13 Superhero Casting Choices That Viewers Found Unforgivable

Talk about casting controversies. When people find out about who’s who in the latest superhero flick, there’s already a debate going on about whether that person is fit to play the role. The reason this debate may be louder among others is because superheroes are already pre-established in comics, with long-standing signature character traits that most would agree are essential to that specific character.

So today, we’re exploring some superhero movie casting choices that the nerdy public did not take too kindly. Here are some superhero casting controversies that had people up in flames.

Miles Teller as Reed Richards In ‘Fantastic Four’

Photo: 20th Century Fox

The reviews for 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot all say the same thing – that the talented cast is done a disservice by the film surrounding them. But it’s Teller who got the worst rap after taking on the lead role of Reed Richards. The major complaint about his performance is that he looks bored every time he’s on screen, whether he’s in a board meeting or fighting Doctor Doom.

It’s not like previous versions of Reed Richards are particularly beloved; it’s just that Teller’s detached version of the character didn’t connect with audiences at all. That makes sense. The Fantastic Four is such a big, bright, golden age comic that Teller’s emotionless portrayal feels like he misunderstands the character even though it matches the film’s grim tone. Realistically, Teller tried something and it didn’t work. There’s nothing wrong with that.

  • Age: 36
  • Birthplace: Downingtown, Pennsylvania, USA

Halle Berry As Catwoman

Photo: Warner Bros.

Halle Berry is one of the few actors on this list that audiences were happy to see in one superhero role, but balked when it came time for her to play another one. She totally rocks as Storm in the X-Men franchise, and while her casting as Catwoman may have had potential in theory, the result turned into a pop-culture punchline.

Maybe audiences weren’t ready for another campy portrayal of Catwoman after Pfeiffer’s iconic performance in Batman Returns, or as Berry herself puts it, the film just didn’t do the character any favors:

The story didn’t feel quite right. I remember having that argument: “Why can’t Catwoman save the world like Batman and Superman do? Why is she just saving women from a face cream that cracks their face off?”

  • Age: 57
  • Birthplace: Cleveland, Ohio, USA

Seth Rogen As The Green Hornet

Photo: Sony Pictures Releasing

Did anyone think Seth Rogen would make a good superhero? Prior to 2011’s Green Hornet, he was the guy who made edgy movies with a lot of heart and a lot of profanity. A profanity-laden movie about a masked detective directed by Michel Gondry sounds awesome, but it’s not what audiences saw. Instead, audiences got a PG-13 movie that was riddled with studio notes.

Audiences didn’t like Rogen as a crimefighter because it’s not really his thing. His Green Hornet is a neutered version of what he does best, and audiences were let down. Rogen blamed Sony for the gaffe, but admitted that the problem with playing a character like Green Hornet was that the project itself was out of his wheelhouse:

If there is one thing I look back on like, “What was the problem there?” It was just the budget. We can’t make a really edgy fun movie for our types of people for that amount of money.

  • Age: 41
  • Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Sylvester Stallone As Judge Dredd

Photo: Buena Vista Pictures

Audiences will accept Sylvester Stallone as a Vietnam vet with PTSD, and they’ll accept him as a down-on-his-luck boxer who can destroy a Soviet superman, but they will not accept him as a Mega-City One street judge.

Stallone’s biggest sin in Judge Dredd is that he removes his helmet early on in the film, something the character doesn’t do. Never mind the film’s many other missteps – Stallone disobeyed the main rule of a superhero adaptation and did something completely antithetical to the character audiences came to see.

  • Age: 77
  • Birthplace: New York, New York, USA

Ben Affleck As Daredevil

Photo: 20th Century Fox

Ben Affleck filmed Daredevil at the nadir of his career (his next two films were Gigli and Paycheck, so things can always get worse), but the film isn’t all bad. The supporting actors are all there to play, and Colin Farrell rocks a bald head for breakfast, lunch, and dinner, but Affleck is just sleeping through the role and audiences can feel that sort of thing.

In 2016, Affleck revealed that he hated making Daredevil and wished the movie could have been similar to the Netflix series. He didn’t say as much, but it seems he simply didn’t enjoy the film’s story and phoned in his performance as a result, which is just not what you want to do with a beloved character like Daredevil. It’s clear why audiences said nope.

  • Age: 51
  • Birthplace: Berkeley, California, USA

Ryan Reynolds As The Green Lantern

Photo: Warner Bros.

People love Ryan Reynolds. Like, love him. So the fact that audiences just said “no way” to his performance in Green Lantern is telling. It’s not like Reynolds is phoning anything in. He and the rest of the seriously pedigreed cast do everything they can to make the film enjoyable, but their work doesn’t pay off.

A ton of things went wrong with Green Lantern, but one of the biggest missteps is that Reynolds isn’t suited to play the character. He plays Green Lantern like Bugs Bunny when he should be much more serious. Thankfully, Reynolds got to flex his goofball muscle with Deadpool a few years later and it worked out much better.

  • Age: 47
  • Birthplace: Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada

Billy Zane As The Phantom

Photo: Paramount Pictures

Billy Zane rocks. He makes a meal out of the scenery in Tales from the Crypt: Demon Knight, and he’s one of those guys who seems like he’s down for anything. Unfortunately, being down for anything means agreeing to star in The Phantom, a film based on a superhero created in the 1930s. 

The Phantom follows Kit Walker (Zane) as he fights off sky pirates and a wealthy businessman to control magical skulls found in the fictional jungle of Bengalia. The movie is a total misfire that’s half off-the-wall/WTF is happening here, and half glacially paced tedium. 

