Now that the superhero movie genre is at the height of its popularity, it's becoming more common for actors who previously worked on a Marvel movie to jump onto the DC train, and vice-versa. The latest example came last week, when Joe Manganiello, who previously played Flash Thompson in Sam Raimi's Spider-Man, was confirmed to be playing Slade Wilson, a.k.a. Deathstroke, in the upcoming solo Batman movie. From Peter Parker's bully to one of the most deadly assassins in the DC universe, Manganiello has made an impressive shift.
In light of this recent development, we've decided to go over the 10 most high-profile actors who switched sides between DC and Marvel. To scale things down a bit, this list isn't including any actors who appeared in movies hailing from DC's more mature Vertigo imprint. It also doesn't include anyone who has yet to make their debut playing their second comic book character, so sorry, Michael Keaton, Willem Dafoe and J.K. Simmons.
Ryan Reynolds already had a history with superhero movies in the 2000s playing Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity and Wade Wilson in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. However, he finally got to lead one of these adventures in 2011's Green Lantern, where he played test pilot Hal Jordan Unfortunately, his turn as the Emerald Knight was plagued with negative reviews, prompting Warner Bros and DC to abandon their sequel plans for the flick. Five years later, he revisited Wade Wilson, only this time, he got to play to play the character as the real Deadpool, from wearing the trademark red and black costume to repeatedly breaking the fourth wall. After years of waiting, fans finally got to see the actor properly be the character he was born to play.
Jonah Hex has been a DC mainstay since the 1970s, and in 2010, Warner Bros and DC decided to give him his own movie, with Josh Brolin playing the scarred former Confederate bounty hunter. While there was nothing wrong with Broil's performance per say, the rest of the movie was just a mess, bombing both critically and commercially. Four years later, Brolin took over from Damion Poitier as the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Thanos, first voicing the Mad Titan in Guardians of the Galaxy and returning to cameo at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron. We won't see Brolin's Thanos fully in action until Avengers: Infinity War, but so far, he sounds quite intimidating.
Tommy Lee Jones
Even though Billy Dee Williams had already been set up as Harvey Dent in 1989's Batman, Batman Forever opted to use Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. While there are good elements in that movie (seriously!), Jones' Two-Face was little more than a Joker knockoff who only paid attention to his trademark coin when it suited his needs. Next to Jim Carrey's Riddler, he just didn't measure up. More than a decade later, Jones made jump to Marvel as the significantly more subdued Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger. A no-nonsense military officer is right in Jones wheelhouse, so at least he got to contribute to the MCU in a more appropriate setting.
Ben Affleck has been a comic book fan since he was young, but sadly, his first time playing a superhero did not go as anticipated. 2003's Daredevil earned mixed-to-negative when it was released, and while many agree the Director's Cut was superior, Affleck's experience on Daredevil made him swear off superhero movies for years. Then came summer 2013, when he was cast to play his favorite superhero of all time in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the rest of the DC Extended Universe: Batman. Affleck is also involved behind the scenes of the DCEU, directing and co-writing the upcoming Batman movie, as well as executive producing Justice League. Not a bad way to redeem your superhero movie career.
Doug Jones physically played the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, but it was Laurence Fishburne who provided the Sentinel of the Spaceways' voice. Despite the 2007 Fantastic Four flick being widely regarded as a disappointment, Fishburne made the Surfer sound calm and wise, giving us the voice many of us imagined in our head when reading his stories. Six years later, the actor debuted in Man of Steel as the DCEU's Perry White, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet. Blunt and not accepting of any nonsense from his employees, Fishburne has done a remarkable job playing White, so hopefully we'll see more of him at some point.
Thor: The Dark World is generally considered one of the more subpar MCU entries, in no small part to its generic villain, Malekith. With that in mind, we don't blame you if you didn't remember that Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje played the Dark Elf's second-in-command Algrim, who was later transformed into Kurse. Since his role was so minimal, it's fortunate that DC gave him a little bit more to do as Killer Croc in Suicide Squad. Croc primarily served as the muscle of the team, but when he did open his mouth, he proved himself to either be a badass or surprisingly amusing. If Suicide Squad 2 gets green-lit, Warner Bros would be wise to bring back Akinnuoye-Agbaje and give him more dialogue.
2013's The Wolverine adapted the classic "Logan in Japan" storyline, which meant it had to include his love interest, Mariko Yashida. Tao Okamoto played the cinematic Mariko as a kind young woman who could take care of herself when in danger, and also provided a welcome change of romantic pace from Logan's feelings for Jean Grey. Three years later, Okamoto appeared in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice as Lex Luthor's assistant, Mercy Graves. While it was good to finally to see the character in live action, Okamto didn't get that much to do other than delegate Luthor's work, and since there's no chance of her returning to the DCEU, we're inclined to give Marvel the edge when it comes to using the actress best.
Unfortunately, Tim Robbins' experience with superhero movies hasn't been great. First up, there was 1986's Howard the Duck, where he played Phil Blumbertt, the guy who tried to help the eponymous bird go back to his own world. Those reading this likely already know why Howard the Duck is so notoriously awful, so no need to delve into those messy details. 25 years later, Robbins appeared as Senator Robert Hammond in Green Lantern. There wasn't anything wrong with his performance, but there also wasn't anything particularly special about it. Add in all the negative press Green Lantern received, and we'll be surprised in Robbins ever agrees to participate in another comic book-related project again.
James Marsden helped usher in the original X-Men movies as Scott Summers, a.k.a. Cyclops, and thankfully, he looked just like the optic-blasting mutant and captured his attitude correctly. However, Marsden jumped to the DC ship to play Richard White in Superman Returns, resulting in Cyclops basically cameoing in X-Men: The Last Stand so he could be killed off. Marsden's Richard was a good supporting character for the Superman tale, but many X-Men fans wish he would have gotten more screen time as Cyclops. X-Men: Days of Future Past's revised timeline brought Scott Summers back to life, but since Tye Sheridan now has that role, Marsden's time in the X-Men universe may have finally come to a permanent close.
Before Michael Fassbender inherited the Magneto role from Ian McKellen, he already had experience in the world of comic book adaptations. Besides playing Stelios in 300, he also appeared in Jonah Hex as Burke, the right-hand man of main antagonist Quentin Turnbull. However, as mentioned earlier, Jonah Hex was a disappointment across the board, so we're all better off remembering him as the younger Erik Lensherr in X-Men: First Class, X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. It was great watching Fassbender's Magneto play the man willing to do whatever it takes to achieve mutant superiority, while also, due to his own acting choices and story deviations, deliver audiences a Magneto performance that wasn't just retreading what McKellen previously did.