Top 10 Actors Who Played Both Superheroes and Supervillains
Top 10 Actors Who Played Both Superheroes and Supervillains

Top 10 Actors Who Played Both Superheroes and Supervillains

VOICE OVER: Andrew Tejada WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
Talk about range! For this list, we'll be looking for performers who got to play both sides of the good and evil coin. Our countdown includes Jim Carrey, Ryan Reynolds, Tom Hardy, and more!

Top 10 Actors Who Have Played Superheroes And SuperVillains

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 Actors Who Have Played Superheroes And SuperVillains.

For this list, we’ll be looking for performers who got to play both sides of the good and evil coin. We’ll include anti-heroes if they’ve done something particularly heroic or villainous. While we’ll save animated roles for another time, we will definitely be diving into some spoilers ahead.

Which of these performers do you think showed the most range? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Jim Carrey

Colonel Stars and Stripes, The Mask & The Riddler
While Carrey’s title character in the Mask doesn’t act like much of a good guy most of the time, he was based on a darker superhero. His comedy stylings were perfect for the wacky and unpredictable character. A year later, Carrey became a major supervillain when he played The Riddler in “Batman Forever”. While the movie wasn’t a critical hit, the funnyman gave an unquestionably memorable performance as the obsessive and eccentric Batman rogue. Carrey became a darker kind of superhero again when he played Colonel Stars and Stripes in 2013’s “Kick-Ass 2”. His unpredictable nature and dedication felt like a zany mashup of his previous roles. Coincidentally, Carrey managed to wear green for all three of his outings in this big and bold genre.

#9: Idris Elba

Heimdall & Bloodsport
Although Elba's role as Moreau in the second “Ghost Rider” doesn't really count as a superhero, he definitely fit the bill when he played Heimdall in the MCU. He appeared as the all seeing Asguardian who guarded the bifrost and tried his best to keep his brethren safe. We tragically saw him fall after performing one final heroic act in “Avengers: Infinity War”. After having put that character to bed, Elba jumped to DC and took on the role of Bloodsport. At the beginning of “The Suicide Squad”, he’s unquestionably a supervillain clever enough to wound Superman. But he grows into a more of an anti-hero by the time the credits rolled. In every role, Elba’s natural charisma brought out the best in his characters.

#8: Liam Neeson

Darkman & Ra's al Ghul
When most people hear Liam Neeson and superhero movies in the same sentence, they think of his role in the Dark Knight trilogy. He played Bruce Wayne’s mentor turned adversary, Ra’s al Ghul. Neeson brought a lot of gravitas to the complex and incredibly dangerous villain. But before he faced Batman, the actor played an unconventional hero named Darkman. Neeson ‘s character becomes stronger and resistant to pain after suffering at the hands of unjust men. He once again brought a lot of complexity to what could’ve been a campy or forgettable role. Since the actor reprised his role as Ra’s al Ghul, we’d love to see him return to the Darkman role again too.

#7: Kurt Russell

The Commander & Ego
The fun and surprising “Sky High” featured Kurt Russell playing the fictitious hero “The Commander” . Although not based on any specific comic book property, he feels like a funny stand in for Superman. For most of the movie, the well-meaning Commander is extremely invested in his son becoming a great superhero. This major plot point makes his role in the MCU feel incredibly ironic. He first played the celestial known as “Ego” in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2”. This villainous figure wanted to use his son Star-Lord’s powers to help take over tons of living planets. While the Commander could be overbearing, it’s clear that he had a much better relationship with his son than Ego did.

#6: Ryan Reynolds

Green Lantern, Deadpool…Twice & Juggernaut
Reynold ’s experience with superheroes has been a mixed bag. After appearing in “Blade Trinity”, his first real shot at being a powered person came when he played Wade Wilson in “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”. Unfortunately, a bad script created what’s regarded as the worst version of the character. Reynolds then tried his hand at being a good guy by playing Hal Jordan in “Green Lantern”. After that film disappointed fans, he finally found his place as a fantastic version of Deadpool in 2016. He absolutely killed as the character in two films and counting. In the midst of Reynold’s resurgence, he sneakily played the supervillain Juggernaut in 2018’s “Deadpool 2”. Watching the actor technically fight against…. Himself marked a high point in his superhero movie journey.

#5: Michael B. Jordan

The Human Torch & Killmonger
Casting the incredibly charismatic Michael B. Jordan as the often cocky Human Torch seemed like a slam dunk. Unfortunately for fans, even his talents couldn’t make his character in the underwhelming and much meddled with 2015 “Fantastic Four” movie work. Thankfully, it only took three more years before audiences praised his performance as Erik Killmonger in “Black Panther”. Jordan’s understandable motivations and at times sympathetic portrayal had audiences torn whether to support him or the heroes. Despite his character’s death, his performance was so well-received that some fans are calling for him to return to the franchise somehow. Audiences are definitely hungry to see Jordan do justice to more superhero films.

#4: Tom Hardy

Venom/Eddie Brock & Bane
“The Dark Knight Rises” brought one of Batman’s greatest foes to life when Tom Hardy played Bane. While the actor’s dialogue and actions were extremely intimidating on their own, he had such a strong physical presence that he could intimidate us while he was standing still. Hardy followed this role as this legendary supervillain by crawling across universes to become Eddie Brock and Venom. While he still excels at being terrifying when the occasion calls for it, his dual Marvel role allows him to show off his comedic chops. And when his Venom feels like it, he has a knack for saving lives. Seeing Hardy go from being a great Batman villain to a relatively noble Spider-verse character makes for a great full circle journey.

#3: Michelle Pfeiffer

The Wasp & Catwoman
Despite some fierce competition, Michelle Pfeiffer is typically seen as the best Catwoman ever committed to film. In the span of one movie, she went from a subdued performance as Selina Kyle to a sultry and threatening supervillain and firmly landed on her feet somewhere in the middle. Pfeiffer’s legacy in superhero films would’ve been preserved if she just appeared in “Batman Returns”. But she continued making waves by joining the MCU as Janet van Dyne, AKA the original Wasp. Pfeiffer trades her claws in for stingers to play the resourceful Marvel Heroine. After being lost in another realm for decades, Wasp made a glorious return. We hope to see more of Pfeiffer in action as the stinging heroine.

#2: Josh Brolin

Cable, Jonah Hex & Thanos
Thanks to the MCU’s Infinity Saga, Thanos will go down as one of the most iconic villains ever portrayed in comic book films. A big part of the character’s success can be attributed to Josh Brolin’s brilliant and layered portrayal. Before the actor cemented his superhero street cred, he suffered a setback when he played “Jonah Hex '' in the movie of the same name. Although his western hero failed to make an impression, he was extremely memorable as Cable in “Deadpool 2”. Brolin’s gruff demeanor and intimidating approach was perfect for the gruff mutant from the future. While it’s not likely we’ll see much more of his Jonah Hex or Thanos in live-action, his future as Cable looks bright.

#1: Michael Keaton

Batman & The Vulture
Whenever comic fans debate who did the best job of portraying Batman, Michael Keaton’s name will come up in the conversation. After he brought a darker edge to the caped crusader in 1989’s “Batman”, he set the tone for how the character would be portrayed for years to come. Keaton gave another definitive superhero movie performance when he donned metal wings to play Vulture in “Spider-Man: Homecoming”. Any trace of his heroic bat instincts disappeared behind the actor’s incredible performance as the menacing villain. After playing one of the best Marvel villains, Keaton agreed to reprise his role as both Vulture and Batman for different movies. The actor can be a superhero or villain without skipping a beat.