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There Can Only Be One: 15 Actors Who Played The Superhero Better

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There Can Only Be One: 15 Actors Who Played The Superhero Better

There are a lot of superheroes out there, and there is nearly as many movies or TV shows about said superheroes. Before Iron Man ever graced our movie theaters in 2008 there were already a plethora of comic book movies. Hard to believe, right? If history has taught us anything with comic book movies, there’s eventually going to be a reboot. There’s even whispers of the Marvel Cinematic Universe getting a reboot after Avengers 4. Sometimes you get reboots like that that are in-story and understandable because we can’t expect the same actors to stay with a role well into their golden years.

RELATED: Earth’s Dankiest Heroes: 17 Hilarious MCU Memes You Need To See

Other times a reboot comes about because the rights reverted back to a company or a movie didn’t do too well at the box office. Whatever the reason, new actors are used and it’s next to impossible for fans to not draw comparisons. Next to “Who would win in a fight” arguments, the “Who played it better” argument is the most common dispute. Those fights can become surprisingly messy and cost friendships. Well, we would like to throw our hat into the mix with our own list of who was better. This is in no particular order. Hopefully we don’t lost any friendships.

15. HULK: NORTON BETTER THAN RUFFALO

When the MCU was first finding its feet, The Incredible Hulk was the second movie in the cinematic universe after Iron Man that was paving a path for The Avengers. In The Incredible Hulk, Edward Norton played the titular character on the run from the military. Then, much like Terrence Howard, there was a disagreement about pay and he was replaced with another actor.

Mark Ruffalo has done a fantastic job as Bruce Banner, building a good rapport with the team. At this point we can’t imagine anyone else playing Bruce Banner. Unless it was Edward Norton. Norton really fit the bill for a tall, lanky intellectual type that has anger issues. He even has experience playing that kind of character in his movie Fight Club. Let that sink in for a bit.

14. BATMAN: AFFLECK BETTER THAN BALE

Christian Bale was an excellent Bruce Wayne. That’s the thing about the role of Batman, though. An actor in that role is actually playing two characters, not one. Enter Ben Affleck. The Academy Award winner that all comic book fans thought would once again ruin a beloved comic book character after his portrayal of Matthew Murdock in 2003’s Daredevil. While some fans might still need some convincing, Affleck’s Batman was pristine.

Taking inspiration from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns, Affleck really bulked up to give his Batman the intimidating presence that one who uses fear as a weapon should have, and that intimidating presence really bled over into his Bruce Wayne. Affleck carried his Bruce Wayne with the swagger and air of confidence that gets a whole room to stare. And just the right amount of brooding for someone that can’t let go of their childhood trauma.

13. DAREDEVIL: COX BETTER THAN AFFLECK

We all try to forget the Ben Affleck Daredevil movie from 2003. It wasn’t the worst comic book movie, but it sure did come close. Then Netflix announced the Daredevil series and a lot of fans didn’t know what to expect. Marvel were doing so well with their movies that maybe there was some hope.

On the other hand, who would have thought they could have made such a bad movie with such a great character in the first place? Not to mention Charlie Cox was relatively unknown at the time, so no one knew what to think. Then it premiered and it was glorious. Charlie Cox brought justice to a character that we thought couldn’t be redeemed. He played Murdock with so much emotion and sincerity. We could see he cared about his city and carried the weight of the world on his shoulders.

12. WONDER WOMAN: GADOT BETTER THAN CARTER

When it was first announced that Gal Gadot was going to be portraying Wonder Woman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice a lot of people asked: Who? Then when they saw who she was, the number one complaint was that she was lacking the physicality to be Diana.

The great thing about Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman is that we see how much joy she gets when she is in the midst of combat. There’s a hint of a smile that says she feels most comfortable when there is a battle for her to fight. This is drastically different than Lynda Carter’s Wonder Woman who looks uncomfortable in her own outfit and is afraid of a single stick of dynamite in one episode of the 1975 Wonder Woman series.

