Currently, in Hollywood, the superhero movies are some of the highest grossing movies. They have almost become a guarantee for a commercial success. However, the critical acclaim is a whole different story. But, when you have millions in the bank, who cares what couple of so called critics believe. So, due to the high earning potential of the superhero movies, plethora of comic book characters have made their way to the silver screen. Some of them such as Superman, Spiderman and Batman are perennial favorites. Whereas superheroes such as Spawn, Flash and Punisher haven’t been able to do that well.
However, you can’t deny the fact that lot of success of superhero characters depends on the casting decisions made by director and the movie creative team. For example, for the failure of Daredevil to gain significant fan following, the poor acting by Ben Affleck and weak script are equally responsible. Then, there is a case of Catwoman. Although, Halle Berry looked smoking hot in the kinky outfit, the same can’t be said about the movie.
Knowing the importance of leading face in movie’s success, the movie’s creative teams take a long look at the several options available. And, had they selected different actors to play the iconic roles, the things would have been a whole lot different. It would be unfair to say that the movies would have failed with different actors, but it is hard to imagine. So, here are ten actors who could have played iconic superheroes.
Nicolas Cage (Superman)
Nicholas Cage is one of the most accomplished actors of his age. He has won an Academy Award, a Golden Globe, and Screen Actors Guild Award for his performances and has starred in couple of classic hits such as ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ and ‘Lord of War.’ And, if things had worked out right, he would have added the iconic Superman role to his impressive CV. In fact, it was officially announced that Cage would play the Kryptonian hero in the movie to be directed by Tim Burton. Cage even had done couple of shots wearing the tight spandex. Also, some of the characters had given test shots. Although the proposed project never took off, it is reported that if the things had gone well, it would have been produced at some point in the 1990s. In the movie, the superman was supposed to face off against a trio of his classic villains in Lex Luthor, Brainiac and Doomsday.
In interviews, Cage has claimed that he would have loved to see the movie, but he felt that in many ways it (failure to complete the movie) was a win-win situation because of the power of imagination.
Tom Cruise (Iron Man)
It is almost impossible to imagine anyone apart from Robert Downey Jr. playing the iconic Iron Man role in the Marvel movies. Ever since, he made his debut as the armored superhero in 2008, he has become one of the most popular and highest earning actors. The ‘Iron Man’ movie gave a timely boost to Downey’s career and he hasn’t looked back ever since then. Also, he has become one of the highest paid actors due to his importance to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) movies. It is reported that he earned more than $50 million for his role in second installment of Avengers. And, will pocket similar amount for his work in third installment of Captain America. However, if Tom Cruise had been little bit more considerate, Downey won’t have even got the opportunity. Cruise was the first choice for the role, but his diva behavior proved to be an obstacle. He had demanded that at all times his face should be visible in the movie, which means the entire Iron Man body armor had to be redesigned. The demand turned out to be too big for the producers and they subsequently decided to cast Robert Downey Jr. In the hindsight, it worked out pretty well for everyone.
Steve Buscemi (Hulk)
Hulk or Dr. Bruce Banner has been played by Eric Bana (in Ang Lee’s standalone Hulk movie in 2003), Edward Norton (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s The Incredible Hulk in 2008) and Mark Ruffalo (in the Marvel Cinematic Universe in the Avengers movie series, since Norton’s departure). However, the green rage machine could have been played by a completely different actor. The reports have revealed that the Ang Lee and other creative executives were interested in casting Steve Buscemi as Bruce Banner in the first ever edition of the superhero. The biggest thing that was in his favor was the fact that he looked lot like Bruce Banner depicted in the comic books. And, also the fact that Steve Buscemi is an extremely talented actor and has worked in several critically acclaimed movies would have made him a suitable option. However, the reasons pertaining to why Eric Bana was preferred over Buscemi haven’t been made public. Maybe, Bana looked geekier. Anyways, the movie would have done well with Buscemi’s comic skills because it was one dull movie.
Emily Blunt (Black Widow)
Scarlett Johansson is one of the primary reasons behind the immense success of the two Avengers movies. Since, making her debut as Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow in 2010’s ‘Iron Man,’ she has appeared as the former assassin in two Avengers movies and ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier.’ She brings sex appeal to the masculine and high adrenaline movies dominated by the male superheroes. And, it can’t be denied that she has caught the attention of fans in every movie she has appeared. That tight spandex suit she wears has made her one of the hottest comic book based characters. However, Johansson wasn’t the first choice to play Black Widow. That honor goes to Emily Blunt. The British actress, who has received the BAFTA Britannia Award for British Artist of the Year was offered the role outright. However, scheduling proved to be obstacle. Blunt had time commitments on ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ to fulfil. You don’t have to be genius to figure out which actress got the better deal.
