ByJared Ficiur, writer at
Jared Ficiur

A while ago, I wrote an article about actors who have played TWO iconic characters. Read it HERE. This idea is kind of the opposite of that. We live in a time where movies and television love to reboot, recast and reproduce more stories for popular characters. Occasionally we receive a new and refreshing take on an iconic character, but other times, reboots miss the mark and don't meet our expectations.

So, which version of the character was your favorite?

Professor Charles Xavier

Xavier is best known as the leader of the X-Men in Marvel comics, a member of the subspecies of human known as 'Mutants.' When he was a young man he realized he could read and control people's thoughts while he was around them. Later in life with his inheritance of wealth and property, he started a school in upstate New York for Mutant children to not only train them in the use of their Mutant powers, but to give runaways a place to go.

In 2000, 2003 and 2006 Patrick Stewart portrayed Charles Xavier in the first three X-Men films, even made a cameo appearance in 2009's Wolverine: Origins.
In 2011 Fox Studios decided to "reboot" the X-Men franchise with fresh stories and actors. They took the original characters to their roots at a time when Xavier was just coming into his own and we saw him create his first team of Mutant superheroes. Xavier's young self was played by James McAvoy in X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past and next year's X-Men: Apocalypse, which will bring about the end of this trilogy and possibly see McAvoy exit the franchise.


Who played Charles Xavier best?

Captain Kirk

50 years ago William Shatner was cast as the iconic character and lead in Star Trek. Even though Kirk wasn't in the original pilot he was later created for the show because the original captain didn't want to return. Star Trek has become one of the most acclaimed universes ever, spanning 30 seasons of television, two animated seasons, and 12 feature films.

In 2009 Star Trek was rebooted back to its roots and Chris Pine was cast as a young version of Kirk. This film and its sequel had a much more action-adventure feel to them compared to the previous Star Trek films, which made it more appealing to the masses. Despite my trepidation in this reboot and re-casting it has breathed surprising life back into my beloved franchise.


Who played Captain Kirk best?


Just like Xavier, Magneto has appeared in both the original X-Men trilogy and the new one. As his older self he was played by Sir Ian McKellen and as his aged-down self, by Michael Fassbender in the prequels. The most interesting thing to me about the character is the range that Magneto has. As a young man he is angry, easily provoked and quick to act, but when we see the contrast in X-Men: Days of Future Past between both the young and the old we see how much he grows as a character, and who he becomes. Although he's a villain, this character shows drastic change that can be considered quite motivating.


Who played Magneto best?


In the 1960s television show the Joker was a recurring villain, he was probably the biggest one on the show. Cesar Romero played the character in 22 episodes and the TV movie.

In 1989 Jack Nicholson played the iconic villain in the film Batman, and was universally loved by everyone! In the sequel The Dark Knight (2008), Heath Ledger played the villain. All three actors are extremely iconic, all of them brought something different to the table and are loved by fans. Since they're so different, it's so hard to distinguish which is actually better. So I'll leave it up to you!


Who played the Joker best?

Obi-Wan Kenobi

Obi-Wan is one of the most iconic Star Wars characters, and he's one of the few to appear in all six films! Alec Guiness portrayed a much older version of the character in the original trilogy, and even after he was killed he still came around with sage advice for Luke. Ewan McGregor played a much younger and eager version of Kenobi as he was being originally trained as a Jedi.


Who played Obi Wan Kenobi best?


Julie Newmar played the Catwoman in the 1960s live-action television where she was a recurring villain and antihero. Although she was recast twice in the show after Newmar left, she's still the original, as well as the actress who played the character the most in the television show. Michelle Pfeiffer learned kick boxing and martial arts for her role in Batman Returns. She was universally loved by fans and critics in the role. Unfortunately for Halle Berry, though, she was universally hated by fans and critics in her solo film, Catwoman. For the third and final film in Nolan's Batman trilogy Anne Hathaway became the Catwoman, but instead of being a simple villain, she was a thief with a heart of gold and ended up falling in love with Batman. Camron Bicondova plays such a different Catwoman than any of the rest you almost can't compare. She plays a homeless teen who is completely without compassion and is quickly becoming the criminal we know from the comics in the current TV series Gotham. These five women give such distinct performances choosing one overall is nearly impossible.


