While many fans have known certain comic book villains inside and out for years, for the actors playing them, they often need to get acquainted with some of these lesser-known foes in a very short time. They might only recognize the most famous of that hero’s villains so despite any forms of research and attempts at characterization, their performances can often lead back to someone else entirely.
Their work will always be based on how the character was written, but how they present themselves on-screen goes beyond that. It’s the actor’s responsibility to elevate the actions and dialogue, and bring these iconic characters to life. So if the character feels wrong, It's often because the actor’s performance didn’t feel right for that specific villain.
There are plenty of bad comic book movie villains, many of whom failed because the actor couldn’t capture the essence of that specific character. But it’s altogether another problem when the actor captures the essence of a completely different character instead, and upended their own arc and development as a result. This is a grave sin in comic book movies, and it seems to happen far too often.
These misguided performances and poorly choses parts represent the actors who most egregiously picked the wrong comic book villain from their hero’s library to base their performances on.
10. Peter Sarsgaard (Green Lantern)
Who He Was Supposed To Play: The big-headed Hector Hammond is meant to be a silent, power-hungry telepath. Spurned by Carol Ferris and promptly given amazing abilities, Hammond decides that he wants the Green Lantern's power. He can barely move but the hatred that drives him still makes him absolutely terrifying.
Who He Really Played: Ironically, Peter Sarsgaard's spurned outcast take on the character didn't resemble Hammond but someone already in the film. Though she had yet to transform into a villainess, it was Carol Ferris’s evil alter-ego Star Sapphire that he better embodied. Despite her being female and considerably less deformed, his performance shared very similar motivations and influences to her character.
Sarsgaard's Hammond is presented as a weird guy who is simply made evil by the fear energy, much like Carol Ferris was corrupted by the Star Sapphire. Despite his connection to Carol, he becomes much more obsessed with Hal Jordan, and like Star Sapphire, uses his new powers to strike at him. Beyond that, there’s not much driving either character, they’re simply made crazy by cosmic energy. In essence, thanks to Sarsgaard’s creepy performance, Hammond went from a silent, manipulative genius in the comics to something more closing resembling Hal Jordan's vengeful ex-lover in the film.
Check out Green Lantern over at Amazon.