Marvel movies have broadened their reach since their humble comic book beginnings. For years, the company struggled to find its footing as it attempted to bring its greatest heroes to the big screen. Iron Man‘s success led to The Avengers, expanding the universe to film crossovers, network television series, and online streaming. The MCU, Sony’s Spider-Man properties and Fox’s X-Men franchise extend even further with tie-in comics and direct-to-video short films. Marvel’s monumental success has actors clamoring for their chance to don capes and masks and become part of the superhero universe. But not everyone has achieved stardom after becoming part of the family.
While Marvel films jump-started many aspiring actors’ careers, not everyone was ensured future success once the cameras stopped rolling. Whether it was disagreements on set, accusations of sexism, or just poor acting skills, Marvel flicks lost many of their initial actors who ushered in the early wave of love for superhero films. Some actors demanded more money, letting fame get to their heads while others grew tired of their director’s low expectations. Many just got fed up with the superhero business itself, waving goodbye to a beloved (if fractured) universe that has grown to encompass 20th Century Fox, Sony Pictures and Disney. Below are just a few examples of actors Marvel isn’t keen on re-hiring anytime soon.
15. TAYLOR KITSCH
The Friday Night Lights hottie lost his star power after his standout role on the hit series. The model turned actor got his start in comedies, teen thrillers, and action flicks before being offered what could have been a breakout role as Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. His character, despite his small cameo in the film, managed to charm fans but failed to earn him a solo movie. The role has now been given to Magic Mike star Channing Tatum.
Despite landing the lead-role in the hyped adaptation of the beloved childhood game Battleship, Kitsch couldn’t prevent his movie from being overwhelmingly overshadowed by the success of The Avengers, accompanied by poor reviews and a $100 million loss for the studio. Though he has proven his acting skills, the actor’s failed to earn himself a win and has since retreated to HBO, starring in True Detective and The Normal Heart.
14. JANUARY JONES
It appears the star’s reputation for having a “cold shoulder” extends beyond her role as Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class. As the icy vixen, Jones seduced audiences but left her co-stars and critics feeling numb. Reviewers of the film said her delivery of the character was wooden, much to the dismay of Mad Men fans who praised her performance on the drama hit.
Various actors who have had the (dis)pleasure of working with Jones say the actress is “rude” and “unapproachable.” The star’s bad reputation has made various headlines, all confirming that she isn’t the easiest to work with and some have even gone as far as to label her a home-wrecker. An article by TheDailyMail.com suggests the actress has an inside joke with fellow X-Men alum James Marsden, teasing that he is the father of her son!
13. FAMKE JANSSEN
Going from brilliant Jean Grey to the fiery Dark Phoenix, Famke Janssen was a fan favorite among the X-Men. After appearing in five of the franchise’s films, Janssen made a swift exit, citing Marvel’s sexism for her departure. In an interview with Us Weekly, the actress revealed the producers “gave up on me,” citing her recasting was due to them wanting a “younger model version” of her character. Her role was given to Game of Thrones star Sophie Turner.
The star got her start as Bond villain Xenia Onatopp and in B-list horror movies before her big break in 2000, when she became part of the X-Men team. Since then, she has taken to television roles, starring in Nip / Tuck, Hemlock Grove and most recently as a love interest for Viola Davis’ character on How To Get Away With Murder.
12. HALLE BERRY
Despite starring in four X-Men movies as the iconic Storm, Halle Berry has struggled to regain her fame ever since. Followers of her career saw the star’s dramatic rise after being the first African American woman to win an Oscar for Best Actress in Monster’s Ball. It was clear the woman could act, going from Bond girl to mutant superhero to winning an Emmy and Golden Globe for Introducing Dorothy Dandridge.
But it all came crashing down when she accepted the lead role in Catwoman, loosely based on the famed DC femme fatale. The film was a critical failure, appearing on Roger Ebert’s list of most hated films and Berry’s shameful performance earned her a Razzie in 2005. Her acceptance speech was a complete diss to Warner Bros, as she thanked them “for putting me in a piece of [expletive], god-awful movie… It was just what my career needed.”