John Krasinski (Captain America)
The Captain America was Chris Evans‘s second role as a superhero. He had earlier played the role of bad boy Johnny Storm in the earlier ‘Fantastic Four’ movies. Johnny who? The guy who used to turn in a human torch at the drop of the hat. It has to be noted that his first outing as a superhero wasn’t too memorable. Not only both movie failed to do big business, but were universally slammed by the critics as well. However, his second outing as the ‘star spangled’ hero has been a commercial and critical success. He has made appearances in two Captain America and two Avengers movies. And, the next installment of Captain America is one of the most awaited releases.
However, a very different actor came close to bagging the famous role. John Krasinski, who is well known for his work in American television comedy series ‘The Office’ was tested for the role and was even strongly considered for it. But, in the end, they felt Chris Evans was the perfect ‘Captain America.’
Jack Black (Green Lantern)
‘Green Lantern’ was a hilarious movie. Not that the movie director or producer intended so. The movie was actually made as a serious superhero movie. But, the movie was so bad that it actually looked hilarious. The different members of the Universal Peace Corps looked poor parodies of the comic book characters and the script was undercooked and extremely weak. The only bright spot in the movie was Ryan Reynolds‘s great physique. I am sure ladies would have loved it. The other positive thing was that Ryan Reynolds and Blake Lively took their first step towards building a relationship by becoming close friends. Otherwise, the movie was absolutely bad. However, it could have been even worse.
The movie producers had considered casting Jack Black as the lead role in an actual comedy adaptation of the Green Lantern concept. The reports suggest that he would have played Kyle Rayner, as opposed to Reynolds’s Hal Jordan. See, I told you, it could have been even worse.
Bill Murray (Batman)
Batman is arguably the superhero with most number of movie adaptations. Michael Keaton, Val Kilmer, George Clooney and Christian Bale have all portrayed the Dark Knight in various big budget adaptations and Ben Affleck is set to take on the role in 2016’s ‘Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice’ and beyond that. However, there would have been addition of another great actor to this great list, if Ivan Reitman didn’t had disagreement with the studio. Following the immense success of ‘Ghostbusters,’ Bill Murray was brought in to play the Dark Knight. The scripts of the movie was going to be developed by ‘Superman: The Movie’ and James Bond writer Tom Mankiewicz. However, the considerable rewrites of the movie took six years and by then, Tim Burton was hired as the director. And, Burton insisted on casting Michael Keaton as Batman. Interestingly, the studio still wished to cast Bill Murray. In this matter, I am with Burton because although Murray is a great actor, he didn’t had that edge and x-factor to play Batman.
Edward Furlong (Spider Man)
Spider Man is arguably Marvel’s highest earning superhero. The Spider Man has inspired two different movie series till now and both have been monumental commercial success. Tobey Maguire played the webbed superhero in three Sam Raimi directed movies from 2002 to 2007 and in that duration took on Green Goblin, Dr. Octopus and Sandman. In 2012, Andrew Garfield was introduced as the new webbed wonder in the new look ‘Amazing Spider-Man’ franchise. And, as the Marvel looks to draft webbed hero into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the latest actor to play Spider Man will be Tom Holland.
However, there was also one unlikely candidate to play the famous superhero. In the 1990’s, Edward Furlong following the success of ‘Terminator 2: Judgement Day’ was considered for James Cameron’s Spider Man movie. The movie would also have included Lance Henriksen as Norman Osborn and R. Lee Ermey as J. Jonah Jameson.
Glenn Howerton (Star-Lord)
‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was a surprise success story of 2014. Nobody had expected the movie to gross more than $700 million worldwide at the box office. And, it is one of the few superhero movies, which have garnered widespread and equivocal acclaim from the critics. The movie was praised for its humor, soundtrack, visual effects, Gunn’s direction, and performances of the cast. And, undoubtedly Chris Pratt in the role of Star-Lord was one of the entertaining aspects of the movie. For the film, he developed a buffed physique and delivered a charming and hilarious performance as the hero / outlaw, otherwise known as Peter Quill. Although Chris Pratt was the first choice to land the role, but he wasn’t the only man who was considered for the role. Glenn Howerton, who is known for his role as Dennis Reynolds on the FX’s comedy series ‘It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia’ was a serious option for the movie. He had in particular impressed director James Gunn. And, hadn’t Chris Pratt already auditioned for the role, Howerton would have been busy filming the second installment of the movie that is due to be released in May 2017.
Bob Hoskins (Wolverine)
Like Robert Downey Jr., Hugh Jackman has made Wolverine his own, since playing the role for the first time in Bryan Singer’s ‘X-Men.’ And, since then has comprised the famous superhero in six movies, including a colorful appearance in ‘X-Men: First Class.’
However, as I have been repeating again and again in this article, if things had turned otherwise, Hugh Jackman wouldn’t have been the first cinematic Wolverine. That distinction would have gone to great Bob Hoskins. Apparently, Bob Hoskins with 5′ 5″ height was closer in appearance to the comic book version of Wolverine. He was short, stocky and gruff. So, it isn’t shocking, he was considered for the role.