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Five Actors Who’ve Suffered From The Do-Over Replacement

With plaudits being thrown in Andrew Garfield’s direction for his performance as Peter Parker in Sony’s rebooted The Amazing Spider-Man, you can’t help but feel for Tobey Maguire, whose take on Parker seemed to be relatively popular during his tenure as Marvel’s friendly box office blockbusting wall crawler from 2002-2007. But he’s hardly the actor to suffer from rebootitis the most…

Terrence Howard
Admittedly, the switch from Howard to Don Cheadle in the role of James Rhodes between the two Iron Man movies had nothing to do with a reboot and everything to do with financial considerations. But, while Cheadle’s Rhodey had an increased profile in the second Iron Man, he brought with it a broadness that I suspect Howard wouldn’t have; Howard’s Rhodey was – to me, at least – more believable in his few scenes as a military man who would, if necessary, go against his best friend to follow orders if he genuinely believed it was for the greater good. It’s a shame that he didn’t get to follow through on the promise he showed in the first movie.

Ed Norton
Again, there wasn’t necessarily an explicit reboot of the Hulk between The Incredible Hulk and this year’s Avengers – then again, there was so little backstory really revealed in Avengers, it could be an entirely different take on the character and a reboot between the two movies for all we know – but Norton’s sincerity and intensity in the role of Bruce Banner was surprisingly enjoyable, and definitely more watchable than Eric Bana’s, in Ang Lee’s earlier Hulk. I do wish he’d gotten another bite at that particular apple, but I have to admit: If that was the cost to pay for getting Mark Ruffalo, I’m not sure it wasn’t worth it.

George Lazenby
Lazenby is, of course, “the forgotten Bond.” In fact, he’s so well known as “the forgotten Bond” that it seems a little ridiculous to call him forgotten, but ignoring that paradox, let’s just accept that while he may not have been perfect as the idealized British secret agent James Bond, he was at least less self-satisfied and smarmy than Roger Moore who followed him in the role. More importantly, perhaps, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service was a dramatically different (and better) type of movie than the Moore ones, and if more Lazenby would’ve meant more of that kind of Bond movie, it’s difficult to think that we’re not poorer for his being replaced in the role.

Paul McGann
As much as the world should be grateful for Christopher Eccleston and Russell T. Davies resurrecting Doctor Who in 2005, there is a slight pang of curiosity over what McGann’s Doctor – introduced in the 1996 TV pilot for an American version of the show that didn’t get picked up, and officially part of canon – might’ve brought to the role, the series and the Whoniverse in general. While his sole appearance was hardly a highpoint for the series, there was nonetheless something appealing about his characterization of the Doctor, who seemed much more pro-active and playful than Ecceleston’s eventual take on the character. Who knows – no pun intended – what McGann could’ve done with a longer run as everyone’s favorite Time Lord?

Brandon Routh
Let’s just admit this: Brandon Routh was screwed. Of all the things wrong with Superman Returns – and there are a lot of things wrong with that movie – Routh’s performance as either Superman or Clark Kent was not one of them, and the idea that he’d end up tossed on the junk heap along with everything else from that movie in the push to reinvent Superman for a modern audience is kind of depressing. All it takes is a cursory watching of Returns and some imagination to find yourself wishing that he’d been given a real chance to show what he could’ve done as the Man of Steel, and a sadness that we’ll never get to find out.


  • Brian Middleton Jr

    I don’t generally agree with most of what you write, but you’re spot on about Routh gettin’ screwed.

  • Rob Einhorn

    I agree, Routh, did play the role well.  I think he played the villian role perfectly on Chuck!

  • splicernyc

    Regarding Routh as Kent/Superman, there was everything wrong with it. Watching an actor playing a Christopher Reeve zombie is not my idea of good. The entire film was creepy in it’s attempt to “resurrect” the franchise by basically making a sequel to Superman 2 that was not a bad comedy. Routh is not blameless in his attempt (an attempt which I think eerily succeeded) in bringing Chris Reeve back to life. I just think it was poor taste.

  • Jugga Lord

    I think that it’s generally acknowledged that Superman Returns really wasn’t a well written movie. That said, Routh’s not 100% off the hook here. 

    Don’t get me wrong. Routh is actually a fine enough actor.I’ve seen him in other roles and he’s pretty good. The problem, for me, was that Routh was more or less giving us an impression of Christopher Reeve’s original performance. Even in retrospect, I still feel as if I was watching Routh playing Reeve playing Superman/Kent. In a sense, that was fitting since Returns was a direct sequel. However, I never really felt that I was watching Routh as Superman. He never made the role his own, imo.

  • Michael Buchko Jr

    I think Superman Returns was a great movie, it just suffered from too much drama and not enough action.  Brandon Routh is a superb Superman in his own right, and an even more fantastic Clark Kent.  He has the look and the geek enough to pull it off.

