Hey, DC and Marvel fangirls and fanboys! Let me let you in on a little secret. Come closer. Closer still. Even closer. Okay, too close! We’re in the middle of a pandemic! What’s wrong with you? Okay, there’s good. Now, you know that little DC/Marvel fan war that’s been raging for the many moons now? Well, guess what! The studios producing the movies behind these brands don’t care! Case in point: Ben Affleck. He’s starred as major characters in both comic book imprints. Heck, these studios don’t even care if an actor has already appeared in several comic book movies, like Chris Evans, who has been in about seven different comic book franchises thus far.
The truth is, the studios just want the best actors for a given project, and comic labels don’t matter. I mean, think about this. Zack Snyder, who is pretty much Mr. DC (I still can’t believe that the Snyder Cut is actually happening) said that even he would direct a Marvel movie if one particular character became available again. That’s why this Marvel/DC flame war is silly. Because guess what? You can like both Marvel and DC! Have you ever thought of that? So, here are 10 different Hollywood actors who have played multiple comic book characters, and we’re all the better for it.
Chris Evans (Captain America - Avengers, Johnny Storm - The Fantastic Four)
Chris Evans is like the Renaissance Man of comic book movies. He’s most known for his tenure as Captain America, where he played “the first Avenger” several times, but he’s also been, ahem, Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four movies, Lucas Lee from Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World, the voice of Casey Jones in the 2007 TMNT movie, Jake Jensen in The Losers, and Curtis Everett in Snowpiercer.
But, I want to focus on Johnny Storm, since he’s one of the most famous characters in the Marvel Universe. Chris Evans was pretty much perfect as the cocky Human Torch, so it surprised me that he would take on somebody much more serious like Captain America. He played both rolls so well, though, that I gained a lot of respect for him as an actor, and have been following his career ever since.
Ben Affleck (Batman – Batman vs. Superman, Matt Murdock – Daredevil)
Ben Affleck has played both The Man Without Fear and the Dark Knight. And, while he’s probably not everybody’s favorite version of Daredevil, he still took a massive leap to play the blind lawyer who also fights crime as a vigilante.
I might get some heat for this, but Ben Affleck is actually my favorite Batman on the big screen. Michael Keaton is a close second. Because, when it comes to the Batman movies, I usually find that the villains tend to overshadow the Caped Crusader. I mean, the villains certainly overshadowed Christian Bale in the Christopher Nolan Batman flicks. And the other Batmen (Val Kilmer and George Clooney) were … not so great. Ben Affleck is like the perfect blend of pathos and rage that just really worked for me, despite the movies he was in. Here’s hoping that Robert Pattinson can become the new best Batman.
Halle Berry (Storm – X-Men, Selina Kyle – Catwoman)
Halle Berry is another performer who has moonlighted in both the Marvel and DC universes. She’s most famously known as Storm from X-Men, where her eyes would turn white and she would unleash the tempests upon some hapless fools. This happened most notably with a character named Toad, who got it the worst from her.
But, Halle Berry is also infamously known for being in one of the worst comic book movies of all time: Catwoman. At least she seemed to be in on the joke, as she accepted her Razzie award for her role in the movie in person. Now that’s gangster.
Laurence Fishburne (Perry White – Man of Steel, Bill Foster – Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Noticing a trend here? Laurence Fishburne is yet another actor who has played characters from both Marvel and DC. Case in point, famed editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, Perry White. Now, this is an interesting role, since Fishburne, who famously once kicked ass as Morpheus in The Matrix, isn’t really doing anything action-packed in movies like Man of Steel. Instead, here, he’s just playing an editor who wants the best for his paper.
He’s a little more of a sci-fi character, however, as Bill Foster in Ant-Man and the Wasp, who is also known in the comics as Goliath. As a former member of S.H.I.E.L.D., Fishburne plays both a villain and a good guy in the movie. I hope we see more of him in some capacity in Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Dave Lizewski – Kick-Ass, Quicksilver – Avengers: Age of Ultron)
I feel like Kick-Ass couldn’t have existed as a movie without standing on the shoulders of 2007’s Superbad. I say that because the profane superhero movie features young people dropping F-bombs left and right, with Aaron Taylor-Johnson, who was 18 at the time, kind of in the center of it. With his green and yellow get-up and batons, you could also almost forget it’s him until he takes off his mask.
