Almost Got Em’: Actors Who Almost Super
Superhero movies are the most bankable box office source material in the film industry right now and will be for the foreseeable future. It seems that slapping a DC or Marvel scroll before any movie not about the Fantastic Four is a guarantee for lucrative box office returns.
In the interest of science and humankind’s ever-present need to revisit things that might have been, I thought it would be fun to list out some of the most intriguing near castings in comic book movie history.
Let’s kick things off with the most profitable comic book character in the world: Spider-Man. (I’d bet you were thinking it would be Batman but now is not the time for Batman, Dr. Pavil. That comes later).
In the early 90s the now defunct Carolco Pictures acquired the film rights to Spiderman and fresh off their successful partnership with Terminator 2 hired director James Cameron to write and produce the feature. By all accounts the script is weird and involves a lot of profanity and possibly a scene in which Peter Parker consummates his relationship with Mary Jane on top of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Despite the weird script the film made it far enough to cast several of the main roles including Maggie Smith as Aunt May and R. Lee Emery as J. Jonah Jameson (if only Peter Parker could get me a picture of that).
But the most interesting casting choice was that of the story’s protagonist who would be played by none other than the internet’s favorite dead meme: Leonardo DiCaprio. The most intriguing part about what would have surely earned DiCaprio his fist of several Oscars is the fact that this would have been the most visible role in his early career. Leo would have been barely 20 years old and fresh off of his critically acclaimed work in What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and This Boy’s Life stepping into the red booties of one of the most beloved characters in American history. It’s a part that could have killed (or hastened) his ascent to A-list status.
Next up, we’ll visit another Marvel icon; that is before Disney came in a killed him: Wolverine. Yes, back in the infancy of major movie studios venturing into the musty world of comic books James Cameron (this may start to sound familiar) was in talks to produce a movie about the strangest super-heroes of all with Kathryn Bigelow set to direct. And starring in this potentially earth shattering cinema event would have been none other than Bob Hoskins. Standing at a diminutive 5’6 the actor’s portly figure and fur covered shoulders Hoskins would have been a natural fit for the Canadian scrapper. Moreover, the timing of this film would have prevented him from starring in the ill-fated (but loveable) Mario Brothers movie. Honorable mention goes to the possible casting of Angela Bassett nearly playing Storm in this film.
Editors note another rumored casting for Wolverine was Glen Danzig yes Danzig was rumored to play Wolverine
Unfortunately that never came to fruition but it would’ve been awesome
Moving over to the other major publisher, there are scores of intriguing near castings, from Jack Black as a Green Lantern to Josh Hartnet as Superman but I decided to narrow it down to DC’s most profitable (let’s face, he’s the only one that makes them money) the Batman.
We all know the list of actors who were considered (and more qualified) to star as the Dark Knight in Warner Brother’s 1989 classic. Before Tim Burton signed on the studio were considering the likes of Arnold Schwarzenegger (Physically perfect for the part), Mel Gibson (Batshit crazy) and Liam Neeson (may actually be Batman in real life). But as we all know, the Beetlejuice director eventually signed on and demanded that the studio take a chance and cast Michael Keaton and the rest is cinematic history.
But after McDonalds forced Warner Brothers to fire Tim Burton (more on that later) but before Burton set fire to the boat by recommending Joel Schumacher to direct the Batman Forever, an ambitious young director named Sam Raimi petitioned hard to continue the franchise. Given Raimi’s history and the fact that he loves casting the same actors in his movies I have often theorized that after Keaton departed along with Burton Raimi would have cast his longtime ally, the man with the chiseled chin: Bruce Campbell.
I know it’s a complete stretch but try to imagine how perfect he would fit into the part. Fresh off of Army of Darkness, Bruce Campbell would have been the only person who could have cooled audience’s fears about the changing of the guard with his charismatic machismo and comedic vulnerability. If only.
Speaking of Tim Burton, well before it was fashionable for butthurt racists to riot over casting actors of color into roles originally created as Caucasians, Mr. Burton cast Billy Dee “Lando Calrissian” Williams as Harvey Dent. It was always Burton’s intention to bring Williams back as the duplicitous district attorney in his third installment of the franchise.
But wait there’s more! Two-Face wasn’t the only member of the extended Bat Family to receive the Zendaya treatment. If Burton had his way Batman Forever would have cast Marlon Waynes as the boy wonder. Although by all accounts he wouldn’t have actually suited up as Robin in the film but rather be taken in as Bruce’s ward after saving Chase Meridian from some thugs in Gotham’s equivalent of central park.
Unfortunately for us, McDonalds got upset after some parents groups complained about the level of violence, sexuality and overall darkness of Burton’s expressionist effort in Batman Returns. They made some vague threats and Warner decided that money was far more valuable than “art” and they sent Burton packing.
One could truly spend sleepless days on end staring out at the ocean and pondering the ‘What if’s’ of Superhero Casting. If John Krasinski had won the part of Captain America, would they have killed-off Jim on the Office? If Howard Stern graced cinemas as an overly flatulent scarecrow in Batman Triumphant, would we have ever gotten the Dark Knight Trilogy? If Robert Downey Jr. had never been cast as Iron Man… I’m fairly certain I’d be dead. Maybe these movies do exist somewhere- in some other place similar to this where people like us are almost doing the same things we are right now.
Side Note:If you are reading this and find yourself thinking aloud, “wait I’m sure I remember 7 time Oscar winner Leonardo Dicaprio as my favorite webslinger,” or “Sure Ben Affleck’s got a great chin but he’s got nothing on Bruce Campbell,” you have wandered into one or more of the following scenarios:
- Someone has gone back in time and altered the space-time continuum and you are now trapped in an inferior world where Wolverine is all weird and muscular.
- You have somehow crossed over into our dimension from yours. Please pack your things and go home as we have quite a lot to worry about here and want nothing to do with your nonsense.