EDITORIAL: Casting Athletes In Super Hero Movies - Good Or Bad Idea?

EDITORIAL: Casting Athletes In Super Hero Movies - Good Or Bad Idea?

Is it a good idea to cast athletes such as wrestlers in comic book movies as superheroes and villains? Should athletes be given a chance to tackle these acting roles or written off because of their backgrounds?

With the recent casting of former WWE wrestler Dave Bautista as Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy and MMA fighter Georges St-Pierre as Batroc the Leaper in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, the argument of whether or not athletes have a place in superhero films seems to be picking up even more steam.

Here on ComicBookMovie.com, the concept of fan casts is a big hit. Sometimes they can be very original (whether that's good or bad) and sometimes they can be extremely repetitive due to either the perfect pairing or a lack of originality. One of the issues brought up very often is whether or not you could sacrifice acting ability for pure resemblance of a character by throwing an athlete into the role and hoping for the best as opposed to placing an actor in that spot and hoping they bring the character's appearance to life. It's a valid argument that can take some interesting twists and turns depending upon the nature of the project and the role in question.

For example, the argument in favor of Batista as Drax the Destroyer seems to be that he's "good enough" and looks the part so it's not causing a lot of commotion. A big factor with that is also how Guardians of the Galaxy is nowhere near as monumental of an adaptation as it would be if we were discussing Batista's involvement in the upcoming Man of Steel film. As a wrestling fan (with my own site Smark Out Moment) I've been asked many times about my feelings on this casting and I have to echo the same statements I've seen many others say: Batista is by no means an actor I would hire to carry any weight of a role, however if this is a simplistic supporting role in a film that I'm not exactly invested in to begin with, I'm willing to go with the ride and make a full judgment after viewing the film itself.

I'm in a similar but much more pronounced situation when it comes to Georges St-Pierre being cast as Batroc the Leaper. As expressed here in another site of mine, Fanboys Anonymous , I'm under the assumption that the role is nothing more than a cameo of an action sequence. Therefore, I'm 100% behind this casting choice. The role of Batroc the Leaper is certainly not going to be something with gravitas similar to Heath Ledger's Joker in The Dark Knight so it doesn't require nearly as much acting ability. In fact, the best comparison I could bring to this is Sébastien Foucan's involvement in Casino Royale. The parkour star was utilized in one action sequence that specialized on his talents and involved quite literally zero acting necessary. If indeed Georges St-Pierre is a glorified stuntman in the new Captain America film, I'd love to hear the arguments against his casting.

While those two situations represent a more positive edge to athletes in superhero films, what about the more negative ones out there? What is there to say about the alarming number of suggestions from people both inside and outside of the entertainment industry that would have gladly gone with John Cena as Captain America or Paul Levesque for Thor? How many fan casts have we seen that quite literally say to "insert any bodybuilder" for Rhino or Doomsday? Gina Carano gets both a dedicated support and vehement opposition when suggested for Wonder Woman. Lest we forget Shaquille O'Neal as Steel…or maybe that's a good thing if we do. They might have the muscular frames to bring the physicality to screen from what we see in comics, but we also have to remember that with any film you shouldn't sacrifice acting ability in any way.

I would be hard pressed to ever say that athletes should be at the forefront of casting calls OR completely ruled out in the process. There are exceptions to rules and over time, people learn to accept that. The instant a new Terminator film is discussed everyone wants the inclusion of former bodybuilder Arnold Schwarzenegger (though thankfully not O.J. Simpson). There seems to be more of an outcry against the direction and script of the new G.I. Joe: Retaliation film than Dwayne "The Rock" Johnson as Roadblock (in fact he's even one of the most brought up names when discussing Black Adam's casting). Then there have been instances where no matter what you do, you just can't throw someone who isn't an actor into a role and expect great results.

What is your opinion on the idea of casting athletes in comic book movies? Leave a comment below!

Posted By:
Anthony Mango
Member Since 5/12/2011
Filed Under "Other" 3/27/2013 Source: ToeKneeManGo
DISCLAIMER: ComicBookMovie.com is protected under the DMCA (Digital Millenium Copyright Act) and... [MORE]
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TheManFromMars - 3/27/2013, 8:45 PM
I'd say let them audition. If they're good, good. The only requirement should be that they can play the role right regardless if they were wrestlers, bodybuilders, rappers, prostitutes, or whatever.

Hiring a trained and proven actor is always better, however, but if it's a small role and the guy (or girl) gave a really good audition, why not?

