Since Iron Man in 2008, there have been 16 movies set in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a shared universe of films. Before and after that, there have been even more movies based on Marvel like 2002’s Spider-Man and 1998’s Blade. If you consider the combined cast and crew for all those movies, studios have done a great job keeping them happy. Actors like Robert Downey Jr. or directors like the Russo Brothers who have signed on for multiple films is evidence of that. Yet with large productions like these, there are always going to be a few who don’t like the process, and those are who we’ll be talking about today.
There have been dozens of actors who’ve worked on Marvel movies and some of them have been frustrated by the special effects or demands of big-budget filming. Others have wanted more of a role in the decision-making and disappointed by their lack of control. Speaking of control, there have also been a few directors who weren’t happy with the demands of Marvel and other studios, leaving the projects with disappointment. With Thor: Ragnarok just around the corner, let’s talk about 15 people who hated working on Marvel movies.
15. TERRENCE HOWARD
Terrence Howard played James “Rhodey” Rhodes in 2008’s Iron Man and got in on the ground floor with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Not only was Rhodey a major character in the comics, but he was set to become War Machine in the sequel. Behind the scenes, Howard made $4.5 million, more than Robert Downey Jr., and was set to make $8 million more for the two sequels he was contracted for.
Unfortunately, things didn’t work out. Howard later said he was offered $1 million instead, and when he turned it down, the role was recast with Don Cheadle. Howard’s salary has dropped since then and apparently seeing how successful the franchise has been left him a little bitter. As recently as 2013, when asked about the worst thing he’s witnessed, Howard replied, “Iron Man killing my career.”
14. JOSS WHEDON
When Whedon co-wrote and directed Marvel’s The Avengers, he brought together four separate superheroes for the first time on the big screen and created a critical and commercial smash. He followed up in 2015 with Avengers: Age of Ultron, which was financially successful but not as well-liked by critics. When Avengers: Infinity War was announced, some were surprised Whedon wasn’t on board as director, and it turned out the last two movies hadn’t been fun for him.
Whedon later admitted that the pressure of making the big-budget movies with so many characters was hard for The Avengers and even harder for Age of Ultron. Whedon said the pressure to follow up with a success with Ultron was much harder, and even said: “It broke me.” He’s vowed never to direct another Marvel movie again.
13. NATALIE PORTMAN
In 2011, Thor brought the Norse god of thunder to the big-screen, along with his longtime love interest Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman. We could see the beginnings of their romance, plus her geek cred as a veteran of Star Wars made fans excited. When Portman didn’t show up in Avengers, her absence was explained as Jane being away from New York. Yet as Thor: The Dark World started filming with her in the cast, rumors came out that she wasn’t happy.
Apparently, a major reason Portman signed onto Thor 2 was being told Patty Jenkins was up to be the director. When Jenkins left due to “creative differences,” Portman was angry but contractually obligated to stay on. After that, she hasn’t set foot on a Marvel set and has been written out of the franchise.
12. ALAN TAYLOR
Speaking of Thor: The Dark World, let’s talk about the director, Alan Taylor. He ended up directing the movie instead of Jenkins and produced a movie that some fans were lukewarm to, but which was ultimately successful. Still, Taylor himself doesn’t have fond words for the experience.
Having described the Marvel experience as “wrenching,” Taylor explained in interviews that he felt like the movie was taken away from him. He said that while shooting, he found the experience of making the Marvel film wonderful, but he felt he wasn’t allowed to complete the movie the way he wanted. It seemed like in the post-production and final edit, Marvel took over. At that point, he said Dark World “turned into a different movie.” He’s vowed never to go through that again, which means his days working with Marvel are probably over.
11. JESSICA ALBA
In 2005, Fantastic Four debuted, bringing to life the four astronauts who were zapped with cosmic rays and given super powers. This version was more faithful to the comic and is still more popular than the 2015 version, and led to a sequel, Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. The sequel was less successful, but the cast including Jessica Alba as Sue Storm was well-liked.
One person who didn’t like Silver Surfer was Alba, who apparently was unhappy with the direction Tim Story gave her. During emotional scenes, she said he told her, ‘It looks too real. … Can you be prettier when you cry? … Don’t do that thing with your face. Just make it flat. We can CGI the tears in.” The whole experience was so frustrating that she questioned her acting and almost quit the business altogether.
10. IDRIS ELBA
When Idris Elba was cast as Heimdall, the guardian of the Bifrost rainbow bridge, it was a great move. His measured and powerful voice matched perfectly with the strong warrior he proved to be. He’s appeared in all the Thor movies, but there was a moment he later revealed made him regret his decision to join the cast.
In a 2014 interview, Elba described how he went from his movie Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (where he played the title role) to do reshoots for Thor: The Dark World. As he hung from a harness over the set wearing his golden armor and helmet and yellow contact lenses, he thought back to playing the statesman Nelson Mandela and thought it was “torture.” He later clarified that it was the contrast between the two roles that bothered him, but we’re guessing it wasn’t the only gripe.
9. EDGAR WRIGHT
Edgar Wright had been trying to make a Marvel movie about Ant-Man since 2006, around the same time as production began on Iron Man. His vision of the movie had carried him through eight years of development with casting and a script. Yet just a few months before shooting was supposed to begin, Wright dropped out due to “creative differences.”
Only in 2017 did Wright go into more detail as to why he left Ant-Man. He said he had written all the drafts of the script with his partner Joe Cornish, but Marvel wanted to make changes he didn’t agree with. Marvel hired other writers to rewrite the script, making him feel like a director-for-hire. When he felt it was no longer his movie, Wright walked.
