Anthony Hopkins, Lupita Nyong'o and Tilda Swinton in Marvel movies

Weekend Roundtable: From Oscar Gowns and Tuxes to Capes and Tights

The producers of superhero movies have been very aggressive about casting Oscar winners and nominees to lend some prestige and class to their silly comic book fantasy epics. Among others, Anthony Hopkins, Robert Downey Jr., Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, and now Lupita Nyong’o have traded their Oscar cred for big Marvel or DC paydays. Let’s make a prediction: Which of this year’s new Oscar nominees will turn up in a superhero flick next?

In fact, some of this year’s acting nominees have already been in superhero movies. Gary Oldman appeared as Jim Gordon in Christopher Nolan’s ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy, Margot Robbie played Harley Quinn in ‘Suicide Squad’, and Daniel Kaluuya has a role in ‘Black Panther’ this week. Nonetheless, that still leaves a bunch of acclaimed actors who haven’t done a superhero movie yet. What the hell are they waiting for?

Brian Hoss

While I think we as a society are at a loss without seeing Daniel Day-Lewis tackle the role of Multiple Man, I’d bet that Woody Harrelson is a shoe-in for a Marvel role at some point soon. While it could be something in ‘Guardians’ or ‘Ant-Man’, it would be more interesting to see Harrelson step into the guise of Mr. Sinister.

M. Enois Duarte

Although he had a rough start in the 1940s, I think it’s high-time that comic book fans finally see Spectre make his feature film debut, and I nominate Denzel Washington as the perfect actor to carry that torch. Marvel failed at bringing supernatural horror comics to the big screen in two ‘Ghost Rider’ features, but I think in the hands of an accomplished, talented director working with Washington, this awesome series would be pretty spectacular.

For those unfamiliar with the ghostly superhero, he’s a police detective who worked in both Metropolis and Gotham until he was brutally murdered. Rather than being granted entry into the afterlife, he gets turned into the Spirit of Vengeance, punishing evildoers for a variety of wrongdoings, and taking the moniker of Spectre. In his human form, Crispus Allen has already made appearances in ‘Gotham’, ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ and the recent ‘Justice League’, so it should be easy enough to bring him into the DC universe and eventually join the superhero team, if not have him be a great way to reintroduce the Green Lantern Corps to audiences. With Washington as the gruesome, morally-ambiguous and vengeful spirit with near-omnipotent powers, an R-rated film could explore various philosophical and moral dilemmas about justice, punishment and the questionable advantages of death as a form penalty.

Luke Hickman

Saoirse Ronan seems to be on the same trajectory as Brie Larson, so I can easily see her getting cast as the next major comic book character to come to the big screen. Assuming that a bunch of our leading MCU heroes are about to eat it in the upcoming ‘Avengers’ movie, it might be fun to see Ronan play the next iteration of an existing character. A woman has donned Tony Stark’s Iron Man suit in comics, so maybe she’ll replace him should he and his quips go to the grave in ‘Infinity War’.

Ronan played a proper badass in ‘Hanna’. A role in the darker and grittier ‘X-Men’ universe could also be an enjoyable landing place. As a fan of the actress for over a decade, I’d love to see her join a non-Singer ‘X-Men’ cast.

Josh Zyber

I’m a little bit surprised that Meryl Streep hasn’t already turned up as a villain in any of the Marvel MCU movies yet. Don’t tell me the woman is too respectable an actress to appear in a comic book flick. She’s done two ‘Mamma Mia!’ movies, so she can spare us the pretense of still having any dignity after that.

I’m not versed enough in comic book lore to have a specific role picked out for her, but I see Streep playing a character similar to Robert Redford’s in ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’. She can be a politician or high-ranking authority figure who appears to be on the heroes’ side at first, but is later revealed to be a double agent, if not the diabolical mastermind behind whatever the plot of the movie is.

If Streep’s not available or just won’t do it, I suppose France McDormand would fit just as well. She was in a ‘Transformers’ sequel, so there’s nothing holding her back from doing something with superheroes.

Feel free to expand this topic to cover any other actor (Oscar nominated or not) that you’d like to see in a superhero movie.

This blog is taking Monday off for the Presidents’ Day holiday. We’ll see you back here on Tuesday.


  1. After re-watching Scott Pilgrim a couple nights ago, I think that Michael Cera should get a shot at a superhero movie. He’s proven that he can do action work, and he needs to get something to break him out of the funk of the same movies he’s been doing over the past few years (VERY small indies like Person To Person). I’m not sure what role he could step into, but I’d be up for it.