P.S.: At first, I read "athletes" as "atheists", and I was like "WTF? Since when is this a issue?" lol.
GoodGuy - 3/27/2013, 8:49 PM
What a good article, man. I love reading well written and professionally presented pieces on the website. You get a thumbs up from me.

I pretty much agree with you on this one. I'm not a GOTG fan but I wish not ill upon those who are. Batista's limited (and cringeworthy) acting range wouldn't provide any dimension or justice to the character he's playing. Unless, of course, Drax is just a silent side-liner whose main purpose is to be a badass fighter.

Same goes with GSP. I'm a fan of MMA and him but I hope to god that he isn't much more than a "glorified stuntman".

If you're not convinced watch this and laugh :)


He tries to pretend to have animosity with his opponent but he falls totally flat. Wouldn't want that kind of acting on Captain America, do we?

I loved this article man! Look forward to more.
OrgasmicPotatoe - 3/27/2013, 8:50 PM
Great article, it was a nice read.

As for the topic, i'm all with you. Roles that don't need too much acting and are more about physicality can definitely be given to athletes, as long as they can still act the littlee acting they have to do.
toekneemango - 3/27/2013, 8:54 PM
@ TheManFromMars - LMAO. Maybe the atheists article should be my next one. Agreed 100%

@ImTheGoodGuy / @OrgasmicPotatoe - Thank you very much.
GoodGuy - 3/27/2013, 8:58 PM

Sick name. What's your next article gonna be on?
PsychoManiacJacky - 3/27/2013, 10:54 PM
Because Wrestlers and Athletes are not human beings at all nor they should never have the chance to do anything outside what they are supposed to do...

Yes they can act when given a good script. They should be given opportunities to do so. I hate anyone that backlashes them oh they can't do this n that. For God's sake they are human beings like us. Why don't you go act for yourself if you think you can be better than them. Look at all the hard work they had to do to make it this far in life. Look at all the risks they had to take to be where they are right now. Just think about that. They should definitely be given chances. Every human being deserves a chance at whatever they want. Not many people get even as far as them. Just think about that.
m0th3r - 3/27/2013, 11:19 PM
Well wrestlers are already actors so the question is can they play more then one character...and in the case of Drax is it that different..lol

I personally don't like it...Good films are made with good proven actors. Don't experiment or play with fire when you already have a winning equation...
Armyshot - 3/27/2013, 11:34 PM
Armyshot - 3/27/2013, 11:35 PM
Gary Oldman has a point, although that's not to say all athletes can't act, but they spend years focusing on certain skill sets, and actors do the same...
pesmerga44 - 3/28/2013, 12:22 AM
I am not really scared of Bautista as Drax because I think he will not be a very talkative character. I really hope they don't go Infinity Watch Drax where he was a Hulk clone being all muscle with no brain. I think what we are gonna get is closer to the Annihilation Wave Drax taking more cues from Riddick. He is probably not going to talk very much beyond a line here or there so I don't think we need to worry that Bautista is going to be asked to pull a Robert Downey Jr. or Tom Hiddleston type performance in this movie.
toekneemango - 3/28/2013, 2:02 AM
@ImTheGoodGuy - Not sure yet. I don't usually have time to post too often on here because of my other websites, but every time a new comic book movie comes out I always do a "Things I'm Excited/Worried About" preview and a review, so at the very least I'll be doing that for Iron Man 3.

@sKeemAn - Thank you :) Agreed. I doubt we'll be seeing Drax in an equivalent of a "you can't handle the truth" scene haha.

@JackyLegacy - I'm not saying that they're not human beings or that they can't act. In fact, in the article I give several examples of how they've worked out in the past. I've also had experience acting myself by the way and if you look above, I never once said I was better than any of them so I don't know where you got that from.

@m0th3r - More often than not, it's better to stick with the formula. Sometimes going against the grain works but when it doesn't...ouch.

@Armyshot - Hahaha, I've never seen that video before. That was great.

@worldbreaker - Good examples, though I'm not fond of potato salad lol

@Pesmerga44 - Batista will definitely benefit from a "strong silent type" version of the role for sure.
6of13 - 3/28/2013, 3:42 AM
If the role calls for physicality over ability to act, then I say okay to Bautista as Drax. I certainly do not expect there to be a Drax spinoff movie so I am not complaining at all about this casting. Nor do I reckon Drax to be as memorable as any of the Avenger roles i.e Thor, Cap, Hulk. In fact, the talking raccoon will probably be more memorable.
I think Pesmerga44 has it right and that Drax will not have many lines.

