When Parks and Recreation first debuted in 2009, it would have been hard to convince audiences that the schlubby Andy Dwyer would one day be a superhero. But with Chris Pratt’s game (and physique) changing role in Guardians of the Galaxy, it’s clear that anything is possible. This became doubly certain when mild mannered but hilarious Paul Rudd was tapped to play Ant-Man.
Michael Keaton might have been the first big comedy name to become a superhero, but the recent precedent was set by Seth Rogen in 2011. Since Rogen was picked to play the Green Hornet, donning a mask and dropping pounds to fight crime, Hollywood has broadened what it takes to be a superhero. With these zero-to-hero transformations in mind, it got us thinking: Who else should Hollywood call upon to head the next superhero franchise?
There are several lists floating around the Internet detailing big-name actors or actresses who would do well in these parts, but what about comedy stars? Leading man looks and a killer lady figure no longer factor into superhero prerequisites, since those things can easily be acquired with the efforts of a whole physical transformation team. Instead, looking at personalities, who among the current comedy stars would make an excellent superhero? Here are fifteen names that would bring a breath of fresh air to the crime-fighting world.
1. Nick Offerman
Perhaps an odd choice right off the bat because of his dry, droll demeanor and penchant for whittling and whiskey, but imagine Offerman as equal parts sarcasm and badassery and his superhero potential becomes clearer. Revenge is a dish best served cold, and with his sheer masculinity threatening to burst his plaid seams Offerman is the man to do it.
Paste Comedy Editor Garrett Martin’s Pick For Who He Should Play: Since Dum Dum Dugan’s already taken, let’s go with Jack Kirby’s two-fisted cop Dan “Terrible” Turpin. Although he’d be a perfect Thing, too, if he could get the New York accent down.
2. Gina Rodriguez
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
The Jane the Virgin lead burst on the scene last year and made waves for her ability to play comedy and drama so powerfully. With her star on the rise, Rodriguez would make a strong superhero, one who can hold people to their word and still roundhouse kick them when they don’t listen.
Who She Should Play: If they make a Young Avengers movie in the next few years, you’re looking at your Miss America.
3. Sarah Silverman
Silverman is one tough cookie, adeptly playing coy in the face of trouble. Then of course there are her sarcastic ways, which would make her a unique superhero, able to undermine her opponents with the spoken word before she trounced them.
Who She Should Play: She’d be a great Wonder Woman. When the bad guys told the truth in her lasso, she could tear them apart with the filthiest insults.
4. Anna Faris
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez
Faris became a comedy staple thanks to her role in the Scary Movie franchise, and she’s continued showing off her comedic acumen with a range of projects ever since. Her willingness to be foolish all for the sake of a laugh makes her potent superhero material on par with her husband Chris Pratt. Faris can easily revamp what it means to kick butt and take names. Carol Danvers, maybe?
Who She Should Play: Marvel’s already announced that a movie starring Carol Danvers, the space-faring Captain Marvel, will be happening at some point in the future. Maybe Faris and Pratt could reunite on-screen with an interstellar romance?
5. Nick Kroll
Kroll’s ability to inhabit young, old, ghetto, uptight, male or female characters landed him his very own sketch show on Comedy Central. With Kroll Show, he concocted some truly outrageous but simultaneously memorable parts, all of which demonstrated he’s got the chops to bring a very special kind of superhero to the big screen.
Who He Should Play: Ted Kord, aka the Blue Beatle. Or at least the old wisecracking Blue Beatle from the sitcom-style Justice League International comics of the ‘80s.
6. Kumali Nanjiani
Photo by Laura Cavanaugh / Getty Images
While Nanjiani tends to play supporting roles at the moment, that doesn’t mean he couldn’t hold his own, especially if it meant donning a cape and kicking bad guys’ butts. For all those who cross the line, Nanjiani’s sarcastic tone and keep-it-real attitude would make for an interesting turn from all the white dudes in tights running around the city fighting crime. Tell them who’s boss, Nanjiani.
Who He Should Play: Give him a single curl and he’d be perfect for Superman. Or at least the original Captain Marvel.
7. Amy Schumer
Schumer is blowing up at the moment between hosting SNL, her TV show Inside Amy Schumer and her summer blockbuster Trainwreck. But that’s not the only reason Hollywood should tap her to don leotards and roam the city looking for criminals. Her whip-smart comedy and ability to fire comeback after comeback would make her a worthy opponent.
Who She Should Play: If she played Deadpool I’d actually go see a Deadpool movie.
8. Andy Samberg
As TV’s leading comedic detective on Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Samberg is poised to take his sleuthing prowess and ability to make fun of himself to the big screen as a superhero. If Seth Rogen can turn from stoner to action hero then Samberg could be next in line to bring his lovable ways to masked avenging.
Who He Should Play: Likewise, casting somebody like Samberg is probably the only way to make Gambit cool.
9. Kristen Bell
Photo by Alberto E. Rodriguez / Getty Images
As Veronica Mars, Bell has already proven her aptitude for figuring out whodunit all while delivering a clever, thoughtful interior monologue. Thanks to more comedic endeavors like Forgetting Sarah Marshall and Party Down, she’s also showcased her lighter side. When the two sides combine into one badass superhero, bad guys better beware.
Who She Should Play: She’d be a perfect Jen Walters, tagging out with a CGI version of She-Hulk.
10 and 11. Abbi Jacobson and Ilana Glazer
Yas, Queen. Jacobson and Glazer already chased down a purse-snatching rich street kid in the season two finale of Broad City, which revealed their inner action hero. With a two-for-the-price-of-one option, this team would make for an equally hilarious and action-packed crime-fighting duo onscreen. Their sharp banter and best friend ways would bring a refreshing breath of fresh-air to the superhero genre.
Who They Should Play: Poison Ivy and Harley Quinn, obviously.
12. Jessica Williams
As The Daily Show’s correspondent extraordinaire, Williams’ comedic timing and tell-it-like-it-is attitude would make bad guys quiver in the streets. Between her assertive delivery and tongue-in-cheek tone, she’s a force. Williams may not have stretched her acting muscles much beyond her reporting prowess, but given the splash she’s made since debuting on the fake news show, she’d be a welcome addition to the superhero club.
Who She Should Play: Hugh Jackman’s stepping down as Wolverine. It’s her time. She’s earned it.
13. Julia Louis-Dreyfus
When it comes to women in Hollywood, age sadly matters. But Louis-Dreyfus has shown time and again that she’s capable of busting down those antiquated notions with project after project that showcases her quick thinking and keen comedic skills. Jerry Seinfeld called her the “James Bond of Comedy,” referring to her ability to kill any comedy “mission” she encounters, and it’s not too far a leap from spy to superhero.
Who She Should Play: They’d maybe have to change the name a little, but this would be one of the few things that could make us care about another Batman movie.
14 and 15. Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele
If Jacobson and Glazer can be the female version of a crime-fighting duo then why can’t Key and Peele have their fun onscreen? Thanks to their sketch show Key & Peele these two have already proven that they can play all kinds of characters. Plus, their role in the first season of FX’s Fargo let them show a little bit of their dramatic skills. Although they’ve ended Key and Peele to pursue other solo projects, perhaps they’d consider reuniting onscreen for some choice one-liners and action-packed stunts.
Who They Should Play: Either Thomas and Martha Wayne or Krypton’s Jor-El and Lara in full-length prequels. Hey, backstories are big these days.
Amanda Wicks is a freelance writer specializing in comedy and music. Follow her on Twitter @aawicks.