In today’s Hollywood, you’re no one unless you’ve been in a superhero movie or five. A lot of Game of Thrones stars are someone.
Game of Thrones is a massive success. On the big screen, it seems like every other movie is about superheroes, or at least an adaptation of a comic book. There’s bound to be some spillover between two of the most dominant forces in entertainment today. Let’s look at which actors from your favorite show have crossed over into the wide world of superhero-dom, whether you recognized them or now.
12. Finn Jones (Iron Fist)
As Loras Tyrell, Finn Jones had a pretty memorable run on Game of Thrones. After getting in bed with the wrong king (literally), he and his sister somehow managed to claw their way back into the good graces of the Lannisters. But all good things must come to an end, and Loras spent the last year-and-a-half of his time on Thrones rotting in a jail cell before getting getting blown to smithereens when Cersei took her vengeance on half of King’s Landing.
Happily, Jones went right from Loras’ pyre to the set of Netflix’s Iron Fist. He plays Danny Rand, aka the Iron Fist, a martial arts expert with a magic touch, by which I can mean he can punch through steel if he concentrates hard enough.
Iron Fist is one of four Marvel superhero series currently on Netflix, all of which came together into a fifth: The Defenders. The first season of Iron Fist was a bit of a dud with critics, but Danny Rand isn’t going anywhere. His appearances guesting in other superhero’s shows were better-received, and an upcoming second season gives the team a chance to correct whatever it was that turned people off to the first.
Even if Iron Fist itself underwhelmed, Jones was charming and earnest in the lead role, and isn’t done by any stretch of the imagination. Here’s to Round 2.
11. Maisie Williams (New Mutants)
Arya Stark is pretty high up on the list of beloved Game of Thrones characters who we’ll riot over if they ever get killed off. Arya is, of course, the youngest daughter of Ned and Catelyn Stark. She ain’t no lady and prefers her Needle to actual needlework.
Playing Arya is the talented Maisie Williams, much praised for both her onscreen talent and her offscreen personality. Williams seems like a fun person who enjoys singing karaoke with her costar and bestie Sophie Turner or getting inked with a “No One” tattoo.
With filming on the final season of Game of Thrones officially over, Williams is taking on an exciting new project: starring in New Mutants, an X-Men spinoff with a horror spin. It follows a group of young mutants held in a secret facility and is slated to premiere in August of next year.
Williams is playing a Scottish girl named Rahne Sinclair, aka Wolfsbane. As you may have guessed from the name, she can turn into a wolf. Doesn’t sound too far off from her days as a Stark, does it?
I have no doubt that Williams will fit in the X-Men franchise. She has the acting chops to pull of pretty much any role, and the intensity to pull of horror.
10. Rila Fukushima (The Wolverine, Arrow)
Fukushima didn’t have a big role on Game of Thrones; she played a Red Priestess in Volantis, spotted by Tyrion and Varys while they were on their way to Meereen. You may have wondered why she looked so familiar.
Fukushima is probably best known by American audiences for her work on superhero movies like 2013’s The Wolverine, where she starred opposite Hugh Jackman as the mutant Yukio, a deadly assassin with the handy (and troubling) ability to foresee how people will die.
Fukushima also appears in the popular television show Arrow, playing expert martial artist Tatsu Yamashiro, aka Katana. She has a strong personality and cares deeply for her family, although she can be rude to outsiders.
As far as we know, Fukushiro’s Game of Thrones character is alive and well. Could we see her again? Melisandre did say that was headed back to Volantis before returning to Westeros, so anything is possible…
9. Jason Momoa (Aquaman)
By the time Khal Drogo died at the end of season 1, Jason Momoa had already earned a rabid fan base, and had his pick of new projects. It was only a matter of time before this actor, who already had the physique of a superhero, turned up in a movie about one, which he did for a fleeting moment in Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice.
Momoa had taken up the trident as Arthur Curry, aka Aquaman. After that first appearance, he went on to shine in Justice League and will star in his own solo movie this December.
Momoa breathes new life into the classic character. Aquaman has historically been sort of a joke amongst comic enthusiasts as the lamest member of the Justice League. But with Momoa in the role, he instantly became a lot more badass. As Momoa himself said in an interview with Entertainment Weekly, “My job was to kind of come in and make this guy cool.”
Is it just me or did DC steal that scene in the aquarium straight from Harry Potter?
