As fans of any kind of media, we tend to project our own hopes and dreams onto a project. Usually, this occurs before said project is released to the public. We fantasize about what we want to see, what creatives will hopefully avoid, and imagine the worst case scenario to temper high expectations. Such discussions are inspiring, productive even, and can unite groups of people that otherwise keep their fantasies secret. However, this same discourse is known to become heated or develop toxicity. Passion can be found at the core of fandom, though; this is especially true of superhero films. A better known example of these passions emerge in the form of fan castings.
Whenever a comic book film publicly receives the green light from a studio, and sometimes beforehand, fans begin picking and choosing who would best fit the role of hero or villain. From there the carefully selected choices pervade the internet, garnering endless opinions about whether such a casting would work. These conversations are fun, but one sad truth is never far from the considerations of most -- some of the finest fan castings will never come to fruition. Taking that into account, here are 20 fan castings that are bound to remain dreams.
20 JOSH BROLIN AS BATMAN
Before Warner Bros. announced Ben Affleck as the new Batman, rumors were wild with who would don the cowl. One fan casting that repeatedly bubbled to the top was Josh Brolin. He’s a great actor and the right build and age for the older Batman being brought to screen for the DCEU. There were times when an announcement of Brolin’s casting was more of an expectation than a dream. Evidently, it wasn’t meant to be.
Now with Affleck seemingly ready to hang up his cape, rumors and fan castings once more circle the Bat’s on-screen legacy. But one thing is certain: Josh Brolin may not even be a consideration. Presently, he’s busying himself with two Marvel roles -- Thanos and Cable. Once contracts for those are up, it’ll be too late for him. He will likely be too old for the part and Batman will assuredly already be recast.
19 DONALD GLOVER AS SPIDER-MAN
In theory and practically, Donald Glover and Spider-Man fit each other perfectly. Glover’s voicing Miles Morales in Disney’s Ultimate Spider-Man series only added fuel to the fire. The actor’s been a fan-favorite pick since before Andrew Garfield’s casting as Peter Parker in the Amazing Spider-Man franchise. Most will recall the furor surrounding the #Donald4Spiderman campaign, which sparked both massive support and a bit of controversy. Upon his playing an animated Miles Morales, hopes were high he’d get a live-action opportunity. Yet still no such casting occurred.
In an interesting turn of events, however, Glover is a part of the MCU’s Spider-Man family. His character in Homecoming alludes to having a nephew whom many assume is Miles Morales. Unfortunately, this seems to put a fork in any chances of a Glover-played web-slinger hitting the big screen.
18 IDRIS ELBA AS GREEN LANTERN
At this point, everyone’s accepted that Idris Elba will never swear the Green Lantern’s oath as John Stewart. It’s a sad conclusion to reach. This fan casting is unlike any other in that most people agree without contention. Tracing the start of the campaign for Elba to wear a Lantern ring isn’t an easy task. However, the desire hit a fever pitch when his MCU character, Heimdall, received little love in Thor: The Dark World. It escalates further whenever former MCU or DCEU actors cross to the other side (for instance, Laurence Fishburne or Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje).
Green Lantern Corps won’t release for several years. In addition, a modern day appearance from the Lanterns is not expected anytime soon. Therefore, Elba’s taking on the role of a military-minded space cop becomes less likely with each passing year. This fan casting will remain just that.
17 STEPHEN LANG AS CABLE
The casting process for Cable in Deadpool 2 must have been an arduous one. Everyone had their own personal pick. Fans were campaigning for their favorite rugged stars, media outlets pulled for certain actors, and some Hollywood A-listers were happily submitting themselves into the discussion. One name in particular that stayed at the forefront of everyone’s thoughts was Stephen Lang.
His role in Avatar was a constant source of why he’d be perfect for Cable. Even his antagonistic part in Don’t Breathe made folks all the more certain of his playing opposite Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool. However, like others on this list, it simply wasn’t meant to happen. Josh Brolin will bring Cable to life on-screen. Alas, the chances of seeing Lang portray the mutant are incredibly unlikely.
