Comic Book Movie casting - Part 2 - The Ten Best

I've already talked about the Ten Worst comic book casting decisions, so now it's time for the best, and a couple of them might surprise you.

I took to twitter and asked my tweeps who they thought was well cast in comic book adaptations. Of course the answers were rich and varied (and often involved Chris Hemsworth's muscles), but there was a clear winner. And I think I agree.

Wait until you see the size of my Hammer!

Uh, not him...

So, without further ado, here's the ones I thought Hollywood got right:

Ten Best

Okay, I know, technically I'm Superalien...

1 - Christopher Reeve (Superman - Superman) The 70's produced some of Hollywood's most enduring icons and every one of them was up for the role of Superman. Guys like Robert Redford, Burt Reynolds, Jon Voight, Warren Beatty, Nick Nolte and Ryan O'Neal were all considered for the role. Marlon Brando, in what amounted to an extended cameo, also had casting approval and vetoed Sylvester Stallone from the list. Despite all of that nonsense, the role eventually went to a virtual unknown - Christopher Reeve. No matter who they find for future incarnations of Superman, Reeve will always be Superman to me. His Clark Kent has never been bettered and when he slapped on the blue spandex, he owned it. After he snapped his spine in a riding accident and was paralyzed from the neck down, I wouldn't have batted an eye if he'd jumped up out of his wheelchair.

Baby, I hear the blues a'callin'...

2 - Kelsey Grammar (Beast - X3: X-Men United) Here's one that may surprise you. Despite being the worst of the X-Men movies, and having too many characters to keep track of, the casting of Grammar as Dr. Henry McCoy/Beast was a stroke of genius. Never in a million years would I have thought about him for the role, but he's perfect. Erudite and dry-witted, this version of the Beast was spot-on. Even Grammar's physical build meant that once he was in full make-up he looked absolutely right. Great left-field thinking from the casting people.

Rorshash, Roarsach, Roarshack...I still prefer Ginger Vengeance!

3 - Jackie Earle Haley (Rorschach - Watchmen) Another surprising choice, maybe? Watchmen was an ungainly effort to translate Alan Moore's seminal graphic novel to the screen. I'd seen Haley in a movie called Little Children where he played a troubled sex offender, and that was about all I knew about him. (He was great in that role, I recommend you watch it). I didn't know what to expect from him in Watchmen, but his feral, violent and troubled vigilante was perfect. Turns out he also has a black belt and so was able to take on all the physical parts of the role with ease.

I said...who farted??

4 - Ron Perlman (Hellboy - Hellboy) The second this was announced, there wasn't a moment's doubt. Even though at first the studios wanted a bigger name, Del Toro (the director) wanted Perlman. Perlman was born to play Hellboy. The weary, blue collar attitude with the self-deprecating and dry humor, was all perfect for the actor. Even when they realized that Hellboy's "stone hand" had to be his right and so his gun had to move over to his left, it was no problem for the ambidextrous actor. Perlman also wins massive plaudits for showing up in full Hellboy make-up to help fulfill a young boy's "wish" through the Make-A-Wish Foundation. Top bloke.

I could totally play Thor!
Oh? *pulls off shirt* Can you do this?
I hate you.

5 - Tom Hiddleston (Loki - Thor) Hiddleston is Kenneth Branagh's buddy from the Swedish based drama Wallander, but was still a surprising choice for the weighty role. Turns out he was considered for the role of Thor first, until Branagh decided he'd be better as Loki. He was pretty much perfect as the God of Mischief and, some would argue, came away from the movie with more plaudits and "heat" than even Hemsworth did playing the lead.

Don't get a parrot for a pet. They are bastards.

6 - Mickey Rourke (Marv - Sin City) I think the credit for all of Sin City's success comes down to two things: Rodriguez shooting it like the comic book and the casting of Mickey Rourke as Marv. Unrecognizable in the make-up, (and some would say better looking, considering all the plastic surgery he's had done lol), Rourke's low growl and bulldozer physicality sold the brutish anti-hero to the audience.

Ellen Page shown actual size.

7 - Ellen Page (Shadowcat - X3: X-Men United) First up, I know this is the second pick from X3: worst X-Men movie ever (tm), but hear me out. I'm a massive X-Men fan and the first comic I ever read was one which revolved around Shadowcat trying to fight an alien in the X-Mansion on her own. I admit I'm a Kitty Pryde fan. Her character was teased in the other two X-movies, but it wasn't until Ellen Page was cast in the third that I finally thought they'd got it right. It's one of those moments where the actress just seems totally right for the role and I was a little bummed the movie was so bad and wasted that opportunity. Page is back in the new Days of Future Past X-Movie, so I look forward to seeing her again in the role.