11. MICKEY ROURKE
The general consensus declared Iron Man 2 was decent but clearly not as good as the first film. But that didn’t stop Mickey Rourke, who played the villainous Whiplash, from trashing both the movie and Marvel Studios. Known for his seriousness as an actor, Rourke was disappointed with the final version of the movie.
When interviewed by Seth Meyers, Rourke stated, “I’m not a Marvel fan… Once I did a movie for Marvel and they cut the whole goddamn thing out…” The reason for his hatred is due to the creative team dramatically reducing his character development. Rourke wanted to add layers to his character but in the end, Marvel-execs decided to simplify the villain, having him be evil for the sake of being evil. Angered by their decision, Rourke stated, “If [Marvel] wants to make mindless comic book movies, then I don’t want to be a part of that.”
10. TERRENCE HOWARD
“Next time baby!” Unfortunately, Terrence Howard never got to fulfill his wish of putting on the War Machine suit and his role as James “Rhodey” Rhodes was given to Don Cheadle. The reason for the switch? Howard wasn’t pleased with the suggested pay cut for starring in the Iron Man sequel.
In an interview on Watch What Happens Live, Howard called out co-star Robert Downey Jr for stealing his spotlight. “It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man… when it was time to re-up for the second one, [he] took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out,” he revealed. He also stated Marvel execs felt the sequel, “will be successful with or without you,” and offered to pay him one-eighth of his original salary. Despite his bitterness, Howard has gone on to star as the lead in the hit drama Empire.
9. GWYNETH PALTROW
There is uncertainty about Pepper Potts’ future in the MCU due to Gwyneth Paltrow’s apparent dissatisfaction. In an interview with Entertainment Tonight, Paltrow expressed tiredness, stating, “I don’t think I like it anymore.” As Tony Stark’s secretary and love interest, Potts also got a chance to wear the Iron Man suit in the third installment, but it’s unclear how long her character will last in the franchise.
Paltrow has expressed confusion about which Marvel movies she’s contracted to make an appearance in, stating the secrecy when it comes to the films has made it hard to answer fans when it comes to rumors. Despite her eagerness to remain in the MCU, Paltrow does worry that “they might swap me out for an 18-year old Pepper Potts or something.” Aside from the Iron Man movies, her character has made appearances in The Avengers and Spiderman: Homecoming.
8. JESSICA BIEL
Jessica Biel was fierce in Blade: Trinity but has since faded to the background. The actress has appeared in a handful of movies and lent her voice to shows such as Family Guy and BoJack Horseman. Her career comeback is riding on the USA Network thriller The Sinner, in which she plays a young mother whose sudden act of violence is further complicated by her lack of reason for committing it.
Biel’s superb archery skills managed to cost the production company a $3 million camera, but didn’t earn her a promising career. Many of her films have failed to earn big box-office success and the actress is often cast as the beautiful love-interest only to satisfy the need for a female character. Another disadvantage is competition with A-list actors, notably losing out to Anne Hathaway for the role of Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises and Fantine in Les Miserables.
7. WESLEY SNIPES
Once the most in-demand action star, Snipes’ ability to combine athletic and martial arts skills led to some of his most memorable performances. Despite landing a string of break-out roles, Snipes claimed Hollywood had a race issue, stating, “When screenwriters write material, they write with white actors in mind… That’s the nature of the business.” After various run-ins with the law and a path of unsuccessful movie roles, Snipes’ career started to lose steam.
It wasn’t until Blade that his career jump-started again. Single-handedly earning the film $131 million worldwide, Snipes helped superhero movies gain the recognition they lacked at the time. His success turned sour with Blade: Trinity, regarded as the worst film of the franchise. Snipes claimed encounters with racism and disrespect while on set. Co-star Patton Oswalt called the film, “a very troubled production,” recalling Snipes’ problematic behavior during shooting including demanding that director David Goyer quit.
6. EDWARD NORTON
You won’t like him when he’s angry. Most Marvel fans are aware of Norton’s battle when it came to writing the script for The Incredible Hulk. The actor had turned down the role as the green giant before accepting it on the assumption any changes he made to Penn’s original screenplay would be included in the final cut. Norton’s heavily edited re-write and Leterrier’s attempt to combine it with Penn’s script ended up turning the movie into a convoluted mess.