11. MAGNETO: FASSBENDER BETTER THAN MCKELLEN

It’s typically considered sacrilege to say that a younger, less experienced actor played a role better than an older, well-respected and seasoned actor did. Especially one with such prestigious credits under his belt such as The Lord of the Rings, Macbeth, and other Shakespearean theatre credits. Unfortunately, nostalgia doesn’t always win out. Don’t get us wrong, Ian McKellen is a fantastic actor and played Magneto beautifully.

Where McKellen’s hatred for humankind was made obvious by his actions and schemes, Fassbender portrayed his anger with his face and emotions. When an actor can make you feel their emotions, they are superior. The audience can see that Fassbender is playing a character previously portrayed on the big screen. There’s some consistency between Fassbender and McKellen. Whether it’s intentional or not.

10. SPIDER-MAN: HOLLAND BETTER THAN MAGUIRE

Tobey Maguire was a good start for the character Peter Parker — but that’s all he was. A kind of prototype. After Maguire we got Andrew Garfield, who was a step further in the right direction. And now we have Tom Holland, who is closer to the age that Parker was originally in the comics than any of the previous actors. Holland nails the humor fans are used to from his character while also exhibiting the anxiety, insecurity and awkwardness that comes with being a teenager.

Much less a teenaged superhero. We see in Civil War how eager he is to please Tony Stark. That’s not something we saw with Maguire’s Peter Parker, and it’s not like there wasn’t a character he didn’t look up to in his movies. His interactions with Dr. Octavius seemed less like he was trying to impress him and more like he was being himself.

9. COLOSSUS: KAPICIC BETTER THAN CUDMORE

The most frustrating aspect about Fox’s X-Men movies is the inconsistencies and lack of continuity, something the MCU is pretty solid with. Surprisingly, they used the same actor for the character of Colossus until Deadpool. The problem with the previous actor to play Colossus was his American accent. Most comic book fans know that Colossus is Russian-born and has an accent to reflect that.

It wasn’t until Deadpool that we got a more comic-accurate portrayal of the character. Not just with his voice, but the appearance. Colossus was a giant. Maybe it’s because Cudmore didn’t exactly have a lot of screentime during his time with the character or maybe it’s the superior look and sound of Kapicic’s Colossus, but we think Kapicic nailed it and hope to see him in the role many more times.

8. JOKER: LEDGER BETTER THAN LETO

The Joker is one character that directors and actors have to really try to get right. He’s also a character that can be portrayed a number of different ways, but fans will hold that character under a microscope to scrutinize it. Jared Leto is the most recent actor to play the Clown Prince and it is not what people expected to see, to say the least. To say the most, he gave a disappointing performance.

Heath Ledger’s Joker can be crowned as the best thus far because he tried something different. Leto’s version we’ve seen before. He’s playing your run-of-the-mill gangster that you would likely see in a film like Heat or Scarface. Ledger was unpredictable and horrifying to be around. A real force of nature. You wouldn’t find him hanging out in a nightclub shaking hands with other mobsters or pimping out his girlfriend.

7. ZOD: SHANNON BETTER THAN STAMP

Terence Stamp is a seasoned actor that has been in Hollywood since the ‘60s. He has the swagger of a professional-whatever or a wise man. Before he played Stick in the 2005 Elektra, he had already dabbled in the realm of comic books. He was General Zod in Superman and Superman II, and he did a great job at portraying a villainous leader. However, compared to Michael Shannon, his performance was a little dry or robotic.

In all the things Man of Steel did wrong, casting was not one of them. Shannon’s Zod had a cause that he died for whereas Stamp’s Zod simply wanted revenge. The way Michael Shannon talked and carried himself, it was obvious that he was a military genius. He truly felt like Superman’s equal and their fight scenes together were exquisite. Unlike Stamp’s and Reeves’ which looked like two kids playing in their backyard.

6. MYSTIQUE: ROMIJN BETTER THAN LAWRENCE

Jennifer Lawrence is practically considered a national treasure these days. She’s pretty, has an Academy Award to throw in the face of any of her haters, and has a great sense of humor. Unfortunately, when it comes to the role of Mystique, Rebecca Romijn did it better. It might not be so much the acting, but the fighting style that Romijn used in the first X-Men movies.

