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Your Top Three: Superhero Performances

Your Top Three is a series here at where we choose a topic and you give us your top three picks.

Since the announcement last night that Ben Affleck would be the new Batman in Man of Steel 2 (and subsequently Justice League, presumably), fans have been debating the actor’s worthiness for such an iconic role. There’s been more doubting than debating, actually. But we have about two years to see how the former Daredevil star will do in his latest costumed superhero role. Maybe by the fall of 2015 we’ll be championing the guy for an Oscar, as we did similarly with the initially doubted Heath Ledger for his performance as the Joker in The Dark Knight.

The thing is, there are very few superhero casting choices that were met with total approval right off the bat. Even though comic book characters are visualized on the pages, our imagination can still conflct with an actor who looks sort of right and might be easily molded into the role. Of course, today’s edition of Your Top Three may allow for superhero casting that has nothing to do with a preexisting icon of ink and paper. So don’t forget about possibilities like Liam Neeson in Darkman, Bruce Willis in Unbreakable and Will Smith in Hancock (okay, that’s hardly a possibility). We should also qualify voice actors, like Craig T. Nelson in The Incredibles

Speaking of which, let’s not dismiss any great performances is otherwise awful films. I think Max Grodenchik does great with what he’s given in Howard the Duck. I also like Helen Slater in Supergirl and Andrew Garfield in The Amazing Spider-Man, though both are terrible movies. 

Here are my top three superhero performances:

Christopher Reeve as Superman – Maybe it’s because I grew up with the Superman movies starring Reeve in the role, but he just is Superman for me. Even more so, he’s the perfect Clark Kent with all his awkward clutz shtick. He would have made a great silent-era Man of Steel had the character existed back then, but he’s superb in color and sound, too. I also have a soft spot for Brandon Routh in Superman Returns, but probably only because he does a precise Reeve impersonation.

Patrick Stewart as Professor X – Back when we geeks first got on the Internet and started flooding newsgroups with dream casting for the then-nonexistent X-Men movie, there were lots of ideas that would come and go (Clint Eastwood as Wolverine, Tom Cruise as Cyclops…) Stewart was pretty much always the primary choice for Charles Xavier. And as we all presumed he would be, he’s excellent in the role. Oh, and I hate the first and third X-Men movies, but that’s not his fault at all.  

Michael Keaton as Batman – Call me crazy, but I’ll always think Keaton did a bang-up job as Bruce Wayne and Batman, especially the former, in Tim Burton’s Batman. Better than Bale, in my opinion. He doesn’t quite look like a millionaire or much of an athlete, but he makes up for the appearance with some dry humor and on-the-edge outbursts. He’s believable as a madman with the aloof boredom and straight, studious concern that makes his emotionless playboy turned amateur detective/Caped Crusader a bit more interesting than the movie itself seems to call for. 

Special Mention: Karl Urban as Judge Dredd – Does he count as a “superhero”? Because he’s also a great fit in the role, regardless of comparisons to Sylvester Stallone’s version. 

Your Picks (the top three being, in order, Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man, Christopher Reeve as Superman and Christian Bale as Batman):

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