Movies & TV Shows

12 Actors Who Turned Down A Superhero Role Only To Play A Different One

With Black Adam releasing on October 21, Pierce Brosnan will don the superhero Doctor Fate, but, once upon a time, the Irish actor was offered a different DC role of Batman – only to turn it down! Brosnan shared this revelation in a Reddit AMA in 2014, and it is an example of when an actor doesn’t have the passion for a superhero role at the time.

Brosnan is not the only actor to have felt this rumination where later on, the actor has either changed his mind or found the role in a comic book movie – hero or villain – that suits them. From Tom Hardy to Joaquin Phoenix, these actors would go on to play roles featured in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, the DC Extended Universe, or even original superhero films.


Tom Hardy

The talented Tom Hardy has had the fortune of being in two different superhero franchises. He was Bane in The Dark Knight Rises and is currently portraying Venom in the Sony-Verse of Marvel movies.

RELATED: 10 Things About Venom Only Comic Fans Know

However, between those two tenures, Tom Hardy came close to joining the DC Extended Universe. According to Collider, Tom Hardy was really excited about playing Rick Flag in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad, but due to a filming schedule conflict with The Revenant, Hardy had to turn down the role. Joel Kinnaman replaced him while, years later, Hardy went on to shine as anti-hero Eddie Brock/Venom in his own titular series.

Jessica Chastain

According to a report from SlashFilm, Jessica Chastain turned down starring in the MCU twice. She was originally going to play Maya Hansen in Iron Man 3, but she had to leave because she was working on other projects. After that, Chastain rejected another role as Christine Palmer in Doctor Strange, and while she was available, she wanted to have a comic book role that allowed her to use her ballet training.

In a seemingly turn of events, Jessica Chastain was finally able to play a comic book character as Vuk in 2019’s Dark Phoenix, which was one of the more maligned X-Men films. Perhaps, another day will come when Jessica Chastain’s eyed again to join the worlds of either Marvel or DC.

Pierce Brosnan

A long list of actors was considered for Tim Burton’s Batman before Michael Keaton landed the role. Potential actors who almost became Batman included Kurt Russell, Willem Dafoe, and even Bill Murray. And Burton approached none other than the James Bond actor: Pierce Brosnan.

Superheroes were not the goliath of Hollywood that they are today, so it is understandable why some actors forwent the role. In 2014, Brosnan confirmed his meeting with Burton on a Reddit AMA and revealed that he originally was not fond of the idea of the costumes, considering them too silly. However, Brosnan has changed this mentality since he is now joining the DCEU as Doctor Fate in Black Adam.

Heath Ledger

From Cillian Murphy to Henry Cavill, many actors tried for the role of Batman in Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins. According to NME, Nolan confirmed that Heath Ledger was a contender, but he turned down the chance due to having no interest in superhero movies.

The success of Batman Begins seemed to make Ledger think twice because he would end up giving an Oscar-winning performance as The Joker in the sequel. Sadly, it would be Heath Ledger’s final role before his tragic passing not long before the movie’s release, but people continue to remember his legacy as the Joker, even recalling the character’s greatest quotes.

Will Smith

In the late 90s, Will Smith was a rising mega-star, and this got him involved with multiple giant blockbusters. He also turned down a lot of roles, including the chance to play Superman in Superman Returns. Via, he stated that he declined the role because of the possible backlash of a Black actor playing Superman.

RELATED: 8 Things You Should Know About Hancock 2

Will Smith did go on to play a Superman-esque role in the underrated original superhero film, Hancock. After that, Smith joined the DCEU as Deadshot in David Ayer’s Suicide Squad.

Jude Law

Jude Law is another actor who was considered to play Superman. Law tested for the role, but in the end, Brandon Routh became the titular superhero in 2006’s Superman Returns.

What happened was that Law ended up declining the opportunity to don the red cape costume – literally! According to Variety, Law did not care for the way he looked in the suit and simply decided it was not for him. Over a decade later, he joined the superhero world with the role of Yon-Rogg in the MCU’s Captain Marvel.

