A.K.A. Actors1 of 13Doctor Strange is finally out in theaters, with its secrets on full display – including Benedict Cumberbatch’s second role in the film performing motion capture for its villain, Dormammu.
But Cumberbatch is hardly the first actor to double up on superhero roles however. There’s a longstanding tradition of actors taking multiple superhero roles. And while the list that follows isn’t necessarily comprehensive, these are the most prominent examples of actors with what we’re dubbing “Multiple Superhero Disorder.”
Honorable mention goes to Stan Lee, who has appeared in more superhero films than anyone.
Doug Jones - Abe Sapien and Silver Surfer2 of 13Veteran character actor Doug Jones is something of a unique entry on this list, since many of his film appearances have featured his body - but not always his voice, since Jones often performs in full body make-up and prosthetics.
The transformative Jones is probably best known as Hellboy's Abe Sapien, the aquatic "Blue" to Hellboy's fiery "Red" in Guillermo del Toro's films. Though Jones provided a full performance - body and voice - in Hellboy: The Golden Army, in the first film, his voice was dubbed over by David Hyde Pierce, who valued Jones's performance so much he declined to be listed in the credits.
Jones's other big comic book role was as the titular sentinel of the spaceways in the much maligned Fantastic Four 2: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Interestingly, his voice was once again dubbed over, this time by Lawrence Fishburne - who also later portrayed Perry White in Man of Steel.
If that wasn't enough, Jones has played numerous background roles in comic book superhero films, from being a clown in Batman Returns to playing a ripper in Tank Girl!
Nicolas Cage - Ghost Rider and Big Daddy3 of 13If you ask Nicolas Cage, he was destined to play a superhero. Born Nicolas Coppola, Cage took his surname from Marvel's Luke Cage. Cage's first brush with superhero stardom came in the '90's, when he came within a hair's breadth of playing Superman.
He didn't finally make his big screen superhero debut until many years later, playing Johnny Blaze in a pair of Ghost Rider films - both of which received mixed reviews at best, despite Cage's signature gonzo performance style.
In between Ghost Rider and Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, Cage also took to the screen as the militaristic vigilante Big Daddy in Kick-Ass, a role that saw him working closely with another actor on this list.
Brandon Routh - Superman and Atom4 of 13According to F. Scott Fitzgerald, there are no second acts in American lives - but Fitzgerald never met Brandon Routh, who has seen something of a renaissance in his genre career.
Routh's biggest role to date may also have been his most disastrous. In his first major movie appearance, Routh took over for the legendary Christopher Reeve as Clark Kent in Superman Returns - itself a second chance for the flagging Superman film franchise.
Despite Routh's performance generating acclaim for his ability to mimic Reeve's acting style and appearance, Superman Returns was a bust. Fortunately for Routh, he's recently found success among fans on CW's Arrow and The Flash as the size-changing scientist Ray Palmer/the Atom -- a role which he continues to play in CW’s new team show DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Interestingly, Reeve himself had something of a genre resurgence when he the role of Dr. Virgil Swann was created for him on Smallville shortly before his death in 2004.
James McAvoy - Wesley and Professor X5 of 13What's that you say? You've never heard of Wesley, McAvoy's young assassin in training from Wanted?
Despite receiving a generally warm reception, Wanted didn't exactly propel McAvoy to a household name. That wouldn't happen until he took the role of young Professor Charles Xavier in 2011's X-Men: First Class.
McAvoy reprised the role of Xavier in X-Men: Days of Future Past, and again in X-Men: Apocalypse.
Aaron Taylor-Johnson - Kick Ass and Quicksilver6 of 13After a star making turn in two installments of Kick-Ass, Aaron Taylor-Johnson moved up to the big time to earn a breakout role as Quicksilver in the blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. Kick-Ass had Taylor-Johnson star alongside Nicolas Cage's Big Daddy, and oddly enough, alongside Evan Peters, as well. Why is that odd? Because Peters, who played Kick-Ass's non-super friend Todd, later also played Quicksilver - a different Quicksilver, in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
Halle Berry - Storm and Catwoman7 of 13After a starring role as Storm in 2000's X-Men and 2003's X2, Halle Berry was hoping for breakout success as Catwoman in the feline femme fatale's solo film.
