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Committed: Survey – Vote for the Best & Worst Super Hero / Villain Movie Casting

terence-stamp-supermanThis weekend I got together with a group of old friends and asked which superhero had been cast most egregiously, and which were the best embodiment of the heroes and villains depicted. The impassioned discussion went on all evening, everyone had their own nominations for the title but no one was able to agree, and so I’m opening the voting up for you. We put together our 15 top choices (in no particular order) for the best superhero casting, best super villain casting, worst superhero casting, and worst super villain casting. Please choose and rank your top three choices out of each of the four sections.

Take the quick, 4 question survey here https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/XYDPPQT and please share it with your friends!

Note: The rules we came up with are as follows;

  1. We only considered actors in live-action superhero movies (as opposed to television specials or cartoons).
  2. The only movies which count are ones which have been made and released (rather than movies which were cast but then never actually produced, or movies which haven’t been released yet, even though there are some juicy ones coming).
  3. And finally, this is only choosing the best and worst superhero and super villain casting choices (because if we expand this to cover all of the casting in superhero movies this survey would never be finished).

Check Comics Should Be Good in a week or two I’ll post the results.

Note: These nominations are clearly personal and you’re welcome to discuss your own thoughts in the comment section below.

68 Comments

I HATE that Magneto is considered a “hero” now.

…Since when is Nightcrawler a supervillain?

Also, I really hope John Luigizama as Clown from the Spawn movie doesn’t get overlooked. That was a perfect performance. The character could not possibly have been done any better.

Jonathan Ehrich

June 18, 2014 at 10:39 am

I’mma let you finish, but Michael Fassbender as Magneto was the worst superhero/villain casting decision of all time. He’s a fantastic actor, but casting the most Aryan actor in Hollywood as a man whose family was killed by the Nazis? Not well thought out.

I had a problem with the “worst” casting categories, because the movie made the performance bad. Prime example: If you asked me to cast two-face in the 90’s, I would have said Tommy Lee. However, the movie, direction, plot, EVERYTHING was so bad, he didn’t get to act, just laugh maniacally and give Jim Carrey someone to talk to. Such a letdown that had nothing to do with the actor or the casting decision…..

Willie Everstop

June 18, 2014 at 10:44 am

I was disappointed that there was no Burgess Meredith as the Penguin but at least I got to down vote Ryan Reynolds twice.

@Willie Everstop —

EVERY major character from the Adam West show should have been eligible. That was THE best acted TV of all time, PERIOD.

why wasn’t Halle Berry as Storm one of the options for worst hero?

Where are any of the Spidey movies? I imagine you’ll be getting a lot of “none of the above” votes.

Jonathan Ehrich:”I’mma let you finish, but Michael Fassbender as Magneto was the worst superhero/villain casting decision of all time. He’s a fantastic actor, but casting the most Aryan actor in Hollywood as a man whose family was killed by the Nazis? Not well thought out.”

How so? The Nazis killed lots of “Aryan” looking Jews. The Nazis killed on the basis of descent, not phenotype.

Jenos Idanian #13

June 18, 2014 at 11:02 am

Jackie Earle Haley was AMAZING as Rorschach, and should have been on the list.

I was so torn about Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. That casting should have worked really well if they’d gone with the cold-blooded characterization from the comics. But the character was written as super-wacky to compete with Jim Carrey, which was so damn ill-conceived.

Where was Hugo Weaving as V? Aside from RDJ as Iron Man, he was the best casting choice ever! Also, for my money, if your name isn’t Clancy Brown, you weren’t even in the same room as Lex Luthor.

@Jenos Idanian #13 —

That was the ONLY thing about the movie that didn’t suck, but I wouldn’t call his performance “one of the best”.

I agree with Mike that it’s very hard to separate poor casting from poor writing, and vice versa. I thought most of the bad casts were good actors trying their best and who could have easily done great if they weren’t playing a badly written character. Similarly, a lot of the good casts were working with scripts so good that even a merely competent performance would look great.

The best way to tell if someone is well-cast is if they elevate a bad movie or drag down a good one. For instance, Larry Drake nearly singlehandedly made “Darkman 2, The Return of Durant” a watchable movie and Colin Farell was delightful as Bullseye in “Daredevil.”

Surprised that Andrew Garfield wasn’t on it. Despite the manifest deficiencies of his SPIDER-MAN films, he is an excellent Spidey/Peter Parker.

