ByAlex Hodgson, writer at
Writer of things, doer of stuff. Superhero fan and karateka - follow me on twitter @AlexJHodgson
Alex Hodgson

Nowadays, everything is scrutinized online. Be it writing, films, games or TV shows, anyone who has access to a keyboard has the capability to express their opinions about certain subjects (hell, I'm doing it right now!). Every once in a while, a movie studio casts an actor in a role that causes huge debate. Recently, rumors surfaced online that Zendaya would not be playing a character called Michelle in the upcoming Spider-Man: Homecoming, but she would in fact be playing Mary Jane Watson. It doesn't take much to look at Zendaya and see she doesn't look much like the comic's version of Mary Jane, but just because she might not LOOK the part, that doesn't mean she won't be really good in the role. I admit, I've seen nothing of her or her acting ability, but I'm happy to reserve judgement until the film is released.

Not your typical vision of Mary Jane
Not your typical vision of Mary Jane

This whole Zendaya furore got me thinking, this can't be the only time that fans have hated casting decisions made by the film studios (and it turns out I would be right). Some of these may not have been as controversial as others and others may seem to be less controversial due to the time the films were released (as I said, the internet has given EVERYONE a voice), but here are a few actors who were slammed by the fans before their films were even released.

1. Ben Affleck As Batman


Perhaps the most notorious casting decision of modern times, the amount of hate shown towards Affleck's casting was ridiculous. Fans protested so much that there were Facebook groups petitioning for his removal in the role as well as the hashtag flying around Twitter. They pointed to his previous outing as a superhero in Daredevil, which was met with an air of disappointment, as a reason against his casting. Not only that, there are countless articles online explaining just WHY people hate Ben Affleck — the internet really is a dangerous place!

But despite all of the hate and vitriol that was brought up after his casting, it turned out that Affleck was a great Batman. The reviews of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice were mixed (to say the least), but one thing that all reviewers and fans seemed to agree on was just how good Batfleck was in the film. Fans pointed to how well Affleck portrayed both sides of Batman — the caped crusader and billionaire Bruce Wayne. Inevitably, a number of articles appeared online shortly after the film's release that compared the Batman actors and if he didn't come top, Affleck was always the second choice.

With Justice League on the horizon and with his cameos in Suicide Squad, Batman has become the prime superhero in the DCEU. From the Justice League trailer, we see that it is he who searches the globe in order to "unite the seven." It does seem that he will play a pivotal role within the DCEU, especially with the events at the end of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the mid-credits tease during Suicide Squad.

2. Heath Ledger As The Joker

The Clown Prince of Crime
The Clown Prince of Crime

This particular choice needs no introduction, anyone who has seen The Dark Knight will testify that Heath Ledger gives a simply incredible performance as the Clown Prince of Crime. There are many who would argue the case that The Dark Knight is the greatest superhero film of all time (I wrote another thing offering another suggestion) and much of this is down to Ledger's performance. Of course, The Joker had appeared in Tim Burton's Batman film (more on that later) portrayed by Jack Nicholson to huge acclaim, but this did not stop Ledger putting his own swing on the character.

Many fans praised Jack Nicholson stating that his performance was THE definitive Joker, though there were some reviews that claimed he became irksome after awhile. Heath Ledger's performance garnered one type of review: overwhelming praise. But it wasn't all that straightforward for Ledger. The negativity towards his casting was not as obvious as the negativity around Affleck, mainly down to the lack of social media in the world at the time, but it was definitely there as seen from this forum post:

Ledger had starred in a lot of romantic comedy films such as Ten Things I Hate About You and A Knight's Tale — not really the sort of films you would expect of a prospective Joker. He was not known as a serious actor, let alone one who could portray arguably the most notorious villain in comics. But after locking himself away from the world and working out all of the subtleties of the twisted clown, we are delivered with the quintessential Joker. Tragically, Ledger died just before the release of the film, but his performance will last long in the memory. If you need any more proof to the perfection he achieved, check out this scene:

3. Hugh Jackman As Wolverine

Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine for so long now that it's difficult to imagine anyone else sporting his claws. He has been playing the character since X-Men was first released in 2000 and is currently the only X-Man to appear in all of the X-Men films so far. But his casting was not as straightforward as you might expect. Again, the furore was not as noticeable due to less internet presence, but many people did question why Jackman was cast in the role.

