Comic Book Fantasy Casting

Everything About Fiction You Never Wanted to Know.
It even got lampshaded in the comic.

Sometimes in comics or animated shows, a character is made to look like a particular actor or other celebrity whom the artist imagines playing the character. This might be out of fandom for the actor, because the character fits with the actor's well-known roles, or in the hope that the actor would be flattered and try to get the comic adapted as a movie.

Fantasy casting can also occur in non-visual media such as (non-illustrated) novels, but can be harder to spot unless Word of God acknowledges it, or the character is closely based on a particular role the actor is associated with.

For when the character is a direct impression or parody of a celebrity's public persona, see No Celebrities Were Harmed. For when an animated character is designed to resemble the real-world voice actor, see Ink Suit Actor. Not the same thing as when a comic book or animation is spun-off from an earlier live-action film or TV show and the characters inevitably are drawn to look like the live-action actors, which would be Reality Casting. However, sometimes there are borderline cases where a comic or animation is adapted into a live-action medium and artists start drawing a character to look like the actor in the adaptation.

Examples of Comic Book Fantasy Casting include:

Anime and Manga

  • Doctor Reichwein in Monster bears a strong resemblance to the actor Wilford Brimley. Oddly, this is actually due to Naoki Urasawa's unrepentant Osamu Tezuka fandom. Reichwein was modeled on Brimley because he was the closest Real Life actor to Tezuka's famed "Mr. Mustachio" character. Still, any AMV Hell clip of the character will include the dance remix of "You know, I have diabeetus..."
  • Freddy from Cromartie High School bears an obvious resemblance to Freddie Mercury from Queen. It's never explicitly stated whether or not he actually is Freddie Mercury, but most signs point to no. Just avoids No Celebrities Were Harmed since his characterization has no resemblance at all to Freddy's public persona.
  • All three of the admirals in One Piece are patterned after prominent actors in Japan.
  • Great Brother Chang in Black Lagoon looks a lot like Chow Yun-Fat.
  • Bakuman。 offers an interesting Manga Within A Manga case: every time Takagi and Mashiro create a new manga series, Mashiro makes the most important female character look like his girlfriend Azuki, a voice actress, hoping that she will get the role of this character in the anime adaptation.
  • Cowboy Bebop's Spike Spiegel was modeled after famous 1970s Japanese action film star Yusaka Matsuda, but due to the Mukokuseki artstyle, most American fans think he looks Jewish (the last name also helps).
    • Spike also bears quite a resemblence to a young Bob Dylan, who was Jewish.
    • The couple in the first episode were based on Antonio Banderas and Selma Hayek. The doctor also known as a conman who revives Faye is based on George Clooney. The bounty hunter in "Mushroom Samba" is based on Pam Grier. Cowboy Bebop liked this trope.
  • It's hard to tell, given the blue hair and Eyes of Gold, but April of Darker than Black looks a fair amount like Halle Berry, which is probably because her Japanese voice actress, Takato Honda, dubs a lot of Berry's film roles, including that of Storm, who like April, is black and has weather-control powers.
  • It's been noted that Re-l of Ergo Proxy has an uncanny resemblance to Evanescence singer Amy Lee.
  • In Moldiver, Mad Scientist Doctor Machinegal's robot female minions are all named after (and are designed to resemble) various female movie stars.
  • Kenshiro of Fist of the North Star fame infamously resembles Mel Gibson's character from The Road Warrior with a bit of Bruce Lee to round him out.
  • Eyeshield 21 has some really strange ones considering all the characters are high school football players. Shin (especially in the early days) was pretty much Bruce Lee in football gear, Aoyanagi is Weird Al on steroids, Bud Walker is Johnny Depp, and Shinryuuji has players that resemble Gandhi, Richard Nixon, and the Dalai Lama.
  • Doctor Slump had Dr Mashiritko as a recurring Big Bad (as far as that goes in the comedy/satire genre), with facial features based on Akira Toriyama's editor. It's even lampshaded by a few panels where said editor calls up Toriyama to tell him not to draw Mashiritko to look like him - for this scene, he is drawn with exactly the same face as Mashiritko.
  • Yami no Aegis's Zero really looks like Leon from Léon: The Professional. They're also both assassins, and aside from the hats (Zero wears a baseball hat) they dress identically.
  • Masayuki Ozaki has confirmed that several characters in Tiger and Bunny are supposed to resemble certain famous individuals. So far, the fandom's located Robert Downey, Jr., Steven Spielberg, Forest Whitaker, Macaulay Culkin, and Barack Obama.

