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Movie Casting Decisions That Fans Hated

When a film is based on popular source material, whether it's a book or a video game or a series of comics, fans are always going to have some immediate and blunt opinions about the actors who are cast to fill the shoes of characters they've already grown to love in another medium. Those opinions, unsurprisingly, aren't always going to be good.

There's a long history of fans completely hating Hollywood's casting decisions, dating all the way back to Vivien Leigh in Gone with the Wind and beyond, and the internet has only made such reactions faster and more intense. Fans have dozens of different ways to say they hate a casting a choice mere seconds after the news breaks, even if it'll be years before we get to see the actor actually playing the character onscreen.

So, as we enter a new cycle of casting controversy with the news that Robert Pattinson is lining up to play Batman, here are 12 examples of movie casting decisions fans hated, whether the actors ultimately deserved it or not.

Daniel Craig as James Bond

After more than a decade in the role, Daniel Craig is primed to retire as James Bond after the release of the upcoming 25th film in the long-running Eon Productions Bond series. The film will be Craig's fifth as 007, and his tenure as the sixth Eon Bond has been marked by intense action, stone cold determination, and a level of filmmaking skill that elevated the franchise for a new era.

When Craig first landed the role in the fall of 2005, though, the reception was less than warm. Many fans were immediately opposed to Craig's casting due to the simple fact that he was blonde, while others looked at his acting career up to that point and felt he was perhaps not up to the task. Even Sam Mendes, who would go on to direct the Bond film Skyfall (a high water mark of the Craig era for many) admitted to the press years later that he wasn't sure Craig was the right actor to play Bond. It got so bad that entire websites were set up by fans devoted to either demanding Craig be replaced or boycotting his first Bond film, Casino Royale. Craig's Bond films have since gone on to collectively gross more than $3 billion worldwide.

Jared Leto as The Joker

Jared Leto was coming off an Academy Award for his performance in Dallas Buyers Club when he was cast as the Joker — joining a distinguished line of actors including Jack Nicholson and Heath Ledger — in Suicide Squad, director David Ayer's take on the titular DC antihero team. Leto is a talented actor capable of inhabiting all kinds of eccentric roles, but that didn't mean fans were happy about the casting.

Initial trepidation over Leto's casting got worse when Ayer revealed the first photo of the character, depicting Leto as a mass of tattoos over pale skin, including the word "Damaged" on his forehead and a series of "HA" designs all over his body. Some fans thought the new direction for the character was funny, while others just thought it was awful.

Suicide Squad arrived in 2016 to mixed reviews, and while reports of a future solo Joker movie for Leto persisted for a while, Warner Bros. has since moved on to another actor to play the Clown Prince of Crime. Joaquin Phoenix is set to play a new version of the character in Joker, an R-rated standalone origin story film which will arrive in the fall of 2019.

Ben Affleck as Batman

It's hard to overstate just how long a shadow Christopher Nolan's Dark Knight trilogy has cast over the state of Batman at the movies in the 2010s. Cinephiles and superhero fans alike adore those films for their grounded take on Batman and his rogues gallery, and while that's great if you love those movies, it's a problem if you're trying to move on to the next era of the Caped Crusader on film.

In that sense, it's hard to imagine most actors getting welcomed with universal praise when they start their journey as Batman, but Ben Affleck didn't get anything close to that when he was announced as Bruce Wayne for Zack Snyder's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. While some fans were willing to give him a chance, others were far less charitable and even outright angry about the casting, often citing Affleck's performance in Daredevil in 2003 as proof that he didn't have superhero chops. There was even a Change.org petition calling for his removal at one point. Batman v Superman and its sequel, 2017's Justice League, were both met with mixed reviews, and Affleck has since retired from the role.

Heath Ledger as The Joker

Ask any group of superhero movie fans what the greatest comic book film of all time is, and a good number of them are going to cite The Dark Knight as their favorite. The second film in Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy is a modern classic, and one of the most influential films in its subgenre. One of the key reasons for that is Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker, which remains one of the most celebrated comic book character adaptations ever. Things didn't start out that way, though.

