X-Men was the hit that kicked off the current age of comic book movies that has come to define blockbusters in the 21st century. There are now eleven movies in that universe and counting, with Dark Phoenix and New Mutants still on the way, as well as other films announced before the eventual Disney takeover of 20th Century Fox and all of its assets. Even when this happens, the X-Men will likely be folded into the MCU, so there are no signs of stopping or even slowing down for Marvel’s merry mutants.
Even in the current comic book movie climate, the X-Men franchise is unique, as it is the only major franchise of this type to have never done a complete reboot. These reboots are common, after all. The Amazing Spider-Man followed only a few years on the heels of Spider-Man 3 and Batman v Superman was released only four years after The Dark Knight Rises. However, X-Men has never started from scratch and gone back to the drawing board in 18 years of movies, opting instead to alter the already-existing timeline to account for past mistakes.
Because of this, recasts of favorite characters have only come in the form of their younger versions. With the longevity of this franchise and its commitment to past entries, casting that never sat right with fans proved to simply be something they were stuck with. As always, fans took it upon themselves to flock to create some images of what other, potentially better casting options could have looked like for their favorite mutant heroes and villains.
Here are the 20 X-Men Fan Castings Better Than What We Got.
20 Charlize Theron as Mystique
Charlize Theron seems like an obvious choice for Mystique. She nails that intensity, she can be a hero or a villain, and she can flip between the two on a dime. While Jennifer Lawrence is also a proven Oscar contender, this was a role that she never seemed to expect to be tied to for so long, given that she starred in First Class just before becoming an overnight sensation with The Hunger Games.
Theron would be perfect for something like the Brian K. Vaughn Mystique run, in which the character was a spy running shadow missions for Professor X.
Theron has both the acting chops and the action chops to absolutely nail Mystique if she was ever given the chance to play her.
19 Michelle Trachtenberg as Kitty Pryde
Michelle Trachtenberg has made appearances in shows like Gossip Girl and House and movies like Eurotrip and Harriet the Spy, but she will always be best known for her role as Dawn Summers on Buffy the Vampire Slayer. That role is extremely appropriate in this situation, considering that Dawn was heavily influenced by none other than Kitty Pryde. Like Kitty, Dawn started off as the teenage sidekick before coming into her own as a character. She even had a very similar friendship with Spike to what Kitty had with Wolverine.
At the time that Kitty was introduced as a main character in X-Men: The Last Stand, Trachtenberg would have been the perfect age to take on the character and play her with a lightness and wit that wasn’t necessarily given to Ellen Page.
18 Keira Knightley as Cable
On one hand, Keira Knightley as Cable would have paid off a great joke at the end of Deadpool, in which he suggests that she be the one to take on the role. However, had they actually done it, it would have been an interesting and unique take on the character, something unexpected and fully anticipated at the same time.
In recent years, there have been many gender-swapped action roles and female led movies. Knightley has experience in this era and there definitely could have been some in-jokes with Knightley having previously starred in a movie called Domino. While Josh Brolin was great for a gritty and traditional take on the character, Knightley could have been a big surprise and, as Deadpool suggested, she does have the range to pull it off.
17 Chris Pine as Cyclops
Cyclops has never been given the best of treatment in the X-Men movies, mostly because even though he’s the leader of the team, the movies have always revolved around Wolverine as a protagonist. The role demands someone with an authoritative presence that’s also likable, someone who can take charge but still be charming and be able to make a dry, sarcastic remark every now and then as well. Chris Pine has those qualities in spades.
It also doesn’t hurt that if he were to wear red sunglasses, he would pretty much already look exactly like the comic book character.
Pine has all the qualities necessary to pull off a leader like Cyclops and he’s still never gotten into the superhero game, save for his role as Steve Trevor in Wonder Woman.
16 Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Rogue
Other than being a brunette, Mary Elizabeth Winstead doesn’t initially give off a vibe that would make people think of Rogue, but fans have still wanted to see her as the character for years. Part of that has to do with her likability.
