Life happens. It isn’t a static or linear journey where every twist and turn can be predicted and anticipated. Too often we’re forced to take a detour and embark down a path that we never expected. One thing’s for sure, though: it’s never boring.
Despite all the planning and preparation, superhero TV shows aren’t immune to the phenomena of life, either. They’re hit by numerous setbacks and unexpected occurrences.
In many cases, the showrunners have to think on their feet, which results in them sinking or swimming.
Last-minute changes are all too common in the entertainment industry.
Whether it be an actor wanting out on a production or some exec changing his/her mind for the millionth time, everyone will need to adapt. Hence most job descriptions for the industry state an ability to work under pressure and adaptability.
Change is sometimes good, though. There have been a handful of times where shows have turned out for the better because of an eleventh-hour tinkering.
By embracing the unknown and going with the flow, it can unlock a whole new area of creativity.
On the other hand, it could be a bust. It’s like sorting out your washing and putting it out to dry on the line, only for a massive thunderstorm to derail your plan.
Some TV series experience storms in a teacup that hit them incredibly hard and send the whole production over the cliff.
With that said, let’s explore the 10 Last-Minute Changes That Hurt Superhero Shows (And 10 That Saved Them).
20 Hurt: Removing The Suicide Squad From The Arrowverse
When the likes of Deadshot, Bronze Tiger, and Amanda Waller appeared in Arrow, fans knew that the Suicide Squad would be a part of the show – and Task Force X was for a bit.
However, the announcement of the Suicide Squad movie threw a spanner into the works and all plans were scrapped.
It annoyed everyone, as it felt like the storyline led to nowhere. Willa Holland, who portrayed Thea Queen, was also irritated and publicly bemoaned the decision at MCM London Comic Con.
“We were actually trying to build that on our own on the show, and I guess once DC found out they were going to be doing their own movie of it, we had to axe all of the characters,” she said.
19 Saved: Mark Hamill Replacing Tim Curry
Nowadays, Mark Hamill is remembered as the definitive voice of the Joker. It’s difficult to imagine anyone else providing the pipes for the Clown Prince of Crime – even though many have tried.
Originally, Tim Curry was the actor selected to voice the Ace of Knaves on Batman: The Animated Series.
Reasons for his departure have been conflicting, but at Fan Expo in 2017, he revealed to ScreenGeek: “I did play Joker for a while, but I had bronchitis and they fired me – and hired Mark Hamill. That’s life.”
While Curry would’ve been an excellent choice for Mr. J, Hamill brought something special here. Ultimately, we have Curry’s sick day to thank for this casting change.
18 Hurt: Tom Welling Refusing To Wear The Superman Suit
Despite many naysayers predicting that a Superman origin story wouldn’t work as a TV series, Smallville proved everyone wrong as it lasted 10 seasons.
Although, many were left disappointed that Tom Welling’s Clark Kent didn’t suit up in the iconic suit.
As it turns out, we have Welling to blame for this.
Welling told Entertainment Weekly: “Our finale was supposed to be, in the first act, Clark puts on the suit and flies around, saves Lois on a plane, and does this other stuff. I said, ‘That’s not our show.’ [Peter Roth’s] like, ‘No, it’s going to be great,’ and I go, ‘Yeah, but just think about what we’ve been doing. If we just jump into that, we haven’t earned it.'”
17 Saved: Brandon Routh Cast As Ray Palmer And Not Ted Kord
Brandon Routh is best known for portraying the Man of Steel in Superman Returns, even if his time as Supes isn’t exactly fondly remembered. That said, it was a nice touch to see him brought into the Arrowverse as Ray Palmer,
There was heavy speculation that Routh would actually be Ted Kord, aka the second Blue Beetle, and not Palmer.
Marc Guggenheim, co-creator of Arrow, confirmed on his blog that Palmer is a combination of both characters, and didn’t deny that Kord had been the original plan.
Kord’s character had been teased many times before, but considering how Jaime Reyes’ Blue Beetle is the most popular version around right now, it’s a good thing that Kord didn’t get introduced.
16 Hurt: Finn Jones Cast As Iron Fist Instead Of Lewis Tan
In the eyes of many, Iron Fist is the weakest entry in Netflix’s Marvel series. Finn Jones was simply not convincing as a master of martial arts.
Lewis Tan, who appeared as Zhou Cheng, was originally in the running for the role of Danny Rand.
With his martial arts background, he would’ve been a much superior choice.
“I read for Danny and they liked me a lot. I read again, and it was a long process, and it got to the point where they were talking about my availability and my dates. That’s always a good sign, you know? And then they went with Finn and they had me read for a villain part,” Tan told Vulture.
15 Saved: Re-Recording Storm’s Lines
As revealed in Previously on X-Men: The Making of an Animated Series by X-Men: The Animated Series showrunner Eric Lewald, there were three different actresses who voiced Storm in the first season.
