Joaquin Phoenix is apparently out of the running for Marvel's Doctor Strange movie - and he's joining a long list of actors who almost got to play some of the biggest heroes on the Big screen today. Here's 8 of Hollywood's almost-superheroes.
8. Anne Hathaway - Black Cat
If Sam Raimi's Spider-Man franchise had made it to movie 4, Anne Hathaway would've been Spidey's friend/foe cat burglar Felicia Hardy, aka Black Cat.
In an interview with Vulture last year, Raimi confirmed the casting as he reflected on the cancellation of Spider-Man 4 in favour of the Amazing Spider-Man reboot. Hathaway had apparently wowed the director in auditions for the role, but it was not to be when Raimi realised he wouldn't be able to deliver the script he wanted in time to make the movie. Spider-Man 4 was cancelled, and a new franchise with new leads born out of it, but Hathaway would still get her Comic book cat burglar moment on the big screen, of course - she went on to play Catwoman in (and arguably is one of the best parts of) Christopher Nolan's last Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises.
7. Marlon Wayans - Robin
Now this is an interesting one, as whilst Wayans didn't actually get to play the boy wonder in Tim Burton's Batman films, he did get paid for the role.
Wayans was originally signed on to play Robin in Batman Returns, however due to the presence of too many characters in the already stuffed film, producers and Burton decided to cut the character and introduce Wayans' Robin in the sequel, Batman Forever. However, Burton departed Forever during production, and Joel Schumacher was brought into direct - recasting both Wayans and Billy Dee Williams, who would've played Two-Face. Unlike Williams, who had not yet signed a contract, Wayans had signed on officially, and thus received a lump sum when he left the movie. In fact, he's still receiving royalty payments for 'playing' Robin!
6. Tom Cruise - Iron Man
Oh, what might have been. When Marvel was setting its Cinematic Universe into motion in the early 2000s, they decided to focus on bringing Tony Stark to the Big Screen first - and according to Kevin Feige, Cruise had been tied to Iron Man as a project for quite a while. Eventually however, Cruise eventually lost interest in the role, declaring in interviews that he didn't think the movie would work.
With Cruise gone, Marvel looked at several other actors to play the role before settling on Robert Downey Jr., who they believed could make Stark into a 'loveable asshole' - and the rest, as they say, is history.
5. Emily Blunt - Black Widow
Blunt, who was recently a total badass alongside Tom Cruise in Edge of Tomorrow, almost got to play another badass female hero in the Marvel movies - she was originally signed on to play Natasha Romanoff, aka Black Widow, in Iron Man 2.
However, just as the project was about to get filming, Blunt was contractually tied to the (absolutely awful) Gulliver's Travels, and the conflicting schedules meant she had to be let go from Iron Man. Marvel hastily announced her departure from the movie and replaced her with Scarlett Johansson, and while Blunt expressed regret at having to leave the project at the time, in later interviews she was glad she wasn't in the 'thankless' role of being a female character in a superhero film. At the time, The Avengers or Captain America: The Winter Soldier hadn't come out yet, so it's a shame didn't get to see the interesting character Black Widow evolved into.
4. Dougray Scott - Wolverine
Another one of these 'pulled at the last minute' decisions, Scott was signed on and officially cast as Canadian mutant Wolverine in Bryan Singer's first X-Men movie, the film that essentially kicked off the modern age of Superhero films - but a delay on filming for another project for the actor, Mission Impossible II meant he had to pull out.
Scott's last minute replacement was of course Aussie Hugh Jackman, who's iconic turn lead to roles in 4 X-men movies as well as two standalone Wolverine pictures, catapulting him to superheroic stardom. Still no Canadian could step up to play Alberta's finest son.
3. Bill Murray - Batman
As someone who adores the 1966 incarnation of Batman, I'm kinda gutted that this one never happened, mainly just for the reaction.
When Batman was being brought to the big screen in the 80's, the original intent was to skew much more towards the goofiness of Adam West's Batman instead of the comic's brooding Dark Knight - and who better to succeed the Bat-Shark repellent and Batusi than wonderful funnyman Bill Murray? The project went through plenty of rewrites and delays however, and when Tim Burton was brought on to direct Batman, the tone of the movie changes to something much closer to the comics, and Murray's association with the part was over.
Ironically though, when Burton cast Michael Keaton in the role, fans were outraged and sent thousands of letters in protest to Warner Brothers, feeling that Keaton, known for his comical roles, wouldn't take Batman seriously. Can you imagine their reaction if Bill Murray had been cast instead?
2. John Krasinski - Captain America
The MCU was slowly but surely coming together as plans for Captain America got underway - but things might have been very different for Steve Roger's big screen escapades. He might've been Jim from the American version of The Office, for starters.
Krasinski reportedly beat out the likes of Mike Vogel and Scott Porter in the search for the First Avenger, reading for the part multiple times as well as undergoing screen tests with Marvel - however, at the last minute Krasinki was thrown out, and Chris Evans swooped in, getting the role without so much as a single audition (and is honestly pretty damn perfect as Cap, so good job there Marvel).
1. Nicolas Cage - Superman
Oh, you knew who was going to be at the top of this list. Internet darling and generally batshit crazy person Nick Cage was almost the Last Son of Krypton, and that's something we've known for a long time, but over the years we've got to see more and more of Tim Burton's cancelled movie Superman Lives - due to film in 1998, but scrapped when Burton departed following Warner Bros.' delays as well as strife with the producer, Jon Peters.
Cage - who of course went on to play Ghost Rider in two widely maligned movies in 2007 and 2012 - has been happy to talk about the project in recent years, declaring his take on Superman would've been 'gutsy' and was that the film cancelled because of Warner Bros.' supposed fear of Cage and Burton teaming up to... well, make Superman look like this at some point:
Honestly, I'd be scared too. You can read plenty more about Superman Lives here.
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