Superhero films are big business in Hollywood. With the financial and critical successes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Trilogy, some of the biggest names in Hollywood are lining up to star in superhero films. It’s no longer beneath legendary actors like Robert Redford, Glenn Close, or Jeff Bridges to show up in a film about Captain America, a talking raccoon, or a rich guy who dresses up in a powerful suit of armor.
With that being said, there are still a few holdouts in Hollywood that want nothing to do with the genre. Many of them think that superhero films are childish. Some of the actors on this list hate the long-term commitment that comes with being a superhero. And there are a few that just consider themselves true auteurs who would never stoop so low. One person on this list actually said, “If I see yet another Spider-Man [film], I’m going to have to actually hang myself.” Ouch. One thing is for sure, don’t expect to see any of these actors as future Avengers. Let’s take a look at 15 actors and actresses that have publicly said they would never star in a superhero film.
15 JON HAMM
Jon Hamm is a great actor. His turn as Don Draper on Mad Men is one of the greatest roles in television history. His look is also perfectly suited for a superhero. Just look at that jawline! Sadly, Hamm has zero interest ever doing a superhero film. Not because he hates superheroes. No, he hates the contracts.
“The deals that they make you do are so Draconian. And, of course, you are signed on for not only the movie but at least two more that you haven’t read and you have no idea what they are going to be and all the crossover ones you are going to have to do,” he said in an interview. “It’s a lot of work at one thing which is not necessarily the reason I got into the business, which is to do many things.” Maybe there’s an alternate dimension where Hamm signed on as Superman. Oh, to dream!
14 AMANDA SEYFRIED
Of all the names on this list Amanda Seyfried is the one with the most unique problem with superhero films. She doesn’t mind the genre. She doesn’t mind the contracts. Amanda Seyfried hates the wirework and green screen. She talks about a cameo that she did in Pan, which turned out to be a nightmare for the actress, “When I signed on, there was no wirework or green screen stuff happening with my character. I'm not playing a fairy, so why would I be flying around? Throwing up?! NEVER AGAIN.”
So, not only is she forsaking the whole superhero genre, but also any film that requires special effects work on a big scale. Seyfried is just the type of actor that would be perfect for a role in the MCU, but it looks like we’ll never get a chance to see it. She concludes, “I just don’t want to put on the suit”
13 JASON STATHAM
Jason Statham is a pretty macho guy. Most films he’s in, he eventually drives a car really fast and gets in a fistfight. Jason Statham movies are almost their own genre of film. He’s also no stranger to doing big budget, spectacle films like the Fast and Furious series. But we definitely won’t see him suit up as a superhero anytime soon.
“The fascination is superheroes, it's what people want to go and see but you wouldn't get me rushing to the cinema to see those. I like the old-fashioned type of film,” said Statham in an interview. He may actually not hate the genre because Statham admits that he’s never been offered a role in a superhero film, "They've never offered me a part in one of those and I don't think the shoes would fit. Or the cape wouldn't fit!" Either way, Statham has made his thoughts abundantly clear.
12 ROSE MCGOWAN
Have you even heard of Rose McGowan? While her star has not risen to the heights of some of the other people on this list, her vitriol towards superhero films is well-documented. “Where are the human stories? I don’t want green goblins and tight outfits. I want intelligence, daring work that drives society forward. I want a mirror, not every cliché regurgitated ad nauseum,” McGowan said regarding superhero films.
What makes this statement interesting is how McGowan has sort of made a career of being in… well, less than great movies. Her filmography certainly doesn't lend itself to what seem like such dismissive comments about a genre that has starred talents like Glenn Close and Sir Ian McKellen. People certainly aren’t hearing the name Rose McGowan around Oscar season. Perhaps this is yet another example of an actor eliminating the option to make it seem like they’re better than the genre, when the truth is no one is offering.
11 PIERCE BROSNAN
Pierce Brosnan is no stranger to silly movies. He acted opposite Robin Williams dressed as an old lady in Mrs. Doubtfire, for example. Not to mention the fact that his James Bond films were some of the campiest films in the whole Bond Saga. That being said, he does draw the line somewhere – superheroes.
Back before Michael Keaton donned the cowl for 1989’s Batman, Brosnan was up for the role. He explains why he turned it down, “It was the beginning of these huge movies, and I just thought, Batman? Batman held such an indelible place in my own childhood, but I said something flippant to Tim Burton, like, ‘Any guy who wears his underpants outside his trousers cannot be taken seriously.’ So yeah.” Doesn’t sound like we’ll ever see him starring in a superhero film anytime soon.
10 EMMA THOMPSON
Unlike Rose McGowan and Jason Statham, Marvel Studios and Warner Bros. would probably love to have her in one of their films. Much like Glenn Close in Guardians of the Galaxy, having Thompson in one of these films would definitely add more legitimacy to the genre for people who still don’t take them seriously.
Unfortunately, that’s just never going to happen. In an interview, Emma Thompson was very clear on her thoughts about the superhero genre. She said, “If I see yet another Spider-Man [film], I’m going to have actually hang myself.” Granted, this was said before Spider-Man: Homecoming, and she’s still alive, so we’re going to take this as hyperbole. However, the sentiment is still there, and it’s probably best if Kevin Feige loses her number.
9 SEAN PENN
Sean Penn has never been shy about making statements about the state of the film industry, or any industry for that matter. He’s been outspoken for decades regarding everything from sitting presidents to interviewing drug cartel leaders. However, when you set aside his political ideologies, he’s actually a fantastic actor. He’s won numerous awards, and we’re sure that any superhero filmmaker would love to have him in their cast.