8. MICKEY ROURKE
Oscar-winner Mickey Rourke surprised everyone with his role as the whip-wielding Russian villain Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2. It was a performance that jumped off the screen with tattoos, a gravelly voice and engineering skill that matched Tony Stark’s. Unfortunately, Rourke isn’t a fan of Vanko or playing any other Marvel roles.
Apparently, when shooting the movie, Rourke recorded a lot of scenes with improv to make Vanko more complex and emotional. Most of it was cut, reducing Rourke to what he considered a one-dimensional character, and Rourke was furious with the edits left on the cutting room floor. When asked if he would ever do another Marvel movie, he said, “If they want to make mindless comic book movies, then I don’t want to be a part of that.”
7. ED NORTON
When Ed Norton replaced Eric Bana as the Hulk, it seemed like a great move. Norton had a long career with multiple Academy Award nominations, and brought an intensity to the performance in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, along with a lean frame that matched the nerdy Bruce Banner. When the cast for Avengers was announced, many were surprised that he wasn’t brought back. Mark Ruffalo was cast as Bruce Banner instead.
It turned out that Norton had been heavily invested in Hulk, making uncredited changes to the script. When it came time to edit the movie, Norton demanded to be allowed to make changes there as well, and when Marvel refused, Norton refused to do press for the movie and was written out. It’s unlikely he’ll be coming back anytime soon.
6. WESLEY SNIPES
One of the earliest Marvel movie adaptations was Blade in 1998. The film about an African-American vampire hunter was a box office smash and led to two more movies: Blade II and Blade: Trinity in 2004. It was apparently Blade: Trinity that broke Snipes’ back because it was a mess behind the scenes.
Director David Goyer clashed with Snipes, who felt he should have control over the cast and story. For most of the shoot, Snipes refused to come out of his trailer except to shoot close-ups, leaving Goyer to film most of the scenes with Snipes’ stand-in. By the end of the shoot, Snipes would only communicate with Goyer through Post-It Notes left around the set. There has been some talk of Snipes returning for another sequel, but it seems unlikely at this point.
5. HUGO WEAVING
In 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger, the final movie leading to The Avengers fell into place. The story of Steve Rogers being exposed to an experimental treatment that turned him into a superhero was a huge success, but it wouldn’t have been complete without his archenemy, the Red Skull. Played by Hugo Weaving as the Nazi leader who commanded Hydra, critics raved about his performance. Sadly, it seems like Weaving was less enthusiastic.
In interviews, Weaving has said flat out that he not only wouldn’t return as the Red Skull, but he would never work on a Marvel movie again. His comments have always been gracious, saying he enjoyed working on the movie and even the mask but wants to do movies he has a “personal connection” to.
4. RYAN REYNOLDS
In 2016, Ryan Reynolds played the title character in Deadpool, the R-rated action comedy about a mercenary with a healing factor out for revenge. The movie wasn’t his first time playing Deadpool, of course, since he was famously cast as Wade Wilson in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. One of the biggest criticisms of that movie was how Deadpool ended up looking nothing like the character in the comics.
In interviews, Reynolds has admitted that he was against turning Deadpool into a shirtless tattooed super-mutant with arm blades and his mouth sewn shut. He even described arguing with the producers, who basically told him to play the role as written or they would hire someone else. In the end, Reynolds only shot a few scenes, leaving his stuntman to shoot most of the scenes as the mutant Deadpool instead. Fortunately, Reynolds got a do-over.
3. SAM RAIMI
In 2007, Spider-Man 3 brought the last of Sam Raimi’s trilogy, pitting Peter Parker up against three new villains: the Green Goblin, Sandman and Venom. The movie also introduced a storyline from the comics, where Parker is infected by the Symbiote, giving him a black costume and a bad attitude. The movie didn’t fare too well with some critics, either, and the series was rebooted with The Amazing Spider-Man in 2012 starring Andrew Garfield.
Raimi later spoke out about the experience, saying he didn’t believe in the characters, which is why the movie didn’t turn out well. The producer Avi Arad convinced him to include Venom against his wishes, which is probably what Raimi’s talking about. Given the disappointment some fans felt about the portrayal of Venom, he could be right.
2. BEN AFFLECK
In 2003, Marvel’s Daredevil hit the screens, and nothing’s been the same since. The movie brought the blind superhero to life, played by Ben Affleck who fought the Kingpin (Michael Clarke Duncan) and romanced Elektra (Jennifer Garner). While the movie was critically drubbed and didn’t make much money at the box office, arguably the biggest impact was to Affleck’s career.
After Daredevil, Affleck had several bombs before quietly dropping out of the limelight. He made smaller films and directed more until his star began to rise in 2010. When he was hired to play Batman in Batman v Superman, his allegedly poor performance as Daredevil was brought up several times. Affleck himself blamed the movie for hurting his career and probably isn’t eager to go back to Marvel again. Luckily, he still has DC, though that’s been a rocky road, as well.
1. JOSH TRANK
Josh Trank made his mark in Hollywood with 2012’s Chronicle, about a group of teenagers who get superpowers. It seemed like a natural fit to direct Fantastic Four to be released in 2015, about the four Marvel heroes who were given superpowers in a freak accident. The movie was released to bad reviews and barely earned back its production budget.
On the set was even more chaotic with reports of fights between 20th Century Fox and Trank, leading Fox to rewrite the script and order reshoots without him. Just a day before the movie’s release, Trank was so frustrated that he tweeted, “A year ago I had a fantastic version of this. And it would’ve received great reviews. You’ll probably never see it. That’s reality though.” Some have blamed his tweet for part of the movie’s failure.
What other actors and directors didn’t like making Marvel movies? Were you surprised by some of the above? Let us know in the comments!