While there would’ve been a certain amusement in watching a surly, 75-year-old Harrison Ford pretending to meet Lando for the first time and winning the Millennium Falcon, Disney went with the age-correct Alden Ehrenreich for
. Though a few were up-in-blasters over casting someone besides Ford in the Han Solo role, that fervor has died down now that the reviews are out claiming the movie to be moderately neat-o. And that makes it the right time to look at 24 more movie characters replaced and recast with new actors, and how that turned out on the Tomatometer. Solo: A Star Wars Story
Don Cheadle in Iron Man 2
At one point, Cheadle nudges the audience and says “It’s me, and I’m here, so get over it and move on,” referencing the very nasty and public exit of Terrence Howard from the War Machine role. Though IM2 (73%) is just a mostly respectable follow-up to Iron Man (94%), Cheadle’s appearance in MCU toppers like Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War has done much for the long-term health of the franchise.
Mark Ruffalo in The Avengers
Edward Norton appeared to have an issue being signed on for so many movies in a franchise (though he seems to have no problem getting swallowed up by the Wes Anderson Cinematic Universe — WHAT’S UP WITH THAT, ED), so Marvel found a more willing Bruce Banner in Mark Ruffalo. The first Hulk is the green sheep of the MCU with a 67% Tomatometer, so there wasn’t much challenge for Ruffalo to beat that in his inaugural appearance — especially when said appearance was the first Avengers (92%).
Michael Gambon in Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Richard Harris died after filming the first two Harry Potter movies, with the Dumbledore role thenceforth in the films played by Michael Gambon. He entered the series at a watershed moment with Prisoner of Azkaban, which added some menace and directorial personality to Hogwarts. Though every Potter movie is Certified Fresh, Azkaban is a 91% score over Chamber of Secrets‘ 82%, which would be the franchise high until the final movie.
Ellen Page in X-Men: The Last Stand
Kitty Pryde only had cameo appearances in Fox’s film series, so it was cool to see a young up-and-comer like Page come in to give the character new depth…only to see TLS (58%) drive the franchise into the ground. X2 had previously gotten Certified Fresh at 85%, though her Pryde reprisal 8 years later with Days of Future Past hit 90%.
The kids in every movie Vacation
Clark and Ellen Griswold (Chevy Chase, Beverly D’Angelo) were so focused on spicing up and keeping their marriage intact, they never noticed Audrey and Rusty were abducted and replaced by body snatchers every few years; across 4 movies, Griswold spawn were played by 4 different pairs of actors. Maybe more attention should’ve been paid: only the first Vacation is Certified Fresh, though Christmas Vacation manages to eke a Fresh score at 64%.
Maggie Gyllenhaal in The Dark Knight
Katie Holmes didn’t wish to continue on as Rachel Dawes from Batman Begins (84%), so Mags took up WB’s offer. Though it takes a bit to reconcile the fact the two Rachels look nothing alike, it helps that TDK would become the superhero film to beat at 94%.
Emilia Clarke in Terminator Genisys
They certainly couldn’t have cast 2015 Linda Hamilton as 1984 Sarah Connor, though crazier things have happened in this off-the-rails franchise (just look at that title, for god’s sake). So enters Clarke, whose Genisys (26%) wound up being the worst-rated in the franchise, even lower than Salvation‘s 33% and certainly several Tomatometer strata beneath Judgment Day‘s 93%.
Val Kilmer in Batman Forever
Despite the sharp changes in tone, the four live-action Batman movies from the ’80s/’90s are one story. Kilmer came in after director Tim Burton tired of the series, which meant Michael Keaton fled the coop as well. Joel Schumacher came in as director and the difference was immediately felt: Forever was lighter and more comedic, resulting in a 39% against Batman Returns‘ 81%.
George Clooney in Batman & Robin
And few can stomach Clooney (or anything) in Batman & Robin beyond an ironic level, which gets a ice-cold 10% from critics.
Julianne Moore in Hannibal
Jodie Foster won the Oscar for Silence of the Lambs (94%), though an equally accomplished actress took up the Clarice Starling role for sequel Hannibal. Turns out the project was another Ridley Scott off-movie: it got 39%, which doesn’t even beat the prequel that came out a few years later, Red Dragon (69%), which was directed by Brett Ratner.
Elisabeth Shue in Back to the Future Part II
No stranger to cast replacements, this. Eric Stoltz was famously replaced early in the shoot on the first BttF with Michael J. Fox, and Crispin Glover was replaced by a guy in a Crispin Glover mask for the sequel, leading to litigation and new industry rules. Also in BttF2, Marty McFly’s girlfriend, originally played by Claudia Wells, was replaced with Elisabeth Shue. The second movie got the lowest score (63%) and then bounced back with Part III‘s 74%, though neither hold a candle to the first’s 96%.
