The Ones That Got Away: Batman and X-Men


Have you ever wondered what your favorite comic book movie would have been like had someone else filled the roles? How different the dynamic of the cast and the film itself would have been? As with every film ever, there is usually a casting process involved and numerous actors and actresses vie for the coveted roles for upcoming films and fans sit and wait anxiously for news of who landed the part. But what about those who missed out or unknowingly passed up on a huge role? Well, let’s take a look at them and discuss how the films would have been different had the directors gone a different route. For instance, many of us know that Hollywood icon Sean Connery passed on two roles that were part of massively successful films: Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Morpheus in the Matrix films. Both of them he passed on because he simply “didn’t get them.” Connery went on to have the rather drab League of Extraordinary Gentlemen become his swan song.

jake-gyllenhaal-batmanToday, I’ll be looking at two of Hollywood’s larger comic book movie franchises, with the first being Christopher Nolan’s recently wrapped Batman trilogy. After many years of having multiple iterations in the works, Christopher Nolan signed on to helm the new series and with him, he brought a much more grounded and gritty feel to the Batman world. In doing so, he also gave fans one of the better origin stories we’ve seen. Part of what made his trilogy so awesome was the cast that he brought in to fill the iconic roles of Bruce Wayne, Jim Gordon, Joker and others. But Christian Bale wasn’t the first choice for Batman and Micahel Caine wasn’t the first choice for Alfred.

While Christian Bale’s voice work is questionable in the films, his portrayal of Bruce Wayne was superb. However, Bale only landed the role after David Boreanaz turned it down. Boreanaz, of Bones and Buffy the Vampire Slayer fame passed on playing the Dark Knight, leaving the door open for Bale to step in. Had he not been able to sign on, Jake Gyllenhaal is said to have been next in line, which makes this two big comic book movie roles he lost out on (the other being Spider-Man). Henry Cavill, who will be playing Superman in this year’s Man of Steel was looked at for Batman, as well as Billy Cruddup, David Duchovny and John Cusack. Another actor who audition for the role of Batman was Cillian Murphy. Obvioulsy, he didn’t get the part, but Christopher Nolan was so impressed by him, he was offered the role of Dr. Jonathan Crane/Scarecrow, which he took. Paul Bettney tried out for the role of Scarecrow, while Marilyn Manson and Ewan McGregor were looked at for the role as well.

As I mentioned earlier, Michael Caine, who portrayed Bruce’s accomplice and butler Alfred, was not the first choice for the role. Anthony Hopkins was originally offered the role, but he opted to pass. Viggo Mortenson of Lord of the Rings fame was offered the role of Ra’s Al Ghul, which he turned down. Liam Neeson, of course, landed the role and was amazing in his portrayal. The incomparable Gary Oldman filled the role of Jim Gordon, but three other great actors were also considered: Chris Cooper, who recently signed on to play Normon Osborn in The Amazing Spider-Man 2, Dennis Quaid and Kurt Russell were all considered for the part. Also, Matt Damon turned down the role of Harvey Dent, who was brilliantly played by Aaron Eckhart.

One of the best parts of this trilogy, or any comic book film in recent years, was the jaw-dropping performance of Heath Ledger as the Joker. An out-of-left-field casting that had nay-sayers eating crow for some time, I can’t really imagine another actor filling that role as well as he did. But, there were others considered for the part, including Adrien Brody, Sam Rockwell and Lachy Hulme. All really good, but the late Heath Ledger’s work was superb.

Now, onto our next franchise with the X-Men! This franchise has had numerous actors cast in roles that has had fans scratching their heads. Some of them have worked out quite well, others…not so much; and looking at who passed on roles or who was considered, I can’t help but think that some of the alternates would have been a better choice. With 5 films completed and two more on the way, there are a lot of roles to fill and as time has progressed, casting has gotten better, but we’ll see how the new films work out!

WolvieMost folks will know that Dougray Scott was all set to play Wolverine in the first film. However, he dropped out  to film the second installment of the Mission: Impossible series. Numerous people were looked at for the role before they decided on Hugh Jackman, including Keanu Reeves, Viggo Mortensen, Russell Crowe and Aaron Eckhart. For many years, Glenn Danzig was eyed for the role, but by the time a director and writer had been hired, he was unable to commit to the filming time due to his touring schedule with his band. Johnny Depp also passed on the role. Edward Norton was not only looked at for Wolverine but also for Cyclops. Jim Caveziel was all set to play Cyclops, but just before filming began, he dropped out, prompting them to find a new Scott Summers, which eventually went to James Marsden.

The casting of Storm is one that has had fans disappointed since day one, with many, myself included, wanting Angela Bassett for the controller of weather. Oddly enough, Bassett was offered the role of Storm, but she turned it down. The same can be said for Jada Pinkett-Smith. How the character is portrayed in the films aside, Anna Paquin’s Rogue leaves much to be desired and seeing who else was offered the role and who else was considered, they missed a big opportunity here. Both Natalie Portman and Kate Winslet passed on the part, while Sarah Michelle Gellar and Katherine Isabelle were considered. Rachel Leigh Cook auditioned for the role, but pulled herself out of the running after seeing the CGI that would be involved (what CGI?).

Can you imagine Mad About You star Helen Hunt as Jean Grey rather than Famke Janssen? Well, it almost happened as Hunt was offered the female lead, but turned it down. On the younger side, Selma Blair was also considered for the part. For X2: X-Men United, fans were exstatic to lean that Nightcrawler would be joining the team. The part was played by Alan Cumming, who did an amazing job, but how would you fell if Neil Patrick Harris had landed the role? Ethan Embry was also looked at. One of many mis-steps in the third X-Men film was the use of, or lack thereof , Angel. Ben Foster eventually landed the role, but Mike Vogel was forced to turn it down because of his filming schedule for Poseiden. Nick Stahl, of Sin City fame, was also considered. Ellen Page signed on to play the part of Kitty Pryde, which she will be doing again for Bryan Singer’s Days of Future Past. Hedid a good job with the script she was given, but Maggie Grace was almost cast in the role. Summer Glau was also in the running for the role.

As you can imagine, these films could have ended up much different than they did, based solely on the cast. Would Nolan’s Batman films been as big a success had Boreanaz taken the role? Would Storm still suck…er…been not awesome had Angela Bassett signed on? What are your thoughts on the one’s that got away? Are you happy with the way things worked out, or would you rather have had one of these other actors in the role? Be sure to check back for more in this series!

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Source : NotStarring