The moment Marvel assembled The Avengers on the big screen, fans began wondering when DC would do the same. They didn’t have to wait long for Man of Steel to arrive and signal a new franchise of DC movies. It made sense to start with Superman, however, everyone was anticipating when the other members of the Justice League would enter the fray. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, as the title suggests features the arrival of Batman into the DC Extended Universe. The film also had the live-action big screen debut of Wonder Woman. As part of the storyline, there would be cameos from The Flash, Cyborg and Aquaman, to set up a future Justice League movie.
Whenever news like this hits the internet, fans are instantly ready with all their casting choices. They’re also prepared to criticize every rumor that pops up. In the case of comic book characters, fans have an especially strong reaction to who plays their favorites, since they’ve been picturing certain people in their head for years. As the DCEU continues to be mired in confusion and controversy it’s time to take a look at what might have been with eight Justice League casting rumors better than what we got and seven that would’ve been worse.
15 BETTER: JOSH BROLIN AS BATMAN
Since the stories have begun swirling that Ben Affleck will be done playing Batman, a lot of different names have hit the rumor mill. One of those is Josh Brolin, which would work well with the older Batman the franchise has established. Brolin has literally grown up in the business, but recently has built a career out of playing the grizzled old veteran who’s ready to retire.
And of course, we all know he has ample experience in the comic book world.
As good as Brolin is, it might be his various comic book roles in the MCU and Deadpool 2 that would keep him from being Bruce Wayne. As of this writing, we don’t know what the future holds for Thanos, so his MCU work may not be complete. Basically, Brolin is just too busy to take on one more comic book character.
14 WORSE: GRANT GUSTIN AS THE FLASH
With the success of its DC superhero shows on The CW, the first question fans had was whether Warner Bros. would follow Marvel’s lead and connect the two universes. Grant Gustin had already spent three years introducing Barry Allen to the world, so he was many fans’ choice to continue playing the role in the movies. However, DC made it clear very quickly that there would be no shared universe between TV and movies.
As it turns out, this was for the best. The films have a very different tone from the Arrowverse, so his portrayal of Barry wouldn’t fit in. Movie Barry was also young and new to hero work, whereas on TV he’s among the most experienced characters on all four shows. Ezra Miller was one of the highlights of Justice League, and The Flash is still fun to watch (at times), so it worked out for everybody.
13 BETTER: CHRIS PINE AS HAL JORDAN
Chris Pine was seemingly the last Chris in Hollywood who wasn’t a superhero. It appeared that was going to change when rumors swirled that he was playing a pilot for DC. Obviously, everyone assumed he was going to be Hal Jordan/Green Lantern. A choice fans were completely on board with.
Of course, we now know that he was Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman, which is definitely a pilot in the DC universe, just not the one we were thinking of.
We ended up with a quick glimpse of the Green Lantern Corps fighting Steppenwolf alongside the Amazons and Atlanteans, that left us waiting for a cameo throughout the film and credits. There’s still talk that a Green Lantern Corps movie is coming, but it’s anybody’s guess if that’s still happening.
12 WORSE: MATTHEW GOODE AS SUPERMAN
When Zack Snyder decided to relaunch Superman, there were a lot of curious names among the possible Kal-El choices. One of them was Matthew Goode, who had previously worked with the director as Ozymandias in Watchmen. Goode is a fine actor in British period pieces like Downton Abbey and The Crown, but maybe not the strongest choice to play the Last Son of Krypton.
It’s not just about his size and look, it’s also about his resume, which has Watchmen as his only big action film. Despite what the world thinks, not just anyone can step into a huge superhero world. Since Man of Steel was meant to launch fans into the new universe, Clark Kent had to immediately draw them in and Goode wouldn’t have believably done that.
11 BETTER: TIMOTHY DALTON AS ALFRED PENNYWORTH
Let’s be real, Batman v. Superman had a lot of problems, but Jeremy Irons’ as Batman’s loyal butler Alfred Pennyworth was definitely not one of them. He was a great balance to Ben Affleck’s war weary Bruce Wayne. Though, before Irons came on board, Zack Snyder was also considering Timothy Dalton.
Yes, the former James Bond could have been Batman’s mentor and partner.
It would have added another level of character to their relationship to have the audience instantly recognize him as someone who’s been through his own battles. Bruce’s relationship with Alfred is the most important in his life and it’s the one thing the DCEU has consistently gotten right. This is one of those cases where what we got and what might have been were both great choices.
10 WORSE: ELODIE YUNG AS WONDER WOMAN
At some point, nearly every actress in Hollywood has been considered to play Wonder Woman. Most fans know Elodie Yung for her work as Elektra in Daredevil and The Defenders. So, she clearly has a talent for playing strong willed women. Her filmography is full of roles where she played a warrior, so she would have fit right in on Themyscira, but we’re not sure she would have been the best choice as Diana.
Most of the parts she’s played have been more experienced fighters who know how the world works. Though that’s the Diana we first meet in Batman v. Superman, the Diana in Wonder Woman is much more naive and new to the world. There’s an old soul quality to her performances that wouldn’t have been right for Wonder Woman.
9 BETTER: JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN AS BATMAN
It’s no secret to anyone that Ben Affleck was a controversial choice to play Batman. In the end, he turned out to be good, becoming the glue of the DCEU. However, before casting ever started, Zack Snyder already had someone in mind for the Dark Knight. The director had worked with Jeffrey Dean Morgan in Watchmen and said in interviews he wanted to adapt Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns with Morgan as Bruce Wayne.
As we’ve seen from Morgan in his work on The Walking Dead, Supernatural and various action movies, he has the grizzled fighter part down.