Comic Books

  • In Asterix and the Falling Sky, the Superclones (an army of Captain Ersatzes of Superman, with a bit of Green Lantern thrown in) bear an uncanny resemblance to Arnold Schwarzenegger.
  • Jenny Sparks in Stormwatch and The Authority is a double for the model Kate Moss.
  • Captain Marvel was said to be based on Fred MacMurray.
    • His sister Mary Marvel was initially modeled after Judy Garland.
    • Inverted with Captain Marvel Junior, as Elvis Presley modeled his signature hairdo and costumes after him.
  • Hal Jordan and Sinestro in Green Lantern have respectively been claimed to have been based on Paul Newman and David Niven.
    • The male Guardians of the Universe from Green Lantern were initially based on David Ben-Gurion, the first prime minister of Israel.
  • Wesley and the Fox in Wanted are overtly based on Eminem and Halle Berry, in what was seen as a deliberate attempt to angle for a film adaptation. In the eventual film the roles ended up being played by James McAvoy and Angelina Jolie.
  • Ultimate Nick Fury was drawn to look like Samuel L. Jackson. In the Iron Man movie, Jackson was naturally cast in the role.
    • This was an explicit arrangement; Jackson gave Marvel free rein to do it as long as he could have the part in the movies.
    • NYPD Detective Paul Budiansky, a one-arc character from The Punisher MAX is also modeled after Sam Jackson.
    • In Ultimate Namor's first appearance, he is very clearly Jonathan Rhys Meyers.
  • The original X-Men Hellfire Club line-up were all based by John Byrne on actors he admired. Sebastian Shaw was based on Robert Shaw, the Black Queen (Jean Grey) on Diana Rigg (Emma Peel), Mastermind/Jason Wyngarde on Peter Wyngarde (Jason King in Department S), Harry Leland on Orson Welles (Harry Lime), and Donald Pierce on Donald Sutherland (film version of Hawkeye Pierce).
    • A later writer introduced Emma Steed of the London Hellfire Club, who was even more Diana Rigg.
    • The Diana Rigg and Peter Wyngarde parallels specifically were part of a Whole-Plot Reference to the Avengers episode "A Touch of Brimstone", also set at a Hellfire Club, and which had Mrs Peel in the Jean Grey role and Peter Wyngarde as John Cleverly Carter in the Mastermind role.
  • During the Claremont/Byrne run on Uncanny X-Men, Cyclops was based on a young Henry Fonda, Jean Grey on a young Raquel Welch, Wolverine on Paul D'Amato in Slap Shot, Colossus on Max Baer Jr, Beast on Al Franken, Charles Xavier on Keane Curtis, Moira McTaggert on Hannah Gordon, Arcade on Malcom McDowell and Emma Frost on a young Faye Dunaway. Kitty Pryde was based on what Byrne thought a young Sigourney Weaver would look like.
    • Later, when handling art honors for Excalibur, Alan Davis once stated that he modeled his Kitty Pryde after a young Katherine Hepburn.
  • In John Byrne comics, Mr Fantastic is based on Jeffrey Hunter, Wonder Man on David Prowse, Dr Strange on Richard Boone, the Scarlet Witch on Playmate Julia Lyndon, Desmond Marrs on Rocco Siffredi, Polaris (in X-Men: The Hidden Years) on Jennifer Aniston.
  • John Romita (Sr.) modeled Mary Jane Watson on Ann-Margret, specifically the way she looked in Bye Bye Birdie.
    • More recently, Mike Deodato has drawn her as a red-haired Liv Tyler, and Paolo Rivera's take on her is a blend between Leighton Meester and Miranda Kerr, inspired by her dimples.
  • The Saint of Killers in Preacher (Comic Book) had a powerful and deliberate resemblance to Lee Marvin, stated as deliberate by Garth Ennis in his introduction to the Ancient History collection that contained his origin story.
  • The Boys features Simon Pegg as Wee Hughie.
  • The eponymous hero of the Italian comic Dylan Dog is based on Rupert Everett. Among the other characters, Kim is based on Kim Novak, and Professor Adam on Sean Connery. Groucho is a in-universe sosia of Groucho Marx, complete with fake mustaches.
  • Betty from The Rocketeer and pin-up model Bettie Page.