This is especially true because he looks SO much different as the white-haired speedster, Quicksilver, in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Is he the best version of the character? Well, it’s debatable, because Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s Kick-Ass costar, Evan Peters, ALSO played Quicksilver, but in the X-Men movies. Either way, Aaron Taylor-Johnson is just further proof that you can hop around comic book universes without any repercussions.
Vin Diesel (Groot – Guardians of the Galaxy, Ray Garrison – Bloodshot)
Okay, this one might be cheating a little since Vin Diesel really only says 3 lines with different inflections when he voices Groot. But, would the character be anywhere near as memorable if he didn’t have Vin Diesel’s gravely voice behind him? Pair him with Bradley Cooper’s Rocket, and it’s a match made in manic/husky heaven when they’re together.
That said, we get Vin Diesel in full force in the movie Bloodshot, where he plays mercenary Ray Garrison, who is brought back to life with power to spare. In the film, which is based off a Variant comic series, Vin Diesel hunts down people due to some false memories. So, whether it’s family friendly or brutal, one thing is certain. Vin Diesel lives for this shit!
Nicolas Cage (Johnny Blaze – Ghost Rider, Spider-Noir – Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Big Daddy – Kick-Ass, Superman – Teen Titans)
Like Chris Evans, Nic Cage is another actor who you know is ready to be in a comic book movie at a moment’s notice. I mean, hell, he was once supposed to play Superman, and even named his son Kal-El, which is Superman’s real name. Plus, Nic Cage’s own last name “Cage” is taken from the hero Luke Cage, as his real last name is Coppola.
It’s no surprise that he happily took on the role of Johnny Blaze, aka, Ghost Rider. Nor is it surprising that he oh so casually voiced Spider-Noir in Into The Spider-Verse. Because, seriously, Nic Cage is like a living comic book character. So, let the man have his fun. This is his wheelhouse.
Ryan Reynolds (Hal Jordan – Green Lantern, Wade Wilson – Deadpool)
For a minute there, it looked like Ryan Reynolds' comic book character career was going to end before it even began, because Green Lantern was so hated. Was it the CG suit or the corny characters? It’s hard to say, really, but Green Lantern failed to set the world on fire when it initially released.
At least Ryan Reynolds seems to be in on the joke. And, besides, who’s laughing now? He currently gets to play the profane Merc with a Mouth, Deadpool, and fans can’t seem to get enough of it. Chimichangas for everyone!
Will Smith (Agent Jay – Men In Black, Deadshot – Suicide Squad)
Honestly, as big of a megastar as Will Smith is, I’m actually surprised that he hasn’t appeared in more comic book movies. His first major comic book role was from the little-known series, Men In Black, where he played one of Earth’s secret defenders against aliens, alongside Tommy Lee Jones.
Of course, the MIB series became a huge hit when Will Smith got involved, so he could have just ridden off into the sunset (which he kind of did with Wild, Wild West). Instead, he decided to come back to the world of comic books with his role as the assassin, Deadshot in Suicide Squad. He won’t be coming back for the sequel, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he took on another comic book character in the future.
Michelle Pfeiffer (Selina Kyle – Batman Returns, Janet Van Dyne, Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Last, but certainly not least, is Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman in the highly underrated Batman Returns. With her catlike movements and fantastic acting, she probably pulls off the anti-heroine better than any other actress who's played the role.
So, it was an absolute pleasure to see her return to the comic universe, but this time as Janet van Dyne, a.k.a., the first Wasp (Evangeline Lilly plays the second such hero). While we never really get to see her suit up, you can just feel the legacy throughout with her portrayal. A crucial character played by a crucial actress. More, please!
There are other actors I could have mentioned in this article (Idris Elba is in both the Thor series and Ghost Rider: Spirt of Vengeance), but I thought I’d stick with these 10 recognizable cases. Out of all of them, which one do you think plays the best comic book character? Sound off in the comments section or the poll below!
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Rich is a Jersey boy, through and through. He graduated from Rutgers University (Go, R.U.!), and thinks the Garden State is the best state in the country. That said, he’ll take Chicago Deep Dish pizza over a New York slice any day of the week. Don’t hate. When he’s not watching his two kids, he’s usually working on a novel, watching vintage movies, or reading some obscure book.