While Rogue is going through a lot as a character, she tends to take her pain in stride and always wears a smile. The Anna Paquin version of the character was much more outwardly serious. Winstead could easily bring some of the classic comic character to the screen in that role. If the Gambit movie is truly meant to be a rom-com, then Winstead as Rogue would play perfectly against Channing Tatum’s obtuse swagger as Gambit. It would be a no-brainer.
15 Gaspard Ulliel as Nightcrawler
Gaspard Ulliel brought a serious intensity and eccentric energy to his role in Hannibal Rising, but there’s a sensitive outsider in most of his performances that would lend itself easily to Nightcrawler, who is sort of the ultimate outsider, even among the X-Men. Given his appearance, Kurt looks much more sinister than he actually is. With Ulliel previously playing intense villains, it would make for an interesting casting, as it would play on pre-conceived notions of the actor.
There’s also just an interesting energy that Ulliel brings to every role and that eccentricity would lend itself to Nightcrawler very well if he were to wind up ever playing the character.
Alan Cumming obviously did a fantastic job with the character in X2, though he did not return, but Ulliel could make this role his own.
14 Jane Levy as Jean Grey
While there’s plenty of crossover between fans of the X-Men movies and fans of Game of Thrones, many felt that Sophie Turner was somewhat miscast as Jean Grey. She certainly felt capable of the more earnest moments, but something felt lost for some fans when Turner just tried to play Jean as a teenager.
Jane Levy would have been able to bring a wit, sense of humor, and general energy to the character that might have been missing in Apocalypse. More than that, though, one has to consider the eventual Dark Phoenix turn when casting Jean. Levy’s role in the 2013 remake of Evil Dead more than proved that she was up to the task of taking a relatable character and turning her into an unstoppable force of evil.
13 Lupita Nyong’o as Storm
Obviously, this casting won’t happen in the X-Men movies as they head into the MCU, considering Lupita Nyong’o’s role in Black Panther. The actress exudes a sense of authority and grace that would be pitch perfect for this integral member of the X-Men.
Some photoshops of the actress as the character look incredible and it’s clearly something that the fans would love to see. Whether it remains a possibility or not is harder to determine, though it seems unlikely. When the X-Men make their way into the MCU, it would be hard to imagine them doing it without Storm, so even if Nyong’o doesn’t take on the role, Dark Phoenix definitely won’t be the last time people see this beloved heroine.
12 Teresa Palmer as Polaris
While many fans expected to see Polaris on the big screen after her longtime lover Havok was introduced, she instead made her debut as a lead character on The Gifted. The approach there has been very interesting and engaging, though she has been characterized a little more closely to the depiction of her sister Scarlet Witch in X-Men: Evolution.
Teresa Palmer would have made a great Polaris closer to her classic role in X-Factor, especially if she had been teamed up with Havok in the feature films.
It’s also simply easier to imagine Palmer’s lighter hair being able to show off a much more pronounced and vibrant green than the hair displayed by Polaris on The Gifted.
11 Josh Hutcherson as Iceman
Iceman always felt like the kid brother of the team. Of the founding members, he was the youngest. Even though other, much younger characters have come along since then, Iceman has always kept that kind of attitude. The movies embraced the character’s youngness in some respects, but they also gave audiences a more serious version of the character than fans were really expecting.
Hutcherson could easily nail the combination of youthful charisma and humor that the role requires.
While Hutcherson would have been a tad too young for the early X-Men movies, he would have been the perfect age if they had decided to include a younger Iceman in the post-Days of Future Past movies.
10 Katheryn Winnick as Emma Frost
Emma Frost was introduced in First Class, but even though that movie is embraced by the fan base, most don’t love the performance that January Jones gave in the feature. She looked exactly like the comic book character, but brought none of the hard-edged determination and calculated wit that the role requires.
