There are tons of lists out there, countless in fact, comparing and contrasting Marvel and DC properties in film including many exploring actors and actresses who have participated in films based on properties from both companies. In some cases these performers participated in earlier superhero films from the 80s and 90s before joining larger franchises in the 2000s and 2010s. In others their roles were minor and practically unnoticeable in one franchise or another before they took on more memorable roles later on. Over the last few weeks with the announcement that the Snyder Cut of “Justice League” will be coming to HBO Max in March my buddies and I began to realize that there are some very familiar names that have surprisingly participated in both DC and Marvel movies that don’t often make these lists. Since I had yet to do my own list exploring the topic, which seems to be a prerequisite for any online movie blogger, I turned this fun conversation into a countdown of my own.
However rather than looking at obvious examples where an actor played a well known starring role in films for both comic book giants, such as Michael Keaton playing both Batman and The Vulture, I wanted to focus on actors and actresses that have appeared in more forgettable films or movies so bad people would rather forget them thus making it even more shocking to realize they joined the list of DC/Marvel actors. Also I wanted to shine a light on some movies that people may forget actually fell within the DC or Marvel banners. Many if not all of these entries you may already know, but I chose ones I felt were underrepresented in similar lists or that I personally thought were cool to point out. I had a lot of fun with this list and it was neat to take a look back and realize just how many performers have shared screen time between the rival comic book giants.
So here they are, ten actors and actresses you really probably did forget were in both Marvel and DC movies.
10. Mark Strong
It’s likely that many people are aware of Mark Strong’s numerous appearances in comic book films during the 2010s, but it’s easy to overlook that he appeared in not only two DC movies, but also a trio of Marvel adaptations as well and this is because these movies’ connection to Marvel is downplayed. Strong of course played the role of Sinestro in the forgettable “Green Lantern” film in 2011 (and he won;t be the last actor from that movie on this list) and also portrayed the villain Doctor Sivana in 2019’s “Shazam!”, a film in the DC Extended Universe. However, Strong’s first comic book movie was in 2010’s “Kick Ass” where he portrayed main villain Frank D’Amico, an adaptation of the comic character Johnny G, the father of Red Mist. A few years later he would play Merlin, a tech expert, in “Kingsman: The Secret Service” as well as the sequel “The Golden Circle”. Both “Kick Ass” and “Kingsman” are Marvel properties published under the company’s Icon Comics banner making the films de facto Marvel movies.
9. J. K. Simmons
While many may scoff at Simmons being on this list, it’s very easy to forget he ever appeared in the DCEU as he is on screen for only minutes in the franchise. I know I forgot. Simmons is actually most well known in comic book movie circles for his spot-on portrayal of J. Jonah Jameson, the Spider-Man hating editor of the Dailey Bugle, in Sam Raimi’s “Spider-Man” trilogy. The role is among the actor’s most famous and he even reprised the character in a neat cameo at the end of “Spider-Man: Far from Home” in the MCU. However, he also appeared as Commissioner James Gordon in the DCEU’s maligned “Justice League” film. While his appearances in the film did receive significant media attention, particularly because of his workout regiment to prepare for the role, his screen time was limited and the fact that many have chosen to put the DCEU’s crossover movie in the rearview means it probably takes a bit of effort to remember he played the part. Hopefully he’ll get a little more screen time in the Snyder Cut.
8. Josh Brolin
By now most people are aware that Josh Brolin is a Marvel staple. Not only did he appear as Cable in “Deadpool 2”, but he also played the biggest bad of the MCU’s Infinity Saga, Thanos, in several films. He also portrayed a younger version of Agent K in “Men in Black 3” which was based on a Marvel property. Many overlook however that he had a role in one of the most forgettable DC movies of the 2010s playing the titular character in “Jonah Hex”, based on the character of the same name. The film was a critical and commercial failure eventually fading into obscurity, which is probably a good thing for Brolin since he would go on to bigger things in the comic book world in the years that followed. As an added bonus fun fact, he also appeared in a Dark Horse Comics adaptation as Dwight in “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For” in 2015, a role originally filled by Clive Owen almost ten years earlier.
7. Benjamin Bratt
I’m sensing an unintentional trend on this list of actors who have been a part of Marvel films but would rather forget the DC property they appeared in. Benjamin Bratt was a big name in the 2000s, but in the 2010s he was a more obscure actor. Still, he managed to score a role in an MCU movie playing Jonathan Pangborn in “Dr. Strange”, a former patient of the titular doctor. It was a small role, but an important one as Pangborn inspires Strange to explore magic as a way to cure his hand injuries. More than a decade earlier though he starred in what is considered one of the worst movies of all time, “Catwoman”, where he played alongside Halle Berry who had already established herself as a Marvel mainstay by that point in the “X-Men” series as Storm. While Berry seems to wear this travesty like a badge, Bratt appears to have distanced himself from the movie so it’s easy to forget he went from a DC dumpster fire to a small but important role in one of the best MCU movies to date.
