We all hear stories about who was up for this role or that role in big movies, and how funny it would be if, say, Tom Selleck played Indiana Jones.
Or if Magnum PI actually played Batman for Tim Burton. Or if Daniel Day-Lewis played Vincent Vega in Pulp Fiction, and so on.
So now a list has hit the 'Net of actors that were up for superhero roles, and it’s funny to think back on when these stories were going around in the entertainment trades and magazines. The first one Screen Rant reminded me of was Tom Cruise being up to play Iron Man, and Robert Downey Jr. was definitely a much better choice.
This story also reminded me of when Leonardo DiCaprio was up to play Spider-Man, and according to Screenrant, when James Cameron was going to make the film, Edward Furlong was also up for it, and Cameron wanted Ah-nold to play Doc Ock.
How about Bill Murray playing Batman? That’s who was going to play the Dark Knight when Ivan Reitman was going to direct it before Tim Burton and Michael Keaton came aboard. You may also recall that Dougray Scott, the villain from Mission: Impossible 2, was going to play Wolverine, but Impossible went way over budget and over schedule, and at the last minute Hugh Jackman stepped in and a star was born.
The most well known one has to be Nicholas Cage, who was desperate to play the man of steel in Superman Lives, which Burton was also going to direct. This was a famously tortured development hell movie, thanks to the lunacy of producer Jon Peters, who famously wanted screenwriter Kevin Smith to write a battle between the man of steel and a giant spider, a tale Smith has dined out on for years. Burton and Cage had "pay or play" deals, which mean they got their fees whether the movie got made or not, and a lot of moolah went down the drain before Superman finally made the screen again in 2006.
Will Smith was also up to play Superman, and Smith himself said, "The script came, and I was like, ‘There’s no way I’m playing Superman!’ I had already done Jim West (Wild Wild West) and you can’t be messing up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood. You mess up white peoples’ heroes in Hollywood, you’ll never work in this town again!"
So many of us run around playing superheroes as kids, and I think a lot of actors carry this with them when they’re up to play superheroes in movies. Who wouldn’t want to put on a cape and be able to fly? One can only imagine how much fun it would be to play Batman, despite the fact that the rubber suit has to weigh three tons, and how lucky somebody like Christian Bale was to make the final cut.
As we’ve seen with Superman and Spider-Man, it’s not easy to be chosen to save the world, but again, with great power comes great responsibility, and we’re grateful to the actors like the late, great Christopher Reeve, and Robert Downey Jr., who took their hero responsibilities seriously and delivered great performances we still love and cherish.