Being in a superhero movie can be a pretty good gig. If you get cast as one of the main characters, it can mean a steady job across several films. It also can lead to a lucrative payday and raise the profile of new actors. We’ve seen how the MCU brought about the comeback of Robert Downey Jr. and made major stars of all its Chris’. Of course, there are some drawbacks. Comic book fans are notoriously intense. They know their heroes backwards and forwards and will vilify anyone who doesn’t live up to their lofty expectations. The backlash can get mean and uncomfortable for stars.
Despite these negatives, it’s no surprise that when Warner Bros. launched its DCEU, plenty of high-profile actors signed on hoping to duplicate the good fortune. However, DC has not had the same level of success as Marvel, and several of its stars may now be rethinking their commitments. Think of it as a relationship that mostly works, but there’s still a part of you that thinks “why am I still here, I can do bad all by myself.” With that in mind, here are 15 actors who would be better off without the DCEU.
15 JESSE EISENBERG
After he was lauded for his work in The Social Network, Hollywood became enamored with Jesse Eisenberg. However, his subsequent roles began to feel repetitive, though they were mostly in smaller films so he was still somewhat hidden. When he was cast as Lex Luthor fans had questions. It was an outside the box choice.
However, once the film came out, it was clear he was just playing an amped up version of Mark Zuckerberg. Most audiences agreed that he was the worst part of the movie. Even worse for Eisenberg, he was exposed as a one note actor on the biggest stage. Though his entry into the superhero world only served to take the polish off his shine, his appearance at the end of Justice League indicates that he’s not done with Lex, so maybe he will redeem himself in his next go round.
14 AMY ADAMS
One of the great things about Lois Lane has always been that even though she constantly needs saving, she’s not a damsel in distress. She’s feisty, she speaks her own mind and she tries not to care what other people think. The movie version has flashes of those traits, but for the most part she’s very bland. Having Amy Adams play this milquetoast Lois is a wasted casting move, as her work in Arrival and The Fighter show that she can play a strong, independent woman.
What’s also missing is a real relationship with Clark. They met in Man of Steel, kissed once and were then on their way to being engaged in Batman v Superman. That’s quite an unbelievable off-screen whirlwind romance. Adams is not to blame for any of these character flaws but, she may end up shouldering it anyway.
13 JARED LETO
We all knew at some point someone else was going to play the Joker. If there’s a Batman movie, the Joker has to be involved. That’s just how it works. However, Heath Ledger’s Oscar winning The Dark Knight performance cast a long shadow and would be difficult for anyone to compete with. When Jared Leto was cast as the next Joker, fans were cautiously optimistic since he’s a good actor known for portraying creative characters.
Unfortunately, he didn’t quite live up to the hype and wasn’t given a ringing endorsement from fans. With at least two more appearances as the Clown Prince in the works, Leto has a chance to rebound but, is the part really worth all the inevitable backlash. Frankly, it’s just too risky of a role for anyone to take on.
12 BEN AFFLECK
The moment Ben Affleck’s name was mentioned as the new Batman, the Internet exploded. Fans everywhere were positive he would ruin their favorite hero. Of course, they had all jumped to conclusions and he became many viewers favorite part of the DCEU. However, playing one of the most famous characters in the world has put a renewed pressure and spotlight on Affleck’s career.
Before he put on the Dark Knight’s cowl, he had stepped behind the camera and was finding success as a director. Now, he’s had to put his projects on hold to fulfill his superhero duties under the constant microscope of crazy comic book fans. With a new rumor about him leaving the role everyday, it’s possible the actor is regretting his decision to step back in front of the camera.
11 VIOLA DAVIS
Here’s the thing, Viola Davis is a national treasure. The woman could read the phonebook and make it an emotional roller coaster. Amanda Waller is one of DC’s best female characters. She can go toe-to-toe with politicians, heroes and villains without breaking a sweat. She’s a boss, which means Davis is perfect casting.
While there were moments of the Waller we know from comics and cartoons, she didn’t reach her full potential in Suicide Squad. Building on the post-credits scene with Batman and having her cameo in Justice League would have helped. If there are no plans to give Amanda Waller and Viola Davis material worthy of them, then the actress should cut her losses and move on to more award winning performances.
10 MARGOT ROBBIE
It certainly can be argued that her breakout role as Harley Quinn in Suicide Squad fast-tracked Margot Robbie’s rise to stardom. However, the actress is obviously talented enough that she would have gotten there no matter what. With an upcoming slate of projects that includes period pieces, animated family friendly fare and a possible Quentin Tarantino movie, now is not the time for her to be typecast as one character. She needs to avoid the Robert Downey Jr. trap, where she has trouble being seen as anything other than Harley.
The downside of her affiliation with the DCEU is that now she is locked into doing at least two, maybe more films in the struggling franchise. With award buzz beginning to circle her performance in I, Tonya, the last thing she needs right now is to be seen as just another superhero actor.
9 LAURENCE FISHBURNE
When Laurence Fishburne was cast as Perry White, there was the usual “he can’t be black” outcry, but of course Fishburne made the role his own and put a modern spin on the character. Normally just a background, supporting player, he actually was part of the action in Man of Steel, then challenged Clark and Lois in Batman v Superman. With the DCEU’s focus moving away from the Daily Planet, he wasn’t needed for Justice League.
It seems Fishburne enjoyed the superhero world so much that he has switched sides to Marvel and will play Dr. Bill Foster/Goliath in Ant-Man and the Wasp. He has also hinted at working on a separate top secret project with the entertainment giant. So it seems Fishburne wasn’t better off without the comic book world, just better off without DC.
