Comic book-accurate. Whenever there’s a new superhero movie in the making, you’re bound to hear the words comic book-accurate over and over again. Fans can be pretty unrelenting when it comes to live-action adaptations of their favorite comic book characters. As soon as a movie is announced you can bet that a number of lists of suitable actors for various parts will emerge on the Internet. Fan-casting has become a popular hobby. And because so many people envision that many different actors in a certain role, movie studios can never entirely satisfy the fans. If it isn’t lack of comic book accuracy, it is lack of acting abilities, or something else entirely.
In recent years especially, casting superhero movies has led to a number of controversies, ranging from whitewashing to even worse for some iconic comic book characters. Sometimes controversial or odd casting decisions work out surprisingly well, while other times they end up being a complete disaster. But be that as it may, there is no denying that comic book accuracy is at the top of agenda in debates about casting superhero movies. Which is why we are taking a gander at 16 big screen superhero actors who looked nothing like their role.
16. NICOLAS CAGE
On the surface, a diehard comic book fan who changes his name in honor of Luke Cage and names his own son Kal-El sounds like a perfect choice to portray a beloved comic book character. Yet, Nicolas Cage’s casting and performance in the Ghost Rider movies sparked a lot of controversy. Nicolas Cage’s Johnny Blaze was a nightmarish experience for fans of the character, and not in a good way.
The first and most obvious stumbling block was Cage’s appearance. The Johnny Blaze from the source material is easily recognizable by his reddish blond hair and blue eyes. One look at Nicolas Cage and you’ll find zero resemblance to the comic book character. Still, had Cage delivered an exceptional performance, we sincerely doubt that his appearance would have been a deal-breaker.
15. JESSE EISENBERG
Poor Lex Luthor has had some pretty tough luck when it comes to big screen adaptations. So far, none of the actors that have portrayed the evil mastermind on the big screen have been able to capture the essence of the character. So, when Warner Bros. announced that Jesse Eisenberg has been chosen to take on the mantle of Lex Luthor in Batman v. Superman, to say that fans were skeptical would be an understatement.
While Eisenberg’s portrayal of another genius billionaire in The Social Network was exceptional, the curly hair and boyish look don’t exactly scream Lex Luthor. Even when he goes bold at the end of the movie, he still doesn’t have the imposing presence of Lex Luthor. Which can be said of all three Lex Luthor iterations that have graced the big screen, since they all lacked stern facial features and muscular physique of Lex.
14. KEANU REEVES
Many will agree that NBC’s short-lived small screen adaptation based on the adventures of John Constantine was indeed cancelled too soon. However, a decade before Matt Ryan donned on the trademark tan trench coat, Keanu Reeves brought John Constantine to the big screen in Francis Lawrence’s directorial debut. Warner Bros. and Lawrence received a lot of criticism for casting a very non-blond, non-British Keanu Reeves as the titular antihero.
Reeves’s performance aside, it is indisputable that he doesn’t look anything like the comic book character. Apart from the wrong hair and eye color, many also criticized Reeves’s rather soft facial features, as opposed to the more masculine look of Constantine. Combine that with the black trench coat and an American accent and you’ve got yourself a pretty angry mob of fans.
13. TILDA SWINTON
When actress Tilda Swinton was cast in the role of The Ancient One in Marvel’s Doctor Strange movie, everyone was quick to call out the MCU for whitewashing. But the ethnicity of the character is not the only thing that changed on the way from comic book pages to the big screen. In the source material, The Ancient One is in fact an Asian man, something Tilda Swinton most certainly is not.
The casting of the Caucasian actress may have added fuel to the fire in what was already a heated debate on whitewashing in Hollywood, but one cannot deny that Swinton was fantastic in the role. Although, she was as far as she could have possibly been from the comic book version of the character.
12. MICHAEL KEATON
Perhaps the most surprisingly successful miscasting in a superhero movie ever is Michael Keaton as Bruce Wayne in Tim Burton’s Batman. A brown-haired five-foot-nine comedic actor does not seem like the perfect fit to portray the brooding and intimidating Caped Crusader. In fact, the backlash over his casting led to 50,000 protesting letters being sent to Warner Bros.’ address.
