There are literally thousands of characters who have appeared in comic books, and Hollywood has been using as many of them as they can in the last 20 years. Of course, the major heroes like Batman or supervillains like the Joker have gotten screen time, but there have also been some minor characters who cropped up in different places. Along the way, a few actors are bound to get lost in the shuffle and those are the ones we’ll cover today.
We’re going to be talking about actors who were cast in a role they probably expected to lead to bigger things, but they never got the chance. Some of the ones we’re talking about had a small background role in one movie and the role was recast when the character became more important in a later movie. Some of them actually played the character for multiple movies but got recast later. Some of these actually did play the character during shooting but were cut from the final picture or the project was never released. They might be a little bitter about that so CBR is honoring 15 actors who got ripped off when it came to comic book roles.
15. BILLY DEE WILLIAMS
Created by Bill Finger and Bob Kane in 1942’s Detective Comics #66, Harvey Dent was once a lawyer whose face was scarred by acid, leading him to become the villain Two-Face. He’s been one of Batman’s deadliest enemies for decades, so when Billy Dee Williams played Harvey Dent in 1989’s Batman, many comic book fans expected him to play Two-Face in a later movie.
That’s why it caught fans by surprise when Tommy Lee Jones played Two-Face in 1995’s Batman Forever. It turned out that Williams was promised the role of Two-Face by the director Tim Burton, but when director Joel Schumacher took over the franchise, he recast the role. We did get Williams playing Two-Face in 2017’s The LEGO Batman Movie, so we at least got to hear his voice.
14. DYLAN BAKER
The Lizard was first created in 1963 with The Amazing Spider-Man #6 (Stan Lee, Steve Ditko) as a scientist named Curt Connors who tried to grow back a lost arm with an experimental serum that turned him into a homicidal humanoid reptile. In 2004, Dylan Baker seemed to be bringing the character to the screen when he played college professor Curt Connors in Spider-Man 2. He returned as Connors in 2011’s Spider-Man 3.
In both movies, Baker had been told by director Sam Raimi that he would play the Lizard in a future movie. Unfortunately, the poor reception to Spider-Man 3 meant the fourth movie was scrapped. The series was rebooted with 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man and Rhys Ifans took the role of the Lizard instead.
13. FELICITY JONES
In 1979, Amazing Spider-Man #194 (Marv Wolfman, Keith Pollard) introduced Felicia Hardy, the daughter of a successful cat burglar who decided to follow in her father’s footsteps as Black Cat. Over the years, Black Cat has been the Catwoman of Spider-Man’s life, a woman who commits crimes but also helps him on occasion and has even been in a romantic relationship.
In 2014’s The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Felicity Jones played a member of Norman Osborn’s company named Felicia Hardy who was mainly working as Harry Osborn’s assistant, but she was supposed to play Black Cat in later movies. Much like Baker in Raimi’s Spider-Man series, that all fell apart when the series was rebooted by Marvel with Spider-Man: Homecoming. Sony has announced they’ll be making a Black Cat movie, but Jones won’t be playing her.
12. ADRIANNE PALICKI
In 1941’s All-Star Comics #8 (William Moulton Marston, Harry G. Pete), Wonder Woman changed the face of comics. She’s an icon of femininity and power who has had a hard road in terms of live-action adaptations. In 2016’s Batman v Superman, Gal Gadot became the modern Wonder Woman with great success, but an attempt just six years earlier to bring Wonder Woman to life ended in disaster and disappointed its star.
In 2011, NBC planned to release a new Wonder Woman TV series, casting Adrienne Palicki as the hero. There was a lot of hype around the series, but most of it was negative. After an online debate about her costume and concerns about the tone of the series, NBC never even aired the pilot.
11. STEVE BACIC
In 1963’s X-Men #1 (Stan Lee, Jack Kirby), one of the founding members of the X-Men was Hank McCoy, who was codenamed Beast. With his powerful muscles, agility, genius and oversized hands and feet, he was a beloved character, especially when he mutated further in later issues to become a literal blue monster. Some fans were surprised when the Beast didn’t show up in the first X-Men movie in 2000.
In 2003’s X2: X-Men United, Hank McCoy appeared on a TV talk show in the background of one scene, played by Steve Bacic. You could have missed him if you didn’t know to look for it, but fans were excited. Beast did end up in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand where he was played by Kelsey Grammer. In 2011, the X-Men series was rebooted with X-Men: First Class and Nicholas Hoult took over the role.
10. SUMELA KAY
Kitty Pryde is another classic member of the X-Men who had a complex history on screen. In Uncanny X-Men #129 (1980), Chris Claremont and John Byrne introduced her as a young girl with the power to pass through objects, and she quickly became a popular and valued member of the team.
She wasn’t one of the original members of the X-Men, so fans weren’t too surprised when she wasn’t a major character in X-Men, but we did see her briefly. In the early scene where Wolverine first met Professor X, she ran through a door beside a shocked Wolverine. She was played by Sumela Kay, who may have wondered if she would return in the sequel. Sadly, she didn’t. Kitty was played by Katie Stuart in X2 and Ellen Page in the rest of the series.
9. NICOLAS CAGE
In 1997, the Superman movie series had stalled. Christopher Reeves had played Superman in four movies, ending with 1987’s Superman IV: The Quest for Peace, which was a critical and commercial flop and killed the franchise. The studio hoped to revive it with Superman Lives, a radical change from previous movies which would have been directed by Tim Burton and starred Nicolas Cage.
Superman Lives would have been based on the “Death of Superman” storyline from 1992 where the hero would have been killed by Doomsday and come back to life. The movie got as far as several drafts of a script and screen testing before Warner Bros killed the project because it was too expensive. They later greenlit 2006’s Superman Returns and Cage went on to play Ghost Rider in 2007 as a consolation prize.
