Superhero movies have become a cultural phenomenon in recent years, with many actors jumping at the opportunity to play iconic comic book characters on the big screen. While these films have been a launchpad for some actors’ careers, they have also proven to be a double-edged sword for others. In this article, we will explore 10 superheroes who ruined their actors’ careers. From typecasting to critical flops, these actors’ experiences demonstrate the risks that come with taking on a superhero role in Hollywood.
10 Superheroes Who Ruined Their Actors’ Careers
- Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man
- Brandon Routh – Superman Returns
- Halle Berry – Catwoman
- Dean Cain – Lois & Clark
- Nicolas Cage – Ghost Rider
- Ioan Gruffudd – Fantastic Four
- David Hasselhoff – Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
- Mark Hamill – Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
- Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four
- Tom Welling – Smallville
Tobey Maguire – Spider-Man
Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man trilogy is often credited with jumpstarting the superhero genre, even though some fans attribute it to Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. In the role of Peter Parker, Tobey Maguire was widely praised by most fans for his excellent portrayal. However, some critics found him less convincing as the confident and swaggering Spider-Man, and the cringe-worthy song and dance number in Spider-Man 3 did not help his case. Since then, Maguire’s career seemed to have hit a slump, and he has only appeared in six feature-length films, including The Boss Baby and Pawn Sacrifice, a chess-based biopic. This is a far cry from the success he enjoyed during the Spider-Man era, and even his most high-profile movie this decade, The Great Gatsby, did not receive glowing reviews.
Brandon Routh – Superman Returns
His chiseled features and muscular physique made him an ideal fit to play Superman in the film “Superman Returns.” Despite having no standout performances to his name, Routh’s looks secured him the iconic role. The film paid homage to the original films, but its box office performance was poor and audience reception was mixed. While some enjoyed the film, others were disappointed, leading to negative long-term consequences for Routh. Although the film’s issues were attributed to director Bryan Singer, Routh has been the scapegoat for its quality, resulting in a lack of major roles. He appeared briefly in TV show “Chuck” and the film “Scott Pilgrim vs. the World,” but has since mainly landed smaller roles in direct-to-DVD movies or cut roles in films.
Halle Berry – Catwoman
After winning an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2001 for her role in “Monster’s Ball,” Halle Berry’s career took a turn for the worse when she starred in “Catwoman” three years later. The film was critically panned, and her career has been plagued with one misfire after another ever since, including “Movie 43,” “The Call,” and “Kidnap.” While “Gothika” was also a critical failure, it was her performance in “Catwoman” that earned her a Razzie award, and she infamously showed up to accept the award in person. Despite her acting abilities, which were recognized by the Academy, it appears that Hollywood has moved on from Berry.
Dean Cain – Lois & Clark
During the mid-1990s, Dean Cain was at the top of his game, portraying Superman in the TV show Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman from 1993 to 1997. However, this would prove to be the highlight of his career. After playing the iconic superhero, Cain’s career began to decline, taking on bit parts in TV series like Robot Chicken, Smallville, and CSI: Miami, as well as obscure film roles. This downward trend culminated in the poorly received God’s Not Dead, which seemed to signal the end of his career. Despite this, Cain continues to have a connection to the Superman legacy, as he now plays Supergirl’s adoptive father. Nevertheless, his lackluster career begs the question of whether a Lois & Clark revival may be in order.
Nicolas Cage – Ghost Rider
Whether you adore or despise him, Nicolas Cage is known for delivering entertaining performances. However, the Cage that captivated audiences in Leaving Las Vegas, Face/Off and Adaptation seems to have vanished, replaced by an actor whose career has been in a freefall. Starring as the main character in Ghost Rider and its sequel, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, may have contributed to this decline. Cage continues to land roles, but unfortunately, they have all been in terrible movies. From Left Behind to Dog Eat Dog, his recent filmography leaves a lot to be desired. There may be a glimmer of hope, though, as he showcases his chainsaw-wielding skills in the film Mandy– only time will tell.
Ioan Gruffudd – Fantastic Four
His career took a nosedive after his role as Captain Fantastic in Fantastic Four. The Welsh actor had risen to fame in Hollywood with roles in hit films such as Titanic, 102 Dalmatians, Black Hawk Down, and King Arthur. However, Fantastic Four proved to be a turning point for Gruffudd, and his career suffered as a result. Despite reprising his role in Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer, he received no major lead roles thereafter. Instead, he made voice acting cameos in shows like Ben 10 and American Dad! and took bit-part roles in comedies like Horrible Bosses. Gruffudd’s latest attempt to regain recognition has been with the TV series Liar, but it hasn’t been well-received by critics so far.
David Hasselhoff – Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
It’s difficult to pinpoint anything that could have ruined David Hasselhoff’s extensive career, considering the breadth of his accomplishments. However, he had achieved legitimate success as an actor with his roles in The Young and the Restless, Knight Rider, and Baywatch. By 1998, he was holding onto his stardom when he played Nick Fury in a misguided TV movie that effectively marked the end of his career as a serious actor.
The film, Nick Fury: Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., was broadcasted on Fox and featured Fury returning from retirement to battle Hydra. The final product diverged significantly from the original comic book characters and concept the movie was based on. The poor quality of the movie was so significant that Hasselhoff seemingly gave up on trying to act and instead began portraying versions of himself.
Mark Hamill – Star Wars Episode VI: Return Of The Jedi
As we reach the last three of actors whose careers were ruined by a movie, one entry stands out as a bit more ambiguous than the others: Mark Hamill in Return of the Jedi. Hamill had little acting experience before being cast as Luke Skywalker, but became a big name thanks to the Star Wars franchise. However, after ROTJ, Hamill struggled to break away from the character and failed to carve out another niche like Harrison Ford. He did find success in voice acting, particularly as the Joker in Batman: The Animated Series, but it’s clear that he could have achieved much more.
Jessica Alba – Fantastic Four
In the mid-2000s, Jessica Alba was a rising star, with her roles in Sin City and Fantastic Four seemingly propelling her to Hollywood fame. However, her career took a nosedive due to her casting as Susan Storm in Fantastic Four, which failed to live up to expectations, and its subsequent poor sequel. Alba quickly faded from the limelight and now seems to be stuck in a cycle of appearing in critical and commercial flops, such as Spy Kids 4 and Mechanic: Resurrection. It is unclear if Alba is choosing these roles poorly or if these are the only parts being offered to her, but it does not bode well for her future prospects in Hollywood.
Tom Welling – Smallville
Possibly one of the most significant career transitions from a superhero franchise to a career desert is experienced by Tom Welling. He played Clark Kent in the ten-season TV series Smallville for a decade, but has had very few acting opportunities since then. Welling has only appeared in three movies, namely Parkland, Draft Day, and The Choice, all of which were either critically panned or box office failures. It’s reasonable to expect a decrease in roles after committing ten years to a single series, and Welling took a self-imposed six-month hiatus.
Unfortunately, his hiatus extended to two years, and he only resurfaced on screen in the box office disappointment Parkland. Welling will always be known as Smallville’s Clark Kent, but it appears that he has little chance of reaching the same level of success again.
Also Read: 7 Non-Marvel and DC Characters Who Became Part of Their Universes
10 Superheroes Who Ruined Their Actors’ Careers