Who played Catwoman best?

Hulk/Bruce Banner

New fans may be surprised to hear that the Hulk has actually been played by four different actors! Lou Ferrigno is considered the most iconic as he was the first and ONLY person to play the Hulk himself, and not Banner. I imagine that going forward Hulk will always be CGI, so that honor is Ferrigno's alone. Eric Bana played the Hulk in his first solo film in 2003. The film was critically panned and fans thought it couldn't get any worse until Edward Norton played Banner in a second solo film in 2008. When Marvel was going to connect the Hulk's story to the first Avengers film, Norton was onboard to be appearing, but he wanted the story to be rewritten so Banner was more central to the story. Marvel refused and recast Mark Ruffalo to the role and he's now played Banner in three Marvel films.


Who played Hulk/Bruce Banner best?


Another one of our characters that everyone is already familiar with has received some serious love the last couple of years! In 2014 Anna Kendrick portrayed her in the musical film Into the Woods, which was loved by fans. Lily James recently played Cinderella this year in a solo film exploring the realism of the character and her world.


Who played Cinderella best?

Batman/Bruce Wayne

Adam West will forever be the original Batman as he played him in the television hit back in the '60s! Michael Keaton had the honor of playing the character twice, both in Batman and Batman Returns. Both films were done extremely well, and were well loved. Val Kilmer played Batman in the follow-up film with new writer and director on Batman Forever, but even with a popular cast the movie did not come up to par with the previous two. The hat fell to George Clooney who was trying to break out of television and into film. He only played the character once in Batman and Robin which, again with a great cast, was still even more hated than the previous. Several years later we got Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy with Christian Bale, and these films were universally loved. This Batman series helped usher in a new era of superhero film, in fact. Finally on the list we have David Mazouz who plays a very young Bruce Wayne who is not quite yet Batman. Mazouz is a very strong actor and I've very much enjoyed his character on Gotham.


Who played Batman best?


Superman is one of those iconic characters that will always be around. He is considered the first superhero having been created back in 1938. So, it's no surprise he's a huge part of pop culture. Christopher Reeve played the character in four Superman films through 1978, 1980, 1983 and 1987. He even guest starred on Smallville several times to help Superman before passing away in 2004. From 1993 until 1997 Dean Cain portrayed Clark Kent and Superman in the ongoing television show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman. The show performed very well and people loved getting Superman in their home every week. So much in fact that in 2001 a new show was created about a young Superman going to high school where Tom Welling played the alien hero for a whole ten seasons! In 2006, WB attempted a Superman reboot/sequel with Brandon Routh, but while Routh was great as the character, the story fell flat and was unimpressive - not to mention filled with many holes. Finally, Henry Cavill has played Superman in Man of Steel, the new reboot to the DC multiverse. He is expected to play the character for several years throughout oncoming DC films, starting with the upcoming Batman v Superman film.


Who played Superman best?


In the late '70s Marvel was trying to mimic the success that DC had with the Batman television show. They had success with the Hulk so they attempted The Amazing Spider-Man with Nicholas Hammond as a TV movie and television show. The show was short lived because it was widely considered a disappointment. It wasn't until they sold the film rights to Sony that Tobey MaGuire gave great life to the character in the original Spider-Man trilogy in 2002, 2004 and 2007. The original in 2002 is one of the superhero films that made the genre realistic, helping it to evolve into what it is today. Andrew Garfield played the character in 2012 and 2014, in The Amazing Spider-Man, and Amazing Spider-Man 2. While I really love these films, they were depressing to fans and disappointed the box office so the future films were canceled, but we will be seeing a brand new Spidey joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe next year in Captain America: Civil War and he'll have a solo film in 2017.


Who played Spider-Man best?

There you have it! We truly are creatures of habit, and we do really enjoy our favorite characters, don't we? As much as we may complain about sequels and reboots, we actually hate it when a story is over so the studios keep giving us more!


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