Controversial casting choices that proved fans wrong

Fans were initially sceptical about these actors playing their much-loved characters.
Fans were initially sceptical about these actors playing their much-loved characters.

The producer of Matt Reeve’s The Batman has urged disgruntled fans to “wait and see” after some complained about Robert Pattinson being cast as the new Dark Knight.

"My position is this: trust the filmmaker and give the filmmaker, and the filmmaker's vision, the benefit of the doubt. Then wait 'til you see the movie," Michael E Uslan stated during a recent appearance at a German comic convention.

"And then once you see the movie, judge the hell out of it.”

The whole, entirely unwarranted, backlash gave us major déjà vu. After all, it was only 2013 when it was announced that Ben Affleck was the man to inherit the cape and cowl in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

Fans saw his atrocious attempt at Daredevil as warning sign that they’d chosen the wrong actor to succeed Christian Bale in the role, and petitions were quickly launched to get Warner Bros. to change their mind with one reaching 70,000 signatures, but the studio paid no heed.

Now DC fans recognise Affleck’s Batman as one of the highlights of Batman v Superman and Justice League... heck, one movie blog’s think piece hailed him as “the best Batman of all time”. So will fans never learn?

We take a look at some other casting outrages that had people furious at first, but eating their words in the end.

Daniel Craig - James Bond

In 2005 the knives were certainly out for Daniel Craig upon the announcement that he would replace Pierce Brosnan as James Bond. Clive Owen, Hugh Jackman and Sam Worthington were all mooted for the role, but the man who eventually ousted the popular Brosnan was seen as a poor choice by the series’ fans.

Overlooking his fine performances in a number of films, including ‘Road To Perdition’ and 'Layer Cake’ (which saw him play a character that had Bond-esque charm), they instead wailed their disgust at a blonde man playing the suave superspy — spawning the website that is still running today.

Read more: Revisiting the Daniel Craig backlash

He got back at his detractors with the success of Casino Royale, and went on to don the famed tuxedo in Quantum of Solace. However by the time Skyfall and Spectre broke box office records, you’d be forgiven for forgetting there had ever been a challenge to Craig’s place as 007. Now fans are salivating at the prospect of Craig’s final 007 film: Bond 25.

Michael Keaton - Batman

What makes the fury that surrounded Michael Keaton’s casting as Batman interesting was that it happened pre-internet. Nowadays, any casting news in these types of films becomes heavily scrutinised, with most outbursts ending up on forums. Essentially, it’s just fans venting their frustrations in the easiest way possible, and it happens so frequently now that few people take notice.

In the late 80s however, over 50,000 letters were sent to Warner Bros, urging them to rethink the casting of Michael Keaton who was famed for his eccentric performances in Night Shift and Beetlejuice.

It turned out to be much ado about nothing, as the protestors (branded “DC Comics fundamentalists” by Keaton) would eventually rate his performance in Tim Burton’s film as one of the best Bruce Wayne/Batman portrayals on-screen.

Robert Downey Jr. - Sherlock Holmes

Sherlock Holmes is an Englishman. A tall, thin, Englishman. So when Robert Downey Jr., a 5ft 8 American was announced as the iconic London Detective, it wasn’t so much fanboys, but the general public that was slightly bemused.

But it wasn’t Downey Jr. we got wrong, it was Holmes. Despite being so well known that it’s not uncommon for tourists to mistake the fictional detective for a historic figure, Holmes’ lesser known “Bohemian” side included dressing like an artist, martial arts and cocaine addiction. That’s right up Rob’s street. Downey Jr. even commented at the premiere that reading Holmes’ quirky side “could be a description of me.”

Read more: Henry Cavill to play Sherlock

Guy Ritchie’s film broke Christmas box office records and Downey Jr. picked up a Golden Globe Award. The 2011 sequel A Game of Shadows scooped over $500m at the global box office, and Downey Jr. and Law will return for a third film soon, directed by Dexter Fletcher.

Heath Ledger - The Joker

Fans wanted Robin Williams or Back To The Future’s Crispin Glover for The Joker - the main villain for the then upcoming The Dark Knight. Then the news that Heath Ledger was cast came, and eyebrows were raised to say the least.

Predictably, internet forums went into meltdown at the casting news - complaining that he wasn’t the right size, didn’t have the crazy shtick needed for the part etc. However, those fears were allayed as soon as the film’s trailer aired. A short preview of Ledger’s performance as the intense psycho clown elevated the film from interesting to essential.

Regardless of Ledger’s untimely death in January 2008, six months before the release of The Dark Knight, the actor’s performance came to be a critically acclaimed achievement – winning the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor in 2009.

Renée Zellweger - Bridget Jones

Fans of Helen Fielding’s column and the subsequent book, about the adventures of a frumpy single woman in London, wanted Kate Winslet to star as Bridget Jones. Instead, they got a stick thin Texan.

They feared the much-loved character would be turned into a soya-drinking Hollywood-looking starlet. What they got, however, was a slightly frumpy Zellweger perfecting an English accent and an appealing desire to make a fool out of herself when the script called for it. Consequently, she was Oscar-nominated for the role, and returned for two sequels.

Tom Cruise - Lestat de Lioncourt

Before there was Edward Cullen there was Lestat — a seductive and passionate vampire that captivated millions of readers’ hearts.

The film adaption of Anne Rice’s Interview With The Vampire was a lavish and big budget spectacle. To justify the expense, a star was needed. And a star they got. He may have been the biggest name on the planet, but Tom Cruise’s casting was initially met with disgruntlement from fans of the book series and its author - who felt the casting decision was based on box office performances, rather than doing her source material justice.

Read more: Top Gun jacket raises eyebrows

Skip forward to release and Anne Rice publicly apologised to Cruise after seeing the film, conceding that she couldn’t imagine any other actor playing the part.

Matt Damon - Jason Bourne

Matt Damon is Jason Bourne. That’s just a fact. But back before anybody had seen The Bourne Identity in 2002, Damon was just too sensitive (think Good Will Hunting and The Talented Mr. Ripley) or too childish (Dogma) to be taken seriously as an action star. He just didn’t have the chops to pull it off.

Both Russell Crowe and Sly Stallone were approached to play Robert Ludlum’s best selling spy-assassin, but in the end director Doug Linman cast Damon, perplexing fans of the novels and action cinema alike.

Ten years down the road to The Bourne Legacy and the switcheroo for Jeremy Renner left fickle fans feeling lost without Damon. He returned for a fourth film in 2016.

Robert Pattinson - Edward Cullen

It might be hard to believe now but news that a relatively unknown British actor was cast as the hugely 'swoonsome’ vampire Edward Cullen, didn’t go down well with the fans. At. All.

Pattinson said after filming, “There was a huge, universal backlash about my being cast as Edward Cullen. Seventy five thousand 'Twilight’ fans signed a petition against me.”

Read more: The Batman composer hails first look

Oh, what a fickle world we live in. And now Pattinson finds himself in a similar position, albeit with a slightly different fanbase.