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Actors Whose Careers Were Ruined By DC And Marvel Movies

We're living in the Golden Age of superhero films with Marvel's Phase 3 about to begin and DC finally bringing us something other than rehashes of the same Batman and Superman stories over and over again. With so many new movies on the way from both companies, and so many of them being immensely popular, it's easy to forget that not every Marvel or DC movie did so well in the past. In fact, some of them crapped all over the careers of the actors involved in ways that were extremely destructive.

Alicia Silverstone

Remember back in the 1990s, Alicia Silverstone was an "it" girl, boosted by Aerosmith's curious obsession with her that found her cast in several of their music videos? This, combined with a creepy turn as an underage nutjob in The Crush made her a hot commodity. And then she got the role of a lifetime in Clueless, a movie that 20 years later is still her most iconic role. She was huge. And so casting her as Batgirl in 1997's Batman and Robin seemed like a no-brainer for everyone involved. Unfortunately :no brains" is what Batman and Robin might best be known for.

Batman and Robin bombed harder with critics than most other movies ever had. Each of Batgirl's lines was stupider than the last and the character seemed out of place and pointless, beyond a number of shots of her butt in a bat outfit (director Joel Schumacher's signature move). After the film's failure, Silverstone has gone on to make numerous appearances in unremarkable films, the biggest of which were immediately after Batman and Robin, when it seemed like she still might have a shot as a bankable star. Within five years, she was voicing cartoons and making TV movies. Her last feature film role was voice work in a cartoon called Jungle Shuffle featuring the voice talents of Drake Bell and Rob Schneider.

Dolph Lundgren

This one is tough to call, but there's something to be said for timing. While Dolph Lundgren may not have ever been in the running for an Oscar, he did make a few fun movies in his day including Masters of the Universe, Red Scorpion, and his iconic role as Ivan Drago in Rocky IV. Then he was cast as Frank Castle in 1990's The Punisher.

Everything about this movie is egregious, from the lack of the skull logo on the lead character's shirt, to the fact that Castle lives in the sewer, to Lundgren's total inability to seem angry at any point ever in the movie, which really kind of takes the wind out of his revenge sails. No one seeks vengeance when they seem as bored with life as Frank Castle does.

Now you can argue that this movie did not, in fact, ruin Lundgren's career as he went on to make Universal Soldier, but keep in mind that's a Jean-Claude Van Damme movie, so it's hard to count it as a success. The next movie Lundgren was in that made it to theaters was The Expendables, a movie marketed on the novelty of being full of has-beens.

Michael Keaton

Michael Keaton is undoubtedly a huge name, and he could be considered in some ways the father of the modern superhero film. His two bites at the Batman apple back in the late 1980s and early 1990s seemed very much like the beginning of the modern superhero age in film. And he has had a long film career since he opted out of appearing as the Caped Crusader for a third time in Batman Forever, so can we really say DC ruined his career? Well, you be the judge.

After Batman Returns, the only movies Keaton has made that have done anywhere near as well at the box office have been cartoons in which he provided the voices, along with a number of others. And no one considers Toy Story 3 a Michael Keaton movie, so is it fair to consider that one of his hits? Or just a hit he was in?

The fact is, aside from a few standout supporting roles, films like Jackie Brown and maybe the Robocop remake, his career has been incredibly forgettable save for one movie: Birdman. And the movie's story, depicting a washed-up actor recovering from a stint in a superhero franchise, seems to cement how Batman really did ruin Keaton's career, whether Birdman is a fictionalized account or not.

Topher Grace

Topher Grace seemed like he was on track to becoming the next big star after his run on the ultra-popular sitcom That '70s Show. Sure, his character was a bit of a gangly wiener, but that was just a character, right? And to prove it he was cast as one of Spider-Man's most badass villains: Venom.

Venom, and his alternate ego Eddie Brock, is supposed to be everything Spider Man is and more. Where Peter Parker was a scrawny high school nerd, Eddie Brock was a beast of a man. And the Venom suit had all of Spider-Man's powers with added strength and savagery.

Instead of a monstrous, dark version of Spider-Man, what we got was the gangly wiener from That '70s Show whining about Peter Parker ruining his life in a movie that no one liked with special effects that were shrug-worthy at best. It was a franchise killer.

Since his lamentable performance as Venom way back in 2007, Grace has had less than a handful of memorable roles, while the rest of his career has been forgotten guest spots and movies no one saw.

Brandon Routh

Imagine being Brandon Routh in 2006 when he got tapped to resurrect Superman in the movie Superman Returns. It should have been a huge, career-making movie for the relatively unknown actor who, at that point, had done little more than guest roles on sitcoms.

Unfortunately for Routh, Superman Returns went over about as well as Superman IV. What could have been the equivalent of Hugh Jackman landing the role of Wolverine turned into a forgettable turn as a character no one cared about in a disappointingly uninteresting film.

After the potential for a new Superman franchise was squashed, Routh mostly returned to TV roles and a handful of films as insignificant characters. His most successful roe to date has been as the Atom in the DC comics TV adaptations, Arrow and The Flash.

Chris O'Donnell

Before taking the role of Dick Grayson, aka Robin, Chris O'Donnell was a bankable rising star. The Three Musketeers and Fried Green Tomatoes were both hits, and O'Donnell snagged a Golden Globe for his acting in Scent of a Woman. But after a second spin as Batman's sidekick in the worst two Batman films, it seems like someone in Hollywood took notice.

To be fair to O'Donnell, he has a steady gig on the not-technically-CSI procedural drama NCIS:Los Angeles, but he slogged through nearly a decade of forgettable film roles and guest spots that never came close to living up to a Golden Globe-winning performance. And as popular as NCIS may be, it and the numerous other acronym shows like it are pretty much a dime a dozen on TV; anyone could fill that role and it would be just as popular.