By Jöse Sénder, comics author and general nerd
We know actors have to eat and they often take every role they are offered, sometimes resulting in appearing in a terrible movie, sometimes getting lucky and playing an unforgettable role. And in the superhero movies business, sometimes the same actor/actress appears in different movies playing various characters. I would have mentioned James Franco as Harry Osborn and Jaime Madrox, but the Multiple Man movie is not confirmed yet, so it’s sadly out of the list. Enough with the introduction, let’s see some of the most interesting cases:
CHRIS EVANS: CAPTAIN TORCH.
Yeah, that was the obvious example. Evans played the Human Torch in the 2005 version of Fantastic Four –he was probably the only good thing that has ever happened to the F4 in a movie– and then –I want to believe that as a way to apologize to Marvel fans– he became Captain America in the best superhero trilogy ever –and one of the best castings Marvel has ever done.
MICHAEL B. JORDAN: THE HUMAN KILLMONGER.
2005 Fantastic Four can be seen as a film masterpiece if we compare it with the terrible 2015 version, which makes any other movie in the world better –except for Batman vs Superman or the first Wolverine. As Evans did, he redeemed himself by playing a character in an actual good superhero movie: he became Killmonger, the nemesis of Black Panther. Now he’s rumored to be the next Superman.
BEN AFFLECK: THE BAT-DEVIL.
Well, that’s another of the most known cases. Affleck played the terrible version of Daredevil –although I’ve heard that it was intended to be a dark humor movie in the line of Deadpool and the studios cut out all the funny scenes, so the director’s cut is supposed to be a lot better, but I haven’t seen it yet so I can’t tell– and years later moved to DC to play one of the most interesting versions of Batman, though in one of the most boring movies ever made in Hollywood.
RACHAEL TAYLOR: HELLTHING.
This case is less known. Rachael Taylor is famous for playing Patsy “Hellcat” Walker in the Jessica Jones show –god I can’t wait to see her in season 3, I love her!-, but she was already a part of Marvel in the 2005 horrible movie about the Man-Thing. The movie was a total mess, not even remotely related to the comics, it was kind of a teenage slasher where the Man-Thing was evil and killed random people, we couldn’t see him until the end of the movie and he looked as a monster from R.L. Stine’s Goosebumps. His funny sidekick Richard Rory –She-Hulk’s former boyfriend– doesn’t even appear in the movie. The only good thing about it was seeing the cool and lovely Rachael as the main character –a totally made up character not coming from any comic.
RYAN REYNOLDS: GREENPOOL.
Yeah, we all know Reynolds played Green Lantern in one of the lamest movies DC has ever made –and that’s a lot to say– and then moved to Fox/Marvel to play Deadpool and make fun of his own previous terrible choice. But it’s always funny to remember it. He also appeared in Blade: Trinity, but we better forget about it.
MICHELLE PFEIFFER: CATWASP.
Michelle Pfeiffer –the legend, the goddess– played one of the most beloved versions of Catwoman –only comparable to Julie Newmar’s– in Tim Burton’s masterpiece Batman Returns (1992) and recently came back to superhero movies as one of the most important Marvel characters ever, the founding member who gave name to the avengers: Janet Van Dyne, A.K.A. The Wasp.
MICHAEL KEATON: BAT-VULTURE.
And of course we have her co-star. Michael Keaton played Batman in the first two movies of the saga –the decent ones– and came back decades later as the villain of Spiderman: Homecoming, The Vulture. Actually, in the latest Spidey movie they even made a small wink to Batman in a brief shot where we can see Keaton’s silhouette against the full moon in a very Batman-ish pose. Oh, and he was also Birdman.
JOSH BROLIN: THABLEHEX (too hard?)
I think the oldest Goonie owns the record of playing superhero movies. He was DC’s Jonah Hex, then moved to Disney-Marvel to play the villain Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War and to Fox-Marvel to play Cyclop’s son Cable in Deadpool 2. The only thing he lacks is playing some Image character but… give him time –whoa, he would make a cool Doc Holliday in Wynonna Earp!
