Some people were born to be heroes, and some people were born to play them on the big screen. Some people should have been kept far away from the casting couch. X-Men teams and members come and go, but some X-Men have stood the test of time. Many members of the core group have, in the last two decades, made their debut in X-Men movies and suffered some questionable casting. Why would directors choose to cast people who looked nothing like their characters? The world will never know.
Some actors were just perfectly cast for their parts, and that was often because they embodied the X-Men characters in their everyday lives. Whether you loved or hated some (or all) of the X-Men movies, it is not debatable that they produced both some of the best and the absolute worst versions of the X-Men characters. From actors who were clearly born to play their super mutant roles, to people who were clearly forced into a character they were never meant to play, the X-Men casts have it all. Here are seven great actors who absolutely looked like their X-Men characters, and eight who were a big, long stretch from the comic book inspiration.
15. DOES: HUGH JACKMAN AS WOLVERINE
Wolverine is an unusual character. He is an integral member of the X-Men, but he is not always a “good guy”, he’s just a guy fighting for what he believes is right. He isn’t quite human, but obviously not obviously a mutant, either. He has been altered, and his physical mutations are responsible for his super-human strength and other abilities.
Hugh Jackman might not have seemed like the perfect Wolverine at first glance.
Luckily, casting agents saw past his more romantic roles like Kate and Leopold or the film adaptation of Oklahoma, and saw the wolf within. Once Jackman grew out his Wolvy sideburns and hit the gym, he was a Wolverine straight out of the comic books. Well, his height is a bit off, but that’s nothing a little movie magic can’t fix. Now, imagining another actor playing Wolverine is nearly impossible.
14. DOESN’T: EVAN PETERS AS QUICKSILVER
While this casting choice ended up being a lot of fun, it definitely would not have been a first or an obvious choice for most X-Men fans. Evan Peters, of American Horror Story fame, reads as more of an emo teenager than an iconic member of the X-Men. This interpretation of the character, complete with his now-famous silver leather motorcycle jacket and headphones, looks nothing like the Quicksilver we know from the comics, especially seeing Evan Peters out of costume, with his lanky blond hair, adolescent appearance, and average physique.
The Quicksilver from comic book X-Men has short silver hair and tends to be lean and muscular, as well as a bit older than Evan Peters. This casting decision ended up being interesting, but no one would look at Evan Peters on the street and think he looks like Quicksilver.
13. DOES: LANA CONDOR AS JUBILEE
Though Marvel fans dreamed of Jubilee showing up in the X-Men movies, not many had hopes of it actually happening. Though she has always been a fan favorite, she remained on the list of painfully underrepresented X-Men members. Fans were elated when she not only showed up on the big screen in X-Men Apocalypse, but that the actress playing Jubilation Lee looked just like the beloved comics character.
It’s not just this oversized yellow coat and daring accessories that makes Jubilee recognizable.
She’s a beloved character, and Vietnamese-American actress and dancer Lana Condor captures Jubilee’s look and personality perfectly. Though she didn’t get as much screen time as fans would have liked, she was a perfect Jubilee in every way. She was even young, like Jubilee is in the comics, instead of casting an older actress to play the role.
12. DOESN’T: HALLE BERRY AS STORM
Halle Berry is most often remembered in the comic-loving community for her absolute butchering of Catwoman. What aimed to be an interesting, edgy new take on the character ended up being a huge disappointment. Fans were also confused by Halle Berry’s role in the X-Men, when she was cast as Storm. As far as similarities to the character, the only real link is that Halle Berry has a similar skin tone to Storm.
Unfortunately, that has no connection to her ability to portray the beloved character. Storm is strong, edgy, and powerful. Halle Berry was a disappointing actress in that regard, and lacked the feeling of Storm on the big screen. For one of the most powerful and iconic members of the X-Men, Storm deserved a better casting choice, and a mohawk. Thankfully, both of these wishes came true when she was re-cast.