After season one had wrapped up, the showrunners thought it probably wasn’t a good idea that a white woman had voiced a black character, so they got Iona Morris to re-record all of Storm’s lines.
However, Morris was American – and this caused a financial issue since American voice actors get paid residuals based on reruns.
So, they brought in Canadian Alison Sealy-Smith to voice Storm for season two and had her re-record all the lines from season one as well. It all worked out in the end, though.
14 Hurt: Smallville’s Showrunners Jumping Ship
The mere fact that Smallville lasted 10 seasons is a significant accomplishment. Though, it’s obvious that the show started to suffer in the quality department in the latter seasons.
One of the main reasons for this was the departure of original showrunners, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, in 2008.
While they provided no specific reasons for leaving, it’s believed that it was a difference in opinion between them and the executives of the program.
Unfortunately, Smallville bounced around showrunners until it ended in 2011, never quite settling on someone’s specific vision.
For many fans, though, the series truly ended when Gough and Millar jumped ship after season seven. It seems like everything went downhill from there.
13 Saved: Drew Goddard Dropping Out
Make no mistake about it: Drew Goddard is a talented visionary in Hollywood, and that’s the reason that Marvel appointed him as the showrunner for Daredevil.
His departure from the series to work on The Sinister Six movie turned out for the best, though, as Steven S. DeKnight took over the reins.
DeKnight brought all of his experience from working on Spartacus and applied it to The Man Without Fear’s TV outing. It was dark, gritty, and extremely real.
This wasn’t a show for kids; it was a full-blown tribute to Frank Miller’s work on Daredevil.
DeKnight has since left the series; however, there are many who still hope that he’ll return in the future.
12 Hurt: Recasting Alura Zor-El
Supergirl lost an important cast member when Laura Benanti, who portrayed Alura Zor-El, left the series after season two. She might not have been a regular, but she left her mark every time that she appeared on the screen.
“Unfortunately Laura, who Greg and I have worked with for years going back to Eli Stone, was unable to continue in the role due to work commitments in New York,” executive producer Andrew Kreisberg told Variety.
Benanti’s replacement was Smallville alumnus Erica Durance. While it’s a nice tribute to the extended universe, Durance doesn’t exactly convince as Kara’s mother like Benanti did.
In fact, her portrayal has been rather disappointing and the less we see of Alura, the better.
11 Saved: Keeping Jerome Valeska Around
Gotham is a bit of a mixed bag. It doesn’t always make sense, but when the show gets it right, it really does.
Case in point being Jerome Valeska, as portrayed by Cameron Monaghan, who (along with his twin brother, Jeremiah) is Gotham‘s prototype Joker.
While many fans were against an origin story for the Clown Prince, Monaghan convinced the loudest detractors – even changing the show’s original plans.
“I knew pretty much from the third episode I shot in the second season. While we were shooting it, I had a couple conversations with producers who said ‘Hey, we really like what’s going on, and we have some plans for the character already. We possibly could bring you back next season,'” Monaghan revealed to Observer.
10 Hurt: Recasting Poison Ivy
The casting changes for Poison Ivy on Gotham make you wonder if the showrunners ever had any plans for the character in the first place.
First off, Clare Foley was replaced by Maggie Geha because of the decision to age the character.
Then, out of the blue, Peyton List replaced Geha as Ivy. While the show said it was a decision to further the evolution of the character, it seems like it was another rash decision made by the showrunners.
Geha didn’t receive much of a chance to prove herself as the villain, so it was bizarre how she’d be replaced so suddenly.
The way things are going we wouldn’t be surprised if there’s yet another Ivy casting change in Gotham‘s final season.
9 Saved: Bruce Timm Voicing The Jokerz Leader
Bruce Timm is renowned for his work behind the scenes in the DC Animated Universe; however, he had a hand in shaping an unexpected character’s voice for Batman Beyond.
As the story goes, Timm was reportedly unhappy with the original actor’s voice for J-Man, the Jokerz gang leader. Apparently, it wasn’t what he had in mind for the character and he was visibly upset about it.
Producer Alan Burnett suggested that Timm provide the voice for the character himself. He agreed, thinking it would only be for a few episodes.
However, Burnett and the other writers purposely wrote J-Man into many episodes as possible so Timm would have to voice him over and over again. The sneaky rascals!
8 Hurt: The Departure Of Hawkman And Hawkgirl
Hawkman and Hawkgirl are mainstays of the DC Universe. So, when they first appeared in The Flash and joined Legends of Tomorrow, fans were ecstatic to see the winged tandem in action for a long time to come.
Sadly, they were only a part of the first season and departed the series. Guggenheim revealed to Deadline that it was a last-minute decision.
“We went through the team, made a list of all the characters and started to think of stories for them. When we got to Hawkman and Hawkgirl, we had trouble coming up with stories,” he said.
