1. “The Mask of Fu Manchu” (1932)
Upon its release, “The Mask of Fu Manchu” was so offensive that the Chinese government criticized the movie for its racism. The white Boris Karloff’s portrayal as Dr. Fu Manchu stands out for being considerably awful.
2. “The Conqueror” (1956)
Producers thought it would be OK to cast all-American John Wayne as Genghis Khan, the infamous Mongol conqueror. Mistake. To this day, the movie is seen as one of the worst ever.
3. “Breakfast at Tiffany’s” (1961)
How do you ruin an all-time classic movie? Yellowface. And Mickey Rooney’s portrayal of the Japanese I.Y. Yunioshi is really bad. Years later, Rooney would say he was confused by the criticism.
4. “Cleopatra” (1963)
Upon its release, “Cleopatra” was the most expensive movie ever, costing more than $44 million. The movie was a huge financial risk, which is why they cast the white and super famous Elizabeth Taylor as the Egyptian Queen Cleopatra.
5. The Passion of the Christ (2004)
The arguments about Jesus’ appearance have gone on forever. There have been many portrayals of Jesus in film — none have had him black or brown-skinned, including Mel Gibson’s “The Passion of the Christ.”
6. “Batman Begins” (2005)
In the comics and in the cartoon, Batman villain Ra’s al Ghul is Middle Eastern. However, in “Batman Begins,” the director made the character white when he hired Liam Neeson to play the criminal mastermind.
7. “30 Days of Night” (2007)
“30 Days of Night” is a famous graphic novel about vampires. In the movie, the white Josh Hartnett plays the main character, Sheriff Eben Oleson. However, in the comic, the character is named Eben Olemaun, and he’s Native American.
8. “Dragonball: Evolution” (2009)
“Dragon Ball Z” is the most famous anime cartoon ever. So you would think that when it came to the movie, producers would hire Asians to play the lead roles. That didn’t happen. Justin Chatwin played the iconic main character Goku.
9. “The Last Airbender” (2010)
Just a year after the “Dragon Ball Z” debacle, M. Night Shyamalan made nearly all the same mistakes in the live version of “The Last Airbender.” The movie tanked, critically and commercially.
10. “Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time” (2010)
“Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time,” based on the iconic video game, never stood a chance. Producers put the pasty white Jake Gyllenhaal as the Persian Prince Dastan. People criticized the move and the movie was a box office bomb. (You see a trend here?)
11. “Argo” (2012)
When “Argo” was released, people were critical that Ben Affleck decided to cast himself as CIA operative Tony Mendez, who was Mexican. Only one problem: we’re not exactly sure he’s Mexican. In an interview, Mendez said he isn’t sure what he is.
12. “The Hunger Games” (2012)
It’s not explicitly stated in the “The Hunger Games” book, but Katniss Everdeen is a person of color. And yet, in the movie adaptation, producers went the safe route and cast Jennifer Lawrence as the main character.
13. “The Lone Ranger” (2013)
“The Lone Ranger” is a sad example of how little Hollywood has progressed. In the 1950s, Jay Silverheels, a real Native American, played Tonto, a somewhat offensive Native American character on “The Lone Ranger.” For the movie version, which came 50 years later, producers hired Johnny Depp, a non-Native American.
14. ‘Pan” (2015)
A new Peter Pan, movie, called “Pan,” is coming out next year. And things already look disastrous. Rooney Mara is playing Native American character Tiger Lilly. Just another slap in the face to the Native American community.
15. “Gods of Egypt” (2016)
If you thought “Exodus” was bad, you haven’t seen anything yet. Brenton Thwaites, Gerard Butler, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Courtney Eaton, and Geoffrey Rush will all star in “Gods of Egypt…” because that’s how Egyptian Gods probably looked, of course.