However, Michael Keaton brought his A game and delivered an astonishing performance, which is why his Batman still holds up as one of the best, if not the best live-action version of the character. Nevertheless, a quick glance at Keaton and it is abundantly clear that the actor doesn’t really look like Bruce Wayne, even with his hair dyed black. However, because he conveyed every aspect of the character extremely well, the outraged fans mostly changed their minds.
11. JASON MOMOA
Ever since Warner Bros. started developing the DC Extended Universe they have been playing a risky game by making some very bold casting decisions. And as these things go, some you win, some you lose. So far, the studio’s decision to cast Jason Momoa as Aquaman looks promising, despite the obvious lack of comic book accuracy.
Traditionally, Arthur Curry has been depicted with distinctively blond hair and blue eyes, something Momoa clearly lacks. If you were to cast Aquaman, Momoa probably wouldn’t be at the top of your list. Still, the little we did get to see from Momoa as the ruler of Atlantis, easily convinced us that he was perfect for the part. Luckily, we’ll get to see a lot more of him once Justice League and Momoa’s solo movie come out.
10. CHRIS O’DONNELL
Joel Schumacher’s peculiar take on the Caped Crusader essentially killed Batman, resulting in the character’s eight-year absence from the big screen. How he got any of the actors on board with his campy vision will remain a mystery for the ages. The NCIS: Los Angeles star Chris O’Donnell probably wishes we’d just forget about his role in Schumacher’s horrendous Batman franchise.
Chris O’Donnell’s Boy Wonder both looked and acted unlike himself. Not only did the movie butcher the character with awful writing and direction, it also starred an actor who looks nothing like his comic book counterpart. With sand brown hair and blue eyes, O’Donnell has very little in common with the Dick Grayson we know and love. The result was quite possibly the worst version of Robin ever.
9. PAUL RUDD
When Marvel decided to bring Ant-Man to the big screen they opted to leave out the character’s traditional look in favor of casting Paul Rudd. The Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, from the source material is portrayed with strawberry blonde hair and blue eyes. On the contrary, Paul Rudd’s hair is distinctively dark brown, while his eyes are green.
But on top of that, the Scott Lang from the comics stands at an impressive 6′ 1”, which makes the 5’10” Paul Rudd significantly shorter than his comic book counterpart. However, just like so many other odd casting decisions the MCU has made, this one worked out for the best too. Despite the striking difference in physical appearance, Paul Rudd proved that he makes a fine Scott Lang.
8. JESSICA ALBA
The Fantastic Four bunch can’t seem to catch a break. First, there was the disastrous unreleased big screen debut back in the 1990s. Then, the messy Tim Story’s Fantastic Four franchise. And last but not least, the godawful 2015 reboot. One specific thing the latter two have in common is controversial casting.
After the up-and-coming star Jessica Alba was cast in the role of Sue Storm many were of the opinion that she was to be nothing more than eye candy, while Alba’s less than stellar performance earned her a Razzie nomination for Worst Actress. But, all that aside, one thing that is clear as day is that Alba looks nothing like the comic book version of the character. However, the real issue wasn’t her natural hair and eye color, but rather the unnatural makeover the studio gave her to make her look the part.
7. EZRA MILLER
In the fashion of casting actors who look nothing like their comic book counterparts, Warner Bros. and Zack Snyder chose to cast Ezra Miller as Barry Allen. While some were angered at the fact that the Arrowverse Flash, Grant Gustin, wasn’t even considered for the part, others were first and foremost quick to point out that Miller looks essentially nothing like Barry Allen.
Ezra Miller’s casting received a mixed response, which tends to lean more towards positive now that we’ve actually had the chance to see him in action. Miller is undoubtedly a great actor with the chops to play the Scarlet Speedster, but the one thing he does not have is the classic Barry Allen look. However, we are more than willing to forego comic book accuracy in favor of an awesome Flash we’re all hoping for.
6. JENNIFER GARNER
Banking on Jennifer Garner’s famed and critically acclaimed performance in the television series Alias, director Mark Steven Johnson cast Garner in the role of the ninja assassin Elektra Natchios. Unfortunately, a mixture of dull writing and poor direction produced an unbearable version of Elektra, which left a lot to be desired. Still, it was apparently good enough for the studio to make an Elektra spin-off.
