Chris Evans Since Marvel and DC characters, and superheroes in general, already inhabit an alternate universe (or a parallel universe) it’s easy to imagine some of our favorite superheroes if they were played by different actors. We’re not talking about Eric Bana (Eric Bana?) being replaced by Edward Norton (seriously, Edward Norton?) being replaced by Mark Ruffalo for the Hulk role here because, you know, that actually happened.
No, this is something far, far cooler and creepier. We’re talking about the “What Ifs” of Hollywood casting. As in, “What if Tom Cruise had been cast as Iron Man?” Can you imagine what that would have been like? Honestly, do you even want to imagine it?
Fortunately, when it comes to casting the movies in the Marvel and DC franchises, many have come but few have been called. Here’s 10 of our favorite “almost-Superheroes” Marvel and DC shunned.
10 Tom Cruise (Iron Man)
Apparently the "Cruisemaster" was once the front-runner for the role of Tony Stark. This was way back before Downey Jr. was even a blip on the superhero horizon. Marvel execs talked to him as far back as 2004 about the role. But Cruise was unwilling to commit to the script or the role and Marvel’s handpicked director, John Favreau, was on the prowl for someone, shall we say, slightly more likeable but with the comedic chops to also be the ass that Tony Stark is best known for being.
And if there’s one thing Cruise has not done in any of his screen roles, it’s be a “likeable a**hole” to use Favreau’s own words. He’s been likeable (we think) and an a** (for sure) but never the two at once. Then again, two of Favreau’s other early front-runners were the freaky-geeky Sam Rockwell and the brooding Clive Owen. We’re sure Tom could have done a better job than either of those two.
9 John Krasinski (Captain America)
Can you imagine goofy, dorky trickster Jim from The Office as America’s ultimate warrior? No? Well, in the early stages of Captain America casting, Marvel sure seemed to like actor John Krasinski for the role. Maybe they thought Dwight and the Red Skull were similar enough adversaries that Krasinksi would be perfect for the role. They do both have a penchant for making sweeping generalizations about their own awesomeness after all. Fortunately, Marvel came to their senses when blond, buff Chris Evans appeared on the scene and told Krasinki “maybe next time.” Not that it wouldn’t have been fun seeing Captain America infuriate Red Skull by encasing the Tesseract in jello…
8 Jim Carrey (Rocket Raccoon)
We’re not sure what would have transpired if Jim Carrey had been cast instead of Marvel going with Bradley Cooper to voice Rocket Raccoon, but we guarantee it would have been even weirder. Can you imagine a rodential Dr. Who tossing off smart-alecky one-liners or The Mask being constrained by the limitations of his furry body? Neither can we.
7 Sir Patrick Stewart (Professor X)
We Fanboys (and especially Fangirls) sure do love us some Wolverine, who’s been the driving force behind much of the X-Men franchise’s enduring popularity. But what about the leader of our favorite mutant faction, Professor X played by Patrick Stewart? Well, it seems that, as the franchise continues along its origins path that Patrick has been shut out of the X-verse, at least for the upcoming X-Men: Apocalypse. It kind of sucks that we won’t be seeing him again any time soon but Marvel’s youth movement apparently leaves no room for the elderly, no matter how bad-ass he is.
6 Edward Furlong (Spider-man)
Poor Edward Furlong. The dude was the breakout star of his time after his crazy good performance as a young John Conner in Terminator 2. But the little dude’s career peaked about a decade too soon. You see, Furlong was the original choice to play Spider-man way back in the 90s and he even had Terminator director (and Hollywood God) James Cameron in his corner. Unfortunately the first studio with the rights to make the Spider-man movie had a little, itty-bitty cash flow problem (remember, the early 90s were the Stone Age of superhero movies - nobody but nobody cared about Marvel). So did the second studio. And script problems. And directors jumping ship problems. Needless to say, by the time Spider-man resurfaced as a viable big-budget vehicle, Furlong’s career had submerged. Tobey Maguire swung on in and the rest is Spidey history.