His take on Batman may have been closer to what’s seen in the comics, but perhaps too dark for a film trying to sell toys. He did land in the DCEU as Thomas Wayne, who actually becomes Batman during "Flashpoint", so there’s still hope.
8 WORSE: ZAC EFRON AS SUPERMAN
Among the unexpected rumored names in consideration for the title role of Man of Steel was Zac Efron. Yes, High School Musical, Hairspray, The Greatest Showman, Zac Efron. It would have certainly been a different choice, though we imagine there would have been just as many, possibly more, shirtless scenes. In the end, it was his youth and inability to pull off the suit that left him out of the final discussions.
While not an ideal suggestion, he may have brought some comedy to the film. Something that was sorely lacking. His work in all genres of entertainment demonstrates that Efron is a talented performer that we wouldn’t be surprised to see show up in a superhero project, however Superman was not the character for him.
7 BETTER: IDRIS ELBA AS BATMAN
Anytime a major franchise role becomes available, Idris Elba is the first name on everyone’s list. With that in mind, it comes as no surprise that when the rumors hit that Ben Affleck might leave the DCEU, Elba was the actor fans began talking about. This led to many debates about whether Batman can be black, which obviously he can.
From his work in Luther, The Dark Tower and Thor, there is nothing Elba does better than exhausted warrior who must keep fighting.
The Justice League version of Bruce Wayne is so tired of being Batman, but at the same time he knows he can’t stop doing the job. He would bring a gravitas and experience to the character that hasn’t been seen since Michael Keaton. It would also add some much needed representation to one of the world’s most recognizable heroes.
6 WORSE: ALEXANDRA DADDARIO AS WONDER WOMAN
Based on her work in the Percy Jackson movies, Alexandra Daddario was one of the candidates to play Diana in her big screen debut. We’ve also seen her in San Andreas, so she’s obviously familiar with doing huge action films. The actress was among the first to throw her name out there when the role was announced. While Diana is new to the outside world, she is still a very strong warrior and Daddario is perhaps a little young to portray that aspect of her character.
This isn’t to say that she would have been a bad Wonder Woman, but she just isn’t quite ready for a project like this. She would have been good as a teenage Diana, but Gal Gadot was still the best choice to introduce Wonder Woman around the world. At this point it’s hard to imagine anyone else as the character.
5 BETTER: DAVID BOREANAZ AS SUPERMAN
Nothing against Henry Cavill, but we would’ve enjoyed seeing what David Boreanaz could do with Superman. As Angel he displayed an ability to balance wildly different personalities. On Bones, his FBI agent Booth was all about truth, justice and the American way. All that’s missing is the flying.
He pretty much looks like he stepped out of a comic book.
Boreanaz would have given viewers a more nuanced Man of Steel as he begins his journey to become Superman. The actor has been in the running for the role twice, so we can see a world where he finally gets to don the famous cape. Though with his latest series Seal Team getting picked up, his schedule may be too busy to join the Justice League.
4 WORSE: JOSH HOLLOWAY AS AQUAMAN
Arthur Curry/Aquaman has long been the butt of everyone’s jokes. He’s the Justice League member no one takes seriously. When it was announced that he would be included in the movie team up, fans were wondering how the studio would make him more modern and interesting. They instantly got everyone’s attention by casting Game of Thrones fan favorite Jason Momoa as Arthur.
Before Momoa was confirmed, one of the names going around the nerd world was Josh Holloway of Lost. While the actor may have made an interesting Aquaman, he wouldn’t have been unique. Momoa’s casting is a huge departure from the blond hair, blue eyed version of Arthur we’ve always seen. His show-stealing performance in Justice League actually got fans excited for and Aquaman movie.
3 BETTER: JAIMIE ALEXANDER AS WONDER WOMAN
When it was announced that Wonder Woman would finally hit the big screen, fans were instantly championing the MCU’s Jaimie Alexander as the Princess of Themyscira. As Lady Sif, she was already giving us a proud female warrior from a far off land, who’s unfamiliar with the world outside her own. She even had a look similar to Wonder Woman, something not uncommon across the two major comic book companies.
Alexander made it clear from the beginning that her commitments to Marvel would keep her from even considering the role.
Her work on the NBC series Blindspot prevented her from being in Thor: Ragnarok, so thankfully she’s still alive in the MCU, but fans will always have a what if moment when they think of the possibility of Alexander as Wonder Woman.
2 WORSE: KRISTEN STEWART AS LOIS LANE
We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again, Lois Lane is the heart and soul of Superman stories. Other than his parents, she’s the touchstone that keeps him grounded as Clark Kent. Particularly in the DCEU, she’s the one who really inspired him to become Superman. She’s essential to all aspects of his journey.
Amy Adams has Lois’ feisty personality and never quit spirit. She’s a good match for Clark. There was a time in the casting process when Twilight star Kristen Stewart was in consideration for the role. This would have been a terrible choice, as she seems to only have one emotion and there would have been nothing for Clark to relate to or share any chemistry with. Fans everywhere are thankful that Adams became Lois.
1 BETTER: BRYAN CRANSTON AS LEX LUTHOR
There are a lot of mixed feelings about Batman v. Superman, but one thing we can all agree on is that Jesse Eisenberg was not a good Lex Luthor. He basically is playing an overhyped version of his Mark Zuckerberg character. His genius never feels dangerous. It really made audiences long for the idea of Bryan Cranston as Lex Luthor.
The Breaking Bad star was among the first names mentioned for the part of Superman’s most famous villain.
He’s an award winning actor who can play anything, but everyone thought a corporate version of Walter White would make the perfect Lex. Unfortunately, we ended up with a whiny millennial who isn’t threatening to anyone. Following the post credits scene in Justice League, it appears we’re stuck with him.