There are few brands with as long a history with blockbuster filmmaking as DC Comics. DC’s superhero characters have been icons in the entertainment industry for the better part of a century now. Through those years, there have been dozens of different film and television adaptations of these larger-than-life characters, ranging from Batman to Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Catwoman and more. For every DC movie that has been made, there have been several others that never came together.
Many actors’ careers have been given significant boosts by their inclusion in a DC film project. Whether it be Michael Keaton as Batman, Jason Momoa as Aquaman or Christopher Reeve as Superman, the actors that have played DC’s heroes and villains over the years have often become iconic in the roles. However, many of the casting decisions in DC’s biggest films were almost significantly different from what actually came to fruition.
Roles like Batman, Lex Luthor, Wonder Woman, and more were almost given to other actors that would have had notably dissimilar takes on the characters. Here are 11 instances where a major DC role almost went to a different actor:
11 Nicholas Hoult as Batman – The Batman (2022)
The development cycle of 2022’s The Batman, directed by Matt Reeves and starring Robert Pattinson, was a very long one. Throughout that process, there were many different ideas of what the movie would eventually be. When it came to casting, there were several other actors that almost got the part instead of Pattinson. One actor that has been openly talking about their audition for Batman lately is Nicholas Hoult. Known most for his roles as Beast in the X-Men prequel films, the war boy Nux in Mad Max: Fury Road and, most recently, Dracula’s titular depressed assistant in Renfield, Hoult is no stranger to blockbuster cinema.
The actor was in serious consideration to play the caped crusader in The Batman before the part ultimately went to Pattinson. Hoult holds no grudges about losing the part, though, as he told GQ España that “I don’t think I would have done as good a job as [Pattinson] ultimately. I don’t think I could have fit as well into the world that Matt created as Rob did.”
10 Tom Hardy as Rick Flag – Suicide Squad (2016)
Tom Hardy was more than close to playing the character of Rick Flag in 2016’s Suicide Squad. Hardy had actually signed on to play the role and had been officially announced as part of the cast alongside Will Smith, Margot Robbie, and Jared Leto. Everything was going well for Hardy in the role during development, but he was eventually forced to drop out of the role due to scheduling conflicts.
He was deep in the process of filming Alejandro González Iñárritu’s 2015 film The Revenant, which ended up taking a lot longer than was initially expected. Because of this, he was unable to film Suicide Squad and had to be replaced. Joel Kinnaman ended up stepping in to play Flag, while Hardy went on to receive an Oscar nomination for his part in The Revenant.
9 Amanda Seyfried as Lois Lane – Man of Steel (2013)
Back in the early days of the DCEU, when Zack Snyder was still in early development on Man of Steel, Amanda Seyfried came close to playing the role of Lois Lane. At the time, Seyfried had also narrowly missed playing a lead role in Snyder’s previous film Sucker Punch, but the director was still very interested in working with her.
Seyfried had auditioned for the part of Lane in Man of Steel, and she reportedly had made a great impression on Snyder. However, for one reason or another, she ultimately missed out on the role. Amy Adams ended up portraying Lane in Man of Steel, as well as several other DC films that followed in the years after.
8 Justin Timberlake as Green Lantern – Green Lantern (2011)
2011’s Green Lantern was a disaster, there’s no doubt about that, but it was almost a very different kind of train wreck. Before the lead role was given to Ryan Reynolds, who was well-cast despite the film’s various other issues, reports indicated that pop star Justin Timberlake was a front-runner for the part. In the late 2000s and early 2010s, the former NSYNC star attempted to make the jump from music to acting, as he appeared in numerous films like The Social Network, Friends with Benefits, and In Time.
Casting Timberlake as Hal Jordan in Green Lantern would have been a very natural decision at the time, but thankfully that never actually came to fruition. Reynolds is one of the few redeeming factors of that film, and a Timberlake take on Green Lantern would likely have not aged well.
7 Robin Williams as The Riddler – Batman Forever (1995)
From one iconic green DC character to another, the role of the Batman villain the Riddler was famously played by Jim Carrey in Batman Forever, but that almost wasn’t the case. One of Carrey’s main comedic competitors in Hollywood at the time, Robin Williams, was actually the first choice to play the role.
The film’s screenwriter, Lee Batchler, told The Hollywood Reporter that Williams had always been the intended actor for the role. He said, “It was going to be Robin Williams. With the Riddler, we wrote it with Robin’s voice. He read our script and loved it, they just didn’t make the deal. So when it came to Jim Carrey, he very much did our script. It was just a little less Robin Williams.”
