The handful of films in the DC Comics Extended Universe have offered plenty for both fans of the comic book source material and fans of the superhero film genre. Sure, they can be hit or miss, but one can at least tell that there’s a level of care put into each and everyone of them — leaving us with the bit of hope that someone, somewhere truly cares about the film they’re creating. And a big part of that is casting. Superhero film casting is sometimes just as hit and miss as the films themselves.
In nigh-perfect cases, you get actors like Heath Ledger, Robert Downey Jr. or Scarlett Johansson to play prominent or main characters (The Joker, Iron Man and Black Widow, respectively). Other times, the casting can be a total flop, and you end up with lukewarm responses to films like The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Daredevil or Green Lantern where Ben Affleck or Ryan Reynolds play characters they’re probably not best-suited for, no pun intended. For the DCEU, the casting has actually been alright. But this list breaks down 15 fan-casts that would have been better than what we got — no matter how great the actual actors ended up being in their respective roles.
15. BRYAN CRANSTON AS LEX LUTHOR
When it was announced that The Social Network and Adventureland’s Jesse Eisenberg would be playing one of Superman’s most iconic rogues in Batman v. Superman, fans were incredibly hesitant — and for good reason. See, Eisenberg has the acting chops to pull off most roles, as those who have seen his performances would agree, but his Lex Luthor lacked that iconic, big business personality, and left the villain feeling more manic and unhinged than cold and calculated.
Enter Bryan Cranston. This fan casting came hot off the heels of Cranston’s long stint as Breaking Bad‘s Walter White, a high school teacher turned meth dealer and drug lord. Cranston’s Heisenberg was a cold and calculated figurehead by the end, and a good businessman at that. Plus the shaved head look was already set for him, all he needed was a stockpile of Kryptonite and a call from Zack Snyder.
14. ARMIE HAMMER AS BATMAN
In what may have been one of the most requested fan casts ahead of the announcement that Ben Affleck would be playing Bruce Wayne, Armie Hammer was a fan-favorite for taking on the role. But why did his name come up so often in conversation and speculation? Well, probably because Hammer was already set to play Batman in George Miller’s ill-fated Justice League: Mortal a take on the super team that would have predated the DCEU.
Moving past that, Hammer seemed to embody the role well. Take his co-starring role in the remake of The Man From U.N.C.L.E. for example, in which his on-screen chemistry with Henry Cavill was top-notch. For some, this was the Batman v. Superman flick we should have gotten. Fans, however, remain hopeful that Hammer will eventually make his DCEU debut as Green Lantern.
13. BRADLEY COOPER AS THE FLASH
Up front, there is nothing inherently wrong with Ezra Miller’s portrayal of The Flash. But in many cases, Miller seems to be playing what would be a perfect take on Wally West — not Barry Allen. So when fans took to casting their own actor for the role of The Flash, one actor’s name kept popping up: Bradley Cooper.
Now, this would have been years after his prominent role in films like The Hangover and Limitless, but with Cooper already familiar with the production of a superhero film (see: Guardians of the Galaxy), it didn’t make much for fans to see him as the Scarlet Speedster. But DC would ultimately go with a younger casting, which seemed to work out well enough. A future cameo as Jay Garrick, anyone?
12. JOHN BOYEGA AS CYBORG
While Ray Fisher’s Cyborg may have been one of the standout performances in Justice League, we can’t help but imagine what it would have been like to have Star Wars and Pacific Rim Uprising’s John Boyega in that role. It wouldn’t be hard for us to see a standalone Cyborg flick with Boyega in the lead, either. And as more and more fans became award of Boyega’s work in films like Attack The Block, this fan-cast drew steam.
Boyega’s also has the chops to really put Cyborg on the map, a character that even recent fans of the Justice League comics are still unfamiliar with. With an actor like Boyega, the depth of Victor Stone’s journey could be brought to the forefront, and we’d have no trouble believing this hero went from Teen Titan to Titan to full-on Justice League member.
