: Days of Future Past, X-Men: Apocalypse, and Logan.
Sadly, Jackman relinquished the role after Logan, bringing his 17 year character arc to a poignant close. Currently, there is no one slated to portray the character in future X-Men films, which is fine by X-Men fans, considering Jackman is the only guy to ever bring the character to life.
The only regret we have is that he never donned those cheesy yellow and blue tights.
While we're on the subject of X-Men, we might as well talk about another stalwart of the popular comic book series brought to the big screen—Professor Charles Xavier. Or, Professor X, as we so affectionately refer to him.
Our favorite chrome-domed superhero was first brought to life by ex-Star Trek captain and legendary English actor, Sir Patrick Stewart. Like Jackman, Stewart bid adieu to his role as the iconic professor of Charles Xavier's School for the Gifted in the 2017 film Logan (which was, by the way, a real tear-jerker).
Unlike Jackman's iteration of Wolverine, however, Stewart has a replacement already entrenched in X-Men lore—James McAvoy—who has played a younger version of the Professor in the film's latest trilogy. McAvoy has done well in the role to date, but there's no denying who the real Professor X is in all of hearts—the great Sir Patrick Stewart.
When Guardians of the Galaxy hit the theatres back in 2014, not many knew what to expect. They didn't know if it would be a box office smash or not. The Disney-owned Guardians property was relatively obscure to non-comic-book fans, and it was unclear how Chris Pratt, known at that time for his portrayal of Parks and Recreation fan-favorite Andy Dwyer, would fare in his first superhero movie.
Well, it's safe to say he knocked it out of the freaking park.
Guardians of the Galaxy instantly became a smash hit, and the comedy/action/superhero hybrid film has spawned two sequels (one of which is currently in production). One could even argue that had it not been for the stellar casting of Chris Pratt in the role of Star Lord, that these films wouldn't be nearly as endeared by Marvel's enthusiastic young fan base. Guardians, without a doubt, qualifies as a no-brainer in this list of perfect superhero movie casting decisions. Chris Pratt expresses a lot of emotion and that works perfectly for Star Lord. After all, if you look at his film history, Chris Pratt has roles to match whatever emotion you're feeling whenever you're feeling them.
"Speak softly, and carry a big stick."—Theodore Roosevelt
If the immortal words of one of the most prominent figures in American history could be personified, I'd be willing to bet that Chris Evans is pretty much as close as we're going to get. At a sturdy 6'0" tall, weighing in just under 200 pounds, and having a strong jawline with a patient, understanding, and calculative demeanor, Evans, as Captain America, features all of the things America held virtuous in the WWII era. He seems like the type of leader who could encourage anyone to fight, or at least do the right thing for the good of all mankind. For that, I salute you, Cap.
Robert Downey Jr.
For decades, the superhero Iron Man largely flew under the mainstream radar. Tony Stark, essentially, was just a watered-down version of DC's Batman—a billionaire corporate mogul with a bunch of fancy toys to fight crime. The only difference was, Iron Man's secret identity was known to the public, and he didn't have nearly the same dark, brooding appeal as the Dark Knight.
However, tides turned after Marvel released the first Iron Man film back in 2008, when actor Robert Downey Jr. donned the iron suit for the first time in cinematic history.
Between his snarky one-liners, douchebag-like demeanor, and propensity for kicking ass, Robert Downey Jr. perfectly exemplified what a real-life Tony Stark should be. He's made such a mark in the role that people question if Iron Man should continue after Robert Downey Jr.
While the Deadpool movies take place in the same universe as Sony's X-Men films, the movies are a stark contrast from the typically-serious X-films. Deadpool, otherwise known as "the Merc with a mouth," has been one of the funniest, if not the funniest comic book character to date.
And that's why the casting of Ryan Reynolds was so damn perfect.
Reynolds knows how to tap into the titular character's legendary sarcastic personality, and quickly proved to be the ideal casting choice for the first Deadpool film—something that's more of a dark comedy than it is a true superhero movie.
The funny thing is, Deadpool wasn't the first movie Reynolds portrayed the anti-hero in—he also played the Wade Wilson/Deadpool character in 2009's X-Men Origins: Wolverine;albeit, in a much less endearing way. That film is regarded as not only the worst X-Men film, but also one of the worst superhero movies of all time.
However, Reynolds was a fan favorite, and ultimately got a second chance under a better directorial vision by Tim Miller. The best part? Deadpool—known for breaking the fourth wall in the comics—poked fun of his former "self" all throughout the first film.
Sexy, suave, and sophisticated, who else but Scarlett Johansson would be able to play Black Widow as well as she does? Scarlett Johansson is no stranger to action roles, or strutting herself, but her composure on the silver screen is the exact thing fans want to see when the boys are making a mess of things and somebody needs to come in and clean things up. I certainly don't mean that in a disparaging way either; anything boys can do, girls can do better. If you don't believe me, just watching Black Widow weave her way in and out of battle the same way she carefully constructs conversation to get what she needs will leave you oh so enticed. That is, until she bites.
Upon the release of Christopher Nolan's much anticipated sequel to the 2005 box office hit superhero movie, Batman Begins, eager fans of The Dark Knight were met with some harrowing news—Heath Ledger, who portrayed Batman's nefarious arch-rival, The Joker, suddenly passed away at the tender age of 28.
However, what many didn't realize, is that Ledger's final role would prove to be his most legendary.
When Ledger's name was first announced for the 2008 superhero blockbuster, many DC fans, as per usual, were outraged by the casting decision.
He's too young!
He's a comedic actor!
But he just doesn't LOOK like The Joker.
Well, all of those initial, ungrounded fears were officially laid to rest after Ledger's performance was seen in theaters. He would forever be known as a legend, right then and there.
It's no easy feat to fill the shoes of a legendary actor like Jack Nicholson, but Ledger managed to do that, and then some. His performance is widely regarded as one of the greatest portrayals as a comic book character EVER, and even led to a posthumous Academy Award.
Unfortunately for actors like Jared Leto and Joaquin Pheonix, the bar has been set incredibly high when it comes to portraying the Clown Prince of Crime on the big screen. And understandably so.
Well, there you have it, folks—10 perfect superhero movie casting decisions. These actors' riveting portrayals of classic comic book characters helped set the standard for comic book movies for years to come.