Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

Published 5 years ago by , Updated May 3rd, 2014 at 7:40 am,

edward furlong spiderman Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

Edward Furlong as Spider-Man

You can thank financial issues for denying us the chance to see Eddie Furlong in the red and blue spandex in the mid-90s – not to mention Arnold Schwarzenegger as Doctor Octopus. Getting Spider-Man to the big-screen became even more of a tangled web after the collapse of Cannon. The rights ended up at Carolco Pictures, at the bequest of James Cameron, who wanted to write and direct a big blockbuster.

Carolco produced Terminator 2: Judgment Day, and then planned to collaborate with Cameron again on Spider-Man. Cameron’s initial reworking of an existing script again featured arch-nemesis Doc Ock as the adversary. Having worked frequently together, Schwarzenegger was Cameron’s first choice for the villain, and Furlong (the original John Connor) was strongly considered for the hero.

Cameron also wrote a more adult ‘scriptment’, with Electro and Sandman replacing Doc Ock. Cameron’s bid to make Spider-Man is featured in the Rebecca Keegan book, The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron.

In 1996, Carolco followed Cannon into that big studio heaven in the sky and left the Spider-Man movie in development hell. The company’s collapse proved the deathknell for Cameron’s vision for the web-slinger, though parts of his script did make it to Sam Raimi’s adaptation almost a decade later.

Cameron managed to jump ship and make Titanic. Schwarzenegger and Furlong didn’t fare so well. While Arnie had the dubious honor of playing Mr Freeze (in Batman and Robin), Eddie simply went cold and his career faded. Though he will be seen alongside Seth Rogen in the upcoming The Green Hornet.

Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man

leo dicaprio spiderman Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

MGM got its hands on the Spider-Man rights from Carolco, but following much legal wheeling and dealing, traded them to Sony Pictures in 1999 for the James Bond rights. Maybe MGM thought it was a poisoned chalice?

Sony got to work right away on making Spider-Man via Columbia Pictures, using Cameron’s script treatment, but not the director himself. The company also wanted to get its hands on the star of Cameron’s record-smashing Titanic, Leonardo DiCaprio, for the prize role of Peter Parker. Freddie Prinze Jr and Jude Law were also believed to be early contenders.

In the end, only Cameron’s idea for ‘organic web-shooters’ survived the many rewrites by David Koepp and then Scott Rosenberg, and DiCaprio’s body of work remains bereft of a superhero role. Self-confessed “Spider-Man nut” Sam Raimi was hired to direct, and Scott Speedman, Jay Rodan and James Franco were among those who tested for the lead.

Raimi ultimately got his man Tobey Maguire, despite the studio’s initial reluctance to cast him because of his small stature. Maybe they had reservations about the actor after watching Wonderboys and seeing him in bed with another future superhero, Robert Downey Jr?

tobey maguire 50 million Dodged Bullets: 14 Actors Who Were Almost Superheroes

The rest, as they say, is history – and, despite a dodgy third entry, Raimi and Maguire’s Spider-Man trilogy is the most successful superhero franchise in history (so far). Tell me again, why are they planning a reboot?

Continue to the  X-Men Franchise…

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  1. Kansas;Wichita

  2. Ah man,,,,,that was a good laugh!!! Epic!!!

    Nothing, I’m sorry to bother you, Nandrolone-Decanate.
    Ah. ;-O

  3. wtf K?

  4. the manips are gold, man. gold.

  5. You know Thomas Jane was also up for the Wolverine role. In fact Singer wanted him, but Fox wouldn’t let him hire Jane unless there was a screen test, of which Jane couldn’t do because of scheduling another film at the time.

    Here’s the interview where, Jane talks about it.

    • Jane is me more fitting to the role of steve rogers cap americas look.

  6. Mihovil, I think Jackman was perfect for Wolverine!

    Jane is a good actor, but doesn’t have the wild look Hugh can pull off.


    I think the X-Men films would have sucked without him.

  7. I liked Jackman as Wolverine too, I just found it interesting that Jane was basically a hair away from being cast. While, I do think Jane could have pulled off playing Wolverine, I thought he was much better suited as the Punisher.

  8. Ah I agree Mihovil, Jane was great as Punisher!

    I liked the recent directors cut Dvd release.

  9. You know, I’m really glad Tim Burton (crappy excuse for an artsy director) didn’t get to make Superman. Otherwise, Superman would have had hands for scissors, his girl would be goth and Johnny Depp would play the villain or Superman, which of course, would be dressed in black. Very original if you ask me /sarcasm. Why Tim Burton makes movies even today is beyond me.

