It seems that every other film you see today stars at least one actor who’s appeared in a superhero film or two. The genre is so successful that it’s understandable. What actor wouldn't want to play Batman? What actor wouldn't want to be a part of the fun and highly successful Marvel family? The superhero genre is more than just a launching pad; it enables actors to hone their acting chops.
Now and then, the studios make dubious casting decisions that the fans can’t fathom. Whether it’s about the actor’s star power or it comes down to a poor bet on the part of a director, in some cases, a different performer would have been a better choice.
But there are others who perfectly embody of their characters, and we have a list of ten of them right here! Don't worry, there’s no mention of Robert Downey, Jr., who is basically a real-life Tony Stark.
Patrick Stewart as Charles Xavier/Professor X
There are few mentor characters out there who can hold a candle to the X-Men's Professor X. More than just a commanding presence (despite his disability), he’s also one of Marvel Comics’ most powerful telepaths. The role of Charles Xavier demanded an actor who’d proved himself time and time again in a wide range of roles. And what better actor could there be than Patrick Stewart?
With gravitas, grace, and strength, Stewart has appeared in 5 X-Men films to date, not counting three additional non-credited appearances. And he owns the role each and every time. If anything negative can be said about the character, everyone knows it’s the fault of the script.
Sure, James McAvoy also looks great without hair. But we can all agree that Patrick Stewart is the definitive Professor X.
J. K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson
We don't know what kind of Commissioner Gordon he’ll be, but J. K. Simmons was J. Jonah Jameson as if he were torn right out of the pages of the comic books. We might even go so far as to say that, even among the stellar actors on this list, Simmons was the best choice made by any studio, ever. That’s a tall order, no matter how you look at it.
Sure, this was a more comedic take on the character, played up by the rest of the cast. But we have no doubt that Simmons could have pulled off any version of the comic book character.
Among all of the antagonists Spider-Man faced in the original trilogy, Simmons as Jameson has to be the greatest. After all, he had the resources, he looked down on Peter Parker, and he made his life even more miserable than it already was.
ChloÃ« Grace Moretz as Mindy Macready/Hit-Girl
Kick-Ass doesn’t really qualify as a superhero movie, since it doesn't feature superpowers or superhuman abilities. ChloÃ« Grace Moretz deserves a spot on this list anyway, since her Hit-Girl is the only one capable of delivering punishment with such little effort. From this point of view, we can say that her character is even more capable than Nicholas Cage's Big Daddy, since she was the one to avenge his death.
Of course, compared to the comics, some liberties were taken with the character. But, as far as we’re concerned, the sweet Moretz was the perfect Hit-Girl from the time the first Kick-Ass dropped. We would never have expected to see that tiny girl killing all those goons with so much brutality.
Pretty much as it was in the comics.
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
Could this be called cheating, considering the history of this version of the comic book character?
There was a time when the comics’ Nick Fury was a white guy. He was even portrayed in a TV movie (Nick Fury: Agent of Shield) by none other than David Hasselhoff. However, when the Ultimate Marvel arrived, his skin color changed, and he resembled actor Samuel L. Jackson with an eye patch.
So, of course, when the Marvel Cinematic Universe took off, no other actor could have been cast as Fury. Samuel L. Jackson is Nick Fury, and there’s no doubt about it. The actor has appeared in the role all over the MCU map, and he’s set to feature in at least a couple more movies until he retires from the role.
So is this cheating?
Ryan Reynolds as Wade Wilson/Deadpool
Ryan Reynolds has appeared in a number of comic book movies. However, none of them can be considered great. His Green Lantern portrayal is probably the reason Warner Bros. delayed the Green Lantern Corps film until 2020.
Reynolds debuted his Wade Wilson character in the even more atrocious X-Men Origins: Wolverine. In that movie, Deadpool’s mouth was sewn shut, but he developed tons of superpowers the comic book character never had.
But Deadpool fan Reynolds didn't rest on his laurels. He pushed forward with another Deadpool project, and the rest is now history. The 20th Century Fox film became the highest grossing R-rated flick and was one of the best superhero movies we’d seen in years.
Take a look at Ryan Reynolds as a social media man, and you can actually see that there’s no one better to bring both Wade Wilson and Deadpool to the big screen. It remains to be seen whether Deadpool 2 will meet our expectations.
Jackie Earle Haley as Walter Kovacs/Rorschach
Zack Snyder’s Watchmen was as divisive as his other superhero movies. He changed an entire act of the graphic novel, but the movie did get one thing right: Rorschach stole the show every time he appeared onscreen, thanks to Jackie Earle Haley's portrayal.
There was really no chance that Snyder could faithfully adapt the graphic novel, so he changed that act. Although the comics’ Rorschach was different, Haley owned the role. We might add that the differences between the comic book version and the film version are welcome, since they made the character a better fit within the cinematic universe.
After Watchmen, Haley appeared as the villainous Odin Quincannon in the Preacher TV series. He owned that role, too.
Wesley Snipes as Eric Brooks/Blade
Some may have forgotten, but Blade demonstrated that it’s possible to adapt a comic book to the big screen without making it overly campy. The movie had its flaws, but back in 2008, it felt like it came out of nowhere.
As the bad-ass vampire hunter, Wesley Snipes was most definitely the film’s star. Not only was Snipes the perfect actor to play Blade, Blade turned out to be the perfect role for Wesley Snipes.
The Blade franchise only lasted through a few movies (the third installment also starred Ryan Reynolds, and was the worst of them all), but it brought the superhero genre into the spotlight in a much more entertaining way than Batman and Robin and Spawn had in the previous year.
Christopher Reeve as Superman
Brandon Routh might have become the iconic Man of Steel, but audiences didn’t exactly love him in 2006’s Superman Returns. Then Henry Cavill brought to life a brand new Superman. But something didn’t quite work with that version, either.
Or maybe they just couldn’t follow the original. Of course, we’re talking about Christopher Reeve as Superman, the movie character that was a true celebration of his comic book counterpart. The movie wasn't as action-packed as today’s superhero flicks, but it featured some really incredible superpowers (albeit still not as fast as Silver Surfer!)
Almost everyone thinks of Reeve when the topic of the definitive Superman actor comes up.
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America
Again, there’s no place on this list for Iron Man. But there’s a place for someone better, someone that captures his role perfectly. And that someone is Chris Evans. Evans appeared in a couple of comic book movies before he signed with Marvel, but his role as Steve Rogers/Captain America was the one that defined his career.
Evans doesn't just look the part; he accurately captures Steve Rogers’ emotions, which are the emotions of an actual outsider. The actor perfectly displays his character's morality, especially during his interactions with his fellow Avengers.
Evans took this role and made it his own. There are people who believe that Iron Man is the core of the MCU, but we beg to differ. Without Evans as Captain America, the shared universe would just consist of a series of quips and action sequences.
Dafne Keen as Laura/X-23
Lastly, we have Dafne Keen, who’s newcomer to the superhero movie genre. Not only that, she starred in 2017’s Logan at the age of twelve, which makes her the youngest actor on our list. But in her case, age is just a number, because she has the chops to hold her own alongside the likes of Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart!
That says a lot, because Jackman and Stewart gave their career-best performances as Wolverine and Professor X in Logan.
As was the case with some of the other characters on this list, certain liberties were taken with X-23. But that takes nothing away from Keen's terrific portrayal. So tiny and so ferocious, Laura can easily be viewed as a miniature Wolverine who’s even more brutal than the original.
We hope that 20th Century Fox has also seen Logan and plans to have Keen return as X-23 in future movies.