Please note that this article is currently VERY out of date, but will be revisited at some point in early 2013!
Welcome to Comics Daily’s occasionally-updated feature… the Comic Book Movie Actors League! Begun in March 2010 – inspired by the news that actor Chris Evans was to take on the role of Captain America, having already played Johnny Storm in two Fantastic Four films and with roles in The Losers and Scott Pilgrim coming up in 2010 alone – I began compiling a list of actors and actresses who had appeared in the most comic book adaptations, playing the highest number of different characters. And so, this League Table was born. We’ve totted up the number of films that various actors have appeared in, and the number of different roles they’ve played, and multiplied the two figures together to give a “score” – and you may find the results surprising. The rules are as follows :
- Only actors who have played at least two different roles in comic book adaptations qualify for the league
- Any theatrical release based on a comic counts. Voicing a character in animation only counts if theatrically released, but live action straight-to-video or TV movies count. TV series don’t count.
- Superhero films not based on an existing comic (e.g. The Incredibles) don’t count.
- The rule on upcoming films is that if the film is officially in development, production or post-production, it counts. Therefore, at the most recent time of compiling (July 2010), Scott Pilgrim, Thor, Captain America, Deadpool and Green Lantern are all included.
- If Nic Cage is tied on points with anyone, he goes ahead of them on “goal difference” by virtue of so many prior attempts at starring in a comic book movie.
Without further ado, then, here are the current standings, which we’ll update as and when relevant comics movie roles are announced/confirmed. Of course, if you spot any errors/omissions, then do let us know!
1. Doug Jones
It was a massive oversight that Doug Jones was missed off this list entirely first time out – because as has become clear, he’s not only the king of comic book movies, he’s likely to remain so for some time. Perhaps it’s all those apperances under prosthetics that made us forget him – not to mention the fact that some of his earlier roles were little more than cameos – but nevertheless, Jones’ CV counts a whopping seven roles across six different films. His highest-profile roles were of course as Abe Sapien in two Hellboy films and as the Silver Surfer in Fantastic Four 2 – but he’s also shown up in (deep breath) Men in Black II, Tank Girl, Mystery Men and – going back furthest – Batman Returns. Even though some of his roles featured other actors doing the voice of his characters, there’s no denying that in terms of credited appearances in comic book films, Jones is the man to beat.
2. Chris Evans
Blimey, Chris Evans loves his comics. Having first played the Human Torch in a pair of Fantastic Four films and voiced Casey Jones in TMNT, he’s since played Jake Jensen in The Losers this year, before taking on the role of Evil Ex #2, Lucas Lee, in the upcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Due to the Jones oversight, he was previously joint first on the list with Terence Stamp – he’s pushed down now, but nevertheless takes outright second place, by virtue of finally signing on to play Steve “Captain America” Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger – making him also the first person to play two different Marvel Universe heroes. We can presume he’ll be playing Cap in the proper Avengers movie, too, so there’s still a chance he could reclaim top spot again…
3. Terence Stamp
Listed in first place the first time we compiled this, but only on a technicality – I’d failed to realise just how many films Doug Jones had been in – Stamp is now pushed further down to third place by Evans’ confirmation as Captain America. It’s nevertheless a respectable position for the man who had by far the longest head-start on the rest of this list, appearing in Modesty Blaise in 1966. His defining role as Zod saw him through two Superman films, before reaching that stage in his career where he’d take any old rubbish – hence, Wanted and Elektra. But these five roles across four films are enough to secure him this spot in our league – even without the potential bonus marks of also playing Jor-El in Smallville…
4. Samuel L. Jackson
Jackson is dangeously close to claiming the title of king of the comic book movies, despite only having played three roles to do so (and one of those being an animation voice-over, courtesy of Astro Boy). Aside from the best-forgotten role of The Octopus in The Spirit, he’s been immortalised for geeks everywhere by stepping off the page (having been Bryan Hitch’s visual model in The Ultimates AS IF YOU DIDN’T KNOW) to play Nick Fury in… well, everything. We’re counting the already-seen Iron Man and Iron Man 2, along with the confirmed-as-in-production Thor and Captain America, to get his four appearances so far as Fury – but it’s worth bearing in mind that he’s signed on for a total of nine films (including Fury’s own), with the only question being whether they actually all get made. Some might call that overkill, but… come on. It’s Sam Jackson playing Nick Fury. Can we ever get tired of it?
5. Ryan Reynolds
Very much dependent on future projects this – but the man who’s so far played Deadpool in Wolverine and Hannibal King in Blade: Trinity is signed on for two further comics films in the not-too-distant. The status of the spinoff Deadpool movie appears a little up in the air, but as far as we’re aware it is still being planned; and, of course, he’s taken the rather surprising step of also hopping over to the DC Universe, where he’s playing Hal Jordan in the currently-shooting Green Lantern. As with Evans, the potential for franchise expansion and team films means he could yet climb the list further, too.