The 25 Best Casting Choices in Comic Book Movies

17. Mickey Rourke as Marv in Sin City

Sin City

Sin City was a film which revolutionized the comic book film genre. Its groundbreaking use of green screen technology brought the pages of Frank Miller’s neo-noir comics to life on the silver screen. It still required more than that to fully recreate the world of Sin City on film.

It needed to right actors to portray the lead characters in the film’s three main segments. The ideal casting of Mickey Rourke as Marv in the segment entitled “The Hard Goodbye” pleased fans and casual audience members alike.

Marv is one of the comic book world’s most prominent examples of a sociopath with a heart of gold. He is a rough, hardened loner who goes on a rampage in an attempt to avenge the death of Goldie, the only woman who ever loved him. His murderous antics and kind manners (“I don’t hurt girls”) are convincingly displayed through Rourke’s energetic performance. The character is a fan favorite and the casting of Mickey Rourke is without a doubt the greatest in the film.


16. Liam Neeson as Ra’s al Ghul in Batman Begins


In the first chapter of The Dark Knight Trilogy, Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is trained by Ra’s al Ghul (under the alias “Henri Ducard”) to strike fear in the hearts of criminals. When his true identity is revealed in the film’s third act, Ra’s becomes Batman’s first real enemy. He is a worthy first opponent for Batman to face in the trilogy.

Batman Begins was released in 2005; years before Neeson became known for being the go-to actor in action films. His performance as the genocidal leader of the League of Shadows is one of his best. He is utterly compelling as a villain who is an enemy to both Batman and Bruce Wayne. The Dark Knight Trilogy would not have gotten off to such a terrific start without such a skilled actor portraying the right choice for a lead villain.


15. Tom Hardy as Bane in The Dark Knight Rises


Heath Ledger’s universally acclaimed performance as The Joker was a tough act to follow. It took the right villain and the right actor for the final film in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy to live up to its two predecessors.

Nolan decided to cast British actor Tom Hardy (who he had previously worked with on his 2010 masterpiece Inception) in the role of Batman’s most physically threatening villain, Bane. Hardy is exceptional as the disfigured menace who brings Batman more pain (both physically and mentally) than Ra’s al Ghul and The Joker did.

Bane is undeniably the second best villain in the trilogy; the first being Ledger’s Joker. His mask and voice have been made iconic in popular culture, partially through being parodied on shows such as South Park.

Like Heath Ledger, Tom Hardy seized the opportunity to make Bane into an iconic cinematic villain rather than an exact recreation of the character from the comics. Hardy is the person most directly responsible for bringing the film’s realistic spin on the character to life in such an effective way.


14. James McAvoy as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past


Many fans regard 2011’s X-Men: First Class and last year’s X-Men: Days of Future Past to be the best X-Men films to date. Part of the reason for such a positive feedback from comic book fans and general audiences alike can be attributed to the casting of the right actors in the roles of the younger versions of some of the X-Men universe’s most popular mutants- Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique, Michael Fassbender as Magneto, and James McAvoy as Professor X.

Scottish actor James McAvoy does an impressive job as a young Professor Charles Xavier in the days before he opened his “School for Gifted Youngsters.” He encompasses all of the traits of the man who will one day become the champion of Mutantkind by founding the X-Men; the team of superheroes who will fight for mutant equality.

In Days of Future Past, there is a powerful scene in which Xavier talks to his future self (Patrick Stewart), and becomes inspired to continue the fight for a brighter future for both Mankind and Mutantkind alike. McAvoy effectively displays the emotions needed to carry the scene and move the audience.


13. Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier/Professor X in the X-Men franchise


There is no argument that Sir Patrick Stewart was perfectly cast as Professor Charles Xavier, the father figure to all members of the X-Men. He flawlessly embodies the wise, seasoned, strong-willed mutant leader who, unlike his old friend Magneto (Ian Mckellen), believes in mutant equality and not supremacy.