11. DOES: PATRICK STEWART AS PROFESSOR XAVIER
Did you know the creators of Star Trek actually wanted Captain Jean Luc Picard to have hair? Sir Patrick Stewart in a hairpiece is not a pretty sight. Luckily, they saw the error of their ways because Patrick Stewart’s signature British and bald combo makes him one of the most iconic and recognizable actors in history. Professor X is a very specific, original character and personality.
Finding an actor perfectly suited to the role seemed unlikely, but Patrick Stewart is the living embodiment of Professor X.
He doesn’t only look like the famous creator of the X-Men, but once he’s in that wheelchair, his looks, voice, and personality are spot-on. Patrick Stewart brought one of the most iconic Marvel characters to life, and there is very little to dislike about his role in the X-Men movies.
10. DOESN’T: IAN MCKELLEN AS MAGNETO
Thankfully for fans of the X-Men everywhere, looking like the comic book character is not the most important factor in bringing the personality of the character to life on the big screen. Sir Ian McKellan is not the spitting image of Magneto, he’s far from it. For starters, we rarely see a very old-looking Magneto, and even when he is gaining on years, he doesn’t look like Gandalf. However, McKellen’s commanding presence is Magneto to a tee.
His partnership with Patrick Stewart comes into play as well, as the old friends are able to perfectly capture the complicated relationship between Magneto and Professor Xavier. Even though Ian McKellan would not be the first choice to play Magneto based on looks alone, he is arguably the best actor to ever take on the character. Looks aren’t everything!
9. DOES: TYLER MANE AS SABRETOOTH
Most fans probably think of Liev Schreiber when Sabretooth comes to mind, but real fans remember the original cinematic Sabretooth, Tyler Mane. Liev Schreiber was cast in the role and Tyler Mane was not invited back, but that does not mean that Tyler Mane did not look exactly like Sabretooth.
Especially with the insane hair extensions and makeup used in the movie, Mane was a great choice for this animistic, dangerous mutant.
Unfortunately for Mane, the X-Men movies leaned into a storyline that focused on Wolverine and Sabretooth being brothers, and Mane didn’t look quite enough like Hugh Jackman, and Jackman definitely was not going to be replaced. When the two Sabretooth actors are pitted against each other, though, Tyler Mane comes out ahead for his comic book look.
8. DOESN’T: RAY PARK AS TOAD
Toad is not the most powerful or terrifying villain in the X-Men franchise, but he is well-known, memorable, and most importantly, really weird. Toad’s name captures the nature of his powers pretty well. His mutant powers give him the appearance and capabilities of a toad, mainly his jumping abilities and his long, powerful tongue. Obviously, Ray Park does not look or act like a toad. In fact, he doesn’t act like much of anything.
His only mildly prominent role before the X-Men was Darth Maul, and even then his lines were voiced over by another actor. Ray Park might have been a better Toad if he were less attractive, or had a more iconic Toad costume, like the bugeye goggles he wears often in the comics. Unfortunately, this villain falls flat because of Ray Park’s disconnect from the character.
7. DOES: JAMES MARSDEN AS CYCLOPS
Cyclops has always been a jerk. That fact is not a secret in the X-Men comics. Cyclops’s self-importance, arrogance, and hardheadedness are as much a part of his character as his eternal good looks and fancy glasses. James Marsden is the perfect choice for this powerful, egotistical, womanizing mutant — especially in the early ’00s James Marsden was the height of big-screen heartthrobs.
He was brought down a notch by the weird choice to give him cheap-looking athletic sunglasses, but he is still the quintessential Scott Summers.
Cyclops, like many of the mutants, was re-cast for the new X-Men Apocalypse movie. However, Marsden has shared that he’s a big fan of his replacement, Tye Sheridan, and they do look a lot alike. Cyclops is iconic, and Marsden looks just like the comic book hero.
6. DOESN’T: NICHOLAS HOULT AS BEAST
Nicholas Hoult is not hairy and blue, so we can get that out of the way pretty quickly. The real issue with him being cast as Beast, though, is that he was not really cast as beast, but as himself. He plays a regular nerdy human who plays with Jekyll and Hyde themes that don’t really hit the mark. He plays a fine lab assistant, but Beast he is not.
