Cameos in movies add to the fun for viewers who know about the additional dimension being added to the tale on the screen. And with characters and stories that stretch back to the dawn of comics and the early days of the film industry, movies featuring DC characters have nearly unlimited opportunities to drop in an additional gag, refer to a beloved storyline or present a popular performer. The best, though, are the characters you don’t expect to see showing up, if even in a small mention or otherwise uncredited appearance. It’s like a shared secret between you and the producers!
RELATED: 15 MCU Cameos That Were Wasted
Of course, that’s not to say that filmmakers always get the most out of these opportunities. Sometimes a cameo introduces a character from the comics who had a long and interesting background, but the film doesn’t delve into it at all, or maybe even kills the character off within moments. Sometimes we get a glimpse of a character with hints that there will be more to their story in a sequel — but that sequel never gets made. Sometimes there’s a great plan in mind, but the scene winds up on the cutting room floor, or other edits make what is there baffling, if not incomprehensible. Here then, are 15 wasted cameos in DC movies that you probably (criminally) didn’t even notice!
16. MERCY GRAVES (BvS)
Mercy Graves has been Lex Luthor’s most trusted henchman, bodyguard and leg-breaker since her first appearance in the DC Universe in Detective Comics #735 (August 1999). But viewers of Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice got little hint of her importance. Played by Tao Okamoto, Graves is Luthor’s security chief, but she’s pretty bad at her job.
At one point, Bruce Wayne wanders around Luthor’s home to hack into Luthor’s computers. Graves finds him, and Wayne puts her off with a lame story about looking for the bathroom. Graves accepts the story, although a good security chief would have found out why Wayne went to an off-limits area… or at least actually led him to the bathroom. Worse, Graves was one of the casualties when the U.S. Capitol is bombed, so we won’t be seeing her in any future DC Extended Universe films.
15. NOT BATGIRL (BvS)
Buzz built over Jena Malone’s expected appearance in Batman vs Superman: Dawn of Justice. Not just for the Hunger Games actress’s appearance, but for what role she would play. Rumors abounded that she was Carrie Kelley, the new Robin from the famed 1986 miniseries The Dark Knight Returns, or Barbara Gordon, possibly becoming Batgirl in future films.
Fans had to wait for the answer; disappointingly, Malone’s scene was dropped from the BvS theatrical release, though it was added to the Ultimate Edition version. In it, Malone was S.T.A.R. Labs scientist Jenet Klyburn. Introduced in Superman (Volume One) #304 (October 1976), Klyburn frequently showed up in the Superman titles, Blue Devil and Teen Titans. In BvS, she helps Lois Lane figure out Lex Luthor’s ties to the U.S. Capitol bombing.
14. THOMAS WAYNE (BATMAN ’89)/BURGLAR (SUPERMAN)
It is the seminal moment for young Bruce Wayne: He and his parents are enjoying a night on the town that ends tragically, with the brutal murders of his father Thomas and mother Martha. This inspires Bruce to take up the mantle of the bat, to make sure such a terrible tragedy is not visited on anyone else.
The fleeting depiction of this heinous crime in 1989’s Batman overshadowed that David Baxt, the actor playing Thomas Wayne, was a familiar face. Baxt had appeared in 1978’s Superman, as the intrepid cat burglar using suction cups to crawl up the windows on a Metropolis skyscraper — until he unexpectedly bumps into Superman’s red boots, falls off, and is captured by Superman before he hit the ground.
13. LOIS LANE (SUPERMAN III)
Superman’s love for Lois Lane was so strong in 1978’s Superman that he dared to turn back time when she died. In 1980’s Superman II, he gives up his powers for her, choosing to live as the mortal Clark Kent. Of course, he undid it by the end of the movie, but still — Superman is more than willing to sacrifice everything to be together with Lois Lane, his one true love.
But in 1983’s Superman III, Lois Lane, as played by Margot Kidder, is barely present. Kidder had complained about director Richard Donner being fired from Superman II, and in the next film she had just 12 lines, and barely five minutes of screen time. Producer Ilya Salkind has said it was because the Superman/Lois Lane love story ended in the second film.
12. SCARECROW (THE DARK KNIGHT/RISES)
The Scarecrow, played by Cillian Murphy, was a major antagonist in 2005’s Batman Begins, poisoning Gotham City’s water supply with his fear-inducing toxin. Ra’s al-Ghul plans to spread the toxin citywide by turning the water into vapor with a microwave emitter mounted on a monorail train. Batman thwarts the plot, but though he faces down his worst fear in the Batman, Scarecrow is not caught.
