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The Most Controversial Recasting Decisions in TV and Film, from ‘The Witcher’ to ‘Wonder Woman’

DC Studios needs a hero; many heroes in fact. And James Gunn is in the process of picking them. Since taking up the mantle of DC Studios co-CEO with Peter Safran in October of last year, “The Suicide Squad” writer/director has been steadily assembling a new cast of actors to replace the Justice League once led by Henry Cavill’s Superman. David Corenswet earned the honor of suiting up as Clark Kent in “Superman: Legacy” (not yet filming), opposite Rachel Brosnahan who is taking up the part of Lois Lane — last played by Amy Adams on film and Elizabeth Tulloch on TV.

The news that Cavill would not return to the DC Extended Universe upset plenty of fans, particularly as it came on the heels of his departure from Netflix’s “The Witcher.” (IndieWire’s Ben Travers called that send-off “an insult” to Cavill, who will be replaced by Liam Hemsworth starting in Season 4.) The future of Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman remains unclear (more on that below), but last we heard from DC Studios she’s not set to come back. That said, Gunn and Safran seem open to working with Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn and John Cena’s Peacemaker once more — which makes sense given their characters’ respective successes.

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The DCEU shake-up is just the splashiest latest in a long-running list of controversial recastings. Changes to a movie or series’ acting lineup take various forms and can happen at any point during the life of a project. Take “Don’t Worry Darling”: the Olivia Wilde-directed dystopian drama-turned-PR disaster and its notorious swapping of would-be star Shia LaBeouf for pop idol Harry Styles during pre-production. Or consider TV shows such as “House of the Dragon,” which recast their most shining stars between episodes and seasons to more believably depict the passage of time. And finally, there are those most contentious partings, from the murky accusations and counter-accusations of “Batwoman” to the “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air” schism that left Will with a new Aunt Viv.

Anticipating more DCEU news eventually, IndieWire looks back at 29 of the most controversial recasting decisions on screens big and small, from Evie O’Connell in “The Mummy” franchise to Darrin Stephens of “Bewitched.”

[Editor’s note: This list was published in July 2022 and has since been updated.]

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