Nice article.
rodddb - 3/28/2013, 3:50 AM
Basically we are questioning rather an athelete should be able to get an acting gig. Wowww!!! I seen a many actors with flop roles and flop movies so why question if an athelete should be allowed to act.

Actors show up in wrestling, try to sing and cross other venues but no one makes a big deal out of it so let the athelete do what he is asked or is allow to achieve in.

The Rock isn't doing to bad. Lasted I checked wrestling is acting.

SpectacularJoSh - 3/28/2013, 4:47 AM
Nice write-up, and YES, the problem with athletes being cast doesn't seem to dweel in their ability to portray a character but the hype of the movie they are going to be playing the character in. The majority of the fan casts I've seen on this site tend to go for the looks and then the acting chops...and that's not a bad thing because that's how a casting should be. I loved how you pointed that people complain about The Rock being cast in G.I.Joe but thy would love to have him as Black Adam,I couldn't have said it better myself. But if someone decided to cast him as Bane, or Superman, or even Luthor, people would go apeshit and trash the movie to no end. Even if he played Bane that is supposed to wear a mask(TDKR aside) people would be wobbling their tits to no end and complaining about it. So then again,is probably because of the movie they're in. Heimdall was the perfect cast because Idris Elba was convincing, even if he isn't Nordic and because he is a secondary character. Same goes for Michael Clarke Duncan...to this day I couldn't even think of someone else to play Kingpin without using CGI to make him look like him.
Btw, I loved your article.
WruceBayne - 3/28/2013, 4:58 AM
Why can't athletes be actors too? Some people actually do have more than one talent. If they're the best for the roll let them act. Athletes shouldn't be blacklisted just because they threw a ball before they starred in Hamlet.
thaonly1guly - 3/28/2013, 5:06 AM
I believe that if the role calls for a larger than life character then athletes should be considered especially if they are under heavy make-up. Their voices can be dubbed with another actors voice like they did with the Silver Surfer or even Darth Vader.

For example if they cast Darkseid for a JLA movie and since MCD is not an option anymore I would be all for getting someone with the physical attributes to fill the role like maybe Bob Sapp(MMA Fighter) or Kane(WWE Wrestler). And in those cases above dub the voice out or for Kane he has a passable voice for Darkseid so he could be allowed to voice the character as well.

MetalGeek - 3/28/2013, 5:15 AM
I think it is possible for some of these athletes to become acconplished actors. Dwanye Johson being the first that comes to mind. There are a lot of actors that have trained for a life time, have made some great movie and are concidered accomplished, but in reality can't act. The Matrix trilogy was awesome, but Keanu Reeves is by no means even a good actor. Sylvester Stallone has made some of the best movies ever, but again is a very limited actor. The are to many to keep naming. I believe the Rock is far more versatile than many of these actors.Cena not so much, but given the right role he too could make a great, memorable movie. Athletes should be given a chance. Start them in smaller rolls and let them work for it. I know there are doubters, but I think Rock could one day be concidered an accomplished actor.
tripttwe - 3/28/2013, 5:24 AM
The Man From Mars said it best. I still have a Chris Benoit (RIP) Wolverine in my mind to this day. No disrespect to Hugh, but I think he would've been great for that role...
CherryBomb - 3/28/2013, 5:28 AM

If they can act, then sure,
The Rock has gotten much better since when he started off and I actually enjoy seeing him on screen now.

Jason Lee, professional skateboarder, he's good.
Jason Stattham is more of a hit or miss, but he's still a decent actor. He was a professional diver for many years.

I would prefer to chose acting over the specific look, but if they have what it takes then I'm all for it.

Although I really can't see Dave Bautista playing the role that well, I'd have preferred Jason Momoa to be honest.
Nubase - 3/28/2013, 5:50 AM
it all depends on the role, if it is a role that require a lot of physical attributes then yeah why not but if its a role that requires nothing but acting like a emotional role then no because the emotional side of acting take years to perfect.

Batistuta and st pierre roles will hardly have any lines in the movie, perhaps a few from batituta but doubt st pierre will as his french canadian accent is very strong.
Chewtoy - 3/28/2013, 6:04 AM
It all depends on what they bring to the table, and how much of an asset it is to the role. Jackie Chan has never been a great actor, but watching him do what he could do was well worth a ticket price. Sometimes a great actor is wasted on a thin role that leaves him or her little to do, and sometimes a lack of physicality in an actor leaves the director having to cut up or otherwise disguise the fact in a film's action scenes, robbing them of impact.

