They have X-ray vision, can destroy a whole contingent of bad guys and generally wreak wholesale destruction when it is the need of the hour. But some of these superheroes also had another remarkable power — to revive the caped/cowled careers of the actors playing them. They may not have had the most success in one superhero avatar, but these actors got a second, better chance on the screen by changing their identities. Here’s a look at the actors who succeeded at being superheroes — the second time around.
Ben Affleck as Daredevil, then Batman
In 2003, Ben Affleck burst out onto our screens as Matt Murdock — a lawyer who was blinded in an accident involving toxic waste. Outside of the courtroom, Murdock fought for justice as Daredevil, when he wasn’t busy flirting/fighting with Elektra (Jennifer Garner). The film may have sparked off their relationship, but it didn’t do much for Affleck or Garner’s film careers as superheroes. Garner got her Elektra spin-off in 2005, but it received a critical drubbing that was even worse than Daredevil’s.
But just as Daredevil has got a new lease of life on Netflix, so also has Ben Affleck’s career as a caped crusader. The time, he gets to play the biggie — Batman himself — in Zac Snyder’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. And while the film has garnered mixed reviews, we can safely say that Ben’s run as Batman isn’t about to end anytime soon, as he will reprise the character in the Justice League films.
Of course, Ben has also played another superhero, in a manner of speaking. In the 2006 film Hollywoodland, he portrayed the actor George Reeves — the star of the 1950s TV show Adventures of Superman, leading fans to make a parody of Ben (as Superman) fighting Ben (as Batman) that’s possibly more riveting than the superheroes’ showdown in Dawn of Justice.
Ryan Reynolds as Green Lantern and Deadpool
It was supposed to be the role that propelled him into the Hollywood A-league, but when Ryan Reynolds’ Green Lantern was described as “more Daredevil than Dark Knight”, the actor must have known that he wasn’t on the right track. That Reynolds met his future wife Blake Lively on the sets of Green Lantern is probably the only good thing that could be said about the movie. But in a story befitting a Hollywood film, Reynolds found his mojo playing another superhero — or anti-superhero — Deadpool. As the wisecracking, rule breaking, irreverent Deadpool, Reynolds found his niche, and worldwide box-office success.
Chris Evans as The Human Torch and Captain America
Chris Evans’ run as The Human Torch on The Fantastic 4 in 2005 and in 2007 (Rise of the Silver Surfer) was hardly disastrous — in fact, the films featuring Evans, along with Jessica Alba, Ioan Gruffudd et al did a whole lot better critically and commercially than 2015’s Fantastic Four reboot — but why be one sidekick among four when you can headline a movie of your own? So Chris Evans stepped into the considerably larger and more important shoes of Captain America.
As Captain America, Evans has starred not only in The First Avenger (2011) and Winter Solider (2014) but also has the highly anticipated Civil War coming out this year. And then there are all those Avengers movies as well. Asked why he opted to play the Captain America role (duh) Evans politely pointed out that Marvel had offered him a six-film contract whereas Fox (which owns the rights to Fantastic Four) had only signed him for three films (of which the third never got made).
Halle Berry as Catwoman, and Storm from X-Men
“When I'm good, I'm very good. When I'm bad, I'm as bad as I wanna be,” purred Halle Berry as Catwoman in the 2004 film of the same name. Unfortunately, fans agreed that there was more bad than good in the film, and Catwoman was universally panned. But if she was relegated to fighting an evil cosmetics company that was trying to get the world hooked on to their dodgy skin cream, then Halle got to unleash some serious superpowers when she returned as Storm in 2006’s X-Men: The Last Stand.
Brandon Routh as Superman and as the Atom
Brandon Routh put on the iconic blue suit and red cape for 2006’s Superman Returns, but despite fairly positive reviews, it was Henry Cavill who was roped in for 2013’s Man of Steel and all the subsequent spin-offs. Not that Cavill isn’t dishy enough, but fans have often commented on Routh’s likeness to the best-known (and loved?) Superman, Christopher Reeves. Still, Routh didn’t do too badly after Superman. He got to inhabit the uniform of another superhero — Atom — first in Arrow, then in Flash, and now in a series of his own, Legends of Tomorrow. Not a bad deal, we’d say.