Comic book movies are all the rage these days. They aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, but there is no denying their commercial success in recent years, especially since the introduction of the MCU in 2008 with Iron Man.
The sheer number of comic book related movies (CBMS) in recent memory is daunting. Numerous franchises have already been rebooted since the current wave of CBMs, with studios not even giving them a decade to cool down.
With so many new CBMS and reboots, and graphic novels being converted to movies, it’s only a matter of time before we start seeing some recurring faces on the big screen. Many actors have dawned the spandex multiple times, even as different characters. Here’s a quick list of actors and actresses who have played multiple comic book characters on film and TV.
- Clark Kent / Superman (Superman Returns, 2006)
- Ray Palmer / The Atom (Arrow, TV)
It seems like every actor from Kick-Ass has at one point been in another CMB. Aaron Taylor-Johnson started his comic book fame in the small cult-classic flick Kick-Ass (and it’s sequel) as a wannabe super hero. A couple years later he would emerge as a bona fide superhero with super-speed in the Marvel hit Avengers: Age of Ultron. With the Kick-Ass franchise over, and his MCU character killed off, his CBM future looks bleak.
- Dave Lizewski / Kick-Ass (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2)
- Pietro Maximoff / Quicksilver (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Interestingly, Evan Peters and fellow Kick-Ass co-star Aaron Taylor-Johnson both played different versions of Quicksilver in separate franchises. Quicksilver was killed off in Age of Ultron, but expect to see Evan Peters reprising his super speedy role again in 2016’s X-Men: Apocalypse.
- Todd / Ass Kicker (Kick-Ass, Kick-Ass 2)
- Peter / Quicksilver (X-Men: Days of Future Past)
Ghost Rider was a failure of a movie, but I feel like Cage got an ounce of redemption in Kick-Ass when he played the cop-framed-as-a-criminal turned crime-fighting-Batman-lookalike. You have to admit, this scene is bad ass.
- Johnny Blaze / Ghost Rider (Ghost Rider, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance)
- Damon Macready / Big Daddy (Kick-Ass, 2010)
Another Punisher cast member, Rebecca Romjin, is perhaps better known by starring as X-Men franchise regular Mystique, the blue, shape shifting, femme fatale.
- Joan (Punisher, 2004)
- Raven Darkholme / Mystique (X-Men, X-Men 2, X-Men: The Last Stand, X-Men: First Class)
This is the first actor on our list to play three comic book roles.
- Frank Castle / Punisher (Punisher: War Zone, 2008)
- Volstagg (Thor, Thor: The Dark World)
- Firefly (G.I. Joe: Retaliation, 2013)
Despite being one of the lesser known, and less acclaimed actors on this list, Jones actually sported two very cool comic book roles. The first was the unstoppable Juggernaut in X-Men 3, where he actually had some decent fight scenes against the likes of Wolverine and the X-Men. Almost a decade later he finally returned to the realm of comic books and starred as another villain opposite Green Arrow on the small screen as criminal overlord Danny Brickwell. Again, Vinnie Jones delivers a level of physicality to his role, which comes from his background as a professional footballer.
- Cain Marko / Juggernaut (X-Men: The Last Stand, 2006)
- Danny Brickwell (Arrow, TV)
You may know Ron Perlman was Hellboy, but you may have forgotten he starred opposite Wesley Snipes in Blade II as Reinhardt.
Even more impressive is how many comic book characters he’s voiced over the years. Perlman has a rough, unmistakable voice that makes him well suited to voice a wide range or characters, especially villains. Other smaller acting and voicing roles and projects include Jax-Ur (Superman, TV), Clayface and Orion (Justice League, TV), Static Shock (TV), Emil Blonsky / Abomination (The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction, Game), Slade Wilson /Deathstroke (Teen Titans, TV), Killer Croc and Bane (The Batman, TV), Sinestro (Green Lantern: The Animated Series, TV). He’s even voiced Batman in a Justice League video game.
- Reinhardt (Blade II, 2002)
- Hellboy (Hellboy, Hellboy II: The Golden Army)
Like Stevenson, he’s the only other actor in this list to play three comic book characters, but they were all very important characters in their respective stories. He’s snagged some great roles, unfortunately under the leadership of some shitty directors. He might also be one of only a handful of actors to ever play the same character twice, under two different continuities.
In my opinion, Reynolds is the first heavy hitter on this list. Cage and Perlman certainly had their time in the sun, but Reynolds has had some memorable roles in the last decade or so, and he’s popular. He’s also had some total flops. Green lantern bombed at the box office, and is the shame of the CBM crowd. I will still always remember Reynolds as Van Wilder, and Monty from Waiting.
Luckily, his cinematic future is bright. Reynolds career will kick into 6th gear when he stars as Wade Wilson / Deadpool in 2016.
- Hannibal King (Blade: Trinity, 2004)
- Wade Wilson (X-Men Origins: Wolverine, 2009)
- Hal Jordan / Green Lantern (Green Lantern, 2011)
- Wade Wilson / Deadpool [different continuity] (Deadpool, 2016)
Now we’re really moving into the big leagues. Evan’s first CMB role as Johnny Storm was good, not great, but put his foot in the door for the comic genre. Thought Fantastic Four was a memorable movie that has since been relaunched, it won’t be the movie Chris Evans is known for decades from now. His role as Captain America however, is already at legendary status alongside Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man.
His role as the Human Torch couldn’t be more different than his current role as Captain America. Johnny Storm was a young, arrogant, loud mouth, womanizer, and Steve Rogers is an old, humble, and reserved, and possible a 95 year old virgin.
- Johnny Storm / Human Torch (Fantastic Four, Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer)
- Steve Rogers / Captain America (Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Rounding out the list is Ben Affleck who has starred as two very important characters from DC and Marvel.
Many claim that paying Daredevil was basically a warm up to play Batman. The two characters actually have a lot in common, both in regards to their character and their origins. While Bruce Wayne dresses like a bat, Daredevil is blind as a bat. Both patrol their cities, almost exclusively at night, and cover their face to protect their secret identities. Both characters are considered to be among the best male martial artists in their respective universes.
Frank Miller played a pivotal role in both of these characters current success. In 1986 Frank Miller injected a new level of blood, grit, and darkness into the Daredevil comic book series, Daredevil: Born Again. Miller took this same story telling recipe and used it to rejuvenate the Batman comic book series, which up until the late 80’s had always been campy and goofy. Frank Miller’s reboots of both characters in the late 80’s is now considered to be the definitive story in each series.
Another interesting factoid, is Affleck will be playing Batman in not just one, but TWO movies in 2016, which might be a first.