As long as we're referencing wrestlers in films, I need to give a shout out to Andre the Giant in "The Princess Bride". Hard to understand? Sure, at times. A good actor? Not by most any definition. But he brought a certain charm to a major supporting role, and the film wouldn't have been the same without him.
MisterNiceGuy - 3/28/2013, 6:13 AM
I don't think previous or current career paths dictate anyone's acting abilites. I mean look at Michael Clark Duncan. Wasn't he a grave digger or some shit
thewonderer - 3/28/2013, 6:20 AM
From the words of the great Gary Oldman:

lntrn8 - 3/28/2013, 6:22 AM
some of the greatest wrestlers are the greatest actors . . . they are in "sports entertainment" after all.
Miguelicious - 3/28/2013, 6:24 AM
 photo gina_wonder_zps800ec2ea.jpg
nordberg - 3/28/2013, 6:29 AM
Kelel22 - 3/28/2013, 6:33 AM
I actually think as long as they tackle the role or profession of acting seriously I dont think their is an issue. Bad actors are not all athlete's and all athlete's aren't bad actors! I think "The Rock" does a great job in the movies he has done, and I think he takes acting very seriously you know!
Kelel22 - 3/28/2013, 6:34 AM
@yoss LOL
CherryBomb - 3/28/2013, 7:13 AM

Definitely no to Gina Carano.
She's a prime example that having a great body isn't enough,she can't act and I don't think she can bring the depth needed to portray Wonder Woman on screen.

Especially in a Justice League movie, we need a woman who can stand out, and Scarlett Johansson didn't in the film, she's a decent actress, not great, but she got lost in the midst of RDJ. Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L and Tom Hiddleston.
Vaportrail - 3/28/2013, 7:19 AM
I could not disagree more, CherryBomb.

Haywire was so good.
A director like Soderbergh doesn't put someone like Carano up against Michael Fassbender, Ewan McGregor, Michael Douglas unless she's got some chops.

She's still a little new to the acting game, but I see great potential.

Take a look at the Rock's career. He's done some crappy movies, but he's starting to do some pretty decent ones. Acting is a learned skill, like anything else.
JohnnyKrypton - 3/28/2013, 7:20 AM
If you're just looking for a 'look' (e.g. Nash in Punisher, HHH in Blade, etc.) there's no problem as long as you minimize any actual acting.

However...there are athletes who CAN handle actual roles, some of them quite good, going all the way back to Johnny Weissmuller and Buster Crabbe in the 30s to guys like Burt Reynolds, Carl Weathers and Jim Brown in the 70s/80s to Steve Austin, Rock, Terry Crews and Jason Statham now.

Like any other type of film, you can go for the look, you can go for the talent, or you can go for the best available combination.
rbfn04 - 3/28/2013, 7:25 AM
People keep forgetting Shaq's legendary Steel. Haters the lot of you. That was an Oscar worthy performance
CharlesLord - 3/28/2013, 7:34 AM
Wrestling is acting but you can usually tell who would make a good film actor with their mic skills or charisma.

Carano isnt a bad actress, isnt great either. I say give them a chance, if they fill the specs of the role (whether physical or not) according to who's casting, why not give them a chance?
catman - 3/28/2013, 7:37 AM
@LEVITIKUZ ..Shut up you wannable DC fan boy who never reads comics and just watches shitty dc toons..
CrashTest - 3/28/2013, 7:40 AM
As long as he take some more acting classes because Ive seen his films and hes bad.
GodzillaKart - 3/28/2013, 9:40 AM
Vaportrail is absolutely correct.
deamon - 3/28/2013, 9:46 AM
John Cena for Eddie Brock!
superotherside - 3/28/2013, 9:48 AM
Great article. I'm really hoping Bautista suprises me but doubt he will. I agree with basically everything you said.
ralfinader - 3/28/2013, 9:50 AM
Casting athletes in CBM's is nothing new, ask Arnold. Sometimes it pays off, sometimes you end up with shit. Like one of the first posters said: "Let them audition". As comics are primarely a visual medium, it only makes sense that athletes, professional or otherwise seem tailor made to fit the bill.
novaprime - 3/28/2013, 9:51 AM
Aundre Arlovski was Great in Universal Soldier
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