  • David Fullam

    Who ghost wrote this? This made sense, therefore it can’t be Graeme’s work.

  • Nathanial Perkins

    I would have LOVED to see some more of the 8th Doctor, but then, Eccleston as the 9th was one of my favorite incarnations of the show.  His season suffered from a really shitty budget, but if he had gotten a couple more before Tennant’s run I would’ve been happy.  I just think every Doctor should get at least 3 seasons.

  • tomdaylight

    I don’t think any of these actors are “suffering” from the replacement to be honest. For the most part they’d be suffering more if they were still playing those parts… (possible exception of Terence Howard, but then he was better as Rhodey anyway)

  • coalminds

    Norton was much better than Ruffalo.

  • Sean Stoltey

    Roger Moore didn’t follow Lazenby.  Connery came back for one more movie and then Moore was hired.

  • Sean Stoltey

    I’d really like to see a couple of one off stories where the 8th Doctor is in the Time War and we see why he returned a darker character in the 2005 series.  Failing that, I hope that McGann, Eccleston, Tennant and Smith are all in the 50th Anniversary Special.

  • Sean Stoltey

    Maybe because I’ve never been a fan of the War Machine character, I really don’t care who plays him.  He was much more interesting in IM2 because he actually had a lot to do.

  • Sean Stoltey

    And yes, Brandon Routh was great in a rather crappy movie.  Would have loved if they kept him and Spacey and got someone to make a good movie, recasting everyone else and forgetting the kid ever existed.

  • Sean Stoltey

    As people said above, he was playing Chris Reeve playing Clark/Superman.  Which was a good thing considering the setup of the movie.  It would have been interesting to see how he might have changed his performance in a Superman movie that was not a sequel to the earlier series.

  • nailsin

    Bryan Singer wanted a Christopher Reeve Superman movie and that’s what he hired
    Brandon Routh to do. The failure of Superman Returns is entirely on Singer.

    As for Paul McGann there’s still a shot for him to play the Doctor again. The
    current series refers to the Time War between the Daleks and The Time Lords. I think
    the BBC should do a special mini series telling the Time War story starring McGann
    as the Doctor. It doesn’t matter how old McGann is today because who’s to say how
    long the Doctor stayed in that form. It’d also be great if he regenerated into Eccelston
    at the end but that might be harder for them to work out.

  • Thad Boyd

     Of course he was playing Reeve, just as surely as Spacey was playing Hackman.  That was basically the mission statement of the movie.

    I don’t think it’s really fair to blame the actors for doing the exact thing they were cast and directed to do.  I think this one’s firmly on Singer’s shoulders.

    Hell, considering the first two X-Men movies, Singer probably could have done a perfectly good Superman movie if he hadn’t been addicted to the idea of making it a sequel.

  • Green Lantern

     Absolutely on Routh.

  • Andrew Williams

    But an actor can only go off the direction he’s given, and if your director is making a fapfest to Richard Donner…there’s only so much you can do. I think the point really is that Routh had everything it took to be a good Superman, Superman Returns just wasted it. 

  • jrau18

    McGann didn’t like making the movie, so there’s that.

  • jrau18

    I don’t think we’ll ever see the Time War, unfortunately. It’s been largely unreferenced since Moffat took over.

  • jrau18

    “an attempt which I think eerily succeeded”

    As long as you acknowledge that he did a good job. ;P

  • LasloPratt

     Re: Brandon Routh.  The problem with the movie was that Brandon played neither Clark Kent nor Superman.  Rather, he played Christopher Reeve.  And Kevin Spacey played Gene Hackman.  

  • The Animart

    I would have to say, that in most circles it is agreed that the Sam Raimi version of spiderman jumped the shark in the third movie (and Tobey Maguire with it). George Lazenby knew what he was getting into, he was the in-between (and in his majesty’s secret service wasn’t officially recognized as a bond film for years), let’s not forget the Peter Sellers also played a “bond” variant.

  • Sean Stoltey

    There was never a time when OHMSS wasn’t considered a Bond film.  All Bond films produced by Albert Broccoli and/or his family are part of the series.  Always have been and always will be.  The 60’s version of Casino Royale (with Sellers, Woody Allen, David Niven, etc.) and The Connery co-produced Never Say Never Again are not “official” Bond films.

  • Alistair Hocker

    ” Who knows – no pun intended – what McGann could’ve done with a longer run as everyone’s favorite Time Lord?” Anyone who has listened to the Big Finish audios?

    The audio drama’s made by Big Finish pretty much establish that McGann was a brilliant Doctor, far better, in my opinion, than Ecclestons. The fact that he’s still willing to attend conventions and the like despite only having made one television appearance is also endearing.