  • Delirium from The Sandman is sometimes based on Tori Amos and sometimes on the writer Kathy Acker. Her brother Destruction is sometimes unmistakably Brian Blessed. Dream is pretty clearly Robert Smith of The Cure and Lucifer is David Bowie.
  • John Constantine, Hellblazer, was drawn in his initial Swamp Thing appearances to look like Sting and has continued to do so ever since.
  • Rachel Summers in her first appearances in New Mutants was intentionally designed to look like Annie Lennox.
  • Likewise, Illyana Rasputin in the same title was designed to look like Heather O'Rourke, the child actress who played Carol-Ann in Poltergeist.
  • Bruce Wayne in Batman: Year One was unashamedly drawn a lot like Cary Grant, and intentionally so, although David Mazuchelli has also claimed an influence from Gregory Peck.
  • After the success of Batman Begins, there was at least one issue of a Batman comic (this one) in which Bruce Wayne bore an unmistakable resemblance to Christian Bale, and the Joker got plastic surgery to look like Heath Ledger.
    • The Batman manga Child of Dreams has Bruce Wayne with an uncanny resemblance to Bale. And the story was published around 2000, a few years before Batman Begins.
  • Similarly, Gary Frank draws Superman to look like Christopher Reeve.
  • Astro City's Steeljack's appearance was modeled on Robert Mitchum.
  • Anything drawn by Greg Land will resemble a random assortment of celebrities and porn stars due to his tendency to trace. Unfortunately, there's little rhyme or reason to his choices. Emma Frost may look like Natalie Portman in one panel and Kim Kardashian in the next.
  • Whenever Mike Deodato draws Norman Osborn (see Thunderbolts, Dark Avengers, etc.), he ends up looking like Tommy Lee Jones. Deodato has admitted that this is deliberate.
    • In his more recent appearances, Norman appears to have been modelled on Julian McMahon. Which is kind of ironic when you think about it...
  • Since the success of the Blade movies, there hasn't been an instance where the character wasn't drawn to look like Wesley Snipes.
  • Cerebus has too many of these to count, though the most notable one has to be Lord Julius, who for all intents and purposes is Groucho Marx. Groucho's actual first name, for the record, was Julius.
  • Before the movies, Charles Xavier's only distinguishing characteristics were baldness and long, thin, arching eyebrows that looked like Kirby-esque thought rays attached permanently to his head. In several X-Men books since the movies, though, Professor Xavier has noticeably been drawn more like Patrick Stewart.
  • In Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer season 8, there's a Tibetan character called Bayarmaa. The artist, Georges Jeanty, made her look like the exact portrait of Dichen Lachman, a half Tibetan actress who stars in another of Whedon's shows (she's Sierra in Dollhouse).
  • Jeremy Johns, a character in Spike: After the Fall, is based on Jim Halpert from The Office, played by John Krasinski.
  • When Walt Simonson was the writer/artist on Thor, he based Sif's look on actress Sigourney Weaver and the Enchantress' sister Lorelei on Debbie Harry of the punk band Blondie.
  • Superman #355 (Jan. 1981) presented Dr. Asa Ezaak, a dead ringer for Isaac Asimov, sideburns and all, as an insane moon-powered evil writer. Those were happier times.
  • Numinus, an obscure Power Pack character who looks like a bright-red Whoopi Goldberg in Kirbyesque "cosmic" armor.
  • In the Doctor Who Magazine Eighth Doctor comic strips, long-running companion Izzy S was based, according to Word of God, initially on the singer Louise Wener and later on the actor Luisa Bradshaw-White. The strips also featured a fake Ninth Doctor, in reality the Time Lord agent Shayde in disguise, who was visually based on the Big Name Fan, spin-off actor-director, and now official Dalek voice artist Nicholas Briggs. Leighton Woodrow, an MI 6 recurring character from that era of the comics, was closely based on Leo McKern, specifically as he appeared when playing Number Two in The Prisoner.
