Superman’s blue eyes. Spider-Man’s wiry frame. Mary Jane Watson’s red hair. Trivial traits, maybe. But when it comes to casting those movie roles, MoviesOnline says they’re everything.
“Casting makes all the difference because the look of a character is something people have pre-established notions about due to their pre-existing exposure to the character,” the website writes. “And, therefore, one difference can change more than appearances but perception.”
A perfect example, MoviesOnline suggests, is Spider-Man. Peter Parker is short and sinewy, with brown hair. Coincidentally, so is Tobey Maguire.
It’s superheroic synergy! Okay, maybe not.
But what about Superman, with his tall, muscular build, granite jaw, piercing blue eyes, and ebony hair?
This combination of physical features represents a traditional archetype that not only defines the character but is how comic superheroes are often recognized as being themselves. This is particularly true since they originate in a medium where artists who draw them are constantly rotating and changing the style in which the characters are depicted. These long-held ideas of what the characters look like are so powerful as to make Superman, the first and most distinguished comic superhero ever, so extraordinarily difficult to cast. This is so often the case that every single time he has appeared in a television series or movie (anything where he had to be played by a live actor), a virtual unknown has been awarded the role.
The article also touches on some unconventional — not to mention controversial — casting, such as Michael Keaton in the first two Batman films: “Ironically, beforehand, there was something of a small uproar about Beetlejuice playing Batman, but now many consider Keaton one of the best Batmans to date.”