11. RIZ AHMED AS THE JOKER
While Jared Leto certainly had the acting clout to back up his casting as The Joker in Suicide Squad, the execution didn’t seem to turn out so well, at least not for fans. For them, the face tattoos and faux gangster persona didn’t work for them. But throw a charismatic actor like Riz Ahmed into the mix? Now you’re talking.
You may know Ahmed from his roles in shows like The Night Of or from his Star Wars debut as Bodhi Rook in Rogue One. But what we really haven’t seen is how Ahmed could take on a classic villain, one that could really embody what The Joker is about. We don’t want to copy Heath Ledger, but pave a new way for the villain. Ahmed’s talent could do that, and fans agree.
10. CHANNING TATUM AS SHAZAM
Channing Tatum has come a long way from his Step Up days, and what better way to prove that than by playing the lead in the Shazam film? Well, unfortunately, that chance is going to Zachary Levi, and while we’re excited to see his take, we can’t help but be a little bummed out that we won’t be seeing one of the top fan-casts for the hero come to life. Shazam is a lovable gentle giant with the power of the gods, and fans were right that Tatum would be a top choice.
Not to mention, we’d love to see Tatum go face-to-face with Dwayne Johnson’s Black Adam. Sure, the two were sort of, but not really co-stars in G.I. Joe: Retaliation, but let’s get ourselves an earned rematch to bring the two actors back together. What other chance would we get, Tatum in The Fast & The Furious?
9. NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU AS AQUAMAN
Honestly, fans seem to love Jason Momoa as Aquaman, and why shouldn’t they? Momoa brings charisma and wonder to the character, while also proving that he’s the super-powered juggernaut that’s so difficult to prove to anyone not a die-hard fan of the King of Atlantis. They’re just really bummed he’s not playing Lobo instead, as he seems to perfect capture that character. So, if Aquaman was instead being played by someone else, well fans have this Game of Thrones alum in mind.
Coster-Waldau could easily embodied the hook-handed version of Arthur Curry made prominently known by the character’s animated series and film appearances. He could appear grizzled, but also like a fish cast out of the ocean, someone that would have a different take than Momoa, but still hold true to the character’s plight.
8. PETER CAPALDI AS ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Fans are pretty happy with the DCEU casting of Jeremy Irons as Batman’s trusted butler, Alfred Pennyworth. They’re also excited that Alfred could be given a bit more to do, as Iron still seems to be in the physical shape needed to do everything from suit up as a stand-in Batman to piloting the Batwing around Gotham. But let’s be real, wouldn’t The Doctor have been a more inspired choice? Fans seem to think so.
Capaldi’s take on Alfred would surely be a bit more light-hearted, but not without the knowledge that he could spring into action at any moment. While his stint as The Doctor has ended, we wouldn’t be surprised to see him pop up somewhere in a superhero universe. Doctor Fate, anyone?
7. MATT BOMER AS SUPERMAN
While Henry Cavill really does seem to be coming into his own as Clark Kent in the Superman films, fans still believe there is something left to be desired. So when rumors sprung about of a potential re-cast, fans were quick to nominate Matt Bomer as a potential replacement. Sure, he’d be more of a lanky Superman, but if Ben Affleck and Henry Cavill can bulk up to superhero levels, so can Matt Bomer.
Bomer name was also tossed around a potential counterpart to a Batman played by Armie Hammer or even Henry Cavill, something we wouldn’t be opposed to, either. While Affleck’s older, grizzled Batman seems to work, we can’t help but wish we still had a younger inexperienced Caped Crusader. Couple that with a Superman still learning to fly and you’ve got the perfect match.
6. JAKE GYLLENHAAL AS THE JOKER
While Jake Gyllenhaal’s name has been recently floated around as being a potential re-cast for Ben Affleck’s Batman, fans seem to have another idea. Gyllenhaal’s Joker could be somewhat of a cross between his characters from films like Nightcrawler and Donnie Darko. A low-profile, wild intellectual with a distrust in the world and a whole mess of impulsive behavior. If Ledger’s Joker was nihilistically insane, Gyllenhaal’s Joker would be intentionally ruinous.
