Depending on who you ask, the cinematic DC Extended Universe is either the best series of movies ever made, or it's a complete disaster. With just five films under its belt, the DCEU has definitely left its mark on the world of comic book movies. While there are plenty of critics, the series has also built up a substantial and fairly vocal fan base. It's made a lot of money, so it's more than fair to call it a success. While Warner Brothers might currently be adjusting plans for the future, the studio still plans on continuing the franchise for years to come.
One aspect of the DCEU that's been generally praised is the casting. From Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, Viola Davis as Amanda Waller, Henry Cavill as Superman, Margot Robbie as Harley Quinn and Ezra Miller as Flash, fans agree that WB nailed it. Looking at this success, it's time to look at what could have been. These actors were all rumored to be up for various roles, and knowing how everything turned out, it's for the best that these stories all ended up being rumors. Here are 15 casting rumors that would have destroyed the DCEU before it got a chance to really begin.
15 MATTHEW GOODE AS SUPERMAN
The DCEU kicked off with Zack Snyder's Man of Steel in 2013. Henry Cavill starred as Superman, making him a household name. The major complaint about the movie was the way Superman was written. Instead of bold and heroic, he was bitter and angsty. Luckily, Cavill is incredibly charming. Despite the questionable material, his Clark Kent was likeable. If not for Cavill, Kal-El's heroic return in Justice League (2017) never would have worked.
Early in Man of Steel's development, Matthew Goode's name was attached to the title role. He had worked with Snyder in Watchmen (2009), where he played Ozymandias. While Goode is a talented actor, he's too good playing an unlikable character. He never could have pulled off the hero while he was still learning to live "in the sun" without audiences turning on him.
14 JENA MALONE AS ROBIN
Warner Brothers made an interesting decision when it introduced Bruce Wayne in Batman V Superman (2016). Batman was older, with a long crime fighting career under his belt. The film hinted at a long history, without giving too many details. One of the major reveals was that Batman once had worked with Robin, but he was seemingly killed (Suicide Squad later revealed the Joker murdered him).
The film initially appeared to be borrowing from Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns (1986). Jena Malone was cast in an unspecified role, which many believed to be Carrie Kelly as Robin. This ended up being untrue, which was for the best. The film was already hugely overcrowded, and cramming Robin into the story would have made things worse.
13 ELI SNYDER AS ROBIN
As previously stated, Batman V Superman (2016) revealed that Robin had previously been killed. Other than the Joker's involvement, not much is known about the incident, however. It's not even known which Robin was killed (several people have taken up the identity in the comics). Before it was released, there was a rumor that director Zack Snyder's son, Eli, was going to play Robin in a flashback (possible showing his death).
Once again, it's for the best that the film showed as little as it did. By giving away as few details as possible, WB is free to expand the new Batman story as it wishes. Some fans have even speculated that the current Joker is actually Robin, and the death story was just a cover created for the police. Considering that DC still hasn't locked down a firm storyline or direction for the DCEU, leaving as many options available as possible is probably the best bet.
12 ADAM DRIVER AS NIGHTWING
It turns out, fans really overestimated Robin's role in Batman V Superman (2016). In the comics, the original Robin, Dick Grayson, had a falling out with Batman. He eventually moved to a new city and started fighting crime under the guise of Nightwing. Before the film was released, all that fans knew was that Batman had a battered Robin costume displayed in the Bat-cave. Was it possible that this was a reference to Dick Grayson?
Rumors began circulating that Adam Driver would appear as the older Grayson, working under the Nightwing persona. Obviously, this wasn't true. Since then, WB has had to reorganize its plans for the DCEU, and having less characters and actors involved makes it easier to change those plans. Also, Driver's role in the new Star Wars trilogy likely would have prevented him from appearing too often in the DCEU films.
11 BRYAN CRANSTON AS LEX LUTHOR
Almost as soon as it was announced that Lex Luthor would appear in Batman V Superman (2016), Bryan Cranston's name began popping up. Having just completed his run as Walter White in Breaking Bad 2008, the rumors made sense. Cranston had played Walter White, a ruthless drug dealer who also just happened to be bald. Would he be moving from one bald baddie to another?
While many thought this would be dream casting, Cranston would have been a bad choice for this specific role. He'd definitely make a great Lex, but not across from Henry Cavill. His Superman is incredibly youthful, and just starting his career. Cranston's simply too old for what the DCEU needs Lex to be. A great actor, maybe Cranston can take the role in a different universe.
10 SCOOT MCNAIRY AS JIMMY OLSEN
The DCEU version of Jimmy Olsen was a huge departure from his comic book counterpart. In the books, he's a young photographer for the Daily Planet and Superman's "best pal." He didn't appear in Man of Steel (2013), so many assumed that he would appear in the sequel, Batman V Superman (2016). He did, but as a CIA operative posing as Lois Lane's photographer. He's killed almost immediately after being introduced. He and Superman are definitely not best pals.
Scoot McNairy also appeared in the film as a Wayne Enterprise employee who was crippled during Superman's fight with General Zod. Before the film's release, it was rumored that his character's name would be Jimmy Olsen. Luckily, he was actually playing Wallace Keefe, sparing audiences from seeing a sad Jimmy Olsen being used as a suicide bomb.
9 RYAN GOSLING IN SUICIDE SQUAD
In terms of the DCEU, Suicide Squad (2016) is a bit of an odd duck. Centering its story around a group of villains instead of heroes, the film lacked a focus. It had an ensemble cast, but many characters were underdeveloped. One of the strangest parts of the movie was the Joker, who seemed to be shoehorned into an already crowded movie. Jared Leto played the villain, and while his take was controversial, it can't be denied that he gave a memorable performance.