  • Lieutenant Blueberry was originally based on Jean-Paul Belmondo. His face later evolved into what now looks like a Belmondo/Banderas cross-over.
  • Superman is Clark Gable.
  • Dirty Frank in Judge Dredd was intentionally drawn to resemble Alan Moore.
  • Before Iron Man 2 came out, Justin Hammer was modeled on Peter Cushing.
  • Tony Stark, as drawn by Salvador Larocca in the current series by Matt Fraction, looks A LOT [dead link] like Josh Holloway.
  • Salvador LaRocca does this with many characters in The New Universe reimagining newuniversal. He casts Josh Holloway as Kenneth Connell (Star Brand); James Gandolfini as the father of Connell's girlfriend; Vincent Pastore, Steven Van Zandt, Michael Imperioli, and Tony Sirico as sheriff's deputies; Leonard Nimoy as a Starbrand wielder from an alternate Earth; Angelina Jolie as Dr. Jennifer Swann; James Cromwell as her boss, Philip L. Voight; Bruce Willis as Det. John Tensen(Justice); Eminem as the crack dealer who put Tensen in the hospital; Zinedine Zidane as a Serial-Mercy Killing nurse who would've killed Tensen if not for the White Event; Johnny Depp as Dr. Leonard Carson; Nicole Kidman as Dr. Hannah Ballad; and Gene Hackman as Jim Braddock.
  • In Paul Cornell's run on Action Comics, Lex Luthor's assistant Spalding is modelled on David Tennant, complete with the Tenth Doctor's "clever specs". Lampshade Hanging is provided by The Joker who, when taking credit for killing him, claims "He reminded me so much of that actor, I wanted to see if he'd turn into someone else!"
  • George Pérez based his Pre-Crisis Wonder Woman on Connie Selleca and his Post-Crisis version on Marina Sirtis.
  • On at least one occasion (the moment when Spider-Man revealed his secret identity), Peter Parker and J. Jonah Jameson look very much like Tobey Maguire and J. K. Simmons, respectively.
  • Darwyn Cooke admits to doing this a lot in his Catwoman story "Selina's Big Score". Stark is Lee Marvin, Jeff is Chow Yun-Fat, Swifty is Burgess Meredith and Chantel is Pam Grier.
  • There are a number of examples in Global Frequency, Depending on the Artist. In certain issues, Miranda Zero looks almost exactly like Michelle Forbes, who was later cast as her in the abortive TV pilot. In issue 4, the English gunwoman looks like Kate Moss (something of an in-joke, as Warren Ellis's Stormwatch and The Authority leading character Jenny Sparks was famously visually based on her). And in issue 5, the magician Alan Crowe looks exactly like Alan Cumming.
  • In Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean's Black Orchid, Carl Thorne looks like the young Marlon Brando, while Lex Luthor often looks like the older Brando (especially when he's on the videophone—he seems to be based on Brando in Apocalypse Now then).
  • Rasputin in Corto Maltese is quite obviously modeled after the famous Russian monk of the same name. This is lampshaded in one story, where someone asks the name of the "guy who looks like Rasputin".
  • Jack Kirby was said to have based Big Barda of New Gods on actress and singer model Lainie Kazan.
  • Early Doctor Strange more or less is Vincent Price.
  • Early Professor X is reminiscent of Yul Brynner.
  • Alex Ross based Mr. Fantastic's appearance in Marvels off of Russell Johnson aka The Professor from Gilligan's Island in keeping with The Sixties setting of the series.
  • The main character of Switchblade Honey, Captain John Ryder, is based on Ray Winstone. The story started out with the idea "What if the kind of character who Ray Winstone usually plays somehow got to be a Star Trek captain?".
  • There's a list of these in the back of Identity Crisis; among others, Captain Boomerang is based on Ron Jeremy and his son is based on Justin Timberlake.



