With Avengers: Infinity War setting all sorts of box-office records and Deadpool 2 expected to open big next week as well, the superhero movie genre has completely taken over the spotlight. One of the big reasons why these movies have captured our imagination are the performances of the actors, many of whom, seem like the perfect personification of their comic book alter-egos. But while actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Hemsworth found their stride early on, others took a while to find the right set of tights to fit into.
With that said, let’s take a look at some of the Hollywood celebs who have appeared in more than one superhero role in their career.
Characters: Jonah Hex, Thanos, Cable
Special Mention: Dwight McCarthy (Sin City), Young Agent K (Men in Black III)
Character actor Josh Brolin is currently in the spotlight for his masterful portrayal of Thanos in Avengers: Infinity War. His performance as the Mad Titan has been so well received that it’s even set the internet afire with debates on whether Thanos’ actions were indeed justified. And while the hype around Avengers: Infinity War has not yet died down, Brolin is already set to appear as another baddie, Cable, in the blockbuster sequel Deadlpool 2 alongside Ryan Reynolds. But before his back to back stint as Marvel villains/anti-hero, Brolin actually got his superhero start in DC comics’ movie adaptation of Jonah Hex with Megan Fox and John Malkovich. Trivia: Jonah Hex was created by Tony DeZuniga, a Filipino comic book illustrator, for DC along with writer John Albano.
Characters: Human Torch, Captain America
Special Mention: Jensen (The Losers)
While many consider Chris Evans as the quintessential personification of Captain America, he got his superhero start as Johnny Storm (the Human Torch), a founding members of Marvel's first family, the Fantastic Four. Although the movie did not perform as well in the box-office as Captain America or The Avengers, Evans’ performance (and the movie) wasn’t bad, all considered.
Characters: Green Lantern, Deadpool
Special Mention: Hannibal King (Blade Trinity)
It has been well documented that the success of the Deadpool franchise is largely due to Ryan Reynolds, not only as the lead actor, but also as the main proponent for the funding and creation of the films. His portrayal of the Merc with A Mouth is so similar to what we imagined Deadpool from comics would be like (pretty much Van Wilder with super powers) that we can’t think of anyone else better for the role. Reynolds’ stint as the Green Lantern, however, was not as well-received—a fact that even he makes fun off in the first Deadpool movie.
Characters: Bane, Venom
Tom Hardy’s portrayal of Bane in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises introduced us to a villain that was calculating, methodical, and menacing in a way that was so different from the Joker, yet no less as terrifying. His performance was so good we didn’t even mind the mumbling caused by the mask he wore. This year, Hardy takes on the role of Venom, the alien symbiote that was first introduced as a villain to Spiderman, but has recently turned into an anti-hero of sorts. Although the reactions to the latest trailer have been mixed, the hype around its release is palpable.
Characters: Daredevil, Batman
The latest to don the cowl, Ben Affleck is no stranger to superheroes, having once portrayed The Devil of Hell’s Kitchen alongside ex-wife Jennifer Garner in 2003. His more recent stint as the Caped Crusader in Batman vs. Superman and Justice League was met with mixed reviews with some fans loving his Frank Miller inspired take, while others, not so much. Unfortunately, Ben Affleck’s Batman run may have come to an end. Rumor has it that he is no longer involved in the character’s planned solo movie for the DCEU.
Characters: Kick Ass, Quicksilver
Although many would more easily recognize Aaron Taylor-Johnson as the fleet footed twin to the Scarlet Witch, Quicksilver from the Avengers: Age of Ultron movie, his first superhero gig was as Kick-Ass, from the movie of the same name. DYK: Evan Peters who played Kick-Ass’ friend in the movie Todd/Ass-Kicker, would also go on to play Quicksilver for the X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse movies.
Characters: Nick Fury/ Frozone
Special Mention: Mace Windu (Star Wars), The Octopus (Spirit), Valentine (Kingsman), Mr. Glass (Unbreakable)
One can argue that all of Samuel Jackson’s roles are “super” in a way. However, his portrayals of S.H.I.E.L.D. super spy Nick Fury and the uber-cool Frozone from The Incredibles stand out. Recently, M. Night Shyamalan announced that he’s moving forward with the sequel to Unbreakable and Split, which he will be combining into one entitled, Glass.
Michael B. Jordan
Characters: Human Torch, Killmonger
Special Mention: Steve Montgomery (Chronicle)
Michael B. Jordan is regarded as one of the reasons for the box-office success of Black Panther. His great performance as Erik Killmonger resonated well with the fans and brought a worthy villain to the MCU, who is often accused of having very bland and forgettable antagonists. But before his success as the usurper first-cousin to the King of Wakanda, he played Johnny Storm in another (and much worse) version of the Fantastic Four.
Characters: The Punisher, Volstagg
It’s hard to remember where you’ve seen Ray Stevenson before because he looks so different in his two forays into the superhero genre. He played a brutal Frank Castle in Punisher: War Zone and more recently as Volstagg, the largest (and jolliest) member of the Warriors Three in the Thor series.
Tommy Lee Jones
Characters: Two-Face, Agent K
Before Tommy Lee Jones donned his signature Ray-Ban as the iconic Agent K in Men in Black, he was the maniacal Two-Face in Joel Schumacher’s colorful Batman Forever alongside Val Kilmer and Jim Carrey. Trivia: One of Two Face’s sexy henchwomen, Sugar, was played by Drew Barrymore.
Characters: Ghost Rider, Big Daddy
A self-confessed comic book geek (he named his son Kal-El), Nick Cage got to live his dream twice on the big screen. The first one was as Johnny Blaze/ Ghost Rider along Eva Mendez in 2007's Ghost Rider, and the second one as Big Daddy, the Batman-esque father to Hit Girl in Kick-Ass.
Characters: Silver Surfer, Abe Sapien
Another actor who is literally unrecognizable in his roles, Doug Jones played the herald to Galactus Silver Surfer, alongside Chris Evans in 2007’s Fantastic Four Rise of the Silver Surfer. In 2004, he suited up as the well-mannered and intellectual Abe Sapien in Guillermo del Toro’s Hellboy.
Characters: Robocop, Rick Flagg
Joel Kinnaman seems to have a penchant for playing super cops/soldiers. He played bionic super cop Robocop in the 2014 version of the movie and most recently, Rick Flagg in Suicide Squad.
Characters: Catwoman, Storm
Oscar winner Halle Berry has played both DC and Marvel femme fatales. She played Patience Phillips, the second version of Catwoman, in the 2004 movie version of the same name before moving to Marvel to play Ororo/Storm in X-Men, X2: X-Men United, X-Men: The Last Stand, and X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Characters: Catwoman, The Wasp
Another woman who has crossed over from DC to Marvel, Michelle Pfeiffer remains, arguably, the most iconic actress to ever wear the cat suit. She played Selina Kyle in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns back in 1992 and is set to appear as Dr. Hank Pym’s long lost wife and the original Wasp in this year’s Ant-Man and the Wasp with Paul Rudd, Michael Douglas, and Evangeline Lilly.
(Note: Although this list is by no means exhaustive, we limited the selection to actors who have appeared several times in superhero movies. Some of the actors who have played superheroes on the big screen and on TV were not included.)
Did we miss anyone? Let us know in the Comments.