A key ingredient to our favorite movie franchises is the faces that supplement our memories. What would Back to the Future look like if Eric Stoltz played Marty? String Theory tells us that multiple timelines are created by minor choices. If Micheal J. Fox didn’t teach you that, Ashton Kutcher surely did. And if not them, then James Franco definitely will in an adaptation of Stephen King’s 11/22/63.
As I watch my favorite movies over and over again, I begin to think what they have been like if things went as planned. Sometimes, in the case of Colonel James Rhodes, aka War Machine/Iron Patriot/War Hammer, you even get a taste, as the actor is re-cast. Therefore, you’ll even eventually think about the fate of other projects that actor may or may not have affected. Would we have even saw Empire or Wayward Pines?
5. Star Wars
Star Wars: Episodes One to Three left a bad taste in a lot of mouths. But one thing no one can deny, is that Samuel L. Jackson is bad-ass in every role he plays. Mace Windu is no different. Jackson pretty much begged George Lucas to put him in the movie; even if he was a Stormtrooper. He didn’t know he was actually playing a major player until he walked on set. When Jackson went to Skywalker Ranch, Lucas told him he would figure something out. If he was writing the prequel movies since the 80’s, then surely he already had somebody in mind. Jackson must have showed up at the perfect time, since the actor that was cast died a few years prior.
Tupac Shakur may have been a controversial choice based on the career he was notably known for. Not everyone likes hip-hop, and he was the king of the genre in the ’90’s. But aside from his very political raps that pissed a lot of people off, he was also an excellent actor. His first movie, Juice, is a prime example. Closer to his death, he started to get more attention for his acting chops, as he starred alongside greats like Mickey Rourke and Mel Gibson.
A scene that I hold dear in my head was in Revenge of the Sith, where Windu fought Palpatine. The Sith attacked the Jedi with his signature lightning. But it was deflected with Windu’s purple lightsaber, and transformed Palpatine into the appearance we knew him better as. Could you imagine that same scene with 2Pac? Say what you will about either the prequels or the rapper, but I know I definitely would like to see it.
4. The New Jersey Trilogy
Writer/Director/King Fanboy, Kevin Smith, was put on the map with his very low-budget film, Clerks. When he grabbed the attention of movie studios, of course they wanted him to do another. But as all studios do (see Fantastic Four), they feel the need to put in their two-cents; after all, they already put in their two million dollars. Jason Mewes was pretty much the drug-dealer Jay, because he was Smith’s best friend. Miramax wanted a professional actor to play the role in their big-budget film. Their choice was Seth Green. Of course, Smith persuaded them to keep Mewes, and told his friend to stay on his best behavior. Just picture the actor known for Scott Evil and Chris Griffin rapping in front of the Quick Stop by the time Jay and Silent Bob Strikes Back rolled around.
Mallrats was considered a flop, even though it turned out to be a cult classic. Thank God we’ll be seeing a sequel here soon. But would we even see Mallbrats if it wasn’t for his next movie? Chasing Amy finally gave Smith the respect he deserved. But once again, the studio didn’t want him casting his friends. Ben Affleck probably wouldn’t be playing Batman if it wasn’t for this little film. Just like Sam Jackson did with George Lucas, Affleck begged Smith for a role in Mallrats. The two became such good friends, that Smith cast him as the starring role for his next film. His love interest was fellow Mallrats castmate, who happened to be dating Smith, Joey Lauren Adams, who went on to play opposite Adam Sandler in Big Daddy.
Of course, the studio had their own, professional actors in mind for the roles of Holden McNeil and Alyssa Jones. At the time, the sitcom,Friends, was very popular. Who am I kidding? Friends is still very popular– a decade after its finale. Miramax wanted David Schwimmer, aka Ross Gellar, to play Holden. And Drew Barrymore was to play Alyssa. Once again, Smith used his power of words to persuade the studio to let his friends in. Could you imagine Ross as Batman? My fancast is for him to play Mister Fantastic.
3. The Avengers
Who could imagine anyone else other than Robert Downey Jr as the suave Tony Stark. Evidently, Marvel could. Many actors almost became ol’ Shell Head. But one of the more popular choices was crazy Tom Cruise. If you ever watched Goldmember, the final installment in the Austin Powers trilogy, you could see him as the ladies man that Mike Myers famously played. It’s also interesting to note that an attempt for a Spider-Man movie in the ’80’s would have put him in the red tights against Bob Hoskins’s Doc Ock.
Another actor whom we love in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is Tom Hiddleston. I just can’t wait to see him in Thor: Ragnarok, especially how Thor: The Dark World left him. But did you know that Hiddleston almost played another Marvel character? Hiddleston worked hard to beef himself up as the hero he now rivals. It’s a good thing he ultimately played the God of Mischief, and Chris Hemsworth ended up being the God of Thunder.
