Superheroes Who Never Were: Comicbook Movies and the Actors Who Nearly Starred in Them

     October 20, 2013


Hugh Jackman as Wolverine.  Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man.  Chris Evans as Captain America. These are just a few staples to be found in the superhero movie genre that have really established themselves as their characters.  For some, it’s hard to imagine anyone else playing these bigger-than-life figures, but for many of these movies, each role was nearly given to someone else.  In this article, we’ll walk you through some of these scenarios of possible alternate casting, cases where we can delve into what exactly happened and the very different franchises they could have been.  Hit the jump for more.

Dougray Scott as Wolverine


Dougray Scott, of Mission: Impossible 2, was originally Bryan Singer’s first choice to play the Canadian mutant.  Unfortunately, due to additional shooting that was needed to finish out M:I2, Scott couldn’t accept the role.  With filming about to being on the first X-Men movie, Singer decided to give the relatively unknown Aussie theater performer, Hugh Jackman, a chance to shine and that was history.  To this day, Scott feels no animosity towards losing the role and is content with his movie and television resume.  While this portrayal of Wolverine would have most certainly been different than Jackman’s, that’s nothing in comparison to what would have been had comic creators Stan Lee and Chris Claremont had their way when they were pitching the X-Men film in the 90s.  Lee and Claremont had meetings with James Cameron to try to not only establish an X-Men movie franchise, but to also place Bob Hoskins, of Roger Rabbit fame, into the role.  Quite a reversal!

Jake Gyllenhaal as Spider-Man


To be fair on this one, Tobey Maguire was always going to be Spider-Man as he had always been director Sam Raimi’s choice for the role.  However, before filming began on the much anticipated sequel to the first film, Maguire suffered a back injury which could have put a serious kink into getting Spider-Man 2 off the ground.  A backup plan of placing Jake Gyllenhaal into the Web Slinger’s shoes was created and Donnie Darko was set to play Spidey, until Maguire stated that despite his injury, he was more than able to retake the role.  After the first Spider-Man movie franchise, the two found themselves as brother in the appropriately named film, Brothers.

John Krasinski as Captain America


That’s right, before Chris Evans put on the Star Spangled shield, John Krasinski, aka Jim from The Office, was nearly Steve Rogers in Marvel Studios’ Phase one movie.  As one of the frontrunners that some folks were pulling for, Krasinski read for the role numerous times and many outlets believed this to be a sure thing.  While it ultimately didn’t pan out, I think this could have worked as Cap is someone who is very down to earth and likeable.  Certainly this may have seemed like an unorthodox choice, but that’s what everyone said about Heath Ledger as the Joker.

Willem Dafoe as Batman


Before Michael Keaton was cast as Bruce Wayne in the original 1989 blockbuster, there were talks in the halls of Warner Brothers of casting a certain actor from a little known movie named Platoon as the Dark Knight.  In an interview, Dafoe was quoted as saying “Very early, they talked to me about playing Batman,” he said. “I hate to spread these things because unless you remember it well, you’re stoking the fires of bullshit,” he continued, “But I remember. I’ve had my brush with these things.”  As we know, eventually Dafoe would don the cowl of the Green Goblin in Raimi’s Spider-Man franchise, but it’s interesting to think about what would have been had he been patrolling the rooftops of Gotham City rather than menacing the streets of New York City.

Nicolas Cage as Scarecrow


Yeah, you really can’t finish off a list like this without mentioning Nicolas Cage as Superm…wait, he was going to be the Scarecrow??  Following the critical darling that was Batman and Robin, Joel Schumacher was apparently in negotiations to do one more movie in the Batman franchise, entitled Batman Triumphant.  The villainous Scarecrow, fear gas-wielding psychoanalyst Jonathan Crane who would later appear in the Christopher Nolan franchise of Bat films, was set to be the main antagonist in the next installment.  Schumacher, as told in an interview later down the road with Cage, had apparently visited Nic on the set of Face Off to discuss him being the villain.  While ultimately it didn’t pan out, along with many other attempts for Cage to appear as a comic book character on screen, he eventually found himself in the flaming seat of Ghost Rider later on.

Leave a comment below with other actors who were nearly comic book heroes and villains!

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