“The best way to tell if someone is well-cast is if they elevate a bad movie or drag down a good one. For instance, Larry Drake nearly singlehandedly made “Darkman 2, The Return of Durant” a watchable movie and Colin Farell was delightful as Bullseye in “Daredevil.””

That’s a good point. On that basis, Andrew Garfield is some of the best casting of all time.

Bane not Bain. And Nightcrawler’s a good guy and Magneto is not.

That’s how I feel about Kevin Spacey’s Luthor. His tooth-brushing scene was the only good moment in all of Superman Returns. It’s certainly not his fault that movie was rubbish.

I don’t agree about Colin Farrell as a specific example, but that’s mostly because his Bullseye was less true to the comic book version than any other character in that movie. Elektra, Kingpin–they were all truer to the spirit of the originals. And that saying something, because Elektra wasn’t very close at all.

Shadowtag: Oh yeah, the spelling in that poll is egregious. My favorite is the hilarious attempt to spell “Alba.”

So ticked off I can’t vote for Ryan Reynolds and Seth Rogan as co-worst superhero casting. The only thing that could have broken the tie is if Jack Black had gotten the GL role as rumored.

I’ll echo the sentiment that I feel bad for the actors in the worst super villain category. I don’t think any of them were that bad as choices for their respective roles, they just chose really poor projects up front. Kevin Spacey would have been great if Singer wasn’t recycling the same plot from the first Donner film. FFS, that was so lazy. I’m going to go be pissed off in a corner now.

See, for me the casting of the Green Lantern movie was almost irrelevant, except for the cardboard cutout playing Carol Ferris. Everything about that movie was ill-conceived, starting with the cargo dump of Johns-era color-code mythology that’s wayyy too complicated to make a feasible movie. Reynolds got my #2 vote, but I don’t really blame him.

Casting Rogen, on the other hand, was key to everything that was wrong with the Green Hornet movie. It wasn’t just that they put Seth Rogen in it; the whole movie was built around that casting and became a typical Seth Rogen flick. It wasn’t even really a Green Hornet movie anymore.

But then, I’d also say there’s never really been a Shadow or Spirit movie, because what was actually made had nothing to do with those characters either.

Fun poll.

There are a lot of names that should have been on both the “Best” and “Worst” list, because it would have been fun to see which list had them placing higher. For example, I thought Kevin Spacey was pretty great as Lex Luthor. The central couple(s) having zero romantic chemistry was the main problem with SUPERMAN RETURNS and he wasn’t even in those scenes.

I don’t know why it couldn’t have been free response. I would have voted for Tom Hardy for one of the best villains, not one of the worst. And George Clooney was one of the better cast Batmans, despite the fact the movie was terrible.

@buttler:

See, for me the casting of the Green Lantern movie was almost irrelevant, except for the cardboard cutout playing Carol Ferris. Everything about that movie was ill-conceived, starting with the cargo dump of Johns-era color-code mythology that’s wayyy too complicated to make a feasible movie. Reynolds got my #2 vote, but I don’t really blame him.

If I ever made a “Do’s and Don’ts” list of making superhero films, then GREEN LANTERN would be my prime source for what not to do. You would be hard pressed to suck any more fun out of a premise than the GL folks did.

Oh, agreed all around. I only blame Reynolds because he doesn’t really act in these movies, he just plays the same character. He was fine as Hannibal King because I knew nothing about the character. He was fine as Deadpool, although wtf the writers were thinking about his character arc is beyond me. He was bad as GL because he does not play a Hal Jordan character. He doesn’t even play a Kyle.

My knee-jerk worst was Samuel L. as the Octopus, but I think he would have been fine in the role if anything about the Spirit movie had more to do with the source material.

There should be one more pair of polls, actually, Best/Worst choice of director for a comic book movie. Would Frank Miller win for the worst director hands down? Would Snyder be considered one of the best?

@Greg — George Clooney was one of the better cast Batmans

This is the most objectively wrong thing I’ve read all day and Clooney would agree with me and has even said himself that it was one of the worst performances in film history.

@joshschr —

No point in even trying that because Schumacher [sp?] is the only person that would have even the slightest possible chance of “winning” “worst director”. I’d bet that he’d get over half the votes.

Julie Newmar and Eartha Kitt? Neither one of them was in the movie.

@ joshschr

… I only blame Reynolds because he doesn’t really act in these movies, he just plays the same character. He was fine as Hannibal King because I knew nothing about the character. He was fine as Deadpool, although wtf the writers were thinking about his character arc is beyond me. He was bad as GL because he does not play a Hal Jordan character. He doesn’t even play a Kyle.

