Often, when I am playing my favorite game of "who's the best actor for...", I run into issues with those folks who insist on discounting anyone who has ever appeared in a superhero movie before. The problem, they insist, is that it would ruin the continuity. That the fans would see the same actor and become confused, or maybe it would preclude the possibility of ever having crossovers. Occasionally phrases like "non competition" and "contractual obligation" are thrown around (because nothing suits a fun discussion like legal-speak).
The problem that I have with this (other than squishing the spirit of the game), is that it's just not true. There have been plenty of actors who have doubled up in the superhero genre, although many people just don't realize it!
In aid of that, here are some of the biggest names that have played more than one hero over the years!
1. Chris Evans
The title image made this one a no-brainer, and most people seem to be aware of his move from the Fantastic Four to the Avengers. That said, I have seen a couple "looks like" images that haven't quite put two and two together.
Evans started out as the Human Torch from 2005 to 2007, and then took up the role of Captain America in 2011. That's only three years in between to transition between major roles in feature films within the same comic universe! What makes it even more incredible is that the Fantastic Four actually fought with the Avengers, and are being rebooted next year - presumably to do just that. Which means that we might see the original Human Torch fight alongside the re-cast Human Torch, and yet the world still stands. Shocking!
2. Brandon Routh
Best known for his 2006 portrayal of Superman in Superman Returns, Brandon Routh has recently been cast within the DC universe for a second time, as Ray Palmer. Possibly better known as The Atom, Ray Palmer will be appearing in the upcoming third season of the hit TV show Arrow. Another transition within a comic-book-verse, and one with links to the same teams, at least this time there was a gap of almost ten years between his first and second role.
4. Ryan Reynolds
I'm going to be totally honest, I'm not a big fan of Ryan Reynolds in superhero roles. (Although he could have played an incredible Human Torch in the re-boot!) This guy made the switch from Marvel to DC, and with only a year-long gap in between! (Wolverine: Origins in 2009 to Green Lantern in 2011) Of course, he didn't just move, he is moving back - rumored to be reprising his Deadpool in a stand-alone movie. As much as I am not his biggest fan, he makes a great case for actors playing multiple movie heroes!
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4. Ben Affleck
Ah, Daredevil. Who could forget the travesty of a movie that was Daredevil in 2003? I'm not blaming Affleck for it, the writing was simply awful, but I really expected it to shut him out of the genre for good. Honestly, I'm glad that he has been given a second chance - I love it when comic book characters are played by honest-to-goodness fans - but there has been a lot of animosity toward Batfleck because of his previous failure. Another one sticking within a single universe, this is one of the longest gaps between roles, maybe because it took ten years for casting directors to forget!
5. Halle Berry
It's about time we got a woman in on the two-superheros-at-once thing! And another who flip-flopped back and forth between roles and universes! Best known as Storm in the X-Men Franchise (she's been there as long as Hugh Jackman, although in fewer films), she took a break in between movies to film Catwoman. This may be one of the shortest gaps - from a 2003 release to a 2004 release, then back to X-Men in 2006. Phew! The really important thing about Berry's duo-roles for me is that she was clearly mid-contract with Marvel for the X-Men movies when she was able to take on a different role for DC. Interesting....
6. James Marsden
The third X-Men member on the list (seems like those contracts have no issue with stars working on other projects...), Marsden was welcomed back into the franchise as Cyclops at the end of Days of Future Past. Like Halle Berry, he has been with the X-Men from the beginning, but also played Richard White in Superman Returns. Special award for this one - playing in two superhero movies for two different universes, both of which came out in the same year!
Chris Pratt: His most obvious superhero role may be as StarLord in Guardians of the Galaxy, but did you know that he was also the voice of Emmett in the Lego Movie? It may be on the cusp of superhero, but he did some saving and hung out with Batman a lot. I'm counting it!
Nathan Fillion: While he doesn't have any huge comic-based roles, he is no stranger to superhero movies. He has a role in the upcoming Guardians of the Galaxy (as yet, we don't know who he is playing!), and he voiced Green Lantern in a surprising range of videos and TV movies. He was the Holy Avenger in the movie Super, and Captain Hammer in Dr Horrible's Sing A-Long Blog.
Samuel L Jackson: One, because he is Samuel L Jackson, but a little extra mention for being both Nick Fury and Frozone in the Incredibles.
So next time that you may be talking about your ideal actor for a part, and someone decides to come crashing in and limit your choices based on past appearances, I hope that my little list will help you argue that anything is possible in the world of superhero movies!
Let me know what you think about actors doubling up, and if there is anyone that I missed!