6 Olga Kurylenko as Wonder Woman – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justive (2016)
When the DCEU began to take shape in the early 2010s, when it was thought that it would be one of the few major competitors to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there were a lot of major roles to cast. For 2016’s Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice, specifically, actors needed to be found for most of the major Justice League characters.
One of the biggest was the role of Wonder Woman, which ultimately went to Gal Gadot. Before Gadot was cast, though, Olga Kurylenko was considered a front-runner. Though she missed out on the role, Kurylenko did eventually enter the superhero arena. She joined the MCU in 2020’s Black Widow, in which she played the villain Taskmaster, and she is set to return in the Thunderbolts movie in 2024.
5 Adam Driver as Lex Luthor – Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice (2016)
Another major character that needed to be cast for Batman v. Superman was the iconic Superman villain Lex Luthor. There were a lot of actors in the running for the part before Jesse Eisenberg was eventually (and controversially) cast in the role. One of the most famous actors that almost got the part was none other than Adam Driver.
The actor, who was gearing up for his big breakout role as Kylo Ren in Star Wars, would have been a very different choice for the part. Driver and Eisenberg both have very distinct presences as performers, and Driver’s take on Luthor would have brought a significantly different energy to Batman v. Superman. Driver has still had a great career without the role of Luthor, and now he is reportedly one of the chief contenders for the role of Reed Richards in Marvel’s new Fantastic Four film.
4 Gugu Mbatha-Raw as Black Canary – Birds of Prey (2020)
2020’s Birds of Prey is one of the most underrated DC movies from recent years, and part of the reason why the movie works so well is because of its outstanding cast. One of the major standouts from the film was Jurnee Smollett, who played the character Black Canary.
However, Smollett almost lost out on the role to another up-and-coming actor, Gugu Mbatha-Raw. Mbatha-Raw had recently been seen in films such as The Cloverfield Paradox and Ava Duvernay’s A Wrinkle in Time. Although she missed out on the role of Black Canary, Mbatha-Raw has also joined the MCU in the years since, as she plays Ravonna Renslayer in the Loki series on Disney+.
3 Dave Bautista as Peacemaker – The Suicide Squad (2021)
After James Gunn’s temporary firing from the director’s chair on Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, DC was quick to sweep up the director and offer him essentially anything he wanted. The project Gunn ended up producing was 2021’s The Suicide Squad, which featured the breakout character Peacemaker, played by John Cena.
However, Cena was not who Gunn had in mind to play the character when he initially wrote the script. Reportedly, Gunn had imagined his Guardians of the Galaxy collaborator Dave Bautista in the role. Bautista was very interested in the role, but he ultimately turned down the part after he was offered the lead role in Snyder’s Army of the Dead.
2 Ryan Gosling as The Joker – Suicide Squad (2016)
Going back to 2016’s Suicide Squad, Jared Leto’s Joker was one of the most talked-about aspects of that film, as fans were intensely divided over the actor’s take on the crown prince of crime. However, Leto was not the first choice to play the role. As crazy as it may sound, Ryan Gosling was actually one of the top picks to play the Joker opposite Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn. The actor had reportedly met to discuss the role on several occasions, but he ultimately walked away from the part because he did not want to sign a multi-picture agreement.
This makes sense considering, looking at Gosling’s career, he has never played the same character more than once. Blade Runner 2049 is the only sequel he has made, and he was not involved in the production of the first Blade Runner. Although he walked away from Suicide Squad, he can still be seen starring alongside Robbie in Greta Gerwig’s Barbie later this year.
1 James Caan as Superman – Superman (1978)
Going back to one of DC’s very first superhero films, 1978’s Superman was an iconic film in the blockbuster movie landscape of the 20th century. Christopher Reeve’s take on Superman has become the definitive version of the character on screen. Reeve almost never had the chance to put his stamp on the character, though, as the Superman movie was initially envisioned very differently from what eventually was seen on screens. In Mario Puzo’s early drafts of the script, Superman was a much more cartoony movie.
The Godfather’s James Caan was considered the favorite to play the Man of Steel himself. Caan talked openly about the film on several occasions over the years, and he stated that both Puzo and Marlon Brando were very hopeful that he would take the role. Ultimately, Caan walked away from the part, as he wanted to take his career in a different direction.
This story originally appeared on Movieweb