You don’t really hire a movie star to ‘act’ most of the time. You hire them to show up and do their schtick. Most of them are really, really good actors that are smart enough to know what they are getting paid millions of dollars to do. When you see Ryan Reynolds on a poster, you pretty much know what you are going to get. You either like it, or you don’t. The same thing is true for Ben Affleck and the rest of the face on the poster crowd.

Green Lantern was flawed from the jump. They decided on a tone (dark, mythology heavy) that didn’t fit with their star.

The Mutt: Yeah, that was bizarre. The movie Catwoman was Lee Meriwether! If Newmar and Kitt are options at all, I’m gonne need some Lynda Carter on that first list.

No Ellen Page as Kitty Pryde option, for shame!

“Liam Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul”

How the heck did that end up on the Worst list? I thought Liam Neeson was amazing as Ra’s Al Ghul. Yeah, okay, the definitive portrayal of the Demon’s Head has to be David Warner on Batman: The Animated Series. But since we are o’t considering animated adaptations, he isn’t in the running in this poll. But, regardless, Neeson was great in batman Begins.

How did this discussion go? Because the list is weird. Magneto as a hero? For that list I’d like to honorable mention Chris Evans…he didn’t make the cut of top 3, but I thought he’d be awful and he completely sells the character. I was wrong.

Nightcrawler as a villain? What? And Gene Hackman as best and Spacey as worst? Was that supposed to be backwards?

Is Ozymandias (SPOILERS) really a hero or a villain? Routh wasn’t that bad.

And Colin Farrell as Bullseye was just about the best thing about the movie. How did he get on any worst list?? (Now Elektra….she was pretty damn awful….) And I was unaware…maybe some people didn’t like Bane’s voice, but were there people who actually didn’t like Neeson as Ra’s Al Ghul??

I struggles with what others have…the line between bad casting and bad writing. Tommy Lee Jones could be a great Two-Face…but not when he’s written as just as much a clown as the Riddler. Julian McMahon has the look of Victor Von Doom…but the writing was so bad it made my list because they butcher the character. Clooney could play Batman. But no one could in that movie. Danny DeVito is perfect for the Penguin…but if someone like Bullseye doesn’t resemble the comic version, this Penguin does even less. The best flip example is Heath Ledger…let’s be honest, for the comic book Joker he’s still not really good casting. But they completely got the spirit of the character and knocked the performance out of the park.

And no, Michael Keaton still isn’t a really good Batman.

This was more fun than I expected.

I basically had to judge by how much I loved the comic book character in question and then how well/badly I was satisfied by the given movie depiction. So while I thought Perlman looked awesome as Hellboy, I was never a huge Hellboy fan so I picked other characters that I was really invested in. Basically X-Men performances got high marks ’cause I love those characters so much, while Daredevil performances got low marks…’cause I love those characters so much!

@ M-Wolverine:

Chris Evans was amazing as Captain America. Steve Rogers is next to impossible to play and Evans nailed it three times. Even Chris Reeve only really pulled off Superman two and half times and Superman had a much better track record with adaptations.

I disagree about Tommy Lee Jones. The dude is a great actor, but he is a ham. The slightest hint of Pork goes into Batman ’66 territory fast. There is nothing worse than unintentional camp. That is why I think Danny DeVito was awesome as The Penguin. The plot of that movie made no damn sense, but DeVito never winked. He never sold out on the reality of what he was doing. The exact same thing is true of George Clooney and Michael Keaton. Clooney is a wonderful actor, but he was a terrible Batman. He couldn’t help but show you how silly he thought the whole thing was. Keaton is much more a comedic actor, but he never did that.

M-Wolverine: It’s not a knock on Neeson. It was a similar case as the Mandarin: To accept Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul, you’d have to essentially forget there was ever a comic book character called Ra’s al Ghul and take the movie version as an entirely new character. That’s not necessarily what comic fans are looking to do.

I’m with Dean Hacker on Tommy Lee Jones and Two-Face. I don’t think his performance was a result of bad writing, I think he overacted as hard as he possibly could. It seemed pretty clear that in his mind since this was a comic book movie, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously.

I also would have voted for Hackman as Luthor as one of the worst casting moves. Mainly because he refused to shave his head or wear a bald cap, when that’s literally the defining characteristic of the character. Seemed like he treated the role with a bit of contempt as well because it was a comic book movie.

