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  • Writer's pictureStuart Kavanagh

7 Controversial Film Recastings

News broke this week that the powers that be at both Disney and Marvel are considering recasting Johnathon Majors as the prominent antagonist in the latest Avengers saga after he was arrested by police in New York last week on domestic violence charges.

Throughout the history of cinema, there have been numerous instances where actors have been replaced in popular film franchises for various reasons, such as scheduling conflicts, creative differences, or personal issues.

While some recasting's have been well-received by fans, others have generated significant controversy. Here, we take a look at seven of the most controversial recasting's in movie history.


Maggie Gyllenhaal as Rachel Dawes in The Dark Knight (2008)

Originally portrayed by Katie Holmes in Batman Begins (2005), the character of Rachel Dawes was recast in the sequel with Maggie Gyllenhaal. The recasting was met with mixed reactions, with some fans expressing disappointment over the change. However, Gyllenhaal's performance was ultimately well-received by critics.

Edward Norton to Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Avengers (2012)

Edward Norton originally played Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Incredible Hulk (2008), but was replaced by Mark Ruffalo in subsequent films. The recasting caused a stir among fans who were initially sceptical of Ruffalo's ability to fill Norton's shoes. However, Ruffalo has since become a fan favourite in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Michael Gambon as Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series (2002-2011)

Following the death of Richard Harris, who portrayed Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films, Michael Gambon took over the role for the remaining six movies. The recasting was met with mixed reactions, as some fans felt Gambon's portrayal was too different from Harris's more serene take on the character.

Jennifer Lawrence as Mystique in the X-Men series (2011-2019)

In the original X-Men trilogy, Mystique was played by Rebecca Romijn. When the series was rebooted with a younger cast, Jennifer Lawrence took on the role. The recasting generated controversy, as some fans felt that Lawrence's portrayal was not as faithful to the original character, and that her star status overshadowed the character itself.

Don Cheadle as James Rhodes/War Machine in the Iron Man and Avengers series (2010-present)

Terrence Howard originally played James Rhodes in Iron Man (2008), but was replaced by Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2 (2010) and subsequent films. The recasting was controversial, with rumours of salary disputes and on-set tension between Howard and Robert Downey Jr. swirling. While Cheadle has since become an integral part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, some fans still lament the loss of Howard in the role.

Johnny Depp as Grindelwald in Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald (2018)

Johnny Depp was initially cast as Grindelwald in the Fantastic Beasts series, but his involvement became controversial following allegations of domestic abuse. Despite backlash from fans, Depp appeared in the second film of the series, only to be replaced by Mads Mikkelsen in the third instalment after his highly publicised court battle with ex wife Amber Heard.

Colin Farrell as Percival Graves in Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them (2016)

In another controversial recasting within the Fantastic Beasts series, Colin Farrell portrayed Percival Graves in the first film, only to be revealed as a disguised Grindelwald at the end of the movie. This plot twist required Farrell to be replaced by Johnny Depp in the subsequent film, much to the disappointment of many fans who preferred Farrell's portrayal of the character. While this recasting was primarily due to plot reasons, it still generated controversy among fans who felt that Farrell's performance was more nuanced and engaging than Depp's take on Grindelwald.


Recasting popular characters in movie franchises is always a risky endeavour. While some changes have been met with approval, others have caused significant controversy among fans and critics alike. As the film industry continues to evolve, it's likely that we'll see more instances of recasting in the future—and the reactions they generate will undoubtedly be just as varied.

What do you thinkof this list? Let us know in the comments or hit us up on our socials at Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.

Stuart Kavanagh is a journalist currently residing in Broken Hill, Australia. He writes for the Barrier Truth newspaper, along with being the owner of the sports and entertainment website, He contributes at when time permits. He is also the Media & Communications Director at the Newosis Mental Health Foundation. You can find more about the work Newosis Mental Health Foundation does here.

Sports mad, he is always down for debate and discussion at @stueyissickofit on Twitter.

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