When Ledger was announced in the role in the summer of 2006, fans were equal parts confused and enraged by the news. Some were angry that stars like Robin Williams and Sean Penn were passed over for the part, while others couldn't get past Ledger's past performances in romantic comedies like 10 Things I Hate About You. There were also, sadly, plenty of jokes about his performance as a homosexual cowboy in Brokeback Mountain at the time.

The Dark Knight went on to gross more than $1 billion worldwide. Ledger, who died suddenly at the age of 28 just months before the film was released, received near-universal acclaim for his performance, and in 2009 he was posthumously given the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor.

Scarlett Johansson as Major Motoko Kusanagi

Hollywood has a long history of controversy when it comes to remakes of properties starring characters of other nationalities. One of the most controversial recent examples is Ghost in the Shell, the 2017 live-action film based on the classic Japanese manga (and subsequent anime adaptations). In 2015, Scarlett Johansson was cast as the film's lead, which in the original story is a woman named Major Motoko Kusanagi.

Fans were immediately perplexed and angered by the idea that a white American woman would be cast as a Japanese character, and a petition was launched asking DreamWorks, the studio behind the film, to make a change. That change didn't happen, as Johansson and the rest of the team behind the film urged fans to see the movie before they passed judgement, arguing that the story they'd conceived was not actually an instance of whitewashing.

Then the film was released, and it only spurred further controversy when it was revealed that Johansson's character — who'd been renamed "Mara Killian" in the film — was literally a white body with a Japanese brain inside of it. At least in part because of the controversy, Ghost in the Shell was a critical and commercial failure.

Johnny Depp as Tonto

Johnny Depp has a long history of playing eccentric characters in blockbuster films, very often with the aid of extensive makeup, costuming, and a heavily affected voice. Those tendencies took a turn for the eyebrow-raising in 2011, when Depp started talking about his desire to play the Native American character Tonto in a modern reimagining of The Lone Ranger. Depp's wish was specifically to elevate the character, taking him out of his racially caricatured sidekick status to create something new that blew up stereotypes about American Indian characters. So, did he succeed?

The Lone Ranger, which starred Armie Hammer in the title role alongside Depp's Tonto, was a critical and commercial disappointment upon its release in 2013, but the reaction to Depp's performance among Native critics was actually somewhat mixed. Some were happy to see Depp injecting plenty of humor into the role and offering Native actors the opportunity to appear alongside him, while others were outright disappointed, and felt that Depp leaned into many of the stereotypes he'd hoped to break up.

Jake Gyllenhaal as Prince Dastan

Video game adaptations are historically troubled things in Hollywood. They almost never seem to work critically or commercially, but the 2010 video game film Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time had an extra layer of trouble in the form of a whitewashing controversy concerning its central character.

For the role of Prince Dastan, the titular Persian prince, the filmmakers chose Jake Gyllenhaal, who is a talented actor, but definitely not Persian. Matters were not helped along by the casting of Gemma Arterton as his love interest, Princess Tamina. Critics of the casting decisions wondered why actors of Middle Eastern descent could not have been called upon to play those roles instead of relying on white stars, while others argued that name recognition was the reason for the casting decisions. The debate raged on throughout the production process and all the way up to the film's release. Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time was a critical and commercial failure, so the discussion could not continue into any sequels.

Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman

Fans waited for years to see Wonder Woman finally portrayed on the big screen, and in 2016 we finally got our wish when Israeli actress and model Gal Gadot brought the character to life in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. It was a triumphant moment for many fans, but when Gadot was announced as the actress chosen for the role, online criticism was swift and blunt.

So, what was the primary complaint? Well, many fans complained not about Gadot's talent, but about her body, claiming she wasn't buff enough or curvy enough to play the Amazonian princess and warrior. Gadot, for her part, took the criticism in stride.

"They said that I was too skinny and my boobs were too small... After they asked me here, in Israel, if I have eating disorders and why am I so skinny — they said my head was too big and my body was like a broomstick — I can take anything," she said. "It's just empty talk. I understand that part of what I'm doing means being exposed. And part of being exposed is being under fire."