Jackman was a relative unknown outside of Australia and fans were trepidatious about an unknown playing one of the most famous characters in comics. Another issue that people would take issue with were Jackman's physical attributes — Wolverine is well known for his fiery temper and short stature, whereas Jackman is 6'3" — an entire foot taller than the character. After all the fuss that was kicked up about Tom Cruise playing Jack Reacher, it's fair to say that similar issues would have been brought up had social media existed when Wolverine was cast.

There can be no arguments that Jackman has made the role his own; it would be difficult to imagine anyone else playing the mutant after his portrayal. However, we may soon see another actor take up the sideburns and claws as Jackman has confirmed that the upcoming Wolverine 3 (working title) will be his last film in the role. After 17 years in the role, it cannot be denied that he has been successful.

4. Daniel Craig As James Bond

The James Bond films have been a staple of British cinema for over 50 years. With over 23 films and six actors, the films have had a lasting appeal. After Pierce Brosnan's final outing as 007 in Die Another Day, the producers decided to go down a different path with the character. After 40 years of ambiguous continuity, the producers decided to reboot the films. We would see the very beginning of James Bond in his first mission after getting his Licence to Kill. As a result of this, we needed a younger actor to pick up the Walther PPK. Enter: Daniel Craig.

Similarly to Hugh Jackman, many criticized Craig's physical appearance for his suitability to the role. There were critics of his height, at 5'10" many felt he would not suit the tall, imposing figure that Bond was supposed to be. There was also the fact that Craig would become the first "Blonde Bond," a phrase which was repeated so frequently in the media that it lost all meaning. Despite the public controversy, Craig had the support of his predecessors as four of the previous Bond's voiced their approval at his casting.

He went on to star in four Bond films: Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace, Skyfall and Spectre. Skyfall was a huge success, receiving great acclaim from critics and fans alike. Many reviewers argued that it was the best Bond film and praised Craig's performance in the role. It seemed that in this film he really came of age as Bond and people no longer cared about his look, they merely accepted that he was very good in the role.

5. Michael Keaton As Batman

When Batman was brought back to cinema screens during the 1980s, Warner Brothers entrusted Tim Burton with the Caped Crusader. When it came to casting the title role, Burton had only one choice in mind: Michael Keaton. This was long before the internet was in the public eye, but that did not deter fans from expressing their discontent. Warner Brothers received thousands of letters from fans complaining at Burton's decision, citing the fact that Keaton was known for a number of comedies and the fact that he lacked the physical attributes the character has in the comics.

However, Keaton's performance in 1989's Batman was a huge part of the films overall success. Keaton garnered praise from both critics and fans with many mentioning subtle details in his performance — never before had an actor changed his voice to disguise himself. There was also praise in his success at differentiating the two identities, the head editor of DC Comics at the time, Dan Didio pointed this out:

"Batman's the real identity. Bruce Wayne is the secret identity, Bruce Wayne is who he is but it's just a shell. Bruce Wayne is just passing time until Batman can take over and Batman can be who he is. The wonderful aspect of Michael Keaton's portrayal is that you felt almost sad for him, the fact that he looked so uncomfortable in his own skin, in his own house, talking to people who were suppose to be his best friends. You wonder where does he fit in in the world, thus when you see him sitting in the batcave in front of the console you realize this is where he belongs, this is where he should be."

As a final word on Michael Keaton, Christian Bale named Michael Keaton as the actor who gave the character the most credibility. Clearly, Keaton's legacy as Batman lives on.

These are just a few examples of actors who were vilified for being cast in roles that the fans did not feel they were suited to. Of course, there are times when an actor is cast and the fans complain and it turns out that the fans were right.

Ultimately, a film has to be seen before the audience can pass judgement on the actor's performance. So we really should wait and see what Zendaya does IF she does turn out to be playing Mary Jane Watson in Spider-Man: Homecoming — it is important to stress that this has not been confirmed yet!

Maybe it could work out?
Maybe it could work out?

Check out all of the actors who played Batman all mashed into one video:

Are there any actors you loved in an unexpected role? Let me know in the comments.


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