This list contains 20 British actors who play or have played the role of a comic-book superhero or supervillain in a movie or a TV series. There is some debate over why so many Brits land these superhero roles, with some saying it is because they work for less, with others saying it is simply because they are the better actors. Let us know what you think in the comments!
#1 Henry Cavill as Superman
Born in Jersey (a British crown dependency on the Channel Islands) Henry Cavill first donned the red cape of Superman in the movie 'Man Of Steel' (2013), and then again in 2016 for the movie Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, followed by Justice League (2017) and Zack Snyder's Justice League (2021).
Cavill also stars as Geralt of Rivia in the TV series of The Witcher, based on the best selling books and computer games.
#2 Tom Holland as Spider-Man
Tom Holland was born in Kingston upon Thames, England, and made his feature film debut in The Impossible (2012) in which his performance won him several awards including London Film Critics Circle Award for Young British Performer of the Year. His "life was flipped upside down" he later tweeted after he was cast as Peter Parker / Spider-Man in a six picture deal with Marvel Studios.
His first appearence as Spider-Man came in Captain America: Civil War (2016) gaining him critical praise for his performance. The film grossed over 1.1 billion dollars.
He later reprised that role in 2017 Spider-Man: Homecoming, which earned the actor a Guinness Book of World Records as the youngest actor (20 years 123 days) to play a title role in the Marvel Comic Universe. A sequel soon followed in 2018's Spider-Man: Far From Home, and he also plays Spider-Man in the movies Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
In 2020 Holland began working on a sequel to Spider-Man: Far From Home.
#3 Christian Bale as Batman
Born in Pembrokeshire, Wales, to English parents, Bale started acting at a young age, with his first starring role at age 13 in Steven Spielberg's Empire of the Sun (1987) and he later gained wide recognition as an adult actor in American Psycho (2000) and The Machinist (2004).
Bale famously lost over 4 stone to play his role in the Machinist, and then within six months gained over 7 stone to portray Batman in the movie Batman Begins (2005). He also starred in the film's sequels The Dark Knight (2008) and The Dark Knight Rises (2012).
#4 Robert Pattinson as The Batman (2022)
Born in London in 1986, Robert Pattison's film career began with Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (2005) where he played Cedric Diggory, but it was for his role in The Twilight Saga film series that he gained worldwide fame and is now ranked as one of the world's highest-paid actors.
Recently he had a leading role in the sci-fi spy film Tenet (2020) alongside John David Washington (son of Denzel Washington) and it was announced on May 2019 that Pattinson would be the new Batman in the upcoming DC superhero film The Batman (2022).
#5 Idris Alba as Heimdall
Idris Elba first shot to fame in the brilliant American crime drama series The Wire, and has since become a global superstar starring in a multitude of film's and TV series.
His films include Prometheus (2012), Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom (2013), Pacific Rim (2013) and, more importantly to this list, as Heimdall in Thor (2011), Thor: The Dark World (2013), and Thor: Ragnarok (2017), as well as in Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) and Avengers: Infinity War (2018). One of his most famous TV roles is as the London detective 'Luther', in the show of the same name.
#6 Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Tom Hiddleston was born in London and is a classically trained actor, with a Golden Globe Award and a Laurence Olivier Award under his superhero/villain belt.
His first appearence as Loki was in the movie Thor (2011) followed by The Avengers (2012), Thor: The Dark World (2013), Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and also Avengers: Endgame (2019). He is set to star as Loki in the upcoming Disney+ miniseries Loki.
#7 Tom Hardy as Venom
Another Londoner, Tom Hardy was bound to get his own superhero role at some point as he's one of the hottest properties around on stage and the big screen, starring in a number of plays, TV series' and blockbuster movies such as The Revenant (2015) and Mad Max: Fury Road (2015). He has also played the supervillain Bane in The Dark Knight Rises (2012) and then in 2018 he bagged the starring role as Venom, the comic book sometime hero, Eddie Brock / Venom and will also star in the forthcoming Venom sequel Venom: Let There Be Carnage.
Tom was iniitally going to star in the DC Comics movie Suicide Squad (2016) as Rick Flag but had to pull out due to commitments with The Revenant (2015) which had gone over schedule by several months. The Rick Flag role was taken over by the excellent Swedish/American actor Joel Kinnaman.
#8 Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
Born in Hammersmith, London, Benedict Cumberbatch is a classically trained actor with a Laurence Olivier Award for Best Actor (Frankenstein) and the Primetime Emmy Award for Outstanding Lead Actor in a miniseries or a Movie (Sherlock TV series).
He has played the superhero Dr. Stephen Strange in the movie Doctor Strange (2016), in Thor: Ragnarok (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and in Avengers: Endgame (2019).
#9 Chiwetel Ejiofor as Baron Mordo
Chiwetel Ejiofor CBE is a British award-winning actor and filmmaker born in London, England. He has won awards for his acting and for his charity work in Nigeria, and stars next to his friend benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange (2016) where he plays supervillain Karl Mondo. He will also reprise the role in the upcoming film Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
#10 Finn Jones as Iron Fist
Finn Jones is an English actor born in London, England. He starred as Loras Tyrell in HBO's The Game of Thrones, and in 2017 began playing as martial arts master Danny Rand aka Iron Fist on Netflix.