Gadot went on to play Wonder Woman in a 2017 solo film and in the Justice League movie. A solo sequel, Wonder Woman 1984, is set to hit theaters in 2020.

Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen

Casting the right actor for a once-in-a-lifetime, franchise-defining role is always tricky business, but it's even trickier when you're talking about adaptations of bestselling books. In that case, you have to contend with fans who already have a clear idea of what the character should look like in their heads. When it's a bestselling young adult book series like The Hunger Games, that pressure is amplified even more.

This was the case when Jennifer Lawrence, then still a rising young actress on the verge of superstardom, was cast as the lead of the series, Katniss Everdeen. Fans were immediately critical of the choice, complaining that Lawrence was everything from too full-figured to too blond to play the role. There were event complaints that an actress of color wasn't cast because author Suzanne Collins' description of Katniss suggests that she could be at least biracial — concerns which Collins later dismissed.

The four Hunger Games films were box office successes, and Lawrence — whose chief concern was that the series would be "too big" — was happy to have held onto the role. "I wanted to make the movie, and it's this character that's incredible. She's iconic," she said. "If you're going to be typecast, it should be the best character you've ever read. And that's what she was for me."

Robert Pattinson as Edward Cullen

Speaking of popular young adult book series with fans who might seem impossible to please, there's Stephenie Meyer's bestselling Twilight saga, which tells the story of a teenage girl named Bella Swan falling in love with a vampire named Edward Cullen, who looks like a teenager but is actually more than 100 years old. In 2007, it was announced that Robert Pattinson, then best known for his role as Cedric Diggory in Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, would play Edward, who was described as a fantastically beautiful creature with skin that sparkled like diamonds in the sunlight.

Fans were not pleased, but it's possible that no mere mortal could have ever lived up to the standards set by Meyer's descriptions of Edward in her novels. Pattinson later recalled "unanimous unhappiness" from fans after his casting was announced. The Twilight films were all box office successes, but even by the time the final film — Breaking Dawn – Part 2 — was released, he still wasn't sure the fans had entirely embraced him. "I don't know. I feel like it's kind of coming full circle again, and they hate me again," he joked.

Anne Hathaway as Catwoman

Writer/director Christopher Nolan was vindicated in 2008 when The Dark Knight was released, and his widely criticized decision to cast Heath Ledger as the Joker paid off. Ledger's performance was instantly hailed as a work of genius, and you'd think that perhaps moviegoers would learn to trust Nolan a little more after that. You'd be wrong, at least where Anne Hathaway was concerned.

In 2011, Nolan announced that Hathaway had been cast in the closer of his Batman trilogy, The Dark Knight Rises, as Selina Kyle, better known as Catwoman. Fans were quick to criticize the decision, as the comments section on this CNN piece from the time shows. The criticism deepened when the first photo of Hathaway in her Catwoman costume was released, but Hathaway seemed to shrug it off.

"What I am happy to say", she told MTV, "is if you don't like the photo, you only see about a tenth of what the suit can do. And if you did like the photo, you have excellent taste".

Tom Cruise as Lestat de Lioncourt

Sometimes a character is built up as so compelling and even supernaturally spellbinding in a book that fans of their written form can't possibly image a certain actor translating that feeling to film. It's a common problem for longtime readers to shake when they see film adaptations of their favorite books, but it's rare to find the author of those books leading the charge against a casting decision. This was the case in 1994, when author Anne Rice was openly critical of the decision to cast Tom Cruise as her most famous character, the vampire Lestat, in the adaptation of her novel Interview with the Vampire.

"I don't think I've ever fallen under the spell of an actor when the voice wasn't a big component, and of course the very sad thing about Tom Cruise is he does not have that kind of distinct voice," Rice said at the time. "How is he possibly going to say those lines? How is he gonna exert the power of Lestat?"

It's hard to imagine fans getting behind an actor when the character's creator isn't behind him, but Rice soon changed her tune. After seeing the film, she personally called Cruise to tell him she was wrong about his casting, and the two had a "wonderful conversation."