The Cinematic Nerdverse: Explained

So the story goes something like this: after we saw Thor: Ragnarok in the theater back in 2017, Justin and I were chatting in the car on the way home about how awesome it was and how much we loved it, and one of us made some comment about how Karl Urban is in every science fiction or fantasy franchise movie there is. In Marvel, he’s Scourge in Ragnarok… but he was also Bones in the J.J. Abrams Star Treks and Aomer in the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Pretty good… but hey, wasn’t he also Judge Dredd in that great Dredd movie? That was based on a comic too – that one with Lena Headey – who is, of course, Cersei in Game of Thrones….

And so the idea was born. I got curious. If you looked at all the movies you could think of in all the major science fiction, comic book-inspired, or blockbuster fantasy franchises and their spinoffs – which actor or filmmaker would surface as the ONE most important cinematic face of heroism, evil, great deeds, and/or villainey since Star Wars: A New Hope blew all our minds over 40 years ago…? Who has held the most major roles and crossed the boundaries between the realms of the Nerdverse the most?

Gal Gadot, #59

It’s true, there are very few people I know who would be curious enough about this question to develop scoring logic, set up a google sheet with automated functions, compile a list of 193 films that span 8 different storytelling realms, spend two years identifying more than 1100 people who played a significant part in telling those stories, meticulously assign each of them a score, and rank those people overall and in three brackets. And then admit it.

George Takei, #54

Lucky (?) for you, I am that kind of person. And so – who is the Master of the Cinematic Nerdverse? Hold your horses: we’ll work our way up to #1.

Our starting point is kind of poetic. In position number 35 with a score of 41 is Marvel patriarch Stan Lee. So how did Stan get to be #35, you ask? First a quick orientation to the Nerdverse scoring logic. Feel free to skip this section and go right to the list if you really don’t care.

Tilda Swinton, #44

The Rules

The eight realms are:

  • DC comics
  • Marvel comics
  • Other comics
  • Middle Earth
  • Star Trek
  • Star Wars
  • Westeros
  • The Wizarding World
Oscar Isaac, #49

To get on the list, you must have written, directed, or acted in a movie that takes place in one of these realms. Major roles (writer, director, pivotal character) score 5 points, supporting roles score 3, and appearances/all else score 1. Every time you cross into another realm, you add a multiplier. For example, Karl Urban gets a x4 to his total score for the four realms he’s had roles in: Marvel, Star Trek, Middle Earth, and independent comics. With the exception of Game of Thrones, TV appearances don’t get you into the game, but if you’re already on the list and you play a big enough role (5 episodes or more), they do score.

Wesley Snipes, #57

And that’s basically it, though there a whole set of rules that get into how to detail with multiple seasons and voiceovers and do you count the “lego” versions of things and oh my goodness… the rules got complicated. And even though they’re totally made up of course, I applied them consistently, because science.

To the rankings!

For the curious, a full list of the films included in this project is below.

DC Comics

Batman Returns
Batman Forever
Batman and Robin
Batman Begins
The Dark Knight
The Dark Knight Rises

Justice League
Batman v. Superman
Justice League


Superman II
Superman III
Superman IV: The Quest for Peace
Superman Returns
Man of Steel

Other DC
Green Lantern
A History of Violence
Jonah Hex
The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen
The Losers
Road to Perdition
The Spirit
Suicide Squad
V for Vendetta
Wonder Woman

Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones, Season 1-8

Other Comics (not Marvel or DC or their imprints)

300: Rise of an Empire

The Crow
The Crow
The Crow: City of Angels
The Crow: Salvation

Judge Dredd / 2000 AD
Judge Dredd

Hellboy (2004)
Hellboy (2019)
Hellboy II: The Golden Army

Kingsman: The Secret Service
Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Sin City
Sin City
Sin City: A Dame to Kill For

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (2014)
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows
TMNT (2007)

2 Guns
30 Days of Night
Alien vs. Predator
American Splendor
Art School Confidential
Atomic Blonde
Barb Wire
Blue is the Warmest Color
Bullet to the Head
Cowboys & Aliens
From Hell
Ghost in the Shell
Ghost World
Green Hornet
Josie & the Pussycats
The Mask
Mystery Men
The Rocketeer
Scott Pilgrim vs. The World
The Shadow
Tank Girl
The Tick
Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets
Weird Science

Middle Earth

The Hobbit
The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey
The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

Lord of the Rings
The Lord Of The Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
The Lord Of The Rings: The Two Towers
The Lord Of The Rings: The Return of the King

Marvel Comics

Ant Man
Ant Man
Ant Man and the Wasp

The Avengers
The Avengers
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Endgame

Blade II
Blade: Trinity

Captain America
Captain America (1990)
Captain America: The First Avenger
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Captain America: Civil War


Deadpool 2

The Fantastic Four
Fantastic Four (1994)
Fantastic Four (2005)
Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer
Fantastic Four (2015)

Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider
Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance

Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy, vol. 2

The Incredible Hulk
Incredible Hulk

Iron Man
Iron Man
Iron Man 2
Iron Man 3

Kick Ass
Kick Ass
Kick Ass 2

Men in Black
Men in Black
Men in Black II
Men in Black 3
Men in Black: International

The Punisher
The Punisher (1989)
The Punisher (2004)
Punisher: War Zone

Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man 3
The Amazing Spider-Man
The Amazing Spider-Man 2
Spider-Man: Homecoming
Spider-Man: Into the Spiderverse
Spider-Man: Far from Home

Thor: The Dark World
Thor: Ragnarok

X2: X-Men United
X-Men: The Last Stand
X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-Men: First Class
The Wolverine
X-Men: Days of Future Past
X-Men: Apocalypse
Dark Phoenix

Black Panther
Captain Marvel
Doctor Strange
Howard the Duck (Marvel)
Red Sonja

Star Trek

The Original Cast
Star Trek: The Motion Picture
Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Star Trek III: The Search for Spock
Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home
Star Trek V: The Final Frontier
Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country

The Next Generation
Star Trek Generations
Star Trek: First Contact
Star Trek: Insurrection
Star Trek: Nemesis

The Reboot
Star Trek
Star Trek Into Darkness
Star Trek Beyond

Star Wars

The Skywalker Saga
Star Wars Episode 1: The Phantom Menace
Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones
Star Wars Episode 3: Revenge of the Sith
Star Wars Episode 4: A New Hope
Star Wars Episode 5: The Empire Strikes Back
Star Wars Episode 6: Return of the Jedi
Star Wars Episode 7: The Force Awakens
Star Wars Episode 8: The Last Jedi

Star Wars Rogue One

The Wizarding World

Harry Potter
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix
Harry Potter and the Half-blood Prince
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 1
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows: Part 2

Fantastic Beasts
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them
Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald


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