Surely, the writers and showrunners could’ve done better? Hawkman and Hawkgirl have a storied history in DC Comics, so they should’ve tried harder.
7 Saved: Recasting Jimmy Olsen
Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman featured Michael Landes as Jimmy Olsen; however, he only lasted one season.
Landes told Digital Spy how he felt about the firing. “I was 21 and at the end of the first year they just said, ‘We’re not going to have you back for any more’. They said it was because I looked too much like Dean Cain, who played Clark… and Teri Hatcher, who played Lois. Part of me was like, ‘So what, I didn’t look like them 22 episodes ago?'”
His replacement, Justin Whalin, ended up being a terrific substitute. He was more reminiscent of the Jimmy we all knew and loved in DC Comics, and quickly became a fan-favorite.
6 Hurt: Amanda Waller’s Removal
When Task Force X met its maker in Arrow, the fear was that Amanda Waller would follow.
She survived, though, and played a pivotal role for a little while longer, before also succumbing to the curse of the Suicide Squad film.
It angered fans of the show because Cynthia Addai-Robinson was rather popular and formidable as the chief of A.R.G.U.S.
If a different Flash could exist in the DCEU and the Arrowverse, why couldn’t Waller exist in two universes as well?
Unfortunately, the passing of The Wall on the show wasn’t for the better and robbed us of a complex character that added something special. Who else rubs up Oliver Queen the wrong way like Waller did?
5 Saved: Rila Fukushima Replacing Devon Aoki As Katana
Arrow tweaked Oli’s history by including a backstory with Katana in season three. The initial person chosen to portray the woman also known as Tatsu Yamashiro was actress Devon Aoki.
Due to scheduling conflicts, Aoki pulled out of the role and The Wolverine’s Rila Fukushima signed on instead.
Fukushima proved to be a scene-stealer and many fans called for her to portray the character in the live-action Suicide Squad film (but she didn’t as the part went to Karen Fukuhara).
Katana has been absent from Arrow – most likely due to Suicide Squad – but Fukushima’s last-minute casting didn’t disappoint in the slightest.
Hopefully, she’ll get another opportunity to portray the character again in the near future.
4 Hurt: John Astin Replacing Frank Gorshin As The Riddler
Batman featured a host of memorable villains. While the likes of Penguin and Joker are often mentioned, Frank Gorshin’s over-the-top Riddler stole the show for much of the first season and even received an Emmy nomination.
Recognizing it, Gorshin requested an increase to appear in the second season of the show. Creator William Dozier declined his request but secretly hoped that Gorshin would return.
The producers changed the storyline to feature the Puzzler instead of the Riddler, allowing for Gorshin’s return if he decided to have a change of heart.
When he didn’t, the team gave up and cast John Astin in his place as the Riddler. Unfortunately, Astin never quite had the same gusto that Gorshin did.
3 Saved: Expanding Felicity Smoak’s Role
While Felicity Smoak might not be the most popular character in Arrow because of her whininess nowadays, it’s difficult to imagine the series without her.
Speaking to Collider, actress Emily Bett Rickards revealed she only auditioned to appear in one episode. “I auditioned for episode three. I had two scenes in that. So, I just went in for one day, and people were kind enough to bring me back.”
The fans’ reaction to her was overwhelmingly positive, considering she added a different dimension to the show, so she was brought back again and again until she became a series regular.
She’s a major character in Arrow, so it’s safe to say that the showrunners made a good call on her.
2 Hurt: Jason Statham Not Being Bullseye
Back in 2015, several sites reported that Jason Statham was deep in negotiations with Marvel to portray Bullseye in Daredevil.
It was a proposed casting that fans got behind as everyone drooled over the prospect of seeing Statham’s Bullseye duke it out with Charlie Cox’s Man Without Fear.
The talks went nowhere, with Statham even taking a swipe at Marvel in the press.
“A lot of the modern sort of action movies I see, Marvel Comics sort of things, I just think any guy could do it,” he said in an interview.
Statham wasn’t cast and Bullseye failed to appear in season two of Daredevil. The rumors are that the villain will appear in the forthcoming season of the show, though.
1 Saved: Krysten Ritter’s Casting Over Other Bigger Names
The role of Jessica Jones was a coveted one when it was first announced. As Deadline reported back in 2014, the likes of Alexandra Daddario, Teresa Palmer, Marin Ireland and Jessica De Gouw were all up for the role along with Krysten Ritter.
Daddario and Palmer, in particular, are recognized names in Hollywood, but it was Ritter who got the part in the end. Truth be told, we’re grateful it happened the way that it did.
It’s difficult to imagine anyone else portraying Jones. Ritter has a nuanced approach and she’s won over the audience with her quirky portrayal.
In fact, if she ever left the role, we think that Marvel would struggle replacing her.
Are there any other last-minute changes hurt or saved superhero shows? Sound off in the comments section!