Sadly, it doesn’t sound like that’ll ever happen, and in typical Penn fashion, the reason is purely out of principle. He just doesn’t like that there are so many superhero films out there. “There are some good movies made on that [superhero] stuff, let a few of them be made a year. But I'd like to see this business not drown itself in superhero movies,” said Penn in an interview. In Penn’s eyes, he’d just be contributing to a problem.
8 REESE WITHERSPOON
Reese Witherspoon is in an awkward place in her career, at least in her own eyes. By Hollywood standards, she’s no longer in the young phase, but she’s also not ready to play someone’s mom either. So for Reese, that just means her days for being a superhero are behind her, and in her mind, that’s okay too.
“There are a lot of really, really, really big movies about robots and things – and there’s not a part for a 34-year-old woman in a robot movie. I’ve never done the superhero movie. That doesn’t interest me too much,” said the actress. Clearly, that quote is from a while ago, but she obviously just doesn’t have any interest doing those big budget films. Who knows, if the superhero genre was hugely popular 20 years ago, maybe we would have seen Reese put on some tights.
7 JOHN CHO
As we saw with Jon Hamm, actors are pretty freaked out by the length of the contracts Marvel Studios, and the rest, sign these actors for. Hell, even Chris Evans, who’s done multiple comic book franchises, has lamented the length of his contract. Add Star Trek actor John Cho to that list.
“If you play, you know, Condorman, you’re young, you’re just in from Ohio or whatever, you’re signing a 15-year contract, and they have the option to make three or four. That’s the weird thing about it — all these indentured-servitude contracts,” said the actor regarding the recent superhero trend. While he’s specifically talking about the younger actors, it’s clear he doesn’t like the commitment. However, he did sign up for the Star Trek films, so maybe someone just needs to write a really great Condorman script?
6 MATT DAMON
Matt Damon is one of the biggest actors in the world. He’s currently at the top of his game, too. So, it’s pretty common when his name pops up from time to time regarding superhero films. Most recently, he was asked about potential involvement in the Batman universe, considering his life-long friend and colleague Ben Affleck is currently the Dark Knight.
He said, “I'd consider anything with the right director, but I can't imagine there are any superheroes left, I think they're all taken at this moment. If [Ben] was directing me, I'd jump on it in a New York minute. I'd love to work with Ben.” Now, we all know the drama around Ben’s involvement in The Batman, so it’s safe to say that we won’t get Affleck behind the camera of one of these films, and therefore, no Damon.
5 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Face it, people, we’re in the middle of the McConaissance. Matthew McConaughey has become one of the biggest stars on the planet. Because of that, we know that Marvel Studios, and everyone else, has approached him about being a part of a superhero film. We also know, for a fact, that McConaughey was approached about a role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. However, when you hear his reasons for turning down the role, you realize we probably won’t ever see him join one of these films.
“I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was, ‘It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.’ I’d feel like an amendment,” said the actor. So, it seems like he’s just not interested in being a co-star in one of these films, and considering his age, it’s doubtful that a studio would be willing to have him launch a franchise. That just means that the McConaissance just won’t include a superhero film.
4 JOAQUIN PHOENIX
When you hear Joaquin Phoenix’s reason for not doing a superhero film, it sounds like the film equivalent of “it’s not you, it’s me.” He’s an actor who loves to take risky, bold chances, and we all know that superhero films are the opposite of risky and bold.
“I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling. There were too many requirements that went against my instincts for character. I’ve been spoiled. I’ve never had to make those compromises. I’ve not met a director yet with one of those films where we go through the script, they say: ‘You know what, fuck this set-piece, let’s focus on the character!’ I understand, but it’s best I don’t do it,” said the actor. We almost got him as Doctor Strange, but it sounds like we probably dodged a bullet.
3 CLINT EASTWOOD
There was a time when the idea of Clint Eastwood as the older Bruce Wayne in a true adaptation of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns would have been dream casting. Now, honestly, Eastwood is past his acting prime. However, much like Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, with the right role, Clint Eastwood could still be a great villain in a superhero film, or maybe another version of Bruce Wayne in a live-action Batman Beyond?
Unfortunately, that’s just never going to be the case because, well, Eastwood is a bit of a grump, to put it mildly. He’s at the point in his career where he only does exactly what he wants to do, and no one can tell him otherwise. So, when he said in an interview, “I read comic books when I was a kid, I don't read them now. I prefer adult oriented stuff,” you know he just doesn’t want to do a superhero film.
2 MEL GIBSON
The closest Mel Gibson has ever come to being associated with a superhero film is potentially directing Suicide Squad 2. Now, when you see interviews where he talks about it, you realize that maybe those rumors were just a bit premature. However, if he’s not directing, maybe we can see him in front of the camera? Not likely.
“I’m not interested in the stuff. Do you know what the difference between real superheroes and comic book superheroes is? Real superheroes didn’t wear spandex,” he said in an interview. Well, that pretty much says it all, huh? So, if Warner Bros. is reading this, please don’t call him anymore about your films because clearly, he just doesn’t like the genre.
1 NAOMI WATTS
Naomi Watts is an incredible actress. She’s made a career out of acting in all sorts of movies. She’s done horror. She’s done big budget films. Hell, she’s even done David Lynch projects. Recently, however, it seems as if she’s starting to realize that she doesn’t have much interest in, not just superhero movies, but just film in general.
“I definitely noticed that a lot of great writing was taking place in the TV format now, probably because of the sad state of the film industry and how all the films getting made are mostly in the franchise world, or superheroes or big comedy blockbuster-type movies, and I really tend to enjoy working in the drama genre. Since the film industry was bottoming out, all the writers moved over to TV and we have to follow those stories, those writers,” she said about the current state of the film industry. So, don’t hold your breath about Watts joining any big budget films soon.
Do you know of any other actors who refuse to join the cape and spandex crowd? Let us know in the comments!