Unfortunately, pretty much everyone agreed that Catwoman stank out loud. Fortunately, Berry still had the X-Men to fall back on, playing Storm twice more in X3: X-Men United and X-Men Days of Future Past.
Of course, with this year's X-Men: Apocalypse, the role of Storm has passed to the younger Alexandra Shipp, who played Marvel's weather manipulating mutant at an earlier point in the X-Men's history.
Samuel L. Jackson - Nick Fury and Octopus8 of 13While the less said about Sam Jackson's turn as enigmatic crime boss the Octopus in Frank Miller's The Spirit the better, the fact remains that it happened, and we're all going to have to live with that.
Thankfully, the bomb that was The Spirit didn't put a damper on Jackson's time as Marvel's superspy extraordinaire Nick Fury, a role he originated in 2008, the same year The Spirit came out, and continues to this day.
Jackson, a noted comic fan, also had genre success before that as both Mace Windu in the Star Wars prequels, Unbreakable, as well as being the voice of Frozone in Pixar's much-loved The Incredibles, and most recently added the part of Valentine in Kingsman: The Secret Service to his resume - albeit in a role created for the movie, not the comic book.
Ben Affleck - Daredevil and Batman9 of 13Count Ben Affleck among those for whom superhero stardom comes with a second chance. Affleck's first brush with onscreen superheroics came from 2003's Daredevil - a movie that has fared better in retrospect than it did in theaters.
Affleck then took the role of Batman in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and the upcoming Justice League, and will direct and star in a Batman solo film. Affleck’s portrayal of the Dark Knight has been widely embraced by fans as one of the highpoints of Batman v Superman.
He played a comic artist in Chasing Amy and even included a scene for Jack Kirby in Argo so we'll give him some slack, but Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice still needs to hit its landing for fans to fully move past Daredevil in Affleck's case.
In some ways, Batman is his third-time playing a hero; Affleck played George Reeve, the actor who played Superman in the 50s TV show, in the drama Hollywoodland, based on true events.
Ryan Reynolds - Green Lantern and Deadpool10 of 13Ryan Reynolds has had more than his share of chances at superhero success - and he's yet to truly find it. His first chance came as Hannibal King in the dismal Blade Trinity - the less said about which, the better.
Then Reynolds landed the role of Wade Wilson/Deadpool in X-Men Origins: Wolverine - a role that skewed too far from its comic roots to match fan expectation.
Reynolds also starred as Hal Jordan in the cosmic flop Green Lantern, a film so bad it scuttled DC's first attempt at a shared film world before it began. There's also the little matter of R.I.P.D., a supernatural comedy/thriller based on a little-known comic book that failed on both counts.
Fortunately for Reynolds, he finally redeemed his superhero legacy with his third shot in the smash hit Deadpool solo movie that set several box office records.
Scarlett Johansson - Black Widow and Silken Floss11 of 13Johannson is arguably the highest earning actress in film currently, between her role as Black Widow in various Marvel movies and her string of solo successes with Lucy and Under the Skin. And like her S.H.I.E.L.D. colleague Samuel L. Jackson, she's always been drawn to comic book movies.
In addition to playing Black Widow, Johannson - like Jackson - played a major role in The Spirit. Playing the femme fatale, Johannson was one of the high points of a relatively low entry into the comics-to-film movie shelf.
If that weren't enough, one of Johansson's early breakout roles was in the non-superhero comic book adaptation Ghost World which hit home for a lot of fans, superhero or not.
Her next major role is that of the Major in the live action Ghost in the Shell, which began life as a now legendary manga.
Chris Evans - Captain America and Human Torch12 of 13And here he is, the absolute king of comic book adaptations. Chris Evans is, of course, best known for playing Captain America, a role he's played in three solo films, two Avengers films, and even a minor cameo in Thor: The Dark World and Agent Carter.
But before that, he had a high-profile turn as Johnny Storm in back-to-back Fantastic Four flicks which failed to hit the mark - despite Evans's performance being praised as one of the franchise's few highlights.
In the intervening years, Evans also played Cpt. Jake Jensen in The Losers, a high-octane action film based on the Vertigo comic book - which was in turn based on an older war comic book- and also had a cameo as Lucas Lee, skateboarding movie star and evil ex-boyfriend in Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World.
Let us know who your favorite is, and who you think should've been on this list - in the comments!
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