  10. I loved this article!

    But there are several, well-documented cases that I think are worth mentioning that were left out:

    Charlie Sheen lobbied for the role of Spider-Man when the film was being developed in the early ’90s, Tom Cruise was also interested. Stan Lee wanted to play J. Jonah, and said in a raido interview that John Cusack was up for Peter Parker. John Malkovich, Nicolas Cage, and Robert De Niro were all offered the roll of the Green Goblin during Raimi’s run. Heath Ledger was the first choice to play Spider-Man at one point, he rejected the studio’s offers fearing typecasting.

    Glenn Danzig (of The Misfits) was set to play Wolverine in a low-budget one-shot X-Men film in the early ’90s because of his height (5’4″) and toned build. Russell Crowe was offered the role in a later production but declined. Angela Bassett had been offered the role of Storm.

    Tim Burton considered Pierce Brosnan, Keven Costner, Kevin Kline, Alec Baldwin, and Tom Selleck for Batman, among others. Willem Dafoe has gone on record stating he was in talks to play Batman early in production, despite rumors he was in the running to play the Joker. David Bowie, Tim Curry, John Lithgow, James Woods, John Glover, Ray Liotta, and Robin Williams were all considered for the Joker.

    Marlon Wayans was actually cast as Robin in Batman Returns & Burtons proposed third film. While promoting GI Joe, he said he still gets residual checks, even though he part was cut.

    Guy Pearce was offered the role of Daredevil (which would have been awesome – fingers crossed for the reboot…), Matt Damon and Edward Norton were also considered.

  11. Last year, I remember reading a story about how a reporter who had an appointment to interview Jason Statham (The Transporter) at Cannes had to interview him at table where he was meeting with Frank Miller (Sin City). Apprently, dispite Stathams obvious Cockney accent, Miller want him to play Daredevil in much darker, more violent reboot. I think, that if Statham could nail the accent he’d be brilliant in the role.

    • Not just the accent, PHOENIX80…he’d HAVE to get a toupee, as Matt Murdock is not bald, but Statham IS a bit sparse on the rooftop…

      • That’s very true. If they set it near the end of his crime fighting career they could work around it, (make out like he’s getting on a bit) but they’d still have to work around that accent. “Oeem t man witout Feeeeaar!”

  12. Rem pretty much got all the ones I can think of. Lets not forget Will Smith Being considered for Captain America. Back in The 90′s Captain movie they offered the part to Arnold Swartzenager but then changed there minds do to hi accent. They also asked Val Kilmer who later on played Batman. Christian Bale auditioned for the role of Robin in Batman Forever and was turned down. Just to add to Matt Damon playing Daredevil(that would be awesome) It was a script written by Kevin Smith who was the Current Writer of the comic and Robert Rodriguez Directing. They all eventually dropped because of the unnecessarily high budget.

  13. Another near-miss was Lyle Waggoner as Batman instead of Adam West.

  14. “Cruise, on the other hand, may have made Stark just an asshole. Sorry Tom.”

    That was LOL funny…

  15. … and, from what I undestand, Prince lobbied pretty hard for the original Joker

  16. Wow! Christopher Reeve, Tom Welling, and Brandon Routh all the way!!!

  17. Always knew Will Smith was a racist

    • I hope you’re joking.

      • …because he is 100% correct with what he said.

        I mean my goodness the comments section of this site is evidence of that!?!

  18. You forgot to mention Jack Black as Green Lantern! Ugh….that would have been awful.

  19. I’d be just FINE in a world without Christian Bale Batman—as well as one without Christian Bale—PERIOD. Just a huge bloated ego, overrated waste of space. Total diva. But no one but Downey could be Tony Stark. Tom Cruise is okay, but not in that role.

  20. I feel neither one way nor another about Tom Cruise, and I think RDJ is definitely the superior actor of the two, but I need to point out that RDJ could also be considered a “midget” in the same vein as Cruise. They are both about 5’6″…just sayin…

  21. And I may be alone in my thinking, but I think John Krazinski would have made a perfect Steve Rogers. *swoon*

    As for Halle Berry, I agree that see is a zero talent moron skating by on her looks. Just listen to any interview that she’s ever done if you don’t believe me. Catwoman is by far my favorite comic book character, abduction I refuse to recognize that abomination of a movie she made by that name. She was NEVER Catwoman as far as I’m concerned. *HISSSSS!!* lol

    End of rant. ;)

  22. AND* not abduction lol

  23. The weird one is Jake Gyllenhaal as Batman. With that voice? No. Now, Daredevil on the other hand, I could totally see him as.

  24. They shouldve used Angela Basset as Storm

  25. I would have liked to see Tom Cruise as Stark.
    RDJ is just…lack of charima at times.

    But I’m lucky he didnt. Cruise+Palthrow : erk. Worst match ever.

  26. How did they get the arm to look so real with the picture. I gotta watch more movies I havent really experienced many. Outside of Toronto movies I saw at the EX.