Before Leto was cast, it was rumored that Ryan Gosling was connected to the film. The rumors were vague, but it's believed that he was interested in playing the clown prince of crime. Based on Gosling's acting style, he likely wouldn't have been able to bring the proper psychotic energy to the role. Nobody wants to see a subdued take on the Joker.
8 ED HARRIS AS RICK FLAG SR
As previously stated, Suicide Squad (2016) was a bit of a mess. The cast was too large and the story was unfocused. The film struggled to balance the backstories of each character while also showing the current threat at hand. While the final product was actually a very enjoyable movie, it definitely had its fair share of pretty serious problems.
The last thing needed was more characters. If early rumors were true, than the studio actually trimmed some from the script. Ed Harris was believed to be in the running for Rick Flagg Sr, father of team leader Rick Flagg. Adding a big name like Harris would've only added more focus on the already prominent Flagg, while Boomerang and Killer Croc would've had even less screen time.
7 GARY SINISE AS GENERAL EILING
According to a rumor, Amanda Waller might not have originally been the only ruthless government agent in Suicide Squad (2016). Gary Sinise was rumored to be in the running to play General Eiling. This likely would've been similar to his appearance on Justice League Unlimited (2004), where he was a ruthless air force general who didn't trust the heroes. The character would've been unnecessary with Waller already in the mix, and Sinise is too recognizable and just would've been distracting.
The character has potential, and could appear in future movies. That's the biggest problem with Sinise in the role. Suicide Squad was already a crowded movie, so he likely would've just been a cameo. Sinise would've been locked into the role, and he might be too busy or uninterested in returning for later sequels.
6 ELODIE YUNG AS WONDER WOMAN
Before Gal Gadot came on board, Wonder Woman was one of the most difficult roles to cast in Batman V Superman (2016). The character was set to play a small part in that film, before headlining her own feature and then playing a major part in Justice League (2017). Wonder Woman is an iconic character, and any actress stepping into the part would have her work cut out for her.
Interestingly, before becoming Marvel's Elektra, Elodie Yung was rumored to be in talks for Wonder Woman. She's a decent actress and probably would have been fine as Wonder Woman. Gal Gadot, however, nailed it and helped lead the character into what's become the DCEU's most popular franchise. Without Gadot, who knows where the DCEU would be today.
5 ALEXANDRA DADDARIO AS WONDER WOMAN
Obviously, it could be argued that any actress other than Gal Gadot would have derailed the DCEU. That being said, there are other actresses who could have succeeded in the role. Alexandra Daddario would not have been one of them, however. It's not clear if the actress was ever actually being considered for the role, but her name often came up in rumor reports during the initial casting phase of Batman V Superman (2016).
When asked about it, Daddario said that she would love to be Wonder Woman. While she's a decent actress, she's also fairly limited in her abilities. There's also the accent, which Daddario may not have been able to pull off. Casting Daddario would've sent the message that Wonder Woman is just another pretty face, and that's the wrong direction to take the character.
4 GRANT GUSTIN AS THE CINEMATIC FLASH
Aside from the cinematic DCEU, WB also has a live action TV universe. Starting off with Arrow (2012), it features several shows that are all connected within the same multiverse. When WB announced the full slate of DCEU movies, The Flash was included. At the time, it wasn't clear if the TV universe was connected to the film universe, and there was a vocal contingent of fans that wanted them to be.
Grant Gustin, who plays the Flash on TV, was rumored to be starring in the film version as well. This was revealed not to be true when Ezra Miller was announced as Barry Allen. As the MCU has already demonstrated, it's too complicated to integrate TV shows with movies. By keeping Grant Gustin on TV, his show has been allowed to do what it needs to do without worrying about implications for the films.
3 CHRIS PINE AS HAL JORDAN
WB wants to forget Green Lantern (2011), and the fans seem to agree. So, when Hal Jordan is eventually introduced to the DCEU, it won't be the Ryan Reynolds version. He's one of the most anticipated additions to the DCEU, and fans won't stop speculating over who will don the ring. At one point, fans were certain that Chris Pine had been cast in the role. These reports seemed to be confirmed when it was announced that Pine would be starring in a DCEU film.
Thankfully, he had actually signed on as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman (2017). He and Gal Gadot had great chemistry together, which helped make Wonder Woman's emotional journey one of the strongest parts of the film. Pine would've been a good Hal Jordan, but starring in Wonder Woman was definitely the better choice for the series.
2 SEAN BEAN AS ARES
Up until fairly close to the film's release, WB was pretty tight lipped over the villain of Wonder Woman (2017). It was rumored that Ares would be the main antagonist, but it was never confirmed that the character was cast. This was because David Thewlis was playing both Ares and his undercover human form, Sir Patrick Morgan. Obviously, this had to be kept under wraps so as to not spoil the reveal at the end of the film.
Sean Bean had been rumored to play the part, which would've spoiled the surprise. Audiences could believe that Thewlis was playing a small part in the film. If Sean Bean had shown up in what seemed to be such a small role, it would've been obvious that his role was larger than it originally appeared.
1 EVA GREEN AS CIRCE
Like most comic book movies, there were rampant rumors over what villains would appear in Wonder Woman (2017). At one point, it was being reported that Circe would appear in the film. These rumors had more weight than others, however, since it was also being reported that Eva Green was attached to play the villain. Green had previously played Artemisia in 300: Rise of an Empire (2014).
Circe, another character based on Greek mythology, is an evil sorceress who is mainly known for turning her foes into animals. While this could be used very entertainingly in a film, Wonder Woman didn't need another villain running around. Also, Green tends to portray villains the same way, and likely would've played the role too straight. She either would've been awkward or forgettable, neither of which are preferable.