Marvel’s hatred for the film led them to replace Norton with Mark Ruffalo when it came time to film The Avengers. The studio even issued a statement regarding the new casting, saying they preferred an actor, “who embodies the creative and collaborative spirit as our other talented cast members.” Leterrier expressed regret to Entertainment Weekly “that [Marvel and Norton] didn’t come to an agreement where we could’ve all worked together.”
5. ERIC BANA
Given the role in 2003, Eric Bana now expresses relief over no longer having to bear the weight of being The Hulk. Now that Mark Ruffalo has been set to star in the extended franchise, Bana feels “lucky” he’s no longer tied down. He also recognizes the backlash his version received from fans, saying, “I’m proud of what I tried to do. I apologize to all those people who were so angry about it…”
Ang Lee’s version of the character was much darker compared to the light-hearted heroes of the early 2000s and Bana sees its failure as a blessing in disguise. “I would have had a completely different career…” the actor admits, had he been made to work alongside The Avengers. The actor has gone on to star in The Other Boleyn Girl, Funny People, and played Nero in Star Trek.
4. TOBEY MAGUIRE
“With great power, comes great responsibility” and it appears Tobey Maguire wasn’t ready for such a commitment. After rising to stardom with the early success of the Spider-Man franchise, the third film stunted his chances of reaching the top. Director Sam Raimi admitted to The Nerdist that, “I messed up plenty… It’s a movie that just didn’t work very well.”
As a movie producer, Maguire failed to see two of his films to the big screen and those that did make it suffered at the box-office. His penchant for gambling hasn’t granted him any favors either, earning him a memoir detailing his questionable behavior. A rumor has also surfaced revealing Maguire tried to play hardball with Spider-Man 2, hoping to gain a more lucrative contract when it came to filming potential sequels. Sony execs were aware of the ruse and threatened to replace him with Jake Gyllenhaal.
3. JESSICA ALBA
According to the actress, starring in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer made her want to “stop acting.” Recalling her time working with Tim Story, she says the director constantly questioned her performance, asking “Can you be prettier when you cry?” Fed up, Alba declared, “I don’t care about this business anymore.”
At the time, Marvel films were Hollywood’s biggest source of employment (and still are in many ways), but that couldn’t stop Fantastic Four‘s reputation of being one of the worst rebooted franchises. It also didn’t ensure Alba’s career as a professional actress. Alba hasn’t made the best choices when it comes to movies, appearing in The Love Guru, Spy Kids 4 and An Invisible Sign, which earned a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. Admittedly, the actress intentionally put her career on hold, saying, “I really stopped acting when I was 27” and instead says, “the business side is where my heart’s at.”
2. JENNIFER GARNER
While Ben Affleck has shaken off his disastrous Daredevil by becoming The Batman, Jennifer Garner has yet to recover from her Elektra mishap. The film killed any notion that a female-led superhero film could succeed, until Wonder Woman‘s record-breaking success in 2017. From then on, Garner was restricted to love-interest or mother when it came to movies.
Elektra was considered a commercial failure and received negative reviews from those who found it to be incredibly lacking when it came to the plot. Surprisingly, critics declared Garner as the only redeeming quality of the film. The actress admitted the only reason she made the film was due to contractual obligations. This was unlike many of her co-stars, who went on to continue working in the superhero franchise, Garner has now been reduced to competing with Nick Fury actor Samuel L Jackson for the spotlight in Capital One credit card commercials.
1. NICOLAS CAGE
From Marvel to DC, superhero roles seemed to evade Nicolas Cage until fate brought him Ghost Rider. Fans believed the eccentric actor was destined to play the over-the-top character, a stunt motorcyclist turned demonic vigilante hell-bent on punishing evildoers. The first film received negative reviews while the sequel earned Cage a Razzie nomination for Worst Actor while the film was nominated as Worst Remake.
With more profitable Marvel films, it’s fair to say it isn’t keen on making a third Ghost Rider, especially since Cage isn’t interested in returning. Cage admitted, “I think the ship has sailed with that one. At least with me involved.” Some argue the character is too powerful for the cinematic screen, better left to television where he’s been successful on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. If Cage were to return to the MCU, most likely it would be to pay his way out of enormous tax debt.
Can you think of any other Marvel actors who overstayed their welcome? Let us know in the comments!
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