Top 10 actors who should be cast as a superhero

The world of superhero films is full of unconventional casting choices. In fact, if you want to create a successful superhero film, that seems to be the way to go. Christopher Reeve, Tobey Maguire, Robert Downey Jr., Edward Norton, Seth Rogen… OK, so those last two didn’t quite work out, but surely this is the point of superheroes – most are just ordinary people who are granted extraordinary powers and then are given the responsibility of using them wisely. Chris Hemsworth, star of Marvel’s new film Thor, seems an obvious choice by comparison; mind you, rippling muscles, matinee idol good looks and a blonde mane are de rigeur when you’re playing a god. Thinking about it, it’s surprising how many actors actually have played superheroes, but here are a few of the ones that have been overlooked:


#10 – Jake Gyllenhaal

He might have played a video game hero in Prince of Persia, but we reckon Gyllenhaal could handle some proper superpowers and the hefty weight of responsibility that goes with them. He’s got the skills to tackle the vulnerability of any superhero, and the newly discovered muscles to appear as a formidable force for good. If they reboot the Spiderman franchise again after Andrew Garfield (who we’re sure is going to brilliant anyway), they could always give Jake a call. Did we mention the muscles?


#9 – Ryan Gosling

While Ryan Reynolds was crowned People’s Sexiest Man Alive for 2010, and is playing the Green Lantern in the upcoming film adaptation, there is another Canadian Ryan who is quietly working in his shadow. Ryan Gosling is building up an impressive CV in small, critically acclaimed indie films, such as Lars and the Real Girl and Blue Valentine. He may look slightly scrawny now, but that’s the point. How else would he be able to maintain a double identity?


#8 – Rachel McAdams

Every superhero needs a sidekick, and sometimes if it weren’t for these plucky supporting players the superheroes would be in a world of trouble. Fair enough, Lois Lane isn’t faster than a speeding bullet, but she can deliver a snarky line and keep Lex Luthor dancing a merry dance. Rachel McAdams would make a perfect Lois Lane but no one seems to have realised it yet. She’s got snarky down to a fine art, as her performance as the mean-spirited sister in The Family Stone demonstrated. Unfortunately for us, Bryan Singer chose Kate Bosworth as his Lois Lane for Superman Returns, and Zack Snyder has cast Amy Adams as the superhero’s love in his new adaptation Man Of Steel. Don’t worry Rachel, if we ever get the money to finance a new Superman film, you’re our first choice.


#7 – Warwick Davis

Proof to all that size is no obstacle, throughout his career Davis has become a well-respected actor both in the UK and in Hollywood, and is currently busy filming his new show with Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. Think he couldn’t pull off the role of a mighty superhero? David killed Goliath, lest we forget, and there are plenty of other superheroes with so-called disadvantages – Professor X has wheels and Daredevil is blind. When you’ve got superpowers, however, and a heightened sense of justice, everything is possible.


#6 – Sean Connery

He may have played James Bond, whom some would say is a superhero in his own right (he protects Queen and Country, for goodness sake), but he could have played any number of superheroes. If he can overpower his enemies with a single blow as James Bond, imagine what he could do if he had super strength. Scottish Superman, anyone? Just don’t expect him to save anyone who disagrees with him on devolution. Those people are on their own.


#5 – Laurence Fishburne

Some might consider Morpheus a superhero, but wouldn’t it be great to see Fishburne as The Hulk? He’s revealed his temper at times in his latest role as Raymond ‘Dr. Ray’ Langston in CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, but we reckon he could go all the way and turn truly green. The angry green giant (wait, doesn’t he make sweet corn?) hasn’t been having the best of luck on the big screen lately, so what has Fishburne got to lose?


#4 – Paul Gross

Not all superheroes are American, you know. Ever heard of Captain Canuck? Those north of the border need protecting too, and fortunately for them they have Tom Evans, a member of the Canadian International Security Operation who was given super powers by aliens (no, really). Paul Gross would be just the man to take on the job; as Benton Fraser in Due South, he was half way to superhero status, with his willingness to help anyone and everyone and a very nice line jumping off buildings and walking away unscathed. OK, can you tell this writer is a child of the 90s?


#3 – Gregory Peck

He was charming (Roman Holiday), fought for justice (To Kill A Mockingbird), and he was tall; that’s all you need to be a superhero, right? He stood up to the Nazis in The Guns of Navarone, so he could have easily adopted the mantle of Captain America (although he did subsequently play Josef Mengele in The Boys from Brazil… but we won’t mention that). Chris Evans is Marvel’s new Captain America, but we’re sure Gregory Peck would have fought for Uncle Sam just as hard, and looked just as good doing it.


#2 – Queen Latifah

Granted, she may be nothing like her on-screen roles, but you certainly wouldn’t want to mess with either Motormouth Maybelle (Hairspray) or Matron Mama Morton (Chicago), or even her role as Penny Escher, literary assistant in Stranger Than Fiction. Too much alliteration with the ‘M’s perhaps, but all formidable ladies who would clear up any mess in which you found yourself. Just give her wings and see what she can do.


#1 – John Wayne

Admit it, you would have loved to see the ultimate cowboy adopt some colourful, skin-hugging tights and fly into the air defending the world against evil villains. The great American West would have been an even safer place if someone had seen fit to grant The Duke some superpowers. Fastest horse-rider in the world? A Stetson with magical powers? The ability to play a character other than ‘John Wayne’? Fine, that last one was harsh, but given the recent outing of Jonah Hex on the big screen, we’re sure Wayne couldn’t have fared any worse.

Who would you most like to see in a unitard? Let us know below!


About The Author

Hannah graduated in September 2010 with a Masters in Film and Literature, which is lucky because all she really wants to do is watch films and write about them. At university she was Film and TV Editor, then Deputy Arts Editor of The Yorker, the university's online publication. Don't judge her for the fact that her favourite film is 'The Sound of Music', as she's open to pretty much anything. Now a freelance film journalist, she maintains her own blog and is happy to receive any enquiries about her work.