The Ones That Got Away: Spider-Man & Superman

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spidergylnA while back, and I do mean a while, I started a series that highlighted some of the actors that either missed out on, passed over or were denied now iconic roles in our beloved comic book movies (you can check out that article by clicking HERE). The idea behind this series is to get you thinking about how different these films could have been if, for instance, Cillian Murphy had landed the role of Batman rather than Christian Bale or if Keanu Reeves had played Wolverine rather than Hugh Jackman. Needless to say, things would have been much different. The first article centered on the Batman and X-Men films, so this time I thought I’d tackle two more huge film franchises in Superman and Spider-Man, both of which have massive lists of could-have-beens and glad-it-didn’t-happens.

First up, let’s take a look at the world of Spider-Man, but before we get into Sam Raimi’s trilogy, it’s worth noting that there were several other versions of the film that nearly happened in both the 80’s and 90’s. Stan Lee was really big on the idea of John Cusack playing Peter Parker during the 80’s but that production never made it too far. In the 1990’s, James Cameron was trying to get a film moving and his first choice for the lead role? It was an actor that Cameron had previously worked with in his Terminator film: Michael Biehn. Yeah, you read that right. Despite him being in his 40’s, Cameron felt it would have been a good fit.

Fast forwarding to the 2000’s when Sam Raimi took the reigns of the character, an extensive search was implemented to find the perfect Peter Parker (which I’m not sure they did in Tobey Maguire). Several actors were considered for the role, including Nicolas Brendan and Freddie Prinze, Jr. Coming off his huge success in James Cameron’s Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio was also considered for the part. As we now know, James Franco filled the role of Harry Osborn, but the actor originally auditioned for the lead role in the film. After Tobey Maguire suffered an injury, his status for Spider-Man 2 was unknown, so Raimi was forced to look at other actors and turned to Jake Gyllenhaal, who was ready to step in should Maguire not be able to return. Gyllenhaal even went as far as doing a costume fitting for the role.  Maguire was the studio’s first choice for Parker however, an offer was put out to Heath Ledger, who declined the role, saying he didn’t want to be type-cast as a super hero.

As for Mary Jane Watson, who was played by the questionable Kirsten Dunst, that list was also quite extensive. Several actresses actually turned the role down, including Kate Hudson and Alicia Witt. Other actresses were considered, including action star Milla Jovovich, Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon and Elisha Cuthbert. Eliza Dushku read for the role as well and in the bonus features featured on the DVD, you can hear Dushku doing a reading with eventual star Tobey Maguire. As for the villains, Nicolas Cage was offered the role of Norman Osborn/Goblin, but he turned it down. John Malkovich was also considered before the role eventually went to Willem DaFoe. For the sequel, which featured Dr. Otto Octavius, a group of impressive actors, including Robert DeNiro, Ed Harris and Sam Neill, were all considered. Alfred Molina went on to earn the role.

clint-eastwood-as-superman-longLet’s move on to the even meatier franshise of Superman, starting in 1978 with the grand-daddy of comic book movies, Superman: The Movie. This list is even more extensive than that of Spider-Man above, with some names that are almost laughable when we look at them now. However, some of these names are now iconic and Hollywood hard-hitters. Warren Beatty, Jeff Bridges, Sam Elliott, Ryan O’Neal, Nick Nolte, Sylvester Stallone, Robert Redford and Burt Reynolds were all considered for the lead role of Superman/Clark Kent. Oh, and a little known actor known as Clint Eastwood was a serious contender.  Charles Bronson, Kris Kristofferson, Paul Newman and- are you sitting down?- Arnold Schwarzenegger all tested for the iconic role. James Caan was offered the role, but he turned it down. Jon Voight was actually cast in the role, but producers weren’t keen on the idea and was dropped, making room for a newcomer in Christopher Reeve. And what about those laughable names that were considered? How about Mr. Kardashian Bruce Jenner and rock icon Sir Elton John?

In regards to Lois Lane, another list of who’s who actors was considered. Now days, Jessica Lange can be seen in the hit FX series American Horror Story, but she actually turned down the role of not only Eve Tessmacher, but also Lois Lane. Video can be found of Lesley Ann Warren and Stockard Channing reading for the part of the feisty reporter, while Anne Archer, Susan Blakely, Shirley Maclaine, Liza Minnelli, Barbara Streisand and Natalie Wood were all considered for the role. Coming off her hit film, Star Wars, Carrie Fisher was also a contender. Getting back to Ms. Tessmacher for a minute, Goldie Hawn was the first choice for the role. Richard Donner approached Ann-Margret for the role, but negotiations broke down over salary. Gene Hackman played an interesting version of the famed Lex Luthor, but Dustin Hoffman was also considered for the part.

Jumping ahead to the epitome of mediocre, Superman Returns, the production team was once again on the search for the newest version of Clark Kent and Superman. Brandon Routh eventually landed the role, but as before, a large list of actors were looked at for Supes. David Boreanaz and Ian Somerhalder both expressed interest in the part, but both were turned down. Meanwhile, Jason Behr, Matthew Bomer, Justin Bruening, Brendan Frasier, Josh Hartnett, Paul Walker and Ashton Kutcher were all considered. Jim Caviezel was also a contender, but was passed over because they thought he was too famous for his part in Passion of the Christ. Henry Cavill, who recently took on the role in this year’s Man of Steel was briefly looked at, as was Jake Gyllenhaal, making this the third major comic book movie roled he was up for but didn’t get (Spider-Man and Batman being the other two). Looking at the villain, which ended up being Lex Luthor played by Kevin Spacey, both Billy Zane and Johnny Depp were considered for the part. Jude Law was offered the role of General Zod, but when he declined, the part was written out of the story. As with the previous characters, a long list of young actresses was compiled for the role of Lois Lane, which was eventually played by Kate BosworthKeri Russell was the runner-up for the role, should Bosworth have passed. Elisha Cuthbert read for the role, while Claire Danes, Mischa Barton, Scarlett Johansson, Keira Knightly, Evangaline Lilly and Natalie Portman were all looked at for the role.

Well, there you have it. As you can see, these films could have been much different than the final product we saw. In some cases- ahem Kate Bosworth- I think the film could have been a bit better had someone else taken on the role. Alas, we shall never know. I look forward to doing more of these articles, so if there is a particular franchise or character you’d like to learn more about, please let me know below. Until next time!

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Source : NotStarring