The Best (And Worst) Superhero Re-Casting In Hollywood History

According to The Hollywood Reporter, “The Hangover” and “Limitless” star Bradley Cooper may star in a remake of the 1994 movie “The Crow.” The pretty boy would replace Brandon Lee, son of Bruce Lee, who was mistakenly shot and killed while shooting the original film. With the continued success of superhero-based films, it seems a perfect time for another adaptation of the dark comic-book classic.

The question is whether Cooper can fill the staggering shoes that Lee left behind. Re-casting a beloved character can be tricky. Sometimes it works, like Heath Ledger as The Joker, and sometimes it goes horribly wrong, like Vincent Perez starring in “The Crow: City of Angels.” The higher the previous actor sets the bar, the harder it is for the next actor to make the role his own. That is why Robert Pattinson shouldn’t have any problems if he decides to replace Ben Affleck in the “Daredevil” sequel.

If Cooper decides to take the role, he needs to diligently study the following films for what to do and what not to do when taking over a superhero.

­The Best

­Heath Ledger replacing Jack Nicholson as The Joker

This was a tall order for Ledger, since Nicholson did such a memorable job in 1989’s “Batman.” Many worried the young actor may be too pretty to play such a villain. However, Ledger smartly followed the darker tone director Christopher Nolan set and made The Joker more interesting and scarier than ever before.

Christian Bale replacing George Clooney as Batman

The ’90s Batman series spiraled downward into silliness with every film. By the time Clooney got the role, Batman’s costume had nipples. It wouldn’t take much for Bale to outdo Mr. ER. But Bale went beyond what previous actors had and gave Bruce Wayne more depth, and a more gravely voice, than we’d ever seen.

Edward Norton replacing Eric Bana as Bruce Banner

Some people forget Eric Bana was the star of 2003’s “Hulk.” And it’s not surprising. His performance wasn’t bad, just forgettable. In “The Incredible Hulk,” Norton gave Banner humor along with being tortured by his affliction. Most reviewers agreed that the actor outshined the CGI monster. That’s great for Norton but bad for the movie.

Brandon Routh replacing Christopher Reeves as Superman

There’s no consensus as to whether Routh’s performance was good or bad. Roger Ebert said “Routh lacks charisma as Superman.” What you have to remember, though, is how iconic a role the young actor was taking from such an iconic actor. Calling Routh a good re-casting is not a slight to Reeves, just an acknowledgment that the young stud did as well as anyone following in Reeves footsteps could have hoped.

The Worst

Halle Berry replacing Michelle Pfeiffer as Catwoman

There really isn’t much to write here. Pfeiffer isn’t as memorable as Danny DeVito’s Penguin in “Batman Returns,” but she’s sexy as hell and plays the part. Berry had a chance to take the villain up a notch in 2004’s “Catwoman” and instead won the Razzie for Worst Actress.

George Clooney replacing Val Kilmer who replaced Michael Keaton as Batman

As I’ve already said, the ’90s Batman movies got worse with every try. Keaton didn’t really embody the role, but was an adequate Bruce Wayne. “Batman Forever” and “Batman & Robin” are horrible movies, and Clooney and Kilmer didn’t help the cause.

Thomas Jane replacing Dolph Lundgren as The Punisher

Talk about setting the bar low. Lundgren can barely speak English, let alone portray one of Marvel Comic’s most complex superheroes. All Thomas Jane had to do was show up and he’d do a better job than Ivan Drago did in the 1989 movie. Well, he may have done a slightly better job, but it still sucked. Punisher fans are like Cubs fans when it comes to movie remakes–they never win.

Seth Rogen replacing Van Williams as The Green Hornet

No one under 85 years old even remembers Van Williams as The Green Hornet in the original TV series. That gave Rogen plenty of creative license with the character. Unfortunately, he took too much and played it like all of his other slacker roles. To pull off a slacker superhero, the script would have to be way better than the one we saw in Michel Gondry’s version of “The Green Hornet.”