16 RON PERLMAN AS SWAMP THING
Ron Perlman’s played an ancillary part in the DC Universe since Batman: The Animated Series, where he voiced Clayface. He’s also no stranger to voicing Slade Wilson in animated projects. However, when rumors began circling of Perlman’s joining the DCEU, the role of Deathstroke never came up. As early as 2015, reports were suggesting the actor may be in talks to take part in Swamp Thing’s live-action debut.
Perlman’s since debunked the speculation. Moreover, the film in which Swamp Thing would feature, Justice League Dark/Dark Universe, seems fittingly lost in development hell. The actor appears up to the task, but for how long that will stand is anyone’s guess. Should Warner Bros. wait too long to make their move, Perlman as Swamp Thing may remain only a dream in the minds of fans.
15 JOHN BOYEGA AS BLADE
The fan casting of John Boyega as Blade is relatively new. For years, the idea of recasting the role exclusively held by Wesley Snipes has emerged only to vanish and resurface again. Official talks, as far as the public is concerned, are seemingly not underway. That hasn’t stopped Boyega’s name from being throw in the mix of potential casting, though. Thanks to fan art leaving many in want of the vampire’s theatrical return, Boyega and Blade don’t appear out of reach.
This fan casting makes the list because a Blade reboot doesn’t look as though it will happen in the near future. Taking Boyega’s growing popularity into consideration, reason suggests that by the time Marvel readies Blade’s revival, the actor will have already landed a leading role in another superhero series. For this dream casting, we’ll just have to keep our fingers crossed.
14 ELIZA DUSHKU AS CATWOMAN
Now that the Dark Knight’s returned to cinema, Catwoman can’t be too far behind. If Warner Bros. plans on keeping an older Batman in the cowl, an older Catwomn is only fitting. Numerous actresses steadily find themselves at the forefront of fan-driven castings. Eliza Dushku’s name rarely eludes mention. Part of the reason is her previously voicing the character in animated projects, most notably DC Showcase: Catwoman. Dushku’s many roles in action franchises give credence to the inspired pick, as well.
As a former Slayer, the Buffy the Vampire Slayer star is an apt choice, especially when considering the energy Dushku could bring to the role. Doubt arises primarily because of precedence set for Catwoman’s big screen ventures. Typically, only major movie stars play cinematic versions of the cat burglar. Could an exception be made for Dushku? We’d like to think so, but it seems unlikely.
13 ANGELA BASSETT AS STORM
As the story goes, Angela Bassett nearly had the role of Storm in the first X-Men film. Apparently, not enough money was on the table to get her agents to budge. Halle Berry was instead cast, acting in four films as the mutant. But that hardly put a stop to fans dreaming of what appears to be the impossible -- Bassett’s being cast as the character.
The actress’ chances at bringing Storm to life in live-action are essentially non-existent. However, a tease of what may have been does somewhat rear its head in Black Panther. Cast as T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda, Bassett dons a wig that gives her stark white dreads, matching the Queen’s look in the comics. Still, the comparison to Storm’s hair color escapes no one.
12 JESSICA CHASTAIN AS POISON IVY
Of all Batman rogues, Poison Ivy is one of the more difficult to get right. This proves true for every medium in which she appears -- comics, television, film, or gaming. She’s beloved, though, evident by her staying power. For many Batman fans, Ivy flourishes when given a redemption arc. There’s hope that should she appear in the DCEU, that’s the story that would be conveyed. According to the internet, there are few better for the role than Jessica Chastain.
An award-winning actress who’s genuinely well-liked, Chastain could make a compelling villain. If anyone can pull off the compassion and nuance of Poison Ivy’s better iterations, it’s the Zero Dark Thirty and Molly’s Game star. Is Chastain willing to play such a character? The jury’s still out, but her casting would likely mark a rare instance wherein fans unanimously agree on a studio’s casting decision.
11 RONDA ROUSEY AS CAPTAIN MARVEL
Fans have campaigned for the casting of mixed martial artist and wrestler Ronda Rousey in a few comic book roles. One dream casting that garnered the most traction was for Captain Marvel. Many may recall Rousey being a fan-favorite hopeful. She’d previously been mentioned in discussions concerning Wonder Woman prior to Gal Gadot’s attaining the role. Captain Marvel, then, could have acted as her breakthrough part. Marvel ultimately went a different route. During San Diego Comic-Con 2016, the studio officially announced Brie Larson as the MCU’s Captain Marvel.