It’s not that Zane or any of his co-stars are bad – everyone in the movie is really going for it – but they didn’t have a chance in the modern action climate of 1996. Released the same weekend as Michael Bay’s The RockThe Phantom must have felt like a relic of the 19th century to theater-going audiences. The film, and Zane’s performance as the Phantom, just didn’t connect with the zeitgeist.

  • Age: 57
  • Birthplace: Chicago, Illinois, USA

Uma Thurman As G-Girl In ‘My Super Ex-Girlfriend’

Photo: 20th Century Fox

There are a lot of missteps in My Super Ex-Girlfriend, but its biggest disservice is the way it handles Thurman’s character of G-Girl. Audiences came to the film to see Thurman as a fleshed-out, relatable superhero without any connections to either Marvel or DC, but what they got was under-baked.

We’ve seen Thurman play the emotionally grounded heroine at the center of Kill Bill, but there’s nothing to latch onto in this movie. G-Girl could have been a cool character, but she’s saddled with being a kooky ex-girlfriend, which is a drag for audience members who were looking for a strong female character. When asked why the film paints her in such a negative light, she responded:

I don’t know the answer. Think about it this way – it’s written by a man and directed by a man, produced by a bunch of men and then there was me. So is it a male nightmare?

  • Age: 53
  • Birthplace: Boston, Massachusetts, USA

Alec Baldwin As The Shadow

Photo: Universal Pictures

Alec Baldwin should have been Batman. In the ’90s, he had the whole debonair millionaire thing going on for him, and he has a great voice for hanging out behind a mask. While he never got to put on the cowl, he did play another famous comic-strip detective in 1994’s The Shadow.

The film follows Lamont Cranston, AKA the Shadow, as he learns the mystic art of clouding men’s minds in Tibet, and then comes to New York where he works as a kind of supernatural private detective who faces off against the last surviving heir of Genghis Khan.

Like The PhantomThe Shadow suffers from being a relic of the Great Depression. Baldwin plays Cranston with every bit of charm in his body, but audiences in the ’90s weren’t starving for entertainment in the same way as people were in the ’30s. The movie is fun, campy, and – aside from Baldwin’s prosthetic nose – it looks great. It was just bad timing.

  • Age: 65
  • Birthplace: Massapequa, New York, USA

David Harbour As Hellboy

Photo: Lionsgate

Woof. Audiences really hated David Harbour as Hellboy in the 2019 reboot of this beloved series. Even though people love Harbour in Stranger Things, audiences just weren’t ready to see him take over a beloved character from Ron Perlman.  

The movie draws on some of the most beloved storylines of the comic (it opens with a truncated version of Hellboy in Mexico), and Harbour is believable as a giant, angry demon who has to work for a secret outpost, but audiences weren’t having it. Harbour thinks the film, and his portrayal of Hellboy, were unfairly judged by Guillermo del Toro super-fans:

I think it failed before we began shooting because I think that people didn’t want us to make the movie. Guillermo del Toro and Ron Perlman created this iconic thing that we thought could be reinvented and then [fans] certainly – the loudness of the internet was like, “We do not want you to touch this.” And then we made a movie that I think is fun and I think had its problems but was a fun movie and then people were just very very against it and that’s people’s right but I learned my lesson in a lot of different ways.

There’s no problem with Harbour’s performance, but taking on a beloved role like Hellboy when the original actor is still active is a gamble, and it didn’t pay off.

  • Age: 49
  • Birthplace: USA, New York

Brandon Routh As Superman

Photo: Warner Bros.

Superman Returns was supposed to be the triumphant big-screen return of the last son of Krypton, and Brandon Routh was proud to put on the red and yellow shield. Routh didn’t just look like Christopher Reeve; he looked like an actual drawing of Superman. But the resemblance wasn’t good enough for audiences, who barely turned out for the film.

The film made $391.1 million worldwide – which is pretty good to the naked eye, though certainly not compared to modern superhero franchise expectations – but it wasn’t good enough for Warner Bros., which rebooted the character seven years later. If there’s a reason audiences didn’t connect to Routh’s portrayal of Superman, it’s because he was performing like Superman from 1978, not 2006. Routh later described the slow death of his version of the character as a fizzle:

I would say that the end of my run as Superman in Superman Returns – that did not pan out the way I thought it was going to, the way everyone around me thought it was going to. I had to really come to terms with a lot of that. There was no sequel, the movie was widely well-reviewed, people liked the movie, but it, you know, made almost $400 million worldwide but that wasn’t enough. And it was a very slow fizzle out of the possibility of a sequel over the next two, three years and I did everything that I could do, that I thought, in my world to help make it happen.

  • Age: 44
  • Birthplace: USA, Norwalk, Iowa

Thomas Jane As The Punisher

Photo: Lionsgate Films

He may not be the most famous guy in Hollywood, but Thomas Jane has held down dramatic roles in genre films like The Mist, and as a quirky/super creepy character actor in the sprawling, Altman-esque Boogie Nights, but audiences weren’t interested in his portrayal as Frank Castle in The Punisher.

The film itself is tonally all over the place, but Jane is suitably brooding as Castle. For Punisher fans, however, he wasn’t Punisher-y enough. The biggest gripe online is that Jane plays the character as if he’s getting retribution for his lost family members, which is true, and not dishing out punishment to a group of baddies who aren’t related to his family’s demise at all.

Maybe if Jane weren’t starring in a Punisher origin story he would have been more readily accepted, although the same fates were suffered by Dolph Lundgren and Ray Stevenson in their respective Punisher films. Though Jon Bernthal’s Netflix version has been well-received, the Punisher character simply hasn’t found a foothold in movies.

  • Age: 54
  • Birthplace: Baltimore, Maryland, USA