Sometimes, casting can make or break a film. For superheroes movies, a solid casting means the ability to bring a character to life from a comic book page. But a bad casting could mean condemnation -- leading to a soiled brand and no chance in promoting the character down the line. And the DC Extended Universe has had its struggles, but it’s also found enormous success in the actors it chooses to play certain character. Right from the jump with Man of Steel, Superman’s supporting cast was brought to life with care. Whether it was his loving parents Ma and Pa Kent or his newspaper editor, the casting seemed solid enough.
Now, if only Superman himself was cast well enough. Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice brought us Ben Affleck, Gal Gadot and Jesse Eisenberg, Suicide Squad had Viola Davis and Will Smith and Wonder Woman crushed it with the Amazonians and Steve Trevor. Heck, even Justice League brought Ezra Miller, J.K. Simmons and Amber Heard to the deck. The talent is stacked. This list breaks down eight actors who were totally miscast as DC characters, and seven casting choices directors absolutely nailed. Keep in mind, this isn’t necessarily about an actor’s talent, just how they portrayed their respective characters.
15 MISCAST: HENRY CAVILL
In a lot of ways, this entry is more about the direction actor Henry Cavill has had to take more so than his abilities as an actor. From his first appearance as the Man of Steel in, well, Man of Steel, Cavill has tried his best -- but he’s not quite Superman.
His dialogue is often awkward or tongue-in-cheek, while more dramatic moments are undercut by the tone of the rest of the movie -- as dark as possible. Proof of Cavill’s abilities can be seen in movies like The Man From U.N.C.L.E., where his charisma and co-stars help him dominate the screen. We just wish our Superman had a bit more of that Cavill and less of the angry Cavill, though Justice League is a good start.
14 NAILED: BEN AFFLECK
Sure, Ben Affleck’s time as the Dark Knight may be running out (of his own accord), but at the very least we got two movies where Affleck played both a stellar Batman and a fantastic Bruce Wayne, albeit a few murderous tendencies. In Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice we’re introduced to a Bruce that’s seasoned, a man hardened by the crime he’s sought to prevent in his city.
The death of Superman brings out the best of Bats in Justice League, and it makes us really hate the fact that Affleck might be on his way out. Batman actors have long struggles to strike a balance between a great Bruce Wayne and a great Batman, with some coming up short on both. In a post-Nolan Batman universe, this is more than we could have hoped for.
13 MISCAST: JESSE EISENBERG
There was a lot of promise when Jesse Eisenberg was announced to be playing Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Eisenberg was on plenty of critics radars following successes like The Social Network and Zombieland, and fans were as equally excited to see what this fresh take on the character could bring to the table.
Unfortunately, the rug was pulled out from under viewers as Eisenberg was less of a calm and calculated Lex Luthor and more of a crazed, maniacal and almost Joker-like villain. He sought to basically end the world, what with his Zod resurrecting and actual terrorism. Thankfully, it looks like the character is pivoting a bit from that Justice League post-credits scene. But we’ll just have to see.
12 NAILED: GAL GADOT
In early 2017, Gal Gadot captured the collective minds of people around the world with her incredible performance as Wonder Woman. After a handful of failed attempts to bring the legacy character to the big screen, Gadot brought the thunder and plenty of grace to Diana of Themyscira.
What could have been a lackluster popcorn flick became a culturally relevant and powerful statement -- in addition to being a pretty fantastic superhero movie. This was, of course, with the keystone of Gadot’s casting and performance as Diana. As the DC live-action film universe moves forward, we can’t help but hope that Gal Gadot is at the center of it all. With audiences clinging more to the hope and power of Wonder Woman, we think that might just happen.
11 MISCAST: EZRA MILLER
Let us be super clear here: We think Ezra Miller did a fantastic job as The Flash in Justice League and for the brief moment we saw him in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. That being said, Miller is the perfect Wally West, not Barry Allen.
Miller’s portrayal of the character is one of almost no experience. He’s just starting out his career, and while the Justice League in the films is more of a team-up of existing super powers, the comics play the Justice League up as something you earn and become a part of when your worth is proven as a hero. But this is not shade on Barry Allen as a character, we just would have loved to see this iteration be Wally West -- or a more experienced and seasoned Barry Allen.
10 NAILED: JOE MANGANIELLO
OK, so maybe this is cheating a bit, but we’re running with it anyway. We’ve only seen Joe Manganiello’s Slade Wilson for a split second in the post-credits scene for Justice League, but what we saw was absolutely incredible. From a picture-perfect costume design and makeup to the perfect cadence for Wilson’s voice, Manganiello has got it down pat. Seriously, the silver hair and the eyepatch had audiences freaking out and screaming.
And while Manu Bennett has done a pretty great job on Arrow, we can’t wait to see what a big budget and a grounded story do for the character. Now, just get us Manganiello in that solo Batman flick or a Teen Titans movie and we’re not sure we’ll ever watch anything else again.
9 MISCAST: JARED LETO
Jared Leto’s casting as The Joker could have been amazing. While his cadence and mannerisms were something to bring forward, everything else about Leto’s Joker failed to capture what was necessary about the character. Sure, coming off of Heath Ledger’s incredible performance in The Dark Knight is enough of a challenge in and of itself, but that doesn’t mean Leto couldn’t have knocked it out of the park.