5 Tom Hiddleston (Loki)
It’s not official yet and maybe it won’t come to this but there’s a good chance our favorite baddie might not be back for the next Thor movie. Actor Tom Hiddleston, who’s brought just the right amount of smarm, charm and flair to the Loki role has suggested that he hasn’t been contacted by Marvel for any further work in the MCU. We certainly hope that’s not the case since last time we saw Loki he had forsaken his old evil allies for a career as a solo bad guy in Asgard.
4 Chris Evans (Human Torch)
Chris Evans was once a thin, average-sized guy who flew around flaming people. That’s right. In case you’ve forgotten, he was the original Johnny Storm in the 2005 Fantastic Four movie. What really burns us is how Marvel shunned him for the reboot of that franchise with 2015’s Fantastic Four. He was awesome as the Human Torch. We mean, it’s not like the guy has much else to do right now, right? Marvel should’ve let him have his old job back. Wait… what? Oh.
3 Terrence Howard (War Machine)
Yeah, yeah, we know he was the original War Machine (i.e. Colonel James Rhodes) in the first Iron Man movie. In fact, he probably did just as good a job in the role as Don Cheadle does now. There was only one little problem with Terrence’s stint in the Marvel ‘verse. The minor fact that the dude is stone cold crazy. In fact, Howard believes that Marvel (and, not incidentally Iron Man himself, Robert Downey Jr.) iced him out of a role in the sequel because he wanted a bigger part in the story. He also believes that he was responsible for getting Downey originally hired and that he even took a pay cut for it to happen. Marvel disputes all of this. There are also multiple reports that he was fantastically difficult on the set of that first Iron Man. Needless to say, don’t expect any spin-offs in the Marvel universe anytime soon with this guy.
2 Sylvester Stallone (Superman)
Technically, Superman is a DC universe guy, of course. But, given that he is basically the original and GOAT superhero, we wouldn’t feel right without looking at the history of casting for the role. And, man, have an awful lot of actors been turned down or turned down the role themselves. Christopher Reeve was a total unknown when he took the original Superman role but just about everyone else considered was a huge star. In some field at least. Before Reeve, the studio turned down the inimitable Sly for being ‘Too Italian’ (“Yo, Lois!”). All we know is that at least Superman would have known how to land a punch if the “Italian Stallion” had been cast. They also turned down singer Neil Diamond, whose audition was so bad that the casting directors were laughing as he left the room. On the flip side, Robert Redford turned the studio down because he thought he’d look ridiculous flying. So did Warren Beatty, for pretty much the same reason (apparently, he didn’t think his title role in Dick Tracy would be ridiculous at all). In later years, as DC struggled to reboot the franchise, Nicolas Cage, a huge Man of Steel fan, turned them down after the script jumped the shark. We’re pretty sure it’s the only role he’s ever turned down. Pretty boys Ashton Kutcher and Jude Law also turned the studio down in early talks for, again, issues with silly suits and sillier scripts.
1 Bill Murray (Batman)
The only other non-Marvel superhero on this list because, well, one, he’s freakin’ Batman and two, we’re confident there’s not a living (and some dead) actor in Hollywood who hasn’t been considered and rejected for the role in this long-running franchise. Enough of them have certainly played the Bat. In fact, for all we know, some of these guys did get the role, film has been shot and DC’s just waiting to spring it on u s- there’s been that many “Batmen.” Like Bill Murray, who came this close to landing the role in the first movie, before the studio decided he wasn’t a serious enough choice. Too bad Lost in Translation was still years away. Tim Burton, geek hero and director of the first Batman, tried to get director Joel Schumacher to cast Johnny Depp for one of his Batman sequels but Schumacher was obsessed with getting either Daniel Day-Lewis or Ralph Fiennes for the role and shunned the Depp overture. Needless to say none of those guys got to wear the Batsuit. We wonder if Depp is troubled that he never got to play a sequel-generating, franchise-making character in a crappy movie like Batman Forever. Oh wait…