Note: The rules we came up with are as follows;
1.We only considered actors in live-action superhero movies (as opposed to television specials or cartoons).
2.The only movies which count are ones which have been made and released (rather than movies which were cast but then never actually produced, or movies which haven’t been released yet, even though there are some juicy ones coming).
3.And finally, this is only choosing the best and worst superhero and super villain casting choices (because if we expand this to cover all of the casting in superhero movies this survey would never be finished).

==============================================================

I would guess you intend only to include properties created for or debuting professionally in comic books.

Burgess Meredith as the Penguin is the casting in the whole superhero genre. He should be there.

@PB210 — We only considered actors in live-action superhero movies (as opposed to television specials or cartoons).

Then why were the Catwomans from the TV show options?

If we’re isolating the casting decision from everything else, George Clooney was a good choice for Batman. He was capable of delivering a good performance as Batman, but Batman and Robin was a poorly made movie. I don’t blame actors for bad performances, I blame directors, writers and editors. Actors give what their directors ask for and the performance Clooney delivered in B&R fit the tone of the film. But if Christopher Nolan had written and directed B&R, Clooney would have been a fine choice as Batman.

Mike Loughlin

June 18, 2014 at 6:02 pm

Magneto may be a sympathetic villain but he’s no hero. Nightcrawler was brainwashed, and in no way a villain.

I’d have put Ryan Reynolds in Worst for his performance in Blade Trinity. Was James McAvoy on the Best list for playing Prof. X? Was January Jones on the worst list for “playing” Emma Frost?

“Then why were the Catwomans from the TV show options?”

Why 2 I don’t know but there was a 1966 Batman movie that featured Lee Meriwether as Catwoman.

Personally, I can see putting Fassbender’s Magneto on the hero list and McKellen’s on the villain list. (I’m assuming Nightcrawler being on the villain list was just an error.) As someone already mentioned, it would have been nice to have Jackie Earle Haley’s Rorschach to vote for. I’d also add Alfred Molina’s Dr. Octopus, Chloe Grace Moretz’s Hit Girl, and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner (although I can see arguing that the success of that character was entirely on Ruffalo’s performance, and that the entire point of Banner is that virtually any middle-aged white guy would be an equally good casting choice).

I had a harder time voting for the bad casting than the good, because when you get a good performance from a performer who isn’t perfect for the role on paper, you can make the argument that the epitome of “good casting” is figuring out who’ll do the best job, not just who looks most like the character. There’s no reason not to just vote for your favorite performances if you want to.

But some of the really terrible performances in comic book movie history actually were well cast. Stallone absolutely could have been a good Judge Dredd, if anyone involved in that movie had understood the character. Schwarzenegger DID play an excellent Mr. Freeze … in the Terminator and its sequels; whether he was well or poorly cast depends on at what point in the process they decided to go more Otto Preminger than Michael Ansara with the role.

Herb Clerecidge

June 18, 2014 at 7:05 pm

^ And Lee Meriwether is NOT on the list…go figure.

And um, excuse me, but why in the bleeding HELL is Jack Nicholson’s Joker not included here?!? Or Adam West’s Batman? Or George Reeves’ Superman?

I need three None of the Aboves just to be able to fill out the first question.

Good fun, though I agree with those who’ve said
– Halle Berry as Storm should have been on the worst heroes list
– The TV show Catwomen shoudn’t have been included based on the rules
– Nicholson’s Joker should have been included on the best villains list
– Fassbender as Magneto should have been on either best heroes and/or villains list

Oh, and if you don’t vote for Reeves as Superman, you’re wrong. Objectively. :-P

” Stallone absolutely could have been a good Judge Dredd, if anyone involved in that movie had understood the character. ”

To be fair, it’s apparently Stallone himself who is the one who didn’t understand the character. He was powerful enough that he could overrule everybody else and the studio would back him.

Also, missing from the “Best Villain” list is Vincent D’Onofrio in “Men In Black”.

No love for Alfred Molina as Dock Ock. I cheer inside every time I see him snarl “I will not die a monster” and no Willem Dafoe either. I mean, I know the original spiderman trilogy has some aspects that don’t hold up well but those two were fantastic.

“Tommy Lee Jones and Two-Face. It seemed pretty clear that in his mind since this was a comic book movie, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously”.

True, but given the writing can you blame him for thinking that? I mean give the lines that were written anyone would look at that and think they were doing 70s camp version.