  • Paul Kidby's illustrations of Sam Vimes in Discworld cover designs and other art deliberately depict him as Clint Eastwood. By contrast, Melvyn Grant, the artist of Where's My Cow?, drew Vimes like Pete Postlethwaite, who is said to be Terry Pratchett's own fantasy casting for the role.
    • Similiarly, Kidby has based his drawings of Carrot Ironfoundersson on a young Liam Neeson.
  • Cornelia Funke based Mo in Inkheart on Brendan Fraser, who went on to play the character in the film version. (And in her less-famous novel The Thief Lord, she based Viktor on Bob Hoskins. It was also made into a film, but not with Bob Hoskins in.)
  • Doctor Who Expanded Universe examples:
    • Lance Parkin has an acknowledged tendency toward fantasy-casting his characters; in particular, Ian Richardson gets a lot of "roles" in Parkin novels, most obviously in the New Adventures novel The Dying Days, where Lord Greyhaven is quite close to his iconic role in House of Cards (British series).
    • The evil third incarnation of Romana who appears in the Eighth Doctor Adventures was based by her initial creator, Paul Cornell, on Louise Brooks.
  • Barbara Hambly:
  • On at least two occasions in Ian Fleming's books, James Bond was said to resemble Hoagy Carmichael.
    • Fleming himself considered his cousin David Niven the ideal actor for the role.
  • Dave Barry made fun of this in one of his columns in which he tried to write a techno-thriller that would be turned into a Summer Blockbuster. He wrote "[the main character] looked like Tom Cruise or, if he is available, Al Pacino."
  • Spoofed in Robert Rankin's Armageddon: The Musical series: The main character resembles Harrison Ford to such an extent that people ask him for his autograph and think he's being a jerk when he signs his own name. One of the books has a subplot where a group of minor characters gain Medium Awareness and try to get the narrator to describe them as resembling various Hollywood stars;[1] the Butt Monkey wants to be played by Tom Cruise but ends up as Danny DeVito instead. There's a full cast list at the end.[2]
  • William Gibson's Berry Rydell, the protagonist of the Bridge Trilogy, is at one point described as being the spitting image of "a young Tommy Lee Jones" by a cult of TV-worshipping religious nuts. He, of course, doesn't even know who that is.
  • Left Behind makes frequent references to Nicolae Carpathia's resemblance to Robert Redford (probably a Take That at Redford's real-world left-wing political activism). Vernon Billings is briefly described as having a "Henry Fonda" quality to him.
  • Supposedly, J. K. Rowling based Hagrid on Robbie Coltrane when she was writing the first Harry Potter book. Either way, when the movies rolled around, she insisted that Robbie Coltrane was the only choice for the part of Hagrid and, fortunately for her, they got him. JK has also said that she imagined Professor McGonagall as being Maggie Smith. This also worked out for her.
  • Rosto the Piper in Tamora Pierce's Beka Cooper books is played by James Marsters. She's acknowledged this on her blog, but it's still very obvious if one reads the description of him in Terrier and looks at a picture of, say, Spike.
  • Played with in Gaunt's Ghosts. In the books, Gaunt is described as having blonde hair and it's generally agreed he was modeled after Sean Bean's performance in Sharpe. The funny thing is that the cover art also looks like Sharpe, only this time as he's described in the books.
  • Christopher Fowler's novel Hell Train is conceived as the novelisation of a fictional "lost" Hammer Horror film, with a framing narrative around the planning of the film. This includes an in-canon casting chapter where it's discussed which of the Hammer regulars and other well-known English character actors would play the major characters.