6. Zachary Levi
We actually have an actor on this list known more for his DC role than his Marvel appearance. Zachery Levi is a very funny and charismatic actor which made him the perfect pick to portray DC’s “Shazam!”, a hero who transforms from a kid to an adult superhero. His ability to capture the childlike wonder of becoming a hero made “Shazam!” one of the most charming movies in the DC library and Levi has since become inseparable from the character. That, combined with other factors, is probably why he’s so easily forgotten as one of the best friends of Marvel’s Thor in the MCU. While the role of Fandral was played by Josh Dallas in the original “Thor” film where he was more prominent, an unrecognizable and subdued Levy plays the character in “Thor: The Dark World” and only appeared on screen simply to die in seconds in “Thor: Ragnarok”. While Levi definitely looked the part as Fandral, it’s good to see him getting his due credit front and center in a fitting DC property.
5. Angela Bassett
Angela Bassett has been a prominent actress in the business for several decades, even earning an Oscar nod in the mid-90s, but in the 2010s she made the leap to comic book movies most prominently as Ramonda, mother of T’Challa in “Black Panther”. She returned to the role for a cameo in “Avengers: Endgame” solidifying herself as a potential mainstay in the franchise as matriarch of the royal family. However, many fans have overlooked that years before her Marvel debut Bassett played in another superhero movie, “Green Lantern”. Bassett portrayed DC comics regular Amanda Waller who appears prominently in the second act but is otherwise a small part of the overall story. Bassett’s contributions to “Green Lantern” aren’t talked about often as the world has decided to shun the film and ignore it ever existed. The fact that Waller was rebooted for the DC Extended Universe in “Suicide Squad” where she was played by Viola Davis also effectively retconned her version out of existance.
4. Ben Mendelsohn
I’ll admit this is one my friends didn’t find surprising but that shocked me once I realized it was a fact. Ben Mendelsohn has become typecast as the modern go-to villain actor so it should be no surprise he was cast in comic book movies as antagonists, well sort-of-antagonists anyways. While his career spans back to the 80s, comic book fans got their first introduction to the actor in 2012’s “The Dark Knight Rises” where he portrayed Bruce Wayne’s business rival John Daggett. It’s easy to forget that Mendelsohn was in this movie because his character is only a small piece of the larger plane of big-bad Bane and at that point Mendelsohn has yet to embrace his typecasting as a villain. Of course, Marvel fans know Mendelsohn from both “Captain Marvel” and “Spider-Man: Far From Home” where he played Talos, the leader of the Skrull. Fun fact, in the 2010s Mendelsohn also played villain roles in a “Robin Hood” movie, “Ready Player One” and “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story” just to name a few.
3. Taika Waititi
This I a fun one that Taika himself has made fun of in recent years. Marvel fans of course know Taika Waititi as the director of “Thor: Ragnarok” and he also played a character in both that movie and “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Endgame” as Korg. But his first comic book movie came years later in, yet again, “Green Lantern”. I’m just now noticing as I type this how many performers played in “Green Lantern” before adding a superior Marvel film to their filmography. In “Green Lantern” Taika portrayed Thomas Kalmaku, Hal Jordan’s friend and confidant about his Green Lantern powers and arguably one of the best parts of the entire movie just for his reaction to Hal’s transformation alone…”AHHHH GREEN!”. As I said, Taika himself has poked fun at how many people forget that he was even in that movie and, like many others, he’d rather forget “Green Lantern” exists especially now that he’s found a great home with Marvel.
2. Djimon Hounsou
Arguably one of the most criminally underrated actors of his time, Djimon Hounsou has made a career of being the best part of movies he doesn’t star in, and some where he actually was given top billing. The versatile actor has also been a part of several comic book movies. Hounsou is known by Marvel fans as Korath, a Kree warrior featured in “Guardians of the Galaxy” and “Captain Marvel”. However, he has actually also been a part of two recent DC films and one more forgotten one from the 2000s. In 2018 Hounsou portrayed the Fisherman King, a royal member of an underwater society in “Aquaman” which was completely CGI. A year later, the same year he appeared in “Captain Marvel”, he played the titular character in “Shazam!” who transfers his powers to Billy Batson but keeps his face in shadow for his entire appearance. What people most often forget though is that Hounsou actually made his comic book movie debut all the way back in 2005 playing Papa Midnight in the film adaptation of DC’s “Constantine”.
1. Chris Evans
It’s no surprise to anyone that Chris Evans is a Marvel staple. He has appeared in several Marvel roles first as Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in two “Fantastic Four” movies and then later of course as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. However, to the surprise of a lot of people including myself, Evans has been in a DC movie. Way back in 2010 Evans was part of an ensemble cast in “The Losers”, adapted from the Vertigo Comics property of the same name. Vertigo was an adult-oriented offshoot of DC founded that was discontinued in 2020. The film is often noted as one of Evans’s many comic book roles but unless you’re familiar with Vertigo’s relationship to DC it’s easy to miss that Evans has, in fact, been in a DC movie. For the record the film also featured Idris Elba, another actor who many may be surprised appeared in both DC and Marvel movies since he played Heimdall in the MCU and a major role in “Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengence”. Evans beats him out for this list however as his prominence in several Marvel projects and other comic book properties makes his DC contribution that much cooler.