Robert John Burke in Robocop 3
Robocop 2 (31%) was not a good movie by any stretch, but at least that had original Murph: Peter Weller. By his luck, he was too busy to sign up for another sequel, allowing Burke to join. Robocop 3 egregiously went for a PG-13 rating, and was in turn rated 3% by critics.
Maria Bello in The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor
Brendan Fraser was back on board (and so was freakin’ John Hannah), but Rachel Weisz had had enough after two Mummy movies. She was replaced with Maria Bello for Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, which unearthed a dusty 13% Tomatometer, versus Mummy Returns‘ 47%.
George Lazenby in On Her Majesty’s Secret Service
Yeah, MI6 goes through 007s faster than Q can find new ways make a ballpoint pen kill a man, but this first post-Connery James Bond actually comments on the switch. In Secret Service, Lazenby winks to the camera with a “This never happened to the other fellow” line. Though Lazenby’s sole Bond outing, Majesty’s 82% improves on Connery’s “final” Bond movie from two years earlier: You Only Live Twice, which hit 73%.
Bryce Dallas Howard in The Twilight Saga: Eclipse
Howard was shuffled into the series, blindsiding original Victoria actress Rachel Lefevre. Eclipse was an improvement over New Moon‘s 28%; in fact, Eclipse‘s 49% is the franchise high, which it shares with original Twilight and vamp capper Breaking Dawn – Part 2.
Mike Weinberg in Home Alone 4
After Home Alone 3 focused on another feckless family, HA4 returned to the McCallister clan, replacing the long franchise gone Macaulay Culkin with Weinberg as Kevin. The movie hasn’t generated enough critical evaluation for a Tomatometer (perhaps in the next 16 years?), though we doubt it would’ve mustered anything even past Lost in New York‘s 27%.
Bernie Mac in Charlie’s Angels: Full Throttle
The first Angels was a surprise hit, one that insisted that the directing career of McG would not be denied, no matter how much the public hates that name. Bill Murray vacated the boss Bosley role when the sequel came around, and Bernie Mac came in. Full Throttle kicked up a 43% Tomatometer versus the original’s 68% which, along with lower box office returns, fizzed out this nostalgia trip.
Omar Epps in Major League II
Seems like benching Wesley Snipes wasn’t a good idea for this franchise. Okay, Snipes had actually become too much of a star to come back (though who could be too “famous” for Tom Berenger?). Pinch hitting was Epps: Unfortunately, despite the other lead principles returning, MLII fouled with 5%, versus the Certified Fresh 83% of the original.
Cuba Gooding Jr. in Daddy Day Camp
0% movies are infamous on Rotten Tomatoes, but the 1% is more impressive and harder to achieve. Enter Daddy Day Camp, underwear run up the 1% flagpole, which replaced Eddie Murphy from Daddy Day Care (27%).
Harrison Ford in Patriot Games
Ford had a brief and memorable run as reluctant CIA hero Jack Ryan during the first half of the ’90s. He replaced Alec Baldwin after The Hunt for Red October, which has the franchise high at 86%. Ford’s Patriot Games and Clear and Present Danger fare respectably with 75% and 82%, respectively.
Mary Alice in The Matrix Revolutions
Original Oracle actress Gloria Foster died during the back-to-back shoot of the two Matrix sequels, and was replaced with Alice. Perhaps Foster was the series’ secret good luck charm: the first two Matrix movies are Certified Fresh, while Revolutions is so not the one with 36%.
Jason Drucker in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: The Long Haul
The five years after Dog Days had aged the young cast out of their roles. So for The Long Haul, the producers recast from the ground up, including getting Drucker as the titular wimp post-Zachary Gordon. Long Haul produced the worst Tomatometer of the series: 20%, following Dog Days‘ second-highest score of 51%.
Mark Addy, Stephen Baldwin, Kristen Johnston, and Jane Krakowski in The Flintstones in Viva
Another full recast here! Viva Rock Vegas (25%) actually improves on the first Flintstones‘ Tomatometer (21%, starring John Goodman, Elizabeth Perkins, Rick Moranis, and Rosie O’Donnell), though it made significantly less bedrock boffo at the box office.
Dan Castellaneta in Aladdin: The Return of Jafar
Disney started the tactic of hiring and advertising big name celebrities with Aladdin — something Robin Williams explicitly said he didn’t want to happen when he signed to play the Genie. Simpsons legend Castellaneta signed on for the 33%-rated, VHS-direct sequel, which unsurprisingly punches lower than the original’s 94%. Williams was lured back to the role for the last DTV sequel, King of Thieves, and that one bottoms the franchise out at 27%.