As I was sitting around watching the TV series The Magicians I was thinking about how well that some of the characters translated from the book series to the television series which isn’t an easy thing to do. The more I thought about it, it’s actually an incredibly difficult thing to do.
When making an adaptation of a book you get a little more leeway than when you’re adapting a comic book. In books sometimes the descriptions are vague or even in the cases where there’s ample amount of detail, there is still a good bit left up to the imagination of the reader. However when it comes to comics you’re literally given a picture of what each and every character looks like. As time has progressed the art has changed to become even more detailed which makes the transition even more difficult.
Not only that but when you’ve got built in fans to franchise they tend to be fickle and the wrong casting choice can set a studio back before the film has even debuted. Most recently is the backlash to the casting of Ben Affleck as the newest Batman. Truth be told, he has actually become a pretty good actor in recent years but that doesn’t mean he’s the right guy to wear the cowl.
Other notable castings for me that were particularly terrible were Nicholas Cage as Ghost Rider and George Clooney as Batman. Granted it wasn’t the bad castings that ruined these movies but they certainly didn’t help.
Sometimes what appears to be a bad casting turns out to be a blessing in disguise. Everyone was up in arms about Heath Ledger as the Joker at first. Then we heard his laugh and we were won over.
I was actually discussing this very topic with my friend Karen and we started trying to assemble our lists of the best casting choices of comic book characters but at least in my case, I did find that I was slightly limited. It’s hard to judge an adaptation if you haven’t read the source materials. I made my list with what I knew and now you’re going to get my top five.
Originally I was going to do any adaptation at all but since this is a website about comics I decided to reign it in a bit. I would like to say that the Harry Potter series as a whole is probably the best cast adaptation as a whole. Alan Rickman as Severus Snape is probably the best casting choice of all time in my opinion.
Anyways, the list. You can disagree if you like but you’d better get your own column then.
Honorable mentions: Jack Nicholson as The Joker and Jim Carrey as The Riddler.
5. Hellboy- Ron Perlman
I hadn’t actually read Hellboy until very recently but the more I read, the more I think Ron Perlman was the perfect choice. He has the proper build for HB but I think if anything, it’s the voice that makes it perfect. His low tones seems to match the inflections that Hellboy seems to have in the comics.
4. Patrick Stewart- Professor Xavier
True story: when I was a kid and only knew of the X-Men cartoon (the one in the 90’s because I’m old) I actually thought Professor X was based on Patrick Stewart. It was probably the baldness and the fact that I was like eight. However, even so I think it was perfect. I remember when the X-Men movie was first announced and everyone was trying to guess who would play which character. When Stewart was announced everyone was just like “Well… yeah.”
3. Deadpool- Ryan Reynolds
I mean, can you even argue this? Ryan Reynolds literally became Deadpool leading up to the movie. He has the right level of quirky humor that was just perfect as well as the ability to put that goofy yet somehow serious tone in his voice. If you don’t agree with this then you’re wrong.
2. Heath Ledger- The Joker
Nicholson’s Joker was more the standard Joker that everyone thought of in that era, probably thanks to the Adam West Batman series but Ledger’s rendition really brought out the brutality and insanity of the Joker. I’ve actually had nightmares about Ledger’s Joker. Having based his performance on one of the most notorious Joker stories in The Killing Joke he couldn’t have nailed it more, literally driving himself mad for the role.
1. Robert Downey Jr.- Tony Stark
This is kind of a no-brainer. If you don’t know the history of Robert Downey Jr., you’re probably thinking I mean the goatee look and the unbearable sense of smugness. Go read Wikipedia and then come back after you’ve learned that Downey’s and Stark’s lives ran a startlingly similar parallel. The highs, the lows and then the rebound back to glory. No one could play Stark better than the man who literally lived his life.