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Is it harder to recast a character that is loved, or hated?


Jan 16, 2011
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Just curious what your thoughts are on this. Is it tougher to recast a superhero or supervillain character that has previously been portrayed by another actor if the performance was universally loved, or universally panned.

Take, for example, Heath Ledger's Joker. This is a character that everyone liked. Now, I know the circumstances are different here due to Ledger's untimely death, but, I think there's a chance that even if he was still alive, the inevitable Batman reboot would not want to revisit the character of the Joker again so soon after such an iconic performance. Another good example would be Robert Downey Jr.'s beloved Iron Man. Once he decides to hang it up, would another actor want to go near that role?

Now look at the reverse. We've seen versions of Green Lantern, Daredevil and The Punisher on the big screen (or maybe the small screen) that rubbed some people the wrong way. Although it might seem like a no-brainer to simply recast the roles, I think that sometimes if a performance leaves a bad taste in your mouth, it's like it taints the character and makes you not want to see them again.

What are you thoughts?
Its harder to recast a character that is loved.
It's harder to recast a character or introduce a new version of a character when the previous performance was praised all around, but with a character/performance that wasn't so well-regarded, the hard part is more relaunching the series than introducing a new take on the main character. For example, when it comes time to do another Green Lantern movie, whether it's about Hal Jordan or not, the hard part (other than making the movie, of course) will be getting audiences onboard to give it another try, not accepting another GL after Ryan Reynolds.
If anything, a "hated" portrayal of a character gives audiences more reason to root for a reboot that "does it right" this time. I think that GL, Ghost Rider, and the Fantastic Four, in particular, have nowhere to go but up when it comes to (theoretical) recasting.

As far as recasting beloved characters: there's always a line between the popularity of the character and the popularity of the actor who's portraying that character. Hulk, Spidey and Batman are examples I point to where the role is bigger than any one actor's portrayal, so people are still okay with Ruffalo>Norton>Bana, or Garfield>Maguire, or Bale>Clooney>Kilmer>Keaton.

As for Joker, people said the same thing about Nicholson, and felt that Ledger was blaspheming his (un)holy name. As great as Ledger was, I think Joker is, again, one of those iconic characters that is far larger than the actor who portrays him. We'll see a new Joker again. Someday. :joker:
Loved. With a hated character, there's nowhere to go but up.
Yes, I suppose all of you are right about this. I guess the thing with a hated performance though is that I almost feel like it sours the public opinion of the character. I've met people who only had a passing knowledge of Green Lantern and hated the movie, so they have a "F*** that" approach if you mention the idea of a sequel to them. I suppose some of them could have a change of heart if they were to cast a universally loved actor in it (MICHAEL FASSBENDER FOR EVERY COMIC BOOK CHARACTER EVER CREATED!) but I still think most of them wouldn't bother seeing it.
I'm gonna say a character that's loved.

Someday Hugh Jackman will hang it up as Wolverine, RDJ won't be Iron Man anymore, Chris Hemsworth won't be the God of Thunder, Christian Bale is done as Batman.

I'm pretty sure the day will come when the X-Men are completely rebooted and fresh new actors will come into the roles and I'll be exactly how my dad was with Michael Keaton as Batman.

To this day he says he prefers Keaton to any other Batman we've had. I know in my mind, I'll have a hard time seeing anyone else as Wolverine and Iron Man for a LONG time
Yeah, I think it is definitely harder to recast a beloved character.
Loved. With a hated character, there's nowhere to go but up.
Yep, absolutely. Case in point BF's 'Two-Face' and B&R's 'Bane'.

There's tons more pressure trying to live up to something people love already. If it was good before, and you stick out for the wrong reasons, it's a bad look you don't want.
it depends on how many versions of the character we've had. look at all the james bonds, and sherlock holmes we've had. that would seem like a harder thing to recast.
for me wolverine is gonna be hard to recast hugh imo is an oscar caliber actor in same league as a bale or a fassbender

plus he can still play the character for years to come he has already been wolverine for 12 years lol
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Good written,directed movies makes these characters iconic. In future if they can make better movies than these two Iron man and movies that Wolverine in it.. people will prefer new actors over RDJ or Jackman. (I assume good casting as well)

Before Ledger everybody was saying Nicholson = Joker... Now people say Ledger = Joker. In future, if somebody makes a greater movie with a great talent to portray Joker, people will say X=Joker.

So it's a lot easier to replace a hated character. I mean, isn't so easy for Henry Cavill to replace Brandon Ruth? He is probably already gets more love because of Nolan producing new Superman.
I think some are just too iconic to be portrayed by another actor, like Rocky with Stallone, Mcclane with Willis and the Terminator with Arnold.

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