  • Robin Burks

    Regarding Paul McGann: His Doctor has a slew of audio adventures, so technically we know how his portrayal of the Doctor would pan out. They’re available via Big Finish Productions. He has already had a good run through those and continues to. The audios are quite brilliant and highly popular with Doctor Who fans.

  • JohnB10

    Superman Returns screwed itself by trying to tie-in to the earlier superman films.

  • Captain Wham

    I blame Sanger for Superman Returns. It was his vision and it totally sucked. Routh did great with what he had to work with. And I enjoyed his work in Dylan Dog.

  • Michael J

    Brandon Routh got screwed because he was thrown into a Superman film that tried too much to recreate the magic from the first Superman movie staring Christopher Reeve.Did we really need to see Lois pass out again after seeing Superman fly away again like we first saw her do in the original film after Superman, not only saves her life but also catches a helicopter?

     It was like they were trying to reboot the first Superman flick and my statement couldn’t be more obvious when Lex Luthor once again was responsible for another earthquake in Metropolis.Tell me that I’m not the only one who noticed the similar plot from the 1978 Superman movie but with the added bonus of him giving Lois a son.You can’t really blame Brandon Routh for going after the paycheck with hopes that this remake would be better.

  • Cd

    I agree with your opinion in with regards to Routh.  Think he made a fine Superman.  And I will honestly admit Superman returns wasn’t that bad.  The only problem was its comparison to Nolan’s Batman.  Yes SR could have used a little more action but that is not Routh’s fault.  I believe the WB was to quick to pull the trigger on a new Superman and should have let Routh play another round.  

  • Hugosleestak

    Ruffalo as Banner was the weakest link in “The Avengers.” He looked more like Bill Bixby than Norton did (Ruffalo and Brandon Routh should compare notes), but he just couldn’t sell the idea that he was a brilliant scientist. Ed Norton did it in spades. And with a slight lisp.

    I’ve chosen not to watch “Superman Returns” since I saw it in the theater, but in addition to the awful script, it seemed to me that Routh had very few lines at all to speak. It’s as if the producers didn’t trust his acting enough to let him go with the role, which was really too bad. And … I complained about that awful slate blue and maroon costume he wore until I got a look at the one being used in “Man of Steel.”

    McGann (wig and all) did his best in his one television performance as the Doctor, and a sensitive, artistic, steampunky version it was, too. Also, the Tardis never seemed so massive on the inside before – something lost in the series reboot.

  • jrau18

    Right. I didn’t say he didn’t like playing the Doctor. I said he didn’t like making the movie.

  • jrau18

    Right. I didn’t say he didn’t like playing the Doctor. I said he didn’t like making the movie.

  • Jonathan Boyle

    I agree with most of what you said in this article other than your analysis of George Lazenby’s portrayal of James Bond. Frankly, I’m baffled that you prefer “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” to the Moore films. I felt that Moore was more likable in the role than Lazenby, and the screenplays of Moore’s films were far more intriguing (particularly “Live and Let Die”, and “For Your Eyes Only”). Personally, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service” is my least favorite Bond film. 

  • Atomic Kommie Comics

    An even MORE “forgotten Bond” is Timothy Dalton, who did TWO Bond flix, yet is even LESS remembered than Lazenby.
    (And I prefer either of them to Roger Moore’s campy take on the character.)

  • Joe Kerr

    let’a not kid ourselves, Lazenby was horrible ad the movie he as in too


    It was my understanding that part of Norton not being in Avengers had to with his post Hulk behavior. Throwing a fit when he wasn’t allowed to edit the film his way, and refusing to participate in the promo appearances leading to the films release. Was this not true??


    I never saw Brandon Routh’s Superman, so I can’t comment on his performance. The only justification for recasting is that they’re doing a reboot. Reboot means everything starts shiny clean from scratch. Which means – for joy – we get to hear for about the 9000th time how Krypton exploded, blah blah blah. But even in the case of the Batman movies…… Christian Bale played the role in – what will end up being – a hugely successful trilogy. But in a few years, the next Batman film will be #1 in a new run. And no matter how popular Bale is/was, they won’t recast him. Bet they won’t even ask. New chapter. New go round. New take on the characters. New actors.

  • Gilberto Edwards

    I believe it’s was a money thing to say the mark ruffalo win the role as Hulk which is not true at all. Because, it they didn’t include the ratings so that’s why now they need to exploried the ratings for the the Avengers 2012 and The Incredible Hulk 2008 film to see which is better.

  • Gilberto Edwards

    I will vote for Obama and Edward Norton will too vote for Obama too. That’s why if Obama gets relected then he will help Norton to come back to the role as Dr.Bruce Banner either in the New Hulk TV series or The Incredible Hulk 2 the sequel to the 2008 film.

  • jrau18