Hollywood is now well into the business of making superhero movies, and, with so many film adaptations of properties once confined to the pages of a comic, it’s amazing that some fully established actors and actresses haven’t seen a single sniff of superheroics on their CV.
But that can all change. Here are 20 amazing actors who have never appeared in a comic-book movie, and who we’d like to see them play.
20. Sean Penn
The Amazing Actor: Two-time Oscar winner and one-time Jeff Spicoli, you would think that the serious actor wouldn’t be interested in the CGI-heavy, blockbuster fare of superhero films. But then a CV that boasts The Secret Life Of Walter Mitty, Gangster Squad and episodes of Friends shows that he’s not always about intense awards-grabbing roles.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: The Penguin. Like his Mickey Cohen from Gangster Squad, Penn fits into the world of comic-books best as a larger-than-life, scenery-chewing villain. And, with a new Affleck-shaped Batman on the horizon, we’re going to have to start seeing some new enemies for him to thwart. And who doesn’t want to see Penn take on the monocled, top-hatted gentleman of crime?
19. Chiwetel Ejiofor
The Amazing Actor: One of the frontunners of the 2014 Best Actor Oscar race, star of 12 Years A Slave and someone not too averse to the sci-fi/fantasy genre, having played the main antagonist in Joss Whedon’s Serenity.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: The Black Panther. It’s only a matter of time before this key member of The Avengers and ruler of the African nation of Wakanda appears in the Marvel Universe, and given Ejiofor’s past connection with Whedon, he could be a shoo-in for the role.
18. Rachel McAdams
The Amazing Actor: Star of The Notebook, Sherlock Holmes, Midnight In Paris and a whole host of rom-coms, thrillers and dramas. She’s versatile, attractive and a recognisable name, so the only reason she hasn’t been tapped up for a comic-book movie in the past must simply be down to there not being enough female roles to go around.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Spider-Woman. Not just a cash-in variant on your friendly neighbourhood wallcrawler, Spider-Woman (a.k.a. Jessica Drewe) has her own rich back story, involving an experimental serum and a long stint of being brainwashed by HYDRA, which means that she could make a perfect introduction in any future Captain America movie. With her acting chops, McAdams could easily pull off the action skills required for the role, as well as the drama required for a character who realises she has been fighting for the wrong side.
17. Matthew McConaughey
The Amazing Actor: Now that he has climbed out of the rom-com rut, the actor is enjoying a lengthy ‘McConnaissance’, with critically acclaimed parts in the likes of Dallas Buyers Club, Mud, The Wolf Of The Wall Street and Killer Joe. In his transition from romantic leading man to award-winning actor, superhero roles haven’t really been on his radar.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Preacher. Such a complex character needs a complex actor and McConaughey’s recent portrayal of moral struggles seen in TV’s True Detective seem like a good match for Jesse Custer’s inner conflict between good and evil. Plus, Preacher is a specifically Southern story and Custer himself is a Texan – surely this is a perfect match?
16. Joaquin Phoenix
The Amazing Actor: With three Oscar nominations and one fake failed career as a rapper to his name, Joaquin Phoenix has had a hugely varied career but has mostly steered clear of mainstream blockbuster movies in favour of having a career with more integrity.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: The Vulture. He may not be the most exciting of Spidey’s arch-nemeses – with his main traits being that he can fly and is old – but as a member of the Sinister Six, and with that forthcoming movie in the works, Phoenix’s credibility as an actor can really make the character stand out.
15. Sandra Bullock
The Amazing Actor: She has been straddling the line between serious drama and lightweight comedy of late, but Sandra Bullock hasn’t actually made a mainstream action film in nearly 20 years let alone a comic-book movie. As an A-lister for two decades, there just haven’t been enough starring superheroine roles for an actress of her status to take on.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Zatanna. This DC Comics character may not seem deserving of Sandra Bullock’s celebrity but she has such an interesting back story of stage magic and real magic that she deserves her own movie and needs a star of Bullock’s reputation to bring it to the big screen.
14. Jake Gyllenhaal
The Amazing Actor: Having once been considered for both Spider-Man and Batman and different stages of his career, Gyllenhaal is the credible actor with big movies to his name but, sadly, it seems that the right costume has never quite fitted him.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Green Lantern. Let’s be honest, the Ryan Reynolds standalone movie wasn’t received particularly favourably among fans, but there is a Justice League film in the offing, which means that we need a new Green Lantern (Hal Jordan or not) eventually. Gyllenhaal’s own blend of tall, dark and fun would certainly make for a good fit.
13. Benedict Cumberbatch
The Amazing Actor: One of the Internet’s favourite actors du jour, the Sherlock star has only recently made the leap to big blockbuster movies. Surely a comic-book film is only a matter of time?
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Dream. With those cheekbones and the ability to brood with the best of them, Cumberbatch is the perfect fit for Neil Gaiman’s Sandman (currently being developed by Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Even Gaiman himself thinks so, saying in an interview: “I would happily watch Tom Hiddleston or Benedict Cumberbatch as the Dream Lord in the movie”
12. Helena Bonham Carter
The Amazing Actor: Between roles in serious dramas and the kind of kooky characters so often associated with her husband Tim Burton’s work, Helena Bonham Carter can do just about anything. But while she worked literal magic with fantasy villains like Harry Potter Bellatrix Lestrange, it seems the right comic-book part just hasn’t come along for her.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Poison Ivy. It’s time to dispel the memory of Uma Thurman’s puntastic version of the character and give her a proper cinematic outing. Bonham Carter could play Ivy with her eyes closed, and her often wild, hedge-like hair could be a good fit for the role too.