Based on the longevity of leading roles in the MCU, Larson will maintain the part for the foreseeable future. Thus, any hope Rousey fans have of seeing her as Captain Marvel are unlikely to escalate beyond the dream stage. Regardless, there’s bound to be a superhero role in her future.
10 STEVEN YEUN AS NIGHTWING
The fanfare surrounding hopes that The Walking Dead’s Steven Yeun will be cast as Nightwing has died down considerably. There was a time, however, when Yeun seemed a fan-favorite. The possibility is not altogether ruled out. Yet teasing and musing from the Nightwing film’s director, Chris McKay, suggests he and Warner Bros. may approach an unknown for the role.
His sheer talent and energetic personality makes Yeun a ideal for Dick Grayson on paper. Should someone else be cast, which is likely, there are certainly other heroes who harbor the same basic character description. Akin to others on this list, Yeun’s chances to shine as a superhero or villain, should he choose such a career path, appear incredibly high. For now, it is apparent the shot at Nightwing isn’t the one he will get.
9 JOHN GOODMAN AS DOCTOR OCTOPUS
In recent years, John Goodman has done some of his most interesting work. With any actor who excels in genre film, audiences await his casting in a superhero franchise. If Hollywood cannot find a role for Goodman, fans are already ahead of the game. As far as the internet’s concerned, the 10 Cloverfield Lane star would be a great fit for Spider-Man foe, Doctor Octopus.
While Doc Ock didn’t show in Amazing Spider-Man, he was a beloved villain of the Raimi series. Therefore, his MCU debut must be on the horizon. If so, Goodman is an unlikely casting choice. Alfred Molina, who is Goodman’s age, played Doc Ock in Spider-Man 2 at age 50. This isn’t to say Marvel and Goodman can’t make it work. But if Homecoming’s sequel doesn’t feature the villain, Goodman may be out of the running before ever officially entering.
8 NEIL PATRICK HARRIS AS THE RIDDLER
Other than Music Meister, who Neil Patrick Harris helped debut in Batman The Brave and the Bold, fan casting for the actor doesn’t get better than The Riddler. Interestingly, of the DC characters Harris has voiced, a list which also includes Nightwing and The Flash, he hasn’t had a role as Edward Nygma. It’s undoubtedly the biggest enigma of them all. However, fans remain steadfast and hopeful that their dreams will be realized.
The character hasn’t appeared on the big screen since 1995’s Batman Forever starring Jim Carrey as the foe. Might the DCEU return him to cinema? It’s hard to gauge, but the probability doesn’t seem far fetched. The real question is whether Harris would be approached. Again, not an off-kilter idea. The DCEU’s in a worrying state, though. We’re left wondering if Riddler will get a chance to make his mark in the near future.
7 TERRY CREWS AS LUKE CAGE
Terry Crews and Luke Cage seem a match made in comic book heaven. Fans believe he’s perfect for the role, and Crews himself once campaigned to potentially play the character. The excitement around the actor becoming Power Man crescendoed when Marvel and Netflix revealed their partnership would bring the hero to live-action for the first time. In the end, Mike Colter was cast, first debuting in Jessica Jones before getting his solo series.
With Luke Cage’s sophomore season forthcoming and Netflix’s corner of the MCU showing no sign of slowing, Crews as Cage is bound to remain a dream. It’s unfortunate, but it’s also difficult to see anyone other than Mike Colter in the role. If and when Terry Crews does get to finally put superpowers to use, it’ll have to be as someone else.
6 WILLEM DAFOE AS THE JOKER
Willem Dafoe is one of the more talented actors working today. It just so happens that he’s also skilled at bringing villainous characters to life. His performances are mesmerizing, a notion not lost on anyone wanting to see what Dafoe could do with the Joker. For years this dream has pervaded popular culture; it recently picked up steam when news of a Joker origin film began circulating. There’s been no confirmation, but reports allege Joaquin Phoenix is in the running for the part. Thus, Dafoe as the Clown Prince may once again elude us.