TOM HARDY: BANOM.
Yeah, the new sensation Tom Hardy –not that he’s new to acting, but he has become a mass phenomenon recently– was Bane in Nolan’s Dark Knight Rises and now he’s gonna be the new Venom. I don’t have high hopes in the new Venom movie, but at least I hope he’ll make us forget Topher Grace’s Eddie Brock –with due respect to Topher as a big 70s Show fan.
PETER DINKLAGE: EITRASK.
All-time fan favorite Game of Thrones actor played the villain Bolivar Trask in the not-so-bad X-Men: Days of Future Past and returned to Marvel as Eitri in Avengers: Infinity War –though everybody was hoping he was going to play Pip the Troll.
HALLE BERRY: CATSTORM.
Halle was one of the best casting ideas when she was chosen to play Ororo “Storm” Munroe in the unexpectedly successful X-Men movie from the year 2000, maybe not a great movie if we look back at it today but certainly the one that started the “let’s take superhero movies seriously and try to do something decent” trend. He was less fortunate when she picked the role of Catwoman in one of the worst comic adaptations ever –still better than BvS, of course. Seriously, Halle Berry and Sharon Stone are both great actresses, they didn’t deserve that embarrassment.
AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON: QUICK-ASS (Ha! I’ve overcome myself with this one!)
It’s somehow hard to believe that the skinny, pimpled teenager who played the main hero in the all-time masterpiece Kick-Ass is the same hunk who played Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron. But it’s even funnier when you find out than Evan Peters, who played the best friend of Kick-Ass in the first part, was also the Fox version of Quicksilver himself, both in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse.
DOMINIC COOPER: PREACHER STARK.
Well, I know Preacher is not a superhero story, but it’s a DC comic so I thought I should include it in this list. Dominic Cooper is the awesome actor who played Howard Stark –Iron Man’s father– in both the first, usually underrated but great Captain America movie and the Agent Carter show. But now he’s moved to DC and he’s playing the coolest, most badass Preacher ever.
BRANDON ROUTH: SUPER-ATOM.
Both DC heroes, Routh portrayed the hero in Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns –usually underrated, but he really nailed Clark Kent’s shy and clumsy persona as not many actors have– and the Atom in Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow.
NEAL McDONOUGH: DARK DUM-DUM.
Minor part in the first Captain America movie, playing Nick Fury’s best friend Dum-Dum Dugan, he was also Arrow’s season 4 big bad, the evil wizard Damien Darhk. Yes, he seems to be obsessed with the letter D.
ADRIANNE PALICKI: THE MOCKING WONDER.
Besides playing Sam’s girlfiend Jessica in Supernatural, our beloved Mockingbird from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. had previously played a very famous DC superhero in a less known adaptation: the 2011 TV pilot of Wonder Woman, along with Pedro Pascal, Elizabeth Hurley and Cary Elwes.
LAURA VANDERVOORT: SUPER-INDIGO.
Yes, she was the cool Supergirl from Smallville. And yes, she’s Indigo, the villain from –much cooler– Supergirl season one. I better not talk about all the Smallville actors who appear now in Supergirl or this list would be soooo long.
NICOLAS CAGE: GHOST DADDY.
The coolest Coppola was the badass vigilante Big Daddy in the unforgettable Kick-Ass. This was probably his way to apologize for the –sadly, also unforgettable– Ghost Rider.
MATT FREWER: WHITE KING MOLOCH.
Matt Frewer –the 80s star mostly known as Max Headroom or as the big bad of The Librarians– played Moloch in the famous Watchmen movie, but in the 90s he had been a Marvel villain. In the –surprisingly decent and fun– 1996 TV Movie Generation X –where Finola Hughes from Charmed played a totally badass Emma Frost-, he played a villain named Russell Tresh. Although the character was specially created for the movie, he was clearly a mixture between famous villains Bolivar Trask and Donald Pierce, the White King of the Hellfire Club –and he played Pierce much better than this creepy hobo-rapper from the Logan movie.
CHRISTOPHER ECCLESTON: THE INVISIBLE MALEKITH.