Beast cannot traditionally switch between a beast and human form, so focusing on the human form instead of the familiar blue hairy brute is not true to the character. It is fine to have a new angle for the movies, but Nicholas Hoult does not read as Beast. Luckily, he doesn’t really have to. Unlike when Kelsey Grammer took the role, Hoult is playing a role that is more human than mutant.
5. DOES: OMAR SY AS BISHOP
Bishop is a hard character to match. Like most of the X-Men, he is larger than life. that’s the hard part of making a live-action movie that is based on a superhero comic book, people who look like superheroes usually just don’t exist. Omar Sy is an exception, he looks like Bishop jumped off the page. He might not have 12 abs like some of the Marvel Comics show, but he gets about as close as humanly possible.
Bishop has changed character design in the comics over the years and going with the long dread look was a powerful costuming choice.
Omar Sy might not have had those in real life, but actors change their hairstyles for the movies all the time, and the new look really elevated him into the perfect iteration of the character. Luckily for Sy, the directors chose to skip Bishop’s short-lived permed mullet.
4. DOESN’T: JAMES MCAVOY AS PROFESSOR XAVIER
Everyone who knows and loves the X-Men has a very specific idea of what Professor Xavier looks like. He is older, bald, distinguished, and in a wheelchair. James McAvoy is none of these things. He is cast as a younger Professor X, before the accident that led to his paralysis, however a young, abled Professor is not what comes to mind, and it is not something that is seen often in other X-Men media.
With little characterization to go on, James McAvoy’s actual goal was not to play a young Professor X, but to play a young Patrick Stewart. He does look like a youthful, less bald version of Patrick Stewart in the right light, and with the true Professor X’s guidance, he managed to fill out the role well. He fit the character more as the plot progressed, but James McAvoy doesn’t read Professor Xavier on his own.
3. DOES: ALAN CUMMING AS NIGHTCRAWLER
Okay, so Alan Cumming does not naturally look exactly like Nightcrawler. Spoilers: no one does. Nightcrawler is blue, hairy, and has a tail. Finding an actor to fit naturally into that role without a hefty trip to the makeup department just isn’t realistic.
However, Alan Cumming is everything else a Nightcrawler actor should be.
Nightcrawler is not just a regular good guy, he has a dark, abusive past and there are some weird secrets behind is mysterious parentage. Alan Cumming is able to capture Nightcrawler’s dark side, while still portraying him as a fun, uplifting member of the X-Men team. Cumming went the extra mile in this role, too, taking the time to perfect his German accent so Nightcrawler’s roots would be a part of his cinematic personality. Unfortunately, this fan-favorite actor was re-cast in X-Men Apocalypse.
2. DOESN’T: TAYLOR KITSCH AS GAMBIT
Gambit is one of the X-Men you either love or hate — traditionally, most women really, really love him. He’s at the top of the flirting food chain in the X-Men comics, and is always portrayed as suave and composed. Even when he is running around causing trouble with Deadpool, he still manages to be the debonair Frenchman everyone knows and loves. That being said, Taylor Kitsch is a hard pass for this sweet-talking Remy Lebeau.
It seems that a good on-screen adaptation of the character was just not in the cards. He might have pulled it off with some stellar makeup and costuming, but instead he ended up with a weird leather trench coat and a meme-worthy fedora that only dragged him further into the valley of No. Unlike the comic Gambit, if this guy came up asked you to pick a card, you would probably call the cops.
1. DOES: ELLEN PAGE AS KITTY PRYDE
Kitty Pryde has taken many forms over the course of the X-Men comics, but she is most lovingly remembered as a plucky, upbeat, younger member of the team. In the X-Men movies, Ellen Page was not the only actress to play Kitty Pryde. The role had previously been taken on (though mostly in small, disappointing cameos) by Sumela Kay and Katie Stuart.
The role was expanded when Ellen Page was brought onto the team, and thankfully she was finally the Kitty Pryde that fans wanted.
She looks a lot like the comic book version of the iconic character, and Page’s humor and personality carry the character. She doesn’t get nearly enough screen time, but she does get to take on the Juggernaut and stuck in a weird love triangle, which definitely fits with Kitty’s personality.
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