11. Robin Williams
The Amazing Actor: Motormouth comedian turned comedy actor turned serious, well-respected actor. Williams has been linked to comic-book roles in the past but we guess it has never felt right for him, particularly in his obvious career move away from wacky characters.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Riddler. He was first choice for the role in Joel Schumacher’s Batman Forever but (perhaps rightly) turned it down. Then, when Chris Nolan brought the Dark Knight back, Williams publicly stated that he wanted to play the role. Both times, he seemed perfect for the character.
10. Jared Leto
The Amazing Actor: Half actor, half rock star, Jared Leto has only recently come back on the movie scene thanks to his astonishing supporting turn in Dallas Buyers Club. Clearly he picks his roles very carefully...
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Gambit. One of the coolest superheroes around and one in desperate need of a reboot following Taylor Kitsch’s underwhelming portrayal in X-Men Origins: Wolverine. We know Channing Tatum is currently talking up the role but, for our money, Leto has the cool factor, he has the cheekbones and we really want to see him kick some ass on screen.
9. David Tennant
The Amazing Actor: The Tenth Doctor and sometime actor in other films and TV shows. His lack of superhero-related roles is a by-product of him as yet being unable to break it into Hollywood films, but he has the look and the skills to be brilliant in a comic-book environment.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Brainiac. With the Man Of Steel back up and running again, it’s surely only a matter of time before we move past obvious nemesis Lex Luthor and explore other Superman baddies. With plenty of make-up and CGI-additions, Tennant could make for a formidable evil genius.
8. Matt Damon
The Amazing Actor: With comedies, thrillers and action films all under his belt, it’s amazing that Maaaatt Daaaaamon has never ventured into comic-book territory. Especially considering his working history with previous comic fans like Kevin Smith and best pal Ben Affleck.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Aquaman. Frankly, we need a likeable, reliable actor to brush away the ‘Aquaman is rubbish’ myth. And, with the Justice League movie coming up, who doesn’t want to see Damon working with Affleck again, especially as budding superheroes?
7. Charlize Theron
The Amazing Actor: Oscar-winning star of Monster and, otherwise, lead actress in many big explosive, CGI-heavy popcorn movies. And despite starring in films like Aeon Flux and Hancock, has never actually appeared in a film based on a pre-existing comic-book property.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Supergirl. With the success of Man Of Steel and the rise of the female superhero movie finally about to erupt, this must be a no-brainer, and Theron is a dead ringer for Kara Zor-El.
6. Ryan Gosling
The Amazing Actor: Baby Goose actor who has perfected the strong silent type and said “hey” to many a girl. His current status as the sexiest and internet meme-iest man in the world has left him too high in demand for such trifling matter as comic-book heroes.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Flash. Gosling has the Barry Allen looks and with a new Justice League movie round the corner, the studio must be on the look out for an actor to fill those speedy shoes.
5. Colin Firth
The Amazing Actor: Mr Darcy and former King George VI (for which he won an Oscar), who has more recently chosen to appear in more excellently-received, awards-worthy films than light-hearted comic-book fare. The fool.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Doctor Strange. Marvel have all but confirmed that a Doctor Strange movie is coming soon and all eyes are on who will be cast in the lead role. As a lesser known hero than the Iron Mans and Captain Americas of cinema, a more famous star in the lead role would help to attract a crowd to the box office, and Firth has the look and acting chops to pull it off.
4. Emily Blunt
The Amazing Actor: Star of The Young Victoria, The Adjustment Bureau and Looper, Blunt has appeared in all manner of dramatic, funny and fantastical films, but comic-book roles just seem to have passed her by.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Ms. Marvel. Another leading superheroine begging for a cinematic outing, this super-powered Carol Danvers goes through several incarnations throughout her comic-book history and needs a talented actress like Blunt to sell those transitions.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio
The Amazing Actor: One of the greatest actors working today and Martin Scorsese’s current muse, DiCaprio has actually had plenty of opportunity to star in a superhero movie, having been in talks previously to play both Spider-Man and Robin, as well as being linked to other roles, but later said about both roles that “I didn't feel ready to put on that suit yet”.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Nightwing. Now that Leo is too big to play second fiddle to a leading caped crusader, let him fulfil his Dick Grayson destiny and star in a solo outing for the Boy Wonder.
2. Mila Kunis
The Amazing Actor: Comedy star first and foremost who has switched up to bigger and more critically appraised films while still always being the voice of Meg Griffin. With her career on the continual rise, a comic-book movie offer has to be just round the corner.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Harley Quinn. With Kunis’ early maniacal turn in American Psycho II and more recent crazed performance in Oz The Great And Powerful, we think the diminutive star would make for a perfectly psychotic accomplice to the Joker.
1. Clint Eastwood
The Amazing Actor: The legendary cowboy, wagon painter, enforcer and so much more. Given his tight-lipped, hard man status, he may seem too tough for many superhero roles and now, sadly, too old for the others.
Ideal Comic-Book Character: Batman. As in the aged Batman from Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns. Yes, now that Affleck has taken on the cowl and as much distance as possible needs to be put between Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and any future reboot of the character, we’re hoping that we’ll see an older, more mature Batman in Affleck over the coming years and, eventually, before we go back to that same old origin story again, we’ll see the amazing tale of an old Dark Knight coming out of retirement one last time...
What do you think of our selection? Can you think of anyone else who hasn't yet been in a comic-book move that would fare better in some of these roles?