Tricky one, because when we talk about superhero movies/shows we usually forget there are some of them outside Marvel and DC. Good old Chris–The 9th Doctor, you whovians out there!– played the invisible homeless man in the epic show Heroes and returned as the villain Malekith in the highly forgettable Thor: The Dark World.
JULIAN McMAHON: DOCTOR RUNAWAY.
Another case like Chris Evans himself. Julian McMahon –Cole from Charmed– played Doctor Doom in 2005 Fantastic Four, then came back to Marvel to redeem himself playing the bad guy in the awesome Runaways TV show.
JUSTIN HARTLEY: AQUA-ARROW.
This case is bizarre. Hartley portrayed the coolest version of Green Arrow ever made –sorry, Stephen Amell, you’re great, but he was the best– in Smallville. Aquaman also appeared in the show, but he wasn’t as successful as Oliver Queen was amongst the fans. Then, for some weird reason, the showrunners decided to throw an Aquaman spinoff, only it was played by… Justin Hartley. Yes, instead of making a Green Arrow spinoff, they tried to make one about their least successful character, but played by the actor who was currently playing Green Arrow. No wonder it was a total failure and only a pilot was shot. My advice: don’t watch that pilot if you value your time and self-esteem.
ALESSANDRO JULIANI: FOREVER TIED TO SUPERMAN.
Now that we’re talking about Smallville, one of the most beloved characters was Doctor Emil Hamilton, played by Alessandro Juliani. He was recasted years later for a newer version of Superman, the annoyingly lame Man of Steel, where he played Officer Sekowsky. Fun fact: the movie also featured Dr. Hamilton, but he was played by another actor –Why? You had Juliani! Why cast another guy?
He also voiced Iron Man 2099 in the animated show and played a minor part in Watchmen.
MICHAEL ROSENBAUM: MARTINEX LUTHOR.
Ok, I swear that’s the last Smallville actor I put on this list! –I’m biting my tongue not to talk about Tom Welling in Lucifer. But it’s so awesome to find out that the best Lex Luthor ever portrayed was also in Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 playing Martinex, right?
ELLEN PAGE: SHADOWBOLT.
Yes, our beloved Shadowcat from the X-Men movies was also the not-so-super heroine Boltie in a James Gunn humor movie named Super in 2010.
RAY STEVENSON: PUNISHING VOLSTAGG.
Did you know the guy who played Punisher in the third movie –if we count the Dolph Lundgren one– was also Volstagg in the Thor franchise? I didn’t.
ALFRE WOODWARD: LUKE CAGE’S CIVIL WAR.
Remember that angry lady who yelled at Tony Stark in the beginning of Captain America: Civil War? Yes, she’s the same actress who plays villain Black Mariah in Luke Cage.
JOHN FAVREAU: FOGGY HOGAN.
The director of Iron Man also appeared as an actor in the movies playing Stark’s friend Happy Hogan, but… Did you remember he also played Foggy Nelson in Affleck’s Daredevil?
SAM ELLIOT: THUNDERBOLT RIDER.
The star from The Ranch and Tombstone played the best version of General Thunderbolt Ross –A.K.A. Red Hulk– in the worst Hulk movie –the one by Ang Lee. But he also portrayed the first Ghost Rider in the terrible Cage movie.
TONY CURRAN: ASGARDEVIL.
You may know him better as Vincent Van Gogh in Doctor Who or Datak Tarr in Defiance. But British actor Tony Curran has had two interesting roles in the MCU: One as the godfather of the Irish mafia in Daredevil season 2, the other as Thor’s grandfather Bol.
VINCENT D’ONOFRIO: KINGPIN OF ASGARD.
Well, this last one is more of a joke than anything else, but… We all love Vincent D’Onofrio playing Kingpin in Daredevil season 1, one of the best villains ever portrayed in the MCU –I think only David Tennant as the Purple Man can compete with him-, but in the 80s comedy Adventures in Babysitting he played some kind of a Thor parody.
Any other multiple hero –no Madrox pun intended– you can recall? Leave us a comment!