#11 Sophie Turner as Jean Grey/Phoenix (X-Men)
Sophie Turner was born in Northampton, England, and made her acting debut playing Sansa Stark in Game of Thrones (2011 - 2019) which saw her receive a Primetime Emmy Award nomination for the Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She was only 14 years old when the filming of GoT began, and it was her first television role.
Sophie stars as a young Jean Grey aka Phoenix in the X-Men films 2016 - 2019.
#12 Karen Gillan as Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Karen Gillan is a Scottish actress, filmmaker, and philanthopist who starred as Amy Pond next to Matt Smith in Doctor Who (2010 - 2013) which was her breakthrough role.
In 2013 she was cast as Nebula, the supervillain in Guardians of the Galaxy. She reprised the role in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017), Avengers: Infinity War (2018) and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
#13 James McAvoy as Charles Xavier (X-Men)
James McAvoy is a Scottish actor who plays the young Professor Charles Xavier in the X-Men films X-Men: First Class (2011), X-Men: Days of Future Past (2014), X-Men: Apocalypse (2016) and X-Men: Dark Phoenix (2019). He also plays the role in Deadpool 2 (2018).
When McAvoy was growing up he considered becoming a priest as it seemed a good way to explore the world via missionary work. He also applied to join the Royal Navy and had already been accepted when he was offered a place to study acting at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music and Drama.
James has since gone on to become an award winning actor, including winning Best Actor in the British Independent Film Awards for his performance in Filth (2013).
#14 Charlie Cox as Daredevil
Charlie Cox is another London born actor and plays the role of Matt Murdock / Daredevil in the Netflix show Daredevil (2015 - 2018) and in The Defenders (2017). His performance as Daredevil was praised and saw him given a Helen Keller Achievement Award for his role by the American Foundation for the Blind.
#15 Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man (2012)
Andrew Garfield is an American-British actor, born in LA and raised in Epsom, England.
Garfield grabbed public attention in 2007 when he appeared in series 3 of Doctor Who, in the episodes "Daleks in Manhatten" and "Evolution of the Daleks", something he said was an honour to be part of.
In 2012 he played the role of Peter Parker / Spider-Man in the film The Amazing Spider-Man, and its sequel The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014.
Other notable roles include his part as Desmond Doss in Hacksaw Ridge (2014) which earned him nominations for the Academy Award and BAFTA for Best Actor. He also gained critical acclaim for his performance in the historical drama Silence (2016) where he plays a priest alongside Adam Driver.
#16 Cara Delevingne as June Moone/Enchantress (Suicide Squad)
Cara Delevingne was born in Hammersmith, London, and is an English model, actress, and singer.
Delevingne won Model of the Year at the British Fashion Awards in 2012 and again in 2014, and began acting in 2012 with a minor role in the film adaptaion of Anna Karenina. She then went on to have starring roles in Paper Towns (2015), and as Laureline in Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017).
In 2016 she starred as the Enchantress in the comic book film Suicide Squad (2016), though she has ruled herself out of starring in the upcoming Suicide Squad 2 which is due for release in August 2021.
#17 Patrick Stewart as Professor Xavier (X-Men)
Sir Patrick Stewart OBE was born in West Yorkshire, England, to a poor family and went on to study drama after his English teacher put a copy of Shakespeare in his hand and told him to get up on his feet and perform. He did, and has since had a career spanning six decades, working on stage, tv, film and also video games. It was his role as Captain Jean-Luc Picard that launched him into superstardom, and made him unexpectedly wealthy as he never thought the show would succeed. He then went on to accept the role of Professor Charles Xavier, the founder and mentor of the X-men superheroes.
#18 Riz Ahmed as Carlton Drake / Riot (Venom)
Riz Ahmed was born in Wembley, London, and is an award-winning actor and rapper. Riz graduated from Oxford University with a degree in Philosophy, Politics and Economics, before later studying acting at the Royal Central School of Speech and Drama in London. In 2018 he starred as supervillain Carlton Drake, in the superhero film Venom.
#19 Ian McKellen as Magneto (X-Men)
Sir Ian Murray McKellen CH CBE was born in Burnley, Lancashire, and is an award-winning actor who has won seven Laurence Olivier Awards, a Golden Globe Award, and other awards with a career spanning six decades. In 1999 he was cast as the supervillain Magneto i nthe 2000 film X-Men, a role which he reprised for its sequels. Another huge role McKellen landed was that of Gandalf the Wizard, in Peter Jackson's Lord of the Rings film trilogy.
#20 Felicity Jones as Black Cat (The Amazing Spider-man 2)
Felicity Rose Hadley Jones was born in Birmingham, England. After taking her A-Levels she went on to read English at Wadham College, Oxford, apppearing in student plays, although her acting began earlier at the age 11 at after-school workshop Central Junior Television, and at the age of 14 she appeared in the first series of The Worst Witch, based on the books by Jill Murphy. She has since been in many TV and film roles, including the starring role in Rogue One: A Star Wars Story where she played Jyn Erso.
In 2014 she starred in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, as Felicia Hardy (Black Cat).