Our judges have adjudicated; our readers have voted. We’re proud to present to you the best performer in a comics adaptation in 2015 — and four great runners up.

  • Runner Up: Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America

    When Chris Evans was first announced as Captain America in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot of fans were sketpical, still thinking of his (surprisingly good; there, I said it!) performances as Johnny Storm. Four movies in to his MCU career, Evans has consistently proven the skeptics wrong.

    As much as representing an entire, frequently conflicted nation can be a difficult task for a character (just ask Sam Wilson), taking on an iconic role can be a similar challenge for an actor. More than that, in a genre often overrunning with anti-heroes and wisecracks, portraying Steve Rogers as an idealist who always does the right thing could have seemed… old-fashioned. Instead, Evans has played Steve as a real, balanced person, whose inner goodness consistently shines through. Evans has helped make Steve Rogers seem like a modern man, a good man, and someone who can carry the expectations of an entire country. [James Leask]

  • Runner Up: Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter

    As far as I can tell, the Agent Carter TV show exists basically as a direct result of Hayley Atwell's awesomeness in the first Captain America. As scripted, her role in that film didn't exactly scream spin-off potential, but Atwell exuded enough charisma to demand it. After a one-shot short, and cameos in every Marvel film and TV show where it was even vaguely plausible, she became the first titular female lead of any MCU property.

    She hasn't disappointed in a single one of those appearances. She wears the red lipstick in a way that's as distinctive as any costume, and wields a simple pistol like it's her own star-spangled shield. Whether punching a guy in the face or tearily pouring out a vial of Steve Rogers' super-blood, she simply is Peggy Carter. It's not hard, given the sparse appearances of her comics namesake, but Atwell immediately overwrote any other incarnation to become the definitive version of the character. Who is, by the way, a total badass. [Alex Spencer]

  • Runner Up: Charlie Cox as Matt Murdock/Daredevil

    Cox makes a great Matt Murdock. He plays him with a mix of cockiness and vulnerability, Catholic guilt and caring humanity, capable of bringing each element up in the mix depending on who Matt is sharing the scene with (especially if his co-star is a balloon). But more than that, he makes an absolutely perfect Daredevil. I'm not talking about the gravelly Bale-Batman voice he occasionally adopts; just the way he moves. Cox is a reasonably slight guy, but he imbues ol' Hornhead with all the physicality of a Frank Miller drawing.

    The obvious touchpoint is the corridor fight scene — I've written before about the unique mix of weary boxer and acrobatic superhero in Daredevil's moves — but it's there throughout the entire season. When Daredevil takes to the rooftops for the first time, there's an expressive freedom to his movements that genuinely brought tears to my eyes.

    Given that his face is bound up in black cloth during these scenes, at least some of the credit must go to Cox's stunt double, Chris Brewster, but it seems as though the two worked closely together to get Daredevil's movements just right. It really shows. [Alex Spencer]

  • Runner Up: Krysten Ritter as Jessica Jones

    Prior to Jessica Jones, most people only knew Krysten Ritter from her all-too-brief role on Breaking Bad. And I feel bad for those people, because that means they haven’t seen her career-making comedic performance on Don’t Trust the B in Apt 23, one of the most underrated sitcoms of the last decade.

    With those two roles under her belt, Ritter arrived at Jessica Jones already experienced at both snark and tragedy, two important elements to one of Marvel’s most interesting characters. The series didn’t disappoint, giving her ample opportunity to balance the light with the dark. Although the show is relentlessly dark and grim, Ritter as Jessica is never humorless. Even as she’s processing her own trauma, her pain is often expressed through sarcasm, which Ritter excels at. And in those moments when things get truly dark, and Jessica must reach deep within herself to find new strength in order to win the day, Krysten Ritter shows us more of what she can do than we’ve seen in any of her previous roles, and it is spectacular. [Elle Collins]

  • Winner: Matt Ryan as John Constantine

    Matt Ryan as John Constantine may have a more passionate fan base than the show he starred in. The audience for the Constantine TV show wasn’t big enough to keep that show alive, but fans of Ryan as the hangdog British trickster-magician propelled him to victory here, and perhaps persuaded the makers of Arrow to give the character a reprise with a guest shot on that show. Even that probably isn’t the last we’ve seen of Ryan’s Constantine, now he has a foothold in the CW’s shared superhero universe; there’s a rumor he might star in a future season of Legends of Tomorrow.

    That’s all a testament to how perfect Ryan is in the role. He doesn’t just look like a John Constantine who walked right off the comics page; he carries himself with the same serpentine charisma and unctuous self-confidence. Matt Ryan was ultimately so good as Constantine that he outlived his own show. And that’s magic. [Andrew Wheeler]


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