Video Games

  • Wing Commander: The Tiger's Claw ace pilot Iceman appears magnificently similar in both grizzly features and gritty demeanour to that ace shooter himself of another time, Clint Eastwood. One of the good guys and firmly focused on vengeance against the Kilrathi. Not someone who one can imagine cracking a joke with too often. According to his fellow pilots, he don't say much.
  • Metal Gear: Big Boss was originally based off Sean Connery in appearance, while the box art of Snake was based on Michael Biehn. Snake's codec image for Metal Gear 2 was based on Mel Gibson. The other characters had obvious casting as well — most hilariously, Bond Girl-type Holly White was modeled after Christina Applegate.
  • Somewhat weird video game example: Eddie Riggs from Brutal Legend was based on Jack Black from the start, but then Double Fine persuaded him to play the role, which turned it into an example of an Ink Suit Actor.
  • In Condemned, The Obi-Wan character Malcolm Van Horn looks uncannily like Max Von Sydow (especially in the second game, most strikingly in the concept art).
  • Sentinel Worlds I: Future Magic (a sort of 1988 proto-Mass Effect RPG) used particularly shameless photo swipes as the basis for several crew pictures, including Arnold Schwarzenegger from The Terminator, Sigourney Weaver from Aliens, and, apparently, a young Donald Rumsfeld.
  • Laser Squad is guilty of this in the IBM PC version. The cutscenes exclusive to this version use trace-overs of various scenes and/or characters from The Empire Strikes Back for the Rebel Star team in the first level and the cyborgs in the second, while the team member portraits use various 1980s movie actors as facial sources - Lorenzo Lamas, Michael Biehn, Alec Baldwin, Rutger Hauer, Michael Ironside, John Hollis (who makes up the entire enemy squad in the second mission) and, surprisingly standing out from the rest of the list, Errol Flynn. In a bit of Hilarious in Hindsight, there are also people looking like Adam Baldwin and Vin Diesel as Riddick as he appears in the Batman Cold Open of Chronicles of Riddick.
  • Zoey in Left 4 Dead is modeled after Natassja Kinski, according to the series's wiki.
    • Something worth noting would be the fact that the face model of Zoey happened to be Sonja Kinski, the daughter of Natassja.
  • All eight playable main characters in the Resident Evil Outbreak games resemble celebrities to some extent. The most blatant is Jim Chapman, who is basically Chris Tucker in The Fifth Element.
  • Nathan Drake's appearance is based on Johnny Knoxville.
  • Speaking of Naughty Dog: Ellie from The Last of Us looks a lot like Elliot Page.
    • The character design has since been modified to look a little younger and better resemble voice actress Ashley Johnson.
  • Like Nathan Drake above, Travis Touchdown is modeled on Johnny Knoxville. Some of his opponents also resemble real people; Dr. Peace is Charles Bronson, Volodarski is magician Criss Angel and Destroyman's secret identity, John Harnet, is UFC fighter Josh Barnett.

Web Comics

Web Original

  • Used literally by the Global Guardians PBEM Universe. Real Life celebrities Leland Orser, Mick Jagger, Avery Brooks, and Miley Cyrus are all super-powered, among others, and two (Leland Orser and Miley Cyrus) are a villain and hero, respectively.
  • In the webcomic The Dreamer, Beatrice Whaley was based on Emmy Rossum, Alan Warren was based on Jude Law, Elizabeth Winters is based on Jill Richie, Nathan Hale is based on Jamie Bamber, Yvette Howe is based on Dawn Richard, Thomas Knowlton is based on Thorston Kaye, Benjamin Cato is based on Usher, Gen. Howe is based on Jeremy Irons, and John Mulligan is based on Aaron Ashmore.

Western Animation

  1. Well, two, really, which led to confusion about which Julia Roberts was which character.
  2. Which reveals that the Butt Monkey was somehow able to recast himself with Arnold Schwarzenegger.