In the sequels the Scarecrow had less and less to do, although he is the only villain to appear in all three Christopher Nolan-directed Batman films. In 2008’s The Dark Knight, The Scarecrow trades his poisons in Gotham’s underworld, but is captured by Batman early in the movie. In 2012’s The Dark Knight Rises, The Scarecrow is the judge presiding over show trials of Gotham elitists brought in by Bane and his henchmen.
11. NOT HARVEY BULLOCK (BATMAN ’89)
There’s a gruff, slovenly, seedy detective in 1989’s Batman who is thoroughly corrupt. Played by William Hootkins, the character’s name is Lt. Max Eckhardt, which is odd, because he looks, behaves (and probably smells) like Gotham Police Detective Harvey Bullock from the comics.
Bullock first appeared in Detective Comics #441 in 1974, but came to prominence when he was brought back in Batman #361 in 1983 for an extended run. Then, Bullock was a crooked stooge of Boss Thorne, bent on driving Commissioner Gordon out of his job. After Gordon had a heart attack, Bullock himself had a change of heart, and he was gradually rewritten as tough and honest, but more than willing to bend the rules. The movie Eckhardt, however, is murdered by hood Jack Napier shortly before he is transformed into The Joker.
10. EMIL HAMILTON (MAN OF STEEL)
Man of Steel was intent on re-establishing the Superman franchise, which had been fallow for seven years, since 2006’s Superman Returns. It was peopled with several characters from Superman’s backstory who weren’t developed and were tossed aside. One was Emil Hamilton, a scientist who first appeared in Adventures of Superman #424 (January 1987). Hamilton went from being an aide to Superman, lending his genius to help the Metropolis Marvel, to becoming the insane villain Ruin.
In Man of Steel, Hamilton is a U.S. military adviser from the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, and was played by veteran character actor Richard Schiff. Hamilton is brought in to examine a Kryptonian space vessel in the Arctic. Later, he helps thwart the rogue Kryptonians’ plan to terraform Earth into a new Krypton, but dies destroying their world engine.
9. STEVE LOMBARD (MAN OF STEEL)
Another barely used character in Man of Steel is Steve Lombard, who first appeared in comics in Superman #264 (June 1973). An ex-football player who switched to journalism after his retirement from pro sports, Lombard is the sports anchor for WGBS-TV, and has what he thinks is a friendly rivalry with Clark Kent, although others would see it as workplace bullying. However, Kent routinely uses his powers as Superman to secretly undermine Lombard’s repeated pranks.
In Man of Steel, Lombard, played by Michael Kelly, was a Daily Planet sportswriter, and a lecherous boob who kept asking out his female co-workers. Lombard, Planet editor Perry White and intern Jenny Jurwich were nearly killed during the battle between Superman and the rogue Kryptonians over Metropolis.
8. THE LANE FAMILY (SUPERMAN)
It’s a sweet moment in 1978’s Superman: Teenage Clark Kent (Jeff East) races a passenger train, and leaps past it just as it reaches a crossing. But viewers of the initial release didn’t get to see the scene in its fullest, as Kent is being watched by a delighted little girl, who tries to get the attention of her parents.
The surprise is that the little girl is Lois Lane with her mom Ella and dad Sam, played by Noel Neill and Kirk Alyn. Neill and Alyn were the first actors to play Lois Lane and Superman in live-action film, in the 1948 serial Superman. Neill also was in the TV series Adventures of Superman from the second season to its end. More of the train sequence was restored to the broadcast TV showing of Superman and to future video and DVD releases.
7. DOC CROSS WILLIAMS (JONAH HEX)
Michael Shannon made a bold impression as the deranged General Zod in Man of Steel, but he got lost in the shuffle in his previous outing in a movie based on a DC character, 2010’s ill-fated Jonah Hex. Shannon played Doc Cross Williams, ringmaster of a traveling freak show who animates zombies — including the likes of Wild Bill Hickok. Williams was featured in the 1993 Vertigo miniseries Jonah Hex: Two Gun Mojo, but most of Shannon’s blink-and-you’ll-miss-it performance wound up on the cutting room floor.
Shannon told MTV News, “I think the character may come back if there’s another iteration of Jonah Hex, but for now it’s just this couple of little scenes.” That’s all viewers would get, although some of the footage was restored in DVD releases.
6. JONNY FROST (SUICIDE SQUAD)
The 2008 graphic novel Joker, written by Brian Azzarello and drawn by Lee Bermejo, follows two-bit goon Jonny Frost when he picks up The Joker after his latest release from Arkham Asylum. The Joker takes a liking to Frost, elevating him to driver and No. 1 henchman. For his part, Frost, who knows he’s a nobody, is fascinated by The Joker’s power and magnetism.
