- Some characters in movie franchises should have been recast for their sequels to maintain consistent success and allow the movies to thrive.
- Recasting decisions can be difficult for directors, but replacing actors who overstay their welcome can prevent the damage to iconic roles.
- Examples include Chris O’Donnell in Batman & Robin, Roy Scheider in Jaws, Channing Tatum in G.I. Joe, and Sandra Bullock in Speed, among others.
While some characters are made iconic by the actors that played them, there are some that should have been recast for their sequels. Some franchises are able to rebound from disappointing sequels. However, the ambition of most movie series’ is to find consistent success, which is often defined by their characters. Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter and Jennifer Lawrence as Katniss Everdeen are the type of perfect castings that are essential to seeing out a franchise and proving to be hugely successful. On some occasions, though, characters must change actors to allow their respective movies and stories to thrive.
Even some of the most iconic roles can be damaged by an actor overstaying their welcome and making a poor sequel to an otherwise brilliant franchise. Regardless of how loved or hated some characters may be, there comes a time when a change is necessary for a film series’ next step. Recasting decisions can be hard to make for directors, especially when dropping a star for someone lesser known, but it can often be for the benefit of the series. Considering how important it is for movies to have the right actors for specific roles, here are 10 characters that should have been recast for their sequels.
10 Chris O’Donnell (Batman & Robin)
Batman & Robin already saw a big recast with the previous Batman, Val Kilmer, being replaced by George Clooney. After replacing its lead, it would make sense to have a different actor take on the role of Robin. While O’Donnell fits the role, Batman & Robin was a critical disaster, and the movie may have performed better with a different actor alongside Clooney. Taking a chance on the likes of Freddie Prinze Jr., who was making his start around then, could have worked. He has shown an ability to do action and comedy, fitting the younger role. Likewise, Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney side-by-side could have been an interesting fit.
9 Roy Scheider (Jaws)
Roy Scheider’s most iconic role is also the one he shouldn’t have reprized. Steven Spielberg had casting concerns for Jaws but wanted no part in its sequel. As a result, the film suffered massively and didn’t manage to recapture the success of the original. Scheider also wasn’t too keen on signing on for Jaws 2 but was contractually obligated, according to The Daily Jaws. With an uninspired actor leading the film, Jaws 2’s poor reception was inevitable. Instead, Universal could have opted for Scheider’s The French Connection co-star, Gene Hackman, to replace him. This would’ve given the franchise a fresh lead, director, and potentially new ideas to make Jaws 2 work.
8 Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe)
To say Channing Tatum wasn’t a fan of his G.I. Joe role would be an understatement. Channing Tatum revealed he hated the G.I. Joe films, claiming he initially turned the role down seven times. He was desperate to be killed off in G.I. Joe Retaliation and got his wish; his character Duke was killed in the first 10 minutes. While neither of Tatum’s G.I. Joe films were big hits, recasting Duke as someone more enthusiastic would have been better than killing him off. According to Men’s Health, Chris Hemsworth expressed interest in the role of Duke, who would have been a nice replacement, although Thor commitments may have prevented this.
7 Sandra Bullock (Speed)
Much like Batman & Robin, Speed 2 ditched its original lead actor whilst keeping a critical character. Sandra Bullock reprized her role as Annie Porter in Speed 2, but the movie performed nowhere near the original. Poor ratings and a box office failure meant this film was a dud which Bullock should never have been a part of. Michelle Pfeiffer had plenty of action experience that could have allowed the sequel to feel fresh and new compared to the first Speed film. Instead, Keanu Reeves’ absence is felt massively and resulted in a sloppy sequel that failed to impress critically or financially.
6 Anthony Perkins (Psycho)
Alfred Hitchcock is one of the most influential directors in cinema history, blending the horror and thriller genres to make unique and memorable movies. Perhaps the most unique of them all is Psycho. Anthony Perkins absolutely nails his role as Norman Bates, but without Hitchcock for Psycho 2, there should have been no Perkins. Jack Nicholson had the star power to reinvent the franchise and give it a fresh yet familiar feel rather than sticking with Perkins. It could have allowed the Psycho franchise to be reimagined and perhaps allowed for a modern reboot but with the failure of the sequels. Psycho is unlikely to make a return anytime soon.
5 Arnold Schwarzenegger (The Terminator)
The original Terminator trilogy was some of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s best work, and he deserved to see it out. While his role in the original films is irreplaceable, he should have been recast for the modern films. Terminator Salvation saw the Terminator franchise move on without the Austrian, yet come the next movie in the series, Schwarzenegger was back despite a whole host of fresh faces. Josh Brolin would make a great Terminator, being better suited to star in Terminator Genisys rather than reverting to Schwarzenegger. Brolin has shown plenty of potential he could do the role, as evidenced by his menacing performance as Thanos.
4 Harrison Ford (Indiana Jones)
Like Schwarzenegger, Harrison Ford was a wonderful fit for the original Indiana Jones films. However, it should have let someone new take the mantel in the series’ latest film. Using CGI, Ford was de-aged in Indiana Jones the Dial of Destiny as opposed to letting a younger actor take over. While some fans may be exhausted of Chris Pratt, he would make an amazing modern Indiana Jones. Pratt has plenty of experience leading big action franchises and can add his comedic touch to fit the style of modern-day blockbusters. Ford will forever be remembered as Indiana Jones, but Dial of Destiny was one movie too much for the star.
3 Amber Heard (Aquaman)
After the controversial Depp vs. Heard case, Johnny Depp lost his role as Gellert Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts films. Amber Heard and Johnny Depp divided the internet after the long, public case. While there are defenders of both actors, a petition to remove Amber Heard from Aquaman 2 reached over 1.5 million signatures in 2020. With DC already rebooting the entire franchise, it would make sense to appease angry fans and find someone new to play Mera going forward. There were reports Emilia Clarke would play the character which would have been a good choice for the franchise’s future.
2 Tom Cruise (Jack Reacher)
Tom Cruise’s Jack Reacher series never managed to take off like his other action franchises. While the likes of Top Gun and Mission Impossible have both had recent critical successes, Jack Reacher never managed the same performance. The first film performed relatively well; the second was far less successful and ended the series with just two movies. Cruise is one of Hollywood’s best action stars, and Jack Reacher can be successful, as proved by Alan Ritchson’s take on the character. The reason Cruise’s version failed was simply because he didn’t suit the character. Had someone like Ritchson taken the role in Jack Reacher’s sequel, the film’s fate might have been different.
1 Ezra Miller (The Flash)
Of all the characters that needed to be recast, The Flash needed it the most. Despite its controversy, 2023’s The Flash was met with mixed reviews but was a box office failure. There are many factors that led to it flopping financially, but Ezra Miller may be top of the list. Miller has had several controversies and allegations brought against them. They played The Flash in Justice League, but many thought Miller would be recast following the controversies as well as DC’s reboot. Rather than adapt Grant Gustin’s Barry Allen to the big screen or go a different direction like Timothee Chalamet, DC stuck with Miller and paid the consequences.