Truth be told, this doesn’t mean he’ll never get another opportunity to don Joker’s sinister smile. Batman as a franchise constantly receives new live-action iterations. But with Dafoe cast as Aquaman’s confidant Vulko, Warner Bros. apparently has the actor in the role they think best suits their plans.
5 JOSEPH GORDON LEVITT AS MISTER FANTASTIC
Let’s address this at the outset, the likelihood of the Fantastic Four soon returning to cinema seems reasonably low. The franchise’s last two outings did not fare well, critically or commercially. As a result, interest in live-action Fantastic Four projects remains subpar. Despite this, idealistic fan castings point to Joseph Gordon-Levitt being a favorite pick for Mister Fantastic.
Since The Dark Knight Rises, the thought of Gordon-Levitt starring as a superhero has appeased audiences. If he can’t be a Robin or Nightwing, then surely his undeniable charm could be of use as Reed Richards. In spite of anything being possible in the world of comics, Fantastic Four’s recent shortcomings spell doom for such a casting. Unfortunately, Gordon-Levitt as a Fantastic Four member will likely remain a dream and nothing more.
4 BRYAN CRANSTON AS LEX LUTHOR
If there is one DCEU fan casting that everyone can agree on, it is Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor. For months prior to Jesse Eisenberg’s casting, fans campaigned for the Breaking Bad star to net the role of Superman’s most famous nemesis. Cranston seemed thrilled by the consideration, saying he would happily accept the part should the opportunity present itself. Evidently, this chance failed to knock on the actor’s door.
With the DCEU’s fate in limbo, Eisenberg’s days as the villainous mastermind may be numbered. This does not equate to good news for Cranston supporters, though. Live-action Lex, beyond television at least, may take a backseat if the DCEU’s future is truly in jeopardy. Regardless of what’s on the horizon, Cranston’s involvement remains improbable.
3 DANIEL WU AS IRON FIST
Even after Finn Jones was announced as lead for Iron Fist, some fans were hopeful change would come. One actor that typically found himself at the top of fan casting lists was Into the Badlands star, Daniel Wu. An Asian martial artist in the role of the Immortal Iron Fist means the world to many, specifically with regards to representation in media. The perceived poor casting choice garnered much of the blame for the show’s abysmal reception.
Would Iron Fist be any better with Daniel Wu starring? With a martial artist as lead, the fight choreography would not have suffered. However, Wu may still have taken part in a narrative that doesn’t meet the standards of other Netflix/Marvel series. Nevertheless, Finn Jones is Iron Fist for the foreseeable future. Thus, dreams of seeing Wu wield the power of the Iron Fist are doubtful to come to fruition.
2 JASON MOMOA AS LOBO
Before audiences thought of it, Jason Momoa fan cast himself as Lobo. During an interview, the actor was asked about the casting process for Aquaman. Apparently, his first call with Zack Snyder led him to believe Snyder wanted to cast him as the Main Man, Lobo. While everyone seems in love with Momoa as the King of Atlantis, imagining him as the space-faring bounty hunter unearths new desires. Unfortunately, this dream won’t come true anytime soon, if ever.
For years, Warner Bros. has tried developing a Lobo project. As of yet, nothing has come of it. Should such a venture be ready during the DCEU’s cycle of films, Momoa will be wholly off-limits. Furthermore, unless Momoa’s stint as Aquaman is short, which is questionable, fans must shift their attention to another actor capable of capturing all that makes Lobo special.
1 TOM HARDY AS WOLVERINE
Fans prepared themselves for Hugh Jackman’s X-Men franchise exit by fan casting the actor that would inevitably take over the role. Tom Hardy is apparently a favorite, evidenced by his name never failing to receive mention. Hollywood wants him in a superhero franchise; audiences want the same. After being the first actor to portray Bane in live-action, Hardy signed on to star as Suicide Squad’s Rick Flag. He dropped out, but later climbed aboard another franchise, playing Venom in Sony’s forthcoming standalone.
Tom Hardy’s eventually donning the claws of Wolverine doesn’t seem improbable. But if the Sony spinoff is successful, allowing them to craft their own cinematic universe, Hardy will be too busy in one part of the superhero craze to worry about another. Besides, let’s hope the powers at be give theatrical Wolverine the rest he deserves.