Frost is drawn in as The Joker engages in a spree of robbery, sexual assault and revenge murder against Two-Face, the Riddler, the Penguin and Killer Croc as he reasserts his authority as king of Gotham’s underworld. Frost, played by Jim Parrack, appears in 2016’s Suicide Squad as one of The Joker’s henchmen. In both stories, Frost doesn’t make it out of the adventure alive.
5. BOB THE CARTOONIST (BATMAN ’89)
Gotham Globe reporter Alexander Knox, played by Robert Wuhl, took a lot of ribbing in 1989’s Batman for pursuing a story about a masked, costumed vigilante stalking the streets of Gotham City. One day, when he enters the paper’s newsroom, he is handed a piece of paper. Below the legend “HAVE YOU SEEN THIS MAN?” is a crude pen-and-ink drawing of a humanoid bat, nattily dressed in a double-breasted pinstripe suit. In the lower corner is a well-known signature: “BOB KANE.”
Kane is the cartoonist who dreamed up the prototype “Bat-Man” concept, which was largely overhauled by uncredited co-creator Bill Finger. Kane himself was to be the man giving the sketch to Knox in that scene, but a scheduling change meant actor Denis Lil appeared instead.
4. EN VOGUE (BATMAN FOREVER)
Batman Forever took a lot of brickbats from critics and fans over its tone, its effects, its story and its casting. There’s a moment where Robin, played by Chris O’Donnell, takes the Batmobile for a joyride into downtown Gotham. He drives through a seedy neighborhood and pulls up on a street full of colorful folks out on the town. A quartet of ladies of the evening quickly surrounds the car and knock on the car’s cowl, expecting to see Batman. Disappointed, one exclaims, “That ain’t Batman!” Another rejoins, “That’s ‘Batboy’!”
The four women were top musical stars of the day: Terry Ellis, Maxine Jones, Dawn Robinson and Cindy Herron, the original lineup of En Vogue. At the time, they were still riding on the success of their second album, 1992’s Funky Divas.
3. SAL MORONI (BATMAN FOREVER)
Speaking of Batman Forever, little use was made of one of the key players in Gotham City’s descent: crime boss Sal Maroni. The 1996-1997 maxiseries Batman: The Long Halloween detailed the rise of Gotham’s supervillains as its mob bosses engaged in turf wars. Moroni was at odds with rival gangster Carmine Falcone, largely because the serial killer Holiday was at work bumping off henchmen. Moroni and Falcone each believed Holiday was working for the other man.
Maroni, played by Dennis Paladino, shows up briefly in Forever. Testifying in court, Moroni unexpectedly throws acid from a bottle he secretly had into the face of Harvey Dent, Gotham’s district attorney. The painful attack and subsequent scarring unhinged Dent’s mind, leading him to become the supervillain Two-Face.
2. BRAIN SURGEON (SUPERMAN III)
Superman III was not a happy set. Series stars Christopher Reeve, Margot Kidder and Gene Hackman were angry that Superman II director Richard Donner had been fired. Hackman refused to return for the third installment, requiring the Luthor character to be replaced by Robert Vaughn’s business mogul Ross Webster. Of course, Superman III also generated its share of footage that fell by the wayside.
One cameo that got cut featured Frank Oz — the voice of Yoda from Star Wars, Sesame Street’s Grover and The Muppets Miss Piggy — as a brain surgeon about to operate. Unfortunately, as he begins, a citywide power failure hits when Richard Pryor’s character, Gus Gorman, starts up his supercomputer. The blackout also traps Lana Lang and her son in the Metropolis subway. The scene was restored when the movie was shown on broadcast TV.
1. NIKE BATBOOTS (BATMAN ’89)
Being a billionaire, of course Bruce Wayne can afford the best and most stylish gear, whether he’s on the streets or in the boardroom. In 1989’s Batman, this meant that actor Michael Keaton and his stuntmen did their fighting and kicking in kicks from Nike. Producer Jon Peters sought product placement from the company, although costume designer Bob Ringwood responded “’80s sportswear isn’t going to fit in with our 1940s look.”
Nike took on the task, crafting black boots from Air Trainer IIIs, complete with bright yellow swoosh logos — which were painted black by the filmmakers. Keaton and the stunt team are said to have found the boots very comfortable, more so than the rest of Batman’s body armor. So, Nike was welcomed back for 1992’s Batman Returns, providing boots made from Air Jordan VIs.
Which other cameos escaped most fans’ notice? Let us know in the comments!
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