10 Riskiest Superhero Movie Castings Which Paid Off

Robert Downey Jr.'s casting went from risky to iconic overnight.

Avengers Endgame Tony Stark
Marvel Studios

Casting a charismatic and interesting actor to head a superhero franchise can often be the difference between its success or failure.

Would Iron Man have kicked off the Marvel Cinematic Universe if the studio had got its way and cast Tom Cruise instead of Robert Downey Jr? Maybe, but it would have been a very different beast, and taken the MCU as we know it today in a very different direction.

Some of the most beloved superhero castings were met with a mixture of controversy and bafflement by many at the time but when given the chance these sublime castings proved the cynical keyboard warriors wrong.

Who would have thought that Hugh Jackman could make the jump from playing nice guy Curly McLain in a West End production of Oklahoma to the ultimate X-Men badass? Could anyone have foreseen Chris Pratt, only really known for playing supporting roles in comedies, becoming a huge action star?

Whether it was casting an actor known for their comedic chops in a fairly dramatic superhero film, or letting an unknown underdog wear Superman's cape, these were the riskiest superhero castings that paid off in the long term.

10. Christopher Reeve - Superman

Avengers Endgame Tony Stark
Warner Bros.

Christopher Reeve may be considered the embodiment of Superman, playing one of the first mainstream superheroes in film, but his casting as the man of steel was anything but straightforward.

As per usual the studio heads wanted a big name attached to the film with names such as Sylvester Stallone and Robert Redford floated around but after failing to make any progress the decision was made to cast an unknown actor instead.

Plucked out of obscurity, Reeve was asked to audition for the much sought after role, and upon seeing his slim frame was advised to wear a muscle suit to convincingly play the superhero.

However, the actor was determined to authentically portray Kal-El, and thanks to a very rigorous workout routine managed to put on over two stone in muscle before filming had even started. Despite these initial concerns among producers Reeve's performance shone and is still widely regarded as the definitive portrayal of both Clark Kent and Superman.


An avid cinephile, love Trainspotting (the film, not the hobby), like watching bad films ironically (The Room, Cats) and hate my over-reliance on brackets (they’re handy for a quick aside though).