But if Hiddleston would have been Thor, who would play Loki? How would The Avengers look if Jim Carrey was the main antagonist? Carrey played a great villain for DC. And it was rumored for a while that he was going to be Carnage in Amazing Spider-Man 2. And though I list Carrey in my top three favorite actors, I don’t think Avengers would have done so well if it wasn’t for the actor who played its villain.
In the early ’90’s, when Marvel was starting to think seriously about making movies, Stan Lee and Chris Claremont approached the biggest director of the time. They had an idea for the comic book that the former created, and the latter improved. Like I said, Bob Hoskins almost played Doctor Octopus. But the actor who played Super Mario, and the detective who unframed Roger Rabbit, was in the comic creators’ minds for Wolverine.
James Cameron wanted to make a Marvel movie alright, but it wasn’t the X-Men. Eventually, he wrote a script for Spider-Man. Said script can now be found all over the internet. And just like Kevin Smith, Cameron wanted to recycle some of his actors. His biggest film to date was Terminator 2. Therefore, he wanted Edward Furlong as the title hero, and Arnold Schwarzenegger as the antagonist. Alfred Molina eventually played the live-action Doc Ock. And though I would have liked to see Hoskins with the metal tentacles, what would Schwarzenegger bring to the role?
Other cast choices for Cameron’s Spidey was R. Lee Emery as J. Jonah Jameson, Leonardo DiCpario as Harry Osborn, Jonathan Frakes (Star Trek: The Next Generation) as Kraven the Hunter, and Drew Barrymore, making her second “what if” to this list, as Gwen Stacey.
Everyone has their favorite Batman. Most point to Christian Bale. No matter how great those movies were, I think he was the worst. My favorite Batman was actually from the worst Batman movie. Arnold Schwarzenegger added to the camp (Remember “Everybody Freeze,” and “What killed the dinosaurs- the ice age!”), but I think George Clooney was a gem in a landfill.
Another attempt to recreate the campy Adam West show happened about a decade earlier. After the success of the Superman movies, it was time to bring his buddy back to live-action. Bill Murray was almost the Bat, with Robin Williams as The Joker, and Eddie Murphy as Robin.
The late Williams almost had another shot from the gallery of rogues. If Tim Burton had the chance to follow up Batman Returns, Williams would be the Riddler. Billy Dee Williams would reprise Harvey Dent, aka Two-Face. Marlon Wayans was going to be a mechanic on the Batmobile, wearing a jumpsuit with an “R” for the nametag. Batman Forever would look completely different without Jim Carrey, Tommy Lee Jones, and Chris O’Donnell.
And one mustn’t forget about Burton’s Superman, which would have made DC’s shared universe way earlier. Remember, our buddy, Kevin Smith wrote it, and had Nic Cage as Supes. Micheal Keaton would even pay a cameo as Bats.
Arnold Schwarzenegger as Judge Dredd
Before Stallone and crew ruined Judge Dredd (before Karl Urban’s Dredd came along) Arnie was actually attached to this film with Tim Hunter to direct. For whatever reasons, that didn’t work out. There are rumors that state it was because Arnold didn’t want to wear the helmet for the duration of the film but I mean – look how that turned out. – Frank Palmer
Nicolas Cage as Donkey
Some don’t know this but the role of Donkey in Shrek was actually optioned to Nicolas Cage before anyone else.
“It excited me,” Cage said, “I’ve always been drawn to the experimental, the unexpected.”
The actor had to pull out of the role due to very random circumstances:
Due to his nearly fatal discovery of a rare yogurt-based allergy at a TCBY the night before negotiations for the role would’ve been finalized. Major DreamWorks stockholders GoGurt (the zany division of Yoplait actually owns just over one quarter of the DreamWorks enterprise) held steadfast that the line “Parfait’s gotta be the most delicious thing on the whole damn planet!” not be dropped from the film.
“I couldn’t bring myself to stay with the project after the whole ‘parfait’ fiasco. But in the end I’m grateful, because this has given me the chance to raise awareness for D-BAG [Degenerative-Bacterial Allergen Genotoxicity], my condition,” Cage said. “Acting is my life, but knowing I could potentially save someone else’s? The suggestion brings me to truly other worldly levels of well-being.”
I’m not exactly sure how that would have came out but I’m sure it would have been an entertaining result – good or bad. – Frank Palmer
There have been many great actors whom were offered roles in our great franchises. Could you picture Will Smith as Neo in the Matrix? Or what about as Django? George Miller, the creator of Mad Max, was working on a Justice League movie. Arnie Hammer (The Lone Ranger) was Batman, and rapper Common was Green Lantern. Hugh Jackman not only beat out Bob Hoskins, but also Nick Offerman (George Lopez,Parks and Recreation), Kurt Russell, Dougray Scott (Mission Impossible II, Ever After), and Russel Crowe as Wolverine. If I was ever a multidimensional traveler, I’d be sure to check out the many versions that could have been.
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