Suicide Squad’s Joker felt like too much. He was an amalgamation of all of the things we didn’t want. The face tattoos felt forced and edgy, the knife obsession felt less insane and more just plain weird. If DC wants to reimagine the character again, we’d say it’s worth giving Leto another shot -- but it’s got to be totally different.
8 NAILED: J.K. SIMMONS
We haven’t seen much of J.K. Simmons’ Commissioner James Gordon, but what we have seen has given us some solid peace of mind. Simmons appears as Jim Gordon for a few minutes in Justice League, and from the facial hair to the coordination with Batman, Simmons seems to have nailed the role.
Of course, this comes as no surprise to fans of the actor. Simmons was stellar in Whiplash and may have been the best comic book casting ever with his stint as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy. With his entrance to the DCEU primed and ready for the eventual solo Batman flick, we bet Simmons will be a highlight of the whole franchise. But hey, if it doesn’t work out he could always bounce back to Marvel for a Spider-Man sequel.
7 MISCAST: CARA DELEVINGNE
There were a lot of problems with Suicide Squad, so it didn’t help that the film’s main villain was essentially a demonically-possessed Cara Delevingne. And while her roles in films like Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets have been solid enough, her stint as June Moon -- The Enchantress -- was pretty lacking.
The film itself sported a typical action flick save the world premise, but Delevingne Enchantress lacked any depth aside from that. She was possessed and in love and that’s about it. With a flawed, typical love story and a plot that couldn’t hold her up, this casting seemed like a major flop. And while her time as a villain may not have been great, we’d love to see her take a stab at a different DC Comics character.
6 NAILED: MARGOT ROBBIE
As one of the shining stars of Suicide Squad, Margot Robbie successfully brought Harley Quinn to life, something fans have long wanted from the DC live-action films. While the Joker/Harley Quinn relationship wasn’t portrayed as it should be (Joker is the worst), it added a bit of emotional depth that we can only hope is explored in further movies.
And it probably will be. It looks like Margot Robbie will be suiting up for the role for many years to come, what with the Joker/Harley, Harley Quinn solo film and Gotham City Sirens adaptation all rumored to be coming somewhere down the line. As far as picture-perfect casting goes, Margot Robbie knocked it out of the park and we can’t wait to see what’s next.
5 MISCAST: DAVID THEWLIS
While most of everything in Wonder Woman was absolutely amazing, one thing the film lacked was a believable villain in the form of Ares -- played by David Thewlis. Sure, war itself was a great villain and Doctor Poison and her crew offered some much needed drama to the film, but Thewlis’ Ares felt like nothing more than necessary evil.
But this is no discredit to Thewlis as an actor, but moreso to how the character of Ares was written in the third act. While the idea of him taking human form as someone familiar was pretty great, it sort of fell apart when he revealed himself at the climax of the film, causing a by-the-books CGI-heavy fight scene to take place. Luckily enough, Wonder Woman has a pretty great rogues gallery to pull from next.
4 NAILED: VIOLA DAVIS
The film world is Viola Davis’ -- we’re just living in it. So, of course putting Davis in a superhero movie would be a good call, but to have her play Amanda Waller made that even better. Her portrayal of the character might be the most faithful adaptation to come out of the DC Comics films yet -- and she was a glimmering light in the mess that Suicide Squad felt like.
Davis is commanding as Waller, striking fear into the hearts of everyone from soldiers to Batman himself. Her maniacal, yet calculated fight for good makes her a threat to morals, but not to humanity. Davis brought that to the table, and if Suicide Squad 2 knows what’s good for it, Amanda Waller will be front and center.
3 MISCAST: JOEL KINNAMAN
When it was announced that Tom Hardy was leaving the role of Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad, we had a hard time believing someone would be able to fill those hypothetical shoes -- and we were right. Joel Kinnaman’s portrayal of Rick Flagg served the plot as best it could sure, but lacked any sort of emotional depth or true character development.
Flagg’s character is a leader who truly believes in the Suicide Squad against all odds. In the comics, this allows him to grow as his own morals blur, and more recently he’s had a sort-of relationship with Harley Quinn. The forced romantic subplot between him and June Moon coupled with the craziness of the film’s plot left the character bare when it came to impact.
2 NAILED: MICHAEL SHANNON
While Man of Steel may be on the better side of the DC Comics live-action films, it still wasn’t perfect. It did, however, succeed in a building a developed, threatening villain in the form of Michael Shannon’s General Zod. From his flashback scenes leading up to the fall of Krypton to his brutal fight with Superman in Metropolis, Shannon proved Zod to be even more of a monster than we’d imagined.
Sure, the villain leads Superman to break his moral code and render all of his soapboxing moot, but it was still incredibly intense because of Shannon’s portrayal of the unstoppable Zod. Of course, this was sort of sullied in Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice when Lex Luthor used his dead body to create an actual monster -- and not in the good way.
1 MISCAST: AMY ADAMS
Amy Adams is a phenomenal actor, but she hasn’t been given enough room to breathe as Lois Lane. In many ways, Lois is the most interesting and strong of Superman’s supporting cast. She has an incredibly successful career, is fearless in her reporting and shows Superman on a daily basis that she could do just fine without him.
Enter the live-action Lois Lane, who, while sporting a successful career and is still fearless, is mostly caught up in her relations with Superman, whether it’s dealing with the aftermath of his death or whatever happened in that scene with the Kryptonian spear in the Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice. If Adams gets the chance to shine, we could see a solo Lois Lane flick down the line.