And Gyllenhaal surely has the look to play Batman’s biggest adversary. If a re-cast for Batman isn’t in the cards, we’d love to see this grizzled Joker take on an aged Batman. One last showdown for the books? We’d say that’s a Batman film any fan of the medium of comic books would be all over.
5. BRYAN CRANSTON AS JIM GORDON
For fans, this one just felt natural. For them, Bryan Cranston just purely had the look for Commissioner Gordon, finding the actor nestled between Gary Oldman’s perfect depiction and the look of the character from the comics. And while J.K. Simmons seems to be doing a wonderful and convincing job, fans continue to clamor for Cranston’s appearance in at least one of these films.
With the actor’s hard boiled appearance in Breaking Bad, to the fatherly instinct dating all the way back to Malcolm in the Middle and even from films like Trumbo and Godzilla, it wouldn’t take a lot of convincing to see Cranston in the shoes of Jim Gordon. Until then, we’ll have to settle for his appearance in Power Rangers. Seriously, that’s all we get?
4. RYAN GOSLING AS THE FLASH
Another long shot on the part of fans, but with Ezra Miller seemingly going after a younger depiction of Barry Allen, who better to take on the seasoned Speedster than Ryan Gosling? He’s been shown to have the humor and charisma from films like The Nice Guys and La La Land, but also the professionalism and properness from films like Drive. Gosling could take the role of Barry Allen to new heights.
And while fans may be further than ever in getting what they want, we wouldn’t be surprised to see Ryan Gosling pop up in at least one superhero film. As of 2014, it seemed the Marvel and DC were fighting over him. If we had our pick? We could see him taking on a character like The Atom or Booster Gold.
3. JAIMIE ALEXANDER AS WONDER WOMAN
For many fans, this entry is less about Gal Gadot’s portrayal of Wonder Woman, and more on the fact that Jaimie Alexander has yet to receive a starring role in a superhero film, despite being the best part, for many, of the first two Thor films. Alexander has shown incredible prowess as characters like Lady Sif or as the lead in Blindspot. When casting rumors kicked up for Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman, Alexander seemed to be a top pick for fans.
But Gadot knocked it out of the park, and it’s hard to imagine the film working any better without her. So, let’s say Jaimie Alexander should get a starring role in a future superhero film. Hawkgirl? Big Barda? A Lady Sif solo film? The possibilities are endless.
2. FINN WOLFHARD AS BILLY BATSON
OK, so Shazam isn’t out yet. That aside, casting has been announced, and while fans are sure Asher Angel will bring his own unique flare to the role of Billy Batson, it’s hard to imagine why DC didn’t go after Finn Wolfhard, one of the leads on Netflix’s Stranger Things. Wolfhard is a phenomenon to fans of the show, but he’s also shown to have range. His character in Stranger Things is a thoughtful friend focused on growing up, while his character from It is kind of a jerk, one that makes terrible one-liner quips and borders on sexist.
As Billy Batson, he could be a vehicle for the film. While a final verdict from fans will have to come after the release of the film, fans will just have to make do with Shazam fan art and more seasons of Stranger Things.
1. JON HAMM AS BATMAN
Jon Hamm may be one of the most requested fan casts ever. Even before it was announced that Ben Affleck would be taking on the role of Bruce Wayne in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, fans had it out for Hamm. And why not? He showed his ability to play a wealthy businessman during his years on Mad Men, but he also seemed to have the perfect physicality for playing the Caped Crusader.
And even as rumors swirl of Affleck’s departure from the character, Jon Hamm’s name returns to the circle of discussion. And while it’s unlikely he’ll be the one to fill in the cape and cowl, it hasn’t stopped fans from making fan art, discussing potential plot lines or banking on Flashpoint resetting the universe.
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