What? This is how I always stand.

8 - Hugh Jackman (Wolverine - X-Men) When Hugh Jackman was cast, I admit to being one of the fanboys who said it was wrong. Getting a six foot Australian, who'd only appeared in some Aussie TV, to play the short, Canadian, berserker badass from my favorite comic??? NOoooo!!! This can't be. Turns out, I was wrong. Inevitably, the movie had to change things from the comic book, but it was important they held onto what made Logan such an interesting character (and badass). Luckily, Jackman was on board and gave it all he had, and in the end he made the character his own. (I'm still not convinced when the character gets weepy and emotional, but the rest is good.) Playing Wolverine catapulted Jackman to super-stardom and, in a refreshing change for a Hollywood actor, Jackman is first to acknowledge this and willing to embrace it. His acting skills and choices have allowed him not to get pigeon-holed, but he's more than willing to come back and play the role that made him famous and appears to have genuine affection for the character. Wolverine is back in X-Men: Days of Future Past and this will be the seventh time he's played the character over the last thirteen years.

You try putting make-up on without a mirror, dammit!

9 - Heath Ledger (The Joker - The Dark Knight) I didn't know what to make of the Heath Ledger's casting initially. I wasn't a big fan, but I'd seen him play both light (A Knight's Tale) and dark (Monster's Ball) and was hoping it wasn't going to be another serving of the Jack Nicholson-style Joker. Christopher Nolan just told everyone to be patient, that Ledger was serving up something unique, but this did little to stop the fretting about what kind of Joker we were going to get. When the Joker finally appeared, he was a revelation. I remember the end of one of the Dark Knight previews: an eighteen wheeler is flipped onto it's roof and you can hear the Joker's voice say "It's all part of the plan". The Joker is then seen standing in the middle of the road with a machine gun, yelling at Batman to hit him with his Batpod. The game of chicken ends when Batman skips around the unflinching Joker and the bike slides from under him. I was sold.

Would Heath Ledger have won the Oscar if he hadn't tragically passed away? I doubt it, but just because Hollywood rarely looks at comic book movies for the acting awards. I do believe that if he was still around, he'd be an even bigger star today and would've had several more opportunities to win an Oscar.

My haircut is worth more than your house.

10 - Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man - Iron Man) My survey on Twitter showed RDjr as a clear winner in this competition and I have to agree. Inspired and right on the nose, there has rarely been a better bit of casting in any movie.

Iron Man was never considered an A-Lister in the Marvel Universe. When Marvel were struggling, and had to sell the rights to certain characters, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil were all snapped up. Even Punisher and Ghost Rider were bought, but Iron Man stayed at Marvel. So, when Marvel got their act in gear, they had to take a second-string Marvel character and turn him into something the world wanted to see.

RDjr as Keanu's tie in Constantine.

Downey Jr was making his own way back into the limelight after various personal problems. Talented and charismatic he seems perfect for the role now, but there was still an element of the unknown when he was cast. He'd shown up in string of movies, but he wasn't the star in any of them. Was the audience ready to accept Downey Jr as a leading man? It turns out, yes, they were. 

RDjr is now the lynchpin of three massive franchises (Iron Man, Avengers & Sherlock Holmes), reportedly making $50 million dollars from the Avengers movie. Expect to see him front and center in a second Avengers movie and enjoying the second phase of his career.

That's the list. What do you think? Let me know here in the comments or come find me on Twitter @Spartagus and argue with me there.



  1. Awesome list!! You have my boyfriend Hugh, Heath, and Robert all on the same page! Good lord! Swoon!

    I agree on all of these (well at least the ones I've seen), especially Tom Hiddleston and Kelsey Grammar. Well done, Spartan. xoxo

  2. Yes, RDJ and Tom Hiddleston were perfectly cast for's the charisma that works for me, not necessarily the muscles!
    Heath was amazing and made the movie the best of the franchise.
    And, despite the Superman movies becoming a little dated and cheesy, (my kids watched them for the first time recently) Christopher Reeve was and always will be Superman!
    Great choices, all in agreement here!
    Rather partial to both Patrick Stewart and Sir Ian as casted in X-Men too...

  3. Gina - Does Hugh know he's your boyfriend? Just wondering. lol. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment.

    Lisa - Sir Patrick and Sir Ian were both good choices and I only bumped Professor X from my list because I was heavily loaded with X-characters. Ian McKellen wasn't an obvious choice for me, but he did a great job and I can't imagine anyone else doing it now. Thanks for stopping by again and commenting. :)

  4. Oh and Big Ron Perlman. Loved in the old Beauty and the Beast TV series. Strangely it was his sensitivity in that part that really hooked. Not maudlin just really considerate but He could be MEAN!


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