“Tommy Lee Jones and Two-Face. It seemed pretty clear that in his mind since this was a comic book movie, it wasn’t meant to be taken seriously”.

I don’t think that’s true. He played ‘Natural Born Killers’ exactly the same way, and that wasn’t a comic book, that was a director with whom he shared mutual respect and worked with several times.

@ Dean- it sticks out to me, because before the movie came out, I though for sure Evans was a WHUT??? casting. He had no track record, and while he certainly could look the part, Cap is a really hard role to pull off. And he completely got the character and made it work. As you said, 3 times.

I think the movie was asking for them to out ham each other. When a movie is big he plays big. Natural Born Killers just given as an example is a way over the top movie. But if you see a lot of his movies he can certainly play more subdued, and he can do dark in spades. Two-Face does everything in half and half clothes and cars, so he’s not minimalist. But the character just wasn’t dark enough. It should have been a contrast to Carrey’s Riddler. But he could do it. Much like Clooney is a good enough actor to play Batman. He looks the part of Bruce Wayne, and can be witty. He has the chin and stuff to fill the Batman costume, and a good enough voice. And probably plays dark and tortured more than silly. But that movie was a disaster. As said, if he had been cast in Nolan’s films he’d have done a fine job. Where Keaton could have given his best performance ever, and he’s never going to convince anyone he’s going to beat anyone up. The lines don’t sound scary from his mouth, just silly. Those movies were good in spite of him, not because of.

@buttler- I see Ra’s and the Mandarin as two very different things. In one case you have a guy who they just made a bit more realistic, not much different than what they did to the Joker in the next movie. He has all the trappings of Ra’s, they just make his coming back to life a trick. Other than that how is he not like the comic version? He’s possibly not the right nationality, but that’s not why people didn’t like the Mandarin. There were some, but most fans were behind Kingsley playing the character, even if they likewise went PC on the race. It was the big FU to fans that said ha, this character is a joke, and this cool threat we’ve built up is for laughs…and this laughable bad guy we have over here is the actual threat. The bait and switch is the same, but the gravitas of the characters certainly isn’t.

I agree with a lot of what’s being said here, but I just had to keep reminding myself of the fact that the intro said “These nominations are clearly personal”. If you and a group of your friends sat around for a night having this discussion, you’d probably forget a few things, too. And everyone has that friend who would insist that the list include a few choices that the rest of you thought were complete nonsense.

Clockwork_Fish

June 19, 2014 at 4:32 pm

Whatever else you might say about the Hellboy movies, Ron Pearlman was born to play that role.

MIchael Fassbender would be on my villain list. Should I just accept that he is actually a hero for this poll and alter my lists accordingly? Or put “someone else” where he would go on my villain list?

Hmmm. seems to be a slight glitch in that I can’t choose “none of the above” twice.

Only on worst superheroes did you have three I agree with. Storm was probably my #5 choice though, and absent.

I like most of the villains you don’t, or haven’t seen the movie and can’t judge,

And of all the Avengers to leave out– Mark Ruffalo was awesome! You could have easily deleted Evans, Hemsworth or Johanssen in his favor.

I had to slightly cheat and do the survey twice because I didn’t spot Ozymandias the first time around – and he almost managed to ruin Watchmen single-handedly.

IMO, Gene Hackman and Kevin Spacey as Luthor and Tommy Lee Jones as Two Face were all excellent casting choices ruined by bad scripts/direction.

Jennifer Garner, Tom Hardy, Liam Neeson and Colin Farrell were all good.

Oh and I’m not fond of the multiple choice format. Toby Maguire would have made been on my “best” choices if I had the option.

Oh and that guy who played The Sandman would have been there too.

This should have all been just one long list of names with the option to vote each of them as either a best or a worst.

Jennifer Lawrence is terrible as NuMystique, how the hell does she get a nod for best villain instead of Rebecca Romijn?
I’d vote for Christian Bale for worst heroes and Luke Goss’s Prince Nuada for best villain, and John Travolta as worst villain for Punisher.

Oy, I forgot about Travolta in that Punisher movie. Truly terrible. Travolta is always bad as a villain. He was bad in Broken Arrow and he was bad as a villain in Face Off (though he was okay as a hero in that). But The Punisher is probably the worst acting the guy’s ever done.

Did I miss Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut on the worst villains?

Psylocke’s role in the Last Stand is so forgettable that people don’t seem to realise she was in the film – though that’s probably not due to the casting

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