Superhero films are sure bet money-makers for studios these days. They offer mindless action, simple plots, and awesome visual effects. Seems like just about every comic book character is being brought to life in a live action adaptation by big name actors, so we thought it’d be fun to take a look back and see which actors have taken on Superhuman qualities over the years.
Release your inner child and check out these 15 actors who have suited up to become Superheroes in the last 20 years.
The Superhero: Blade
The Movie: Blade trilogy (1998-2004)
The once popular ’90s actor took on Blade, the tortured half vampire-half human vampire hunter. Wesley Snipes’ Blade was– as many have described the actor himself–a man of very few words. Snipes dominates with attitude and superior martial arts skill, making the action all the more exciting.
The Superhero: The Hulk
The Movie: The Incredible Hulk (2008)
Ed Norton starred as the alter ego Bruce Banner to the mean green smashing machine in the 2008 reboot of the 2003 film The Hulk.
The Superhero: Spider-Man
The Movie: Spider-Man Series (2002-2007)
Toby Maguire was somewhat an odd choice for the part of Spider-Man in the 2002 film adaptation of the popular Marvel comic book series, but the public didn’t seem to mind, flocking to see the film which became a commercial success and spawned two sequels.
The Superhero: Catwoman
The Movie: Catwoman (2004)
Halle Berry donned a revealing cat suit and ears for her turn as Catwoman in the 2004 film. Though she was as hot as ever, Berry’s performance is memorable for how bad it was. The film was a cheesy mess that earned an Oscar winning leading woman a Razzie Award for Worst Actress.
The Superhero: Green Lantern
The Movie: Green Lantern (2011)
The always funny Ryan Reynolds took on the power of the Green Lantern in this modern film adaptation of the DC comic. Though his efforts were earnest–bringing Hal Jordan to life in his classic Ryan Reynolds wit– the film received generally poor reviews.
The Superhero: Captain America
The Movie: Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Chris Evans bulked up to fulfill his role as Steve Rogers aka Captain America–a role he initially had turned down. Unlike the DC flick Green Lantern, which opened just weeks earlier to negative reviews, Captain America: The First Avenger received generally positive reviews for its solid storytelling and its successful creation of nostalgia with authentic ’40s set pieces and costumes.
Michael Jai White
The Superhero: Spawn
The Movie: Spawn (1997)
Handsome actor and former teacher best known today for his work in the Why Did I Get Married films, Michael Jai White was once best known for playing Spawn, a reluctant demonic leader of hell’s army who shirks his evil side to fight for good in the 1997 film of the same title. White–who holds black belts in seven different martial arts disciplines–got to exercise his skill in this mostly negatively reviewed, though commercially successful film.
The Superhero: Thor
The Movie: Thor (2011)
The previously little known Australian actor was a perfect match for the blonde haired, blue eyed, cocky God of Thunder, and a massive selling point to all the ladies who went to see the film for his strapping physique. Best known as Liam Hemsworth’s big brother prior to the film’s release, Chris is now a bonafide star who has surpassed his little brother.
Robert Downey Jr.
The Superhero: Iron Man
The Movie: Iron Man (2008)
Already a well known actor, the once troubled Robert Downey Jr. made his career in a suit of armor. Downey’s Tony Stark, a showboat billionaire weapons developer whose life is saved by the Iron Man suit, is richly entertaining with a mixture of charming arrogance and quick-witted banter. Not to mention the actor– in his 40’s– is looking better than ever.
The Superhero: Invisible Woman
The Movie: Fantastic Four (2005)
Jessica Alba suited up to become one of the very few female superheroes to appear in a live action film: Susan Storm aka Invisible Woman in Fantastic Four. Her performance was moderate in an equally forgettable film.
The Superhero: Hancock
The Movie: Hancock (2008)
Will Smith decided to go a different route than his acting colleagues on this list, and portrayed an original film superhero instead of a comic based one. John Hancock is an angry, alcoholic, anti-hero who undergoes a transformation to become a more responsible superhero.
The Superhero: Batman
The Movie: Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, The Dark Knight Rises (2005-2012)
Bale is our latest caped crusader, taking up the mantle from an ill-cast George Clooney (circa 1998). Though not the most memorable Batman/Bruce Wayne, Bale’s much darker and more serious portrayal certainly adds something different to the character.
The Superhero: Wolverine
The Movie: X-Men franchise
Hugh Jackman was a worthy Wolverine and leading man in the X-Men franchise, lending to the films a certain charm and rugged s e x appeal. In his breakout role, Jackman was by far one of the most interesting performances in the first X-Men film, with Patrick Stewart (Professor X) and Ian McKellen (Magneto) also providing their best.
The Superhero: Judge Dredd
The Movie: Judge Dredd (1995)
Stallone took on Judge Dredd in the 1995 film adaptation of the British comic 2000 AD. The story, which took place in a dystopian future where Dredd –the most famous Judge– is convicted for a crime he didn’t commit, had loads of potential but the execution did not live up. The film was a commercial and critical failure.
The Superhero: The Punisher
The Movie: The Punisher (2004)
Thomas Jane took a stab at superhero films as The Punisher in 2004. While the film was met with mainly negative reviews, it offered a refreshingly dark and gritty interpretation in contrast to most comic book adaptations. The film is reminiscent of throwback revenge action flicks of the ’70s.