But Garner’s performance aside, another thing that bothered hardcore fans from the very start was the clear lack of comic book likeness. Elektra Natchios is supposed to be of Greek descent, have black hair and blue eyes. Suffice it to say, Jennifer Garner hardly looked the part. Top that off with some questionable costume designs and an overall poor iteration of the character and you’ve got yourself one of the worst comic book adaptations to date.
5. AMY ADAMS
Clark Kent’s sweetheart and Pulitzer-prize winning Daily Planet journalist, Lois Lane, has historically been depicted with black hair and blue eyes. Yet, Zack Snyder and Warner Bros. decided to cast Amy Adams, an actress recognizable by her red hair. And it’s a good thing they did, because the redhead is absolutely fantastic in the role.
Still, save from John Byrne’s 1988 mini-series “The World of Metropolis”, Lois Lane has been known to have black or dark brown hair. Even though actresses such as Natalie Portman and Emily Blunt, who were both considered for the part, may have more in common with the comic book version of the character, Amy Adams turned out to be the perfect fit. For better or for worse, comic book accuracy is not the be-all end-all when it comes to making casting decisions.
4. TOPHER GRACE
When casting decisions are concerned consensus among fans is seldom reached. That being said, you’d have to be pretty hard pressed to find a Spider-Man fan who supported Sam Raimi’s decision to cast That ‘70s Show star Topher Grace as Spidey’s menacing rival Eddie Brock, aka Venom. Many were having trouble picturing the lovable goof as the intimidating Eddie Brock and with good reason.
While Grace did well in conveying Brock’s obnoxious personality, he didn’t quite look the part. There was nothing scary about Grace’s version of the character. Instead of the brawny and unhinged supervillain from the comics, what we got was a rather unimposing and jerkish iteration of Spidey’s arch nemesis. Even though Grace went through the trouble of dying his hair, his trademark thin frame should have been a dead giveaway that he is not the right pick.
3. MARISA TOMEI
Marisa Tomei’s casting in the role of the famous aunt May immediately caught everyone’s attention. Outraged fans were quick to criticize Marvel for turning the silver-haired aunt May into a hottie. “Too hot, too young, too sexy”, were some of the words used to describe Marisa Tomei and the actress agrees. Commenting on the controversy, Tomei stated that she would have been horrified if she had known how her character is supposed to look prior to accepting the part.
But despite of the initial backlash, once Spider-Man: Homecoming hit the theaters and we got to see Tomei’s take on Spidey’s aunt, we got on board with Marvel’s rather unconventional casting choice. Given that this is the third Spider-Man adaptation in a very short period of time, a fresh take on the characters is more than welcome.
2. MICHELLE PFEIFFER
If you’re a fan of Fox’s TV series Gotham and you’re also old enough to remember Tim Burton’s Batman you most definitely noticed the resemblance between their two version of Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman. However, if you have seen Selina Kyle in the comics you’ll know that both Michelle Pfeiffer and Carmen Bicondova share very little with their comic book counterpart.
Unlike the two actresses who portrayed her, the Catwoman from the comics has straight black hair. On the other hand, Michelle Pfeiffer’s hair in Batman Returns is curly and blonde. But the reason behind Bicondova’s casting as Selina Kyle is the fact that Pfeiffer’s Catwoman is still the most loved live-action adaptation of the character. While the more comic book-accurate Anne Hathaway was an excellent Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, she never quite reached Pfeiffer’s popularity level.
1. GIANT CLOUD
Talk about a far cry from the original. What we wouldn’t give to be a fly on the wall when 20th Century Fox was deciding on how to bring Galactus to the big screen in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Granted, depicting such a character in live-action media cannot be an easy task, but making him a giant cloud may have been a bit too much.
Sure, a giant planet-eating purple-clad creature lurking on the outskirts of Earth’s atmosphere could have looked weird on film, but it doesn’t justify stripping Galactus of everything that makes him what he is. Obviously, Fox and Tim Story were too afraid to take risks and opted for the easy way out. “Casting” a giant dark cloud as Galactus with no discernible personality and features was an odd decision to say the least.
Which actor do you think looked the least like their role? Let us know in the comments!
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