  2. Guy

    The acting categories are full of performers that have already been in comic films, seem a little past their prime for hero roles or could be any random government/military official in any comic film. None of them really jump out at me for anything specific, but Denzel or Woody seem most likely to pop up as villains.

    Cheating my way over to another movie job, the directors have comic book adaptation vets del Toro and Nolan in their midst. Depending on how his Get Out follow-up goes, Jordan Peele is the exact kind of filmmaker Marvel has been recruiting over the last few years. That’s where my money goes.

  3. I think the technique of casting Anthony Hopkins in order to infuse clout was broken with Transformers: The Last Knight.

    Also…when talking about current nominees who have already been in comic movies, don’t forget Sam Rockwell in ‘Iron Man 2’.

    I don’t recall Woody Harrelson been in a DC or Marvel movie. He’d be fun.

  4. DarthGilman

    ” bet that Woody Harrelson is a shoe-in for a Marvel role at some point soon.” He’s in Solo which is a Marvel-adjacent under Disney.

      • I feel like so many of his roles already are just a hop away from being comic book characters (Hunger Games, War for the Planet of the Apes). Similar to Johnny Depp, he no longer plays “average Joe” roles. I dig it.

        • Elizabeth

          When did Johnny Depp ever play “average Joe” roles? The closest role that comes to mind is his part in the original Nightmare on Elm Street. Maybe 21 Jump Street but I’m not sure if “cop who goes undercover in a high school” counts as Average Joe.

          • EM

            Seems you’ve answered your own question. I’d say that era extended at least as late as What’s Eating Gilbert Grape.

  5. Bolo

    I skip most of these superhero movies, but I am surprised that Tom Cruise has never done one. I heard that he was attached to play Iron Man (which I can totally see) but it just never happened with him in the lead. I could’ve also seen him as The Shadow back when they did it with Alec Baldwin.

    • Josh Zyber

      I’m fine with people expanding this topic to discuss any other actor they’d like to see in a superhero movie. Honestly, I’m pleased that we’ve gotten a decent number of responses so far. I was a little worried about this topic. So long as we’re doing better than the “Invent a Transformer” Roundtable, it’s all good.

      • NJScorpio

        …there was an “Invent a Transformer” Roundtable? I’m sorry I missed that. I guess I just tuned out Transformers stuff after awhile.

    • Bolo

      I stretched the topic a little. I figured we could talk about high profile actors who’ve never done a comic book superhero flick.

      Although technically, ‘Edge of Tomorrow’ is based on a comic book, and Cruise’s character does get a superpower that he uses to save the world, so I guess you could say Cruise has done one.

  6. William Henley

    Well, as far as nominated, the only one that jumps out is Abigail Breslin.

    As far as non-nominated actors / actresses, we may start getting into issues where we have to define what a Superhero is. My first thought is that Dakota Fanning would make an awesome villain, but she has played a vampire and a psychic.

    Someone mentioned Tom Cruise, but he has played a vampire.

    If we are going to stick to superhero movies based on comic books, I am thinking Mel Gibson would be awesome (if anyone is willing to accept him as an actor again).

    William Shatner would be fun! Throw him in something like Deadpool or Iron Man or something. Or even better, throw him in the next X-Men movie, just because!

    Another thought is Brent Spiner, although he was in Superhero Movie (if we are going to consider that a superhero movie) and has done voices in many superhero cartoons. Still, that would be a fun movie there!

    McKenna Grace would be fun, but only thing I can think of that would work for her age is either Powerpuff Girls or Lava Girl. Maybe Chibiusa in a live action Sailor Moon.

    While Kate Mulgrew has done voices in a few superhero cartoons, just thing how awesome she would be as a villan in a Superhero movie! I would watch that in a heartbeat!

  7. Timcharger

    Since we have expanded the acting list…

    How about Mark Hamill? It’s been two, three generations since we seen him on the silver screen as a heroic superhero-like character. It’ll be great to see him as a symbol for hope, justice, and all that great-responsibility-with-great-power stuff.

    Yes, yes, yes, I know what you’re thinking. But Mark Hamill was just recently in a big time role, in a superhero-adjacent franchise. Well that’s just the voice of Joker, in his DC animation work. We want Hamill as an inspirational character, a good guy. Why would we settle for less?

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