8. TIM BOOTH
Among Batman’s greatest villains, Victor Zsasz is one of the simplest and most deadly. From his first appearance in Batman: Shadow of the Bat #1 by Alan Grant and Norm Breyfogle, Zsasz has been portrayed as a serial killer who carved a tally mark on his flesh with every victim, leaving his body covered in scars.
Zsasz isn’t as well known outside of comics because he hasn’t been a major villain in the movies, although he did show up in Batman Begins during a courtroom scene where Dr. Crane testified Zsasz worked for Falcone and moved him to Arkham Asylum. Played by Tim Booth, fans were hoping he would have a bigger role, but the Dark Knight trilogy ended and was rebooted without Zsasz returning. Booth wore those tally scars for nothing.
7. TY BURRELL
A major character in Hulk’s mythology was created in 1971’s Incredible Hulk #141 (Roy Thomas, Herb Trimpe) with Doc Samson. Leonard Samson was a psychiatrist who exposed himself to gamma radiation to become super strong with long, green hair. The green-haired Doc Samson hasn’t been in any of the movies but came pretty close with 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.
Ty Burrell played Dr. Leonard Samson, a psychiatrist who was dating Betty Ross and was a rival when Bruce Banner came back into her life. He didn’t have huge muscles or green hair, but fans hoped he was in his pre-radiation stage. Unfortunately, most of Burrell’s scenes were cut from the final film and he never changed in the movie. It’s unknown if Marvel plans to bring him back but we’re guessing it won’t.
6. NATHAN FILLION
While Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was filming, spy photographers saw a set decorated with fake movie posters showing Nathan Fillion in various guises with the name “Simon Williams” in the credits. In the comics, Simon Williams is the real name of Wonder Man, a former villain who joined the Avengers. On Twitter and Facebook, Gunn confirmed that some scenes were cut from Vol 2. that showed a Simon Williams film festival with Fillion as the lead.
While we hope Fillion will be able to play Wonder Man in Marvel movies in the future, the fact that even this tiny Easter egg was cut out kind of makes us doubtful. Then again, some said we could never get Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury and look how that turned out.
5. TIM BLAKE NELSON
One of the Hulk’s most fearsome enemies is Samuel Sterns, better known as the Leader. Once a janitor before he was exposed to gamma radiation, he was changed in the exact opposite way as the Hulk; instead of increasing his body, the radiation increased his mind. With his newfound genius and psychic powers, the Leader set out to take over the world.
Sterns was portrayed by Tim Blake Nelson in The Incredible Hulk as a college professor who tried to help Banner find a cure. In his final scene, some of the Hulk’s blood dripped onto Sterns’ bloody head and we saw his skull began to pulse and grow. That certainly looked like Sterns was being set up to turn into the Leader, but almost 10 years later, nothing has come of it. It seems Nelson won’t be back anytime soon, but fingers crossed.
4. MICHAEL CASSIDY
Jimmy Olsen, photographer and sidekick, has been in almost every version of Superman in the movies and TV shows like Smallville and spinoffs like the current Supergirl. With such a huge role in Superman’s mythology, we expected him to show up in the new Man of Steel movies, but it didn’t turn out the way we thought.
In 2016’s Batman v Superman, Michael Cassidy played a photographer with Lois Lane during a confrontation in Africa who was exposed as a CIA operative and killed. It was a tough scene and would have been even tougher if audiences had known the photographer was actually Jimmy Olsen. Not only was he not named in the theater version of the movie, but he was killed in his very first appearance, ensuring Cassidy will never get to play the iconic role again.
3. MARLON WAYANS
When it comes to Batman, there aren’t many characters as connected to him as Robin the Boy Wonder. In 1989’s Batman movie, many fans were surprised not to see Robin, so rumors of his appearance in 1992’s Batman Returns were eagerly awaited. It turned out that Tim Burton had planned to bring an unexpected star to play Robin: Marlon Wayans.
Wayans was originally offered the role of Robin in Batman Returns, but he was cut because Burton thought there were too many characters in the film. Years later, he was signed on to play Robin in 1995’s Batman Forever, but he was replaced with Chris O’Donnell. Fortunately, Wayans’ contract allowed him to receive royalty payments up until today so we’re sure that softened the blow from losing the part.
2. KATRINA FLORECE
Jubilee (Jubilation Lee) is a mutant who made her debut in 1989’s Uncanny X-Men #244 (Chris Claremont, Marc Silvestri) with the power to make explosive energy that looks like fireworks. She’s a fan favorite as an eager teen girl whose enthusiasm and humor cuts through even the darkest X-Men story. She has made appearances throughout the X-Men movies but always with a different actor and a minor role.
She was first played by Katrina Florece in X-Men where she was one of Xavier’s students. Given the popularity of her character, Florece may have expected to play Jubilee in later movies but she didn’t. Kea Wong played Jubilee in X2 and Lana Condor played her in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse, and none of them got to show off the mutant’s powers or have a major role besides a walk-on.
1. ANGELA BASSETT
Amanda Waller first appeared in Legends #1 in 1986 (John Ostrander, Len Wein, John Byrne) as the head of the Agency which oversaw Task Force X, better known as Suicide Squad. Waller has been a controversial and outspoken member of the government, often sending the Squad into dangerous situations knowing the members could be killed. She also clashed with the members of the team and her superiors.
In 2011’s Green Lantern, Angela Bassett played Amanda Waller as a scientist working for the government with a troubled past, but she was pretty tame in that version. Her role was widely believed by fans to be a cameo for a Suicide Squad movie which eventually came in 2016, but Waller was played by Viola Davis in that version with a much more sadistic bent.
Which actor would you have liked to stay in their comic book role? Any others you wish you’d seen? Let us know in the comments!
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