Anyway, DC needs an overhaul if it hopes to compete with Marvel’s ever-growing popularity, and Aquaman could do the trick.
8. Iwan Rheon (Inhumans)
You can hate his character all you want, but you can’t deny that actor Iwan Rheon is a true talent. He turned the despicable Ramsay Bolton into a villain that many fans hate even more than Joffrey Baratheon, which at one time seemed impossible. Rheon always knew how to walk the fine line between humor and darkness. He was an excellent villain and will — dare I say it — be missed by a few of us darker souls.
Unfortunately, sometimes talent can go to waste. Last year, Rheon joined the cast of ABC’s superhero drama Inhumans. Rheon played Maximus, brother to Black Bolt. Black Bolt was head of the Inhuman Royal Family as well as king. Maximus wanted the kingship for himself, but was looked down upon by the rest of his family. And so the stage is set for some Game of Thrones-like drama.
The premise sounds interesting enough, but the series simply fell apart. Glen Weldon of NPR summed it up: “To make something from a Marvel concept this blithely, wonderfully and resolutely weird demands time and budget and — maybe most of all — commitment, and none of those three things showed up to set.”
From a strange CGI hound to a soapy plot, this Marvel series was full of missteps. It’s a shame it didn’t give Rheon a better platform for his abilities.
7. Jessica Henwick (Iron Fist)
So apparently the casting director on Marvel’s Iron Fist has a direct tap into the Game of Thrones bloodstream. As we already pointed out, Finn Jones (Loras Tyrell) stars as the title character. At his side is his Game of Thrones co-star Jessica Henwick, who played Nymeria Sand, of the Sand Snakes. True, Nymeria and her revenge-hungry half-sisters were far from the most popular gals in Westeros, but the writing was to blame, not Henwick’s acting. She made a much better showing in Iron Fist, where she plays Colleen Wing, a martial arts expert and a close associate of Danny Rand.
Now, the first season of Iron Fist wasn’t well-received, either, but most agree that Henwick was a much-needed bright spot. She went on to play Wing in both The Defenders and Luke Cage, and will return in the second season of Iron Fist, which drops on Netflix on September 7. It promises to be infinitely better than the first, which is only appropriate, as Henwick deserves the chance to shine.
6. Ed Skrein (Deadpool)
Although a few attentive fans knew it was coming, one of the more jarring moments in Game of Thrones history came when Ed Skrein, who played the charming sellsword Daario Naharis in season 3, was switched out for Michiel Huisman. While Huisman brings his own flavor to the character, it was hard to forget Skrein. I mean, were we expected to think these two look at all alike?
According to Skrein, it wasn’t other work that took him away from Game of Thrones, but rather politics. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, he said that he had initially planned to stay with the show “for the long haul.”
Well, c’est la vie. Skrein is still an up-and-comer and you can catch him in plenty of other popular media. He’s got a short onscreen resume, but what he has counts, in no small part due to his turn as the villainous Ajax in Deadpool. Or, if you’re feeling naughty, his turn as “Francis.”
Deadpool was an instant hit with superhero fans. Ryan Reynolds was born to play the Merc with a Mouth, and Skrein worked wonderfully as a more straight-laced, villainous foil, as taciturn and sadistic as Deadpool was playful and funny. I’m willing to forgive whatever politics went down between Skrein and HBO thanks to his performance in this movie.
5. Sophie Turner (X-Men)
On Game of Thrones, young actor Sophie Turner is a total knockout. At first, many fans loved to hate Sansa Stark, a spoiled and often selfish daughter of Winterfell. But over time, she grew into someone you could root for. Turner kept step with the chancing story, making Sansa a force to be reckoned with.
It seemed like a natural fit, then, when Turner was cast to play a young Jean Grey in X-Men: Apocalypse. Unfortunately, the film didn’t go over too well. It a meager 48% approval rating from critics on review site Rotten Tomatoes, and audiences didn’t care for it much more. Likewise, Turner’s performance received mix reactions, with some fans saying she brought new life to the role and others that she was one of the weakest parts of the movie.
Whatever your hot take, Turner will return to the role of Jean Grey in X-Men: Dark Phoenix. The movie will center largely around her character, which will provide Turner with an opportunity to even out public opinion.
So the pressure is on, but I’m rooting for her! If Turner can make me care about Sansa, she can do the same for Jean Grey. Dark Phoenix hits theaters on Feb. 14 of next year.