It’s a fighting style that works for the character of Mystique, so it’s understandable that Lawrence would continue to use it in her X-Men movies. However, that style seems better suited for someone that is tall and wiry. Much like Rebecca Romijn. She might only be two inches taller than Jennifer Lawrence, but this is one instance where two inches makes a difference.

5. CAPTAIN AMERICA: EVANS BETTER THAN SALINGER

Chris Evans is Captain America. It’s indisputable. There’s no argument. While 1990 saw the first portrayal of Captain America in a feature-length film, Matt Salinger doesn’t hold a candle to Evans’ Steve Rogers. When we see a pre-serum Rogers taking a beating in an alleyway, refusing to stay down, we saw a man that embodied the spirit of America. This is someone we should all aspire to be.

Now, it might be the fact that the MCU Captain America is modernized with flashy choreographed fight scenes that are only enhanced by modern technology such as CGI, but even the acting from the 1990 movie doesn’t come close to other movies from that era. The acting was cringeworthy and makes one wonder if there was even a script.

4. DREDD: URBAN BETTER THAN STALLONE

Sylvester Stallone, known for Rambo and The Expendables, is one intimidating person to be around. He’s in great shape with more muscles than fingers. He also likes to shout a lot. However, that shouting is a little less intimidating when he yells at you that he is the law. It comes off more like a 13-year old telling their younger sibling that their parents put them in charge.

Karl Urban, who you might recognize as Dr. Bones from the rebooted Star Trek movies, exudes the demeanor of a police officer that means business. He also manages to go the entirety of Dredd without removing his helmet, which is something that should be respected from an actor because there are so many that refuse to hide their face when they’re onscreen.

3. WAR MACHINE: CHEADLE BETTER THAN HOWARD

You usually have to wait for a reboot of an entire franchise — or just a new X-Men movie — to get a role to be recast. That wasn’t the case for James Rhodes, better known as War Machine, in the MCU. Played by Terrence Howard in the 2008 Iron Man, the role was passed to the always under-appreciated Don Cheadle when there were some financial disagreements between Howard and the studio.

The chemistry between Cheadle and Downey was noticeable the moment they were onscreen together and it was excellent. The audience could see and feel that Rhodes felt like he was betraying his best friend in the Senate hearing from Iron Man 2. Furthermore they felt like a team during Civil War. Something with Terrence Howard seemed off, like he was simply reading lines. There was no emotion behind his words, making his and Tony’s relationship feel hollow.

2. PROFESSOR XAVIER: STEWART BETTER THAN MCAVOY

Primarily known for his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard in Star Trek: The Next Generation, Patrick Stewart is a classically trained actor that brought class and substance to every set he stepped foot on. James McAvoy is a significantly younger actor that first stepped into the comic book world with Wanted based on Mark Millar’s comic book series of the same name.

While McAvoy didn’t portray Professor Xavier poorly, he didn’t come close to the level of perfection that Stewart attained. McAvoy’s Xavier was far too arrogant. Yes, he was a younger Xavier than Stewart’s, but there didn’t seem to be any kind of character growth through the three movies he played the role. Stewart’s Xavier was always calm, collected and introspective. More Yoda, less Anakin, McAvoy’s was the opposite. There was also that ridiculous not so subtle finger-to-his-temple whenever he used his power.

1. SUPERMAN: ROUTH BETTER THAN CAVILL

Once you can get past Superman Returns as a movie where Superman is just lifting really heavy things above his head, you can see where Brandon Routh’s Superman really outshines Henry Cavill’s. Routh’s Superman was the embodiment of hope and perseverance that Cavill’s Superman claimed to be. Routh made the audience believe that he genuinely wanted to do the right thing and help the people of Earth. Cavill merely said the words, but his actions didn’t follow through.

It’s disheartening that Cavill’s Superman doesn’t represent a beacon of hope like he’s supposed to because Snyder’s Man of Steel gave us something that we seldom saw in a Superman movie. And that is Superman actually fighting equally powerful beings. Had Snyder delivered that, he probably would have received a lot less criticism and Superman would be a character the audience could root for.

Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!

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