8 DIANE LANE
The two characters most responsible for Superman being the hero he becomes are his adoptive parents Jonathan and Martha Kent. They are the ones who teach him how to use his powers to help people. Having them played by Kevin Costner and Diane Lane was perfect casting. They really seemed like an all-American family. Man of Steel changed the origin around so the Kents wanted Clark to keep his abilities a secret and be normal.
Despite this disservice to the characters, throughout the DCEU Martha continues to be the most inspirational force in Clark’s life. Whenever she’s on-screen Lane exudes a calm and class that encompasses the whole theater. Unfortunately, following Batman v Superman her character was reduced to a joke in way that undermines Lane’s lovely performance. Neither Martha nor Lane deserve such treatment.
7 MICHAEL SHANNON
No actor has a more diverse list of credits than Michael Shannon.This means fans didn’t know what to expect when it was announced he would be General Zod in Man of Steel. Zod is one of Superman’s most fierce enemies, so they were probably expecting someone with more action credits, however, Shannon delivered an intensity no one was ready for.
He was set up as a true equal to Superman. Someone who could actually beat him. Throughout the movie Shannon built a complex man would do anything to save his people. In the end Shannon’s gritty performance couldn’t save the story’s flaws and he would have been better served taking his talents and time to one of the creative, unpredictable movies he’s known for.
6 ADEWALE AKINNUOYE-AGBAJE
In case you didn’t notice, the accomplished star of Lost and Oz was in Suicide Squad. He was completely hidden under the Killer Croc makeup, so viewers can be forgiven for not recognizing the familiar actor. Roles like this always require a real effort from the performer to not get lost in the makeup. Thing is, he wasn’t just covered by prosthetics, his character was also virtually invisible in the huge ensemble.
Think about it, would anything have changed without Killer Croc on the team? Not really. Yes, a big cast means someone is always going to get lost in the mix, but really why cast someone of Akinnuoye-Agbaje’s caliber just so he can stand around and occasionally look menacing. This role was a waste of his talent and his time.
5 JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN
Jeffrey Dean Morgan originally showed up in the DCEU in a short cameo as Bruce Wayne’s father Thomas. However, if Warner Bros. decides to stick with the plan for a Flashpoint movie, he could have a much bigger part in the story. When Barry changes the timeline it results in an altered history where Bruce was the one killed in an alley and his dad becomes Batman.
There’s no word on how faithful the film will stay to the comics, but there have been hints that Morgan may have a big role in whatever story the studio wants to tell. The Flash movie has been snake bitten and this story is so different from anything the DCEU has tried before that it seems like there’s no way this isn’t a trainwreck. Perhaps he can get lucky and his constantly busy schedule will keep him from being involved in this mess.
4 HOLLY HUNTER
Oscar winner Holly Hunter is one of Hollywood’s finest actresses. Her resume has almost no duds. As a matter of fact, Batman v Superman is probably her biggest one. When her name appears in the cast, audiences know they’re going to get a great performance. She never phones it in, even in something like Batman v Superman. She plays Senator Finch, a politician who wants Superman to take responsibility for the damage his actions cause.
Hunter does the best she can with the throwaway role she’s given but, let’s face it they probably hired her to cash in on her name recognition. What’s even more frustrating for viewers (and probably Hunter) is that the marketing for the film made it seem like she had a much larger and more important role. For an actress of her caliber, nothing good came from her association with the Man of Steel.
3 DANNY HUSTON
Wonder Woman is the DCEU’s best movie. There are very few flaws to pick at, but one that stands out is Danny Huston’s villain Ludendorff. He’s pretty much a one note evil German soldier. There’s nothing remarkable about him and both the movie and Huston deserved better. The actor previously joined the superhero genre in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Considering how these two appearances have gone, Huston should probably stay away from comic book movies.
He is known for his work in American Horror Story and Masters of Sex, so we know he can build a complex character. He spent most of his time in Wonder Woman chewing up the scenery, trying to make Ludendorff more interesting. It wasn’t that memorable of a role and Huston is known as the worst part of a great movie.
2 JEREMY IRONS
Alfred is the one constant in Bruce Wayne’s life. As such he has to be a butler, best friend, voice of reason, accomplice and most of all father. There’s a class and dignity to his unwavering loyalty that must be silently portrayed at all times. And don’t forget to throw in some humor because your boss is a crime fighting vigilante dressed as a bat. Jeremy Irons fantastically hits every single one of these notes in practically every scene.
He brings the gravitas to the proceedings. Irons’ Alfred even gets in on the action, since he’s often working on and operating Batman’s tech. With a resume like his, he has no need for costumed superhero movies but, fans certainly need him to stick around since he’s one of the actors we’re always excited to see show up to the fight.
1 JOE MANGANIELLO
The former True Blood actor is not a household name, but viewers know his face and are familiar with his work. Fans were actually excited to hear him announced as the choice for Slade Wilson/Deathstroke and look forward to seeing where he takes the role. Unfortunately, Arrow has already done a brilliant arc with the character, taking him from mentor to enemy to redeemed friend. Throughout season two and periodic guest stints in subsequent seasons Manu Bennett has played nearly every color of Slade’s personality.
Of course, Manganiello is completely capable of making the role his own and bringing something new, but he needs to be ready for the comparisons. He’s in a high risk/high reward situation and the DCEU hasn’t proved it can be trusted with fully developing its villains motivations. Fingers crossed that he proves us wrong.