10 Actresses Who Made An Unexpected Splash In Popular Franchises

Approached with caution, received with aplomb.

From comic book romps to space-bound cinema sagas, fans are very protective of their favourite franchises. Most likely whoever is reading this has a strong idea of who should play what in the multitude of graphic novels, fiction ranges, TV shows and movie reboots yet to be squeezed from the cash cow's teat. It causes consternation on a volcanic level when a creative team is chosen to adapt the property, and you can practically feel the lava spattering when the casting is announced. Often there's a warm welcome - I don't think many would have had a problem with Emily Blunt as Black Widow. Then when she dropped out and Scarlett Johansson entered the frame there weren't exactly riots in the streets. Producers tread a fine line between getting someone photogenic in to ensure the male demographic get their asses on seats and honouring the source material. They get it right. They get it wrong. Then there are those times when a casting takes people by surprise. Here are ten key examples of ladies who no-one quite knew what to expect from, but who wound up delivering in spades...

10. January Jones - X-Men: First Class

Voluptuous mutant Emma Frost appeared to be in safe hands when Alice Eve was unveiled as her celluloid incarnation in Matthew Vaughn's curveball Sixties caper. The heat generated didn't last long. Cold water got dumped on the project when Eve's involvement melted away, like an igloo around a confused, horny Eskimo. Steeping into her white heels was January Jones, well-known to the small but devoted audience of small screen ad drama Mad Men, but an unknown element outside it. Unless you happened to be a fan of both it seemed a risky casting decision indeed. Crucially Jones lacked the sheer ampleness of her predecessor, as lovingly rendered in print. Fortunately she'd made her name playing an ice maiden in the AMC series, so that lent her performance a sufficiently chilly quality. Behind those eyes you could see a diamond-like intelligence. Jones was well-received by audiences, it's just a shame she didn't return for Days Of Future Past.

I am a journalist and comedian who enjoys American movies of the 70s, Amicus horror compendiums, Doctor Who, Twin Peaks, Naomi Watts and sitting down. My short fiction has been published as part of the Iris Wildthyme range from Obverse Books.