4. Peter Dinklage (X-Men: Days of Future Past, Avengers: Infinity War)
Tyrion Lannister is an obvious fan favorite. Between the daddy issues, other people constantly underestimating him, and his penchant for drink, he’s basically the everyman of Game of Thrones.
George R. R. Martin has gone on record as saying that Dinklage was his first choice to play Tyrion; reportedly, he and Sean Bean (Ned Stark) were the only two actors who didn’t have to audition. He’s excellent. Game of Thrones has blessed the world by kicking Dinklage’s career into overdrive, and you can bet that he’s racked up a couple of roles in superhero movies over the years.
In Avengers: Infinity War, audiences got to see Peter as Eitri, the King of the Dwarves charged with constructing the Stormbreaker hammer for Thor. The movie was a massive hit and Thrones fans were obviously pumped to see their favorite Lannister in the small part.
You can also catch Dinklage as Bolivar Trask in X-Men: Days of Future Past. This is another one of those roles Dinklage seems to have been born for. While Trask himself was not a mutant, Dinklage’s dwarfism gave the character a little more in common with the mutants he persecuted. It was an added layer that elevated the material.
3. Ciaran Hinds (Justice League)
Steppenwolf is a longtime DC villain who faced off against Earth’s assembled superheroes in Justice League, but the movie did not do him justice. As envisioned by Warner Bros., Steppenwolf was a creature of CGI and motion capture. He looked silly and had a pretty thin backstory and personality. Even without Steppenwolf, Justice League wasn’t really holding a candle to competitors like The Avengers, and he did not make things any better.
Voicing the ruthless alien was Ciaran Hinds, known to Game of Thrones fans as Mance Rayder, the King Beyond the Wall. Mance’s character is a polar opposite to Steppenwolf. He is charismatic. He is calculated. He knows how to accept a bit of help where he can get it. Mance is the kind of character who’s weirdly easy to pull for, even though he doesn’t have much screen time.
We hope Hinds was well-paid for his work in Justice League, because the movie itself is a pretty sorry show. Hinds himself has said that he wasn’t happy with the final cut of the film, which suffered after director Zack Snyder unexpectedly had to leave the project due to a family tragedy.
I wouldn’t mind seeing Hinds get another stab at playing a character with super powers. Steppenwolf aside, he’s got an impressive resume and definitely has the acting chops to pull off something better.
2. Lena Headey (Dredd)
While it may not technically be a superhero movie, I’m still including Lena Headey’s performance in the 2012 cult classic Dredd on this list. Judge Dredd is an unstoppable comic book killing machine who goes toe-to-toe with larger-than-life monsters in high-intensity action scenes. It’s close enough.
In this film, Dredd faces off against Headey’s character, Ma-Ma. She’s a former prostitute turned drug lord with a passion for violence. Headey does a great job with this twisted material. The movie received plenty of acclaim, especially for the bloody fight scenes
Lena Headey seems born to play rockstar villains. As Cersei, she’s easy to hate, but even easier to love to hate. There’s a reason her performance as Cersei has netter her Emmy nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress on four different occasions, plus one nom and for a Golden Globe.
Headey just gets how to make “bad” work on screen. Casting her in Dredd was perfect. If anyone at Disney is looking to cast a villain in a Marvel movie, look no further.
1. Hannah John-Kamen (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
This summer featured one high-action blockbuster after another, with Ant-Man and the Wasp among the bets of them. It had plenty of cool effects, rich Marvel lore and the star power of Paul Rudd and Evangeline Lilly to light the way. Critics and audiences ate it up.
This film featured a new villain. Perhaps you, like me, saw the unstable and constantly phasing Ghost come on screen and kept wondering why she looked so familiar. Travel back in time with me to Game of Thrones season 6, when Daenerys spent some time with the Dosh Khaleen. Among the Dothraki widows is young Ornela, played by Hannah John-Kamen, or Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp.
Don’t feel too bad if you couldn’t place her. When John-Kamen appeared on Game of Thrones, her career was just starting to take off. While she’d already started on her popular Syfy series Killyjoys, she was by no means a household name. She’s sure to get more recognizable with time, especially now that she’s made appearances in TV shows and movies like Black Mirror, Ready Player One and Tomb Raider (although she may want that last one expunged from her resume).
John-Kamen is going places! Rumor has it that she could even appear as Ghost in the fourth Avengers, but we’ll always remember her role as a Khaleesi.