As a result of the box-office success X-Men in 2000, Patrick Stewart became as well-known for playing Professor X as he is for portraying Captain Jean-Luc Picard on TV’s Star Trek: The Next Generation.

Like Gary Oldman’s Jim Gordon in The Dark Knight Trilogy, Stewart’s incarnation of Professor X is identical to his comic book counterpart- the bald look, the suit, the automatic wheelchair, and the character’s use of his program “Cerebro” to find wandering mutants. It was virtually impossible for any comic book fan to have been disappointed in Patrick Stewart’s take on the character, as he is directly inspired by the source material.


12. Ian McKellen as Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto in the X-Men franchise


Like Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, it was very difficult for any fan to be disappointed by Shakespearean actor Ian McKellen’s interpretation of the X-Men’s archenemy- the Master of Magnetism himself. McKellen’s take on Magneto is akin to the character in the comics. He makes the audience understand, and even empathize with his hatred for humanity.

Eric Lehnsherr is a Holocaust survivor who afterwards witnessed his fellow mutants be persecuted at the hands of ordinary humans who hate and fear what they don’t understand. McKellen magnificently depicts a villain who believes that what he does is for the greater good of Mutantkind.

Ian McKellen is best known among mainstream moviegoers for playing both Magneto and the wizard Gandalf in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit trilogies. He is an ideal opponent to Patrick Stewart’s Charles Xavier, and their conflict is perfectly captured and brought to life in the films by the two legendary actors. Their combined talents ensure that the audience genuinely believes the conflicts between two old friends on opposite sides of the coin to be real.


11. Michael Fassbender as Eric Lehnsherr/Magneto in X-Men: First Class and X-Men: Days of Future Past


It is not an easy thing to follow in the footsteps of an actor as accomplished as Sir Ian McKellen. It is even harder to top him when playing the same character. Despite these challenges, Michael Fassbender has proven himself to be an even greater match for the role than the great Ian Mckellen was. Fassbender does not make the mistake of trying to copy McKellen. He makes the character his own.

The friendship-turned-rivalry between Magneto and Xavier throughout First Class and Days of Future Past is more well-written than it was in the previous X-Men films. It is made even more conceivable by Fassbender and McAvoy’s interactions with one another in the two films. They share a common bond in the sense that they are portraying old friends who will one day become symbols- one for mutant prosperity, the other for mutant superiority.


10. Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises


Like several other casting decisions in comic book films, the announcement of Anne Hathaway as the slinkiest femme fatale in the Batman universe was met with doubt, criticism and backlash. Hathaway surprised all of her critics when she ended up being the best part of Christopher Nolan’s final Batman film. It was an unlikely casting choice which paid off in the end when she received a considerable amount of critical praise for her performance.

The casting and eventual success of Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is an example of a director thinking outside the box. Hathaway perfectly embodies both sides of Catwoman; the sneaky feline who sets Batman up and sells him out to Bane in the film’s first half, as well as the superheroine who ultimately redeems herself by becoming Batman’s ally in the second half. Nolan took a risk when casting Hathaway. It was a risk which led to what has arguably become the best live-action depiction of the character.


9. J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man Trilogy

J.K. Simmons

One advantage Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films have over Marc Webb’s is the inclusion of Peter Parker’s editor-in-chief at The Daily Bugle, J. Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons’s take on the character is easily one of the best parts of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man series. Even though the third film was considered by many fans to be a disappointing conclusion, Simmons was no less fun to watch in it.

Jameson is the character who is often times used for comic relief. It isn’t just reserved for extras and cameo appearances (“He stole that guy’s pizzas!”). Simmons provides plenty of laughs and even a challenge for Spider-Man, as he does everything in his power to completely slander him and turn the public against the wall crawler. If there is one character who it can be agreed on that the films got 100% right, it’s J. Jonah Jameson. This is all thanks to J.K. Simmons’s brilliance.