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Infamous Comic Book Movie Recastings

by Albert Ching, Newsarama · May 11, 2010

Terrence Howard and Don Cheadle both starred in “Crash” and have both been nominated for the Best Actor Academy Award. Thanks to “Iron Man 2” out domestically this past Friday, their careers are now linked even closer.

In “Iron Man 2,” Cheadle takes over the role of James Rhodes — Iron Man’s ally — played by Howard in the original 2008 feature.

Other than complete reboots, like the 2008 version of “The Incredible Hulk” with Edward Norton wiping the slate clean five years after Eric Bana’s Hulk, this type of recasting in mid-franchise is relatively rare in comic book movies. Here’s a look at a few times when it did happen, and whether or not it was the right move.

Character: Rachel Dawes

Actor: Katie Holmes in “Batman Begins” (2005); later played by Maggie Gyllenhaal in “The Dark Knight” (2008).

“Batman Begins” came out at the height of media furor over the Katie Holmes/Tom Cruise relationship – just one month after Cruise infamously jumped on Oprah Winfrey’s couch. All that tabloid attention distracted a bit from the film, but critics didn’t think much of the “Dawson’s Creek” alum’s performance, which even earned a Razzie nomination for “Worst Supporting Actress.” Maggie Gyllenhaal stepped in for the sequel, and was much better received, as was the movie itself, making over a billion dollars worldwide and becoming the highest grossing comic book film of all time.

Character: Harvey Dent

Actor: Billy Dee Williams in “Batman” (1989); later played by Tommy Lee Jones in “Batman Forever” (1995).


Much has been made over the three actors (Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney) that played Batman in four films from 1989 to 1997. But the role of Harvey Dent, the district attorney destined to become super-villain Two-Face, also switched. Billy Dee Williams portrayed Dent in the 1989 “Batman” with the plan then for him to play Two-Face in a future film. Things changed after Joel Schumacher took over the franchise with “Batman Forever” and cast Tommy Lee Jones as Two-Face. The movie made money but was widely panned, and Jones was considered a Joker ripoff – plus, fans were denied seeing the novelty of seeing the guy who played Lando Calrissian in the original “Star Wars” trilogy as another genre icon.

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