Josh Brolin

According to Deadline, it’s become somewhat well-known that Josh Brolin was almost cast as the older Batman of Batman V Superman: Dawn Of Justice. However, he merely lost that role to Ben Affleck rather than declined. However, according to NME, Zack Snyder did extend an offer for Josh Brolin to play Lex Luthor instead, only for Brolin to turn it down.

Brolin would later join two different Marvel universes right after the failed attempt in the DC universe. He debuted as the Mad Titan known as Thanos in Guardians Of The Galaxy and became the big bad for the rest of the Infinity Saga. After that, Josh Brolin played Cable in the Deadpool franchise, which even ended up parodying the DC universe.

Angelina Jolie

From secret agents to international treasure hunters, Angelina Jolie has played many action-hero roles, but surprisingly, it wasn’t until 2021 that she joined the superhero world. As Thena in the MCU’s Eternals, Jolie portrayed an elegant warrior that served as the inspiration for figures such as Athena.

Though it seems baffling that Jolie hadn’t appeared in any superhero movie before, she spilled the tea that she was offered a role long before becoming Thena. However, Jolie never specified which character, as she kept the details under wraps to not take away the spotlight from the actor. Nevertheless, some people started to speculate which role it was, with rumors being that she almost donned as the Amazonian warrior, Wonder Woman (via MovieWeb).

Jason Momoa

Jason Momoa helped redeem Aquaman after shows like Super Friends turned the hero into the subject of ridicule. Prior to Aquaman, however, Jason Momoa was eyed for the role of Drax The Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy.

RELATED: 8 Memes That Perfectly Sum Up Aquaman As A Character

According to IGN, the role did not appeal to Jason Momoa, so he turned it down because the character was too similar to his other past roles. This worked out just fine since Dave Bautista ended up becoming the new definitive Drax who steals the movies in any scene he’s in, while Jason has wowed DC fans with his charming portrayal as the ruler of Atlantis.

Joaquin Phoenix

It’s no secret that Joaquin Phoenix is not much of a big franchise actor even though he has nothing against them. But, when Marvel was searching for their Doctor Strange, Phoenix was, at one point, offered to play the sorcerer. Many fans would agree that he would have probably nailed the character, but according to CinemaBlend, Phoenix turned it down, which opened the doors for Benedict Cumberbatch to land the role.

Phoenix would enter the superhero universe with 2019’s Joker, playing the titular villain in his genesis. After playing the anti-hero, Phoenix’s opinions changed, as not only is the Joker his best and only Oscar-winning role, but he will also reprise the role for an upcoming sequel – the first time he has ever featured in one.

Edward Norton

Similar to Joaquin Phoenix, Edward Norton rarely joins big franchise films, but that didn’t stop studios from trying to cast him. Before Ben Affleck was hired, Edward Norton was offered to play the main Marvel hero and lawyer Matt Murdock in 2003’s Daredevil movie.

According to IGN, Norton did decline the role to focus on his screenwriting and directing efforts. Five years later, Edward Norton gave playing a superhero a shot as the titular character in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, the second film entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Unfortunately, his stint as Bruce Banner/Hulk was short-lived, and he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, who has been carrying the role since.

Sylvester Stallone

After the first Rocky exploded in theaters, Sylvester Stallone was an instant Hollywood star, so much so that when Superman: The Movie was beginning production, the studio aimed at Stallone for the titular role. In the end, Sylvester Stallone felt that playing Superman was simply not his style and declined.

Since then, Stallone has appeared in three different superhero movie roles. He had a brief role in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, he stole scenes and hearts as King Shark in James Gunn’s The Suicide Squad, and now stars as a retired superhero in Samaritan on Prime Video. Ironically, his role in Samaritan is reminiscent of Superman’s strength and powers, so it just comes to a full circle.

NEXT: 10 Best Superhero Movies Of All Time, According To Letterboxd

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