Katheryn Winnick would be a perfect choice for a couple of different reasons. She would not only fit the look of the character, but she can also play all of those other elements as well. The intensity Winnick has brought to Vikings could easily have made the character stand out more in First Class and could even have led to Emma appearing in more than just the one movie.
9 Arnold Vosloo as Apocalypse
Oscar Isaac is a tremendous actor and people love him dearly, but despite all of that, his performance in X-Men: Apocalypse was not met favorably. He brought what he could to the role, but it just wasn’t the right fit. The part needs someone more imposing, intimidating and all-around scary.
Arnold Vosloo might not be as much of a household name, but he has done all of this before — effectively so — in 1999’s The Mummy. Vosloo as Apocalypse could have been commanding, authoritative, and all of the things fans expect from that character that they didn’t felt like they saw enough of in the feature film version.
8 Mark Strong as Professor X
Mark Strong would be a really interesting choice for Professor X because he is so well known for playing villains that it would almost be jarring to see him take on the perennially optimistic founder of the X-Men. It would be unexpected, but he absolutely has the presence and grace to take on the role.
Professor X needs to be someone who audiences would just love to listen to, given that the role is not that physical, and Strong could definitely pull that off.
His work having played so many villains would also be of value, as some of the best X-Men stories shine a light on Professor X’s hypocrisy and the fact that he often keeps secrets from the team and does surprising things for the sake of the greater good.
7 Summer Glau as Psylocke
Olivia Munn definitely looked the part as Psylocke, but that was all fans were given to get excited about when the character made her debut in X-Men: Apocalypse. Psylocke is mostly used as a henchman of Apocalypse’s four horsemen and not given much to do outside a few standout action sequences.
However, Summer Glau could have brought an exciting energy to the role and could have played the part with a flair for both the dramatic while absolutely nailing the physical action requirements. She, of course, has experience playing not only a very physical fighter, but even a psychic as well in both Firefly and Serenity as River Tam. Glau would have been a natural choice for the part.
6 Jamie Chung as Jubilee
At one point, this could have been something that fans would have actually seen, as concept art depicted Jamie Chung as Jubilee in X-Men: Days of Future Past before the character was cut from the movie. At this point, Jubilee has a long history of barely making appearances in X-Men movies, having small cameos in each of the first three movies as well as a role in X-Men: Apocalypse that got significantly cut down.
Someone like Jamie Chung could definitely have made that role pop on the big screen, but it also seems like none of the actresses to take on Jubilee were really given the opportunity to shine.
Of course, Jamie Chung has gone on the carve out her own X-Men success as Blink on The Gifted.
5 Jamie Foxx as Bishop
The problem with Bishop was not so much the actor who portrayed him as it was the fact that the character was barely given anything to do. It’s ridiculous that one of the two main time travelers of the X-Men universe barely even got a speaking part in an X-Men movie about time travel: Days of Future Past.
Someone with the star power of Jamie Foxx could absolutely have brought something special to that character or at least made him more of a central role in the movie itself. Even if fans weren’t thrilled with Foxx’s performance as Electro in Amazing Spider-Man 2, the intensity that he brought to Baby Driver would have easily made for a commanding version of Bishop.
4 Benecio Del Toro as Beast
Benecio Del Toro as Beast would be an eccentric, mad scientist choice, but Kelsey Grammer nailed the “classic” version of the character so well that the recast version could have been better served by going in an entirely different direction. Del Toro would have brought a more eccentric nutty professor quality to Beast.
It was proven in The Wolfman that Del Toro would have easily been able to withstand the lengthy makeup job, which could have led to seeing much more of the Beast fans know and love. For most fans, the problem with Nicholas Hoult’s Beast is that he looks normal most of the time, which is not something Beast always dealt with as a character.
3 Sean Bean as Banshee
Sean Bean, at first glance, probably would not have made much sense for the young version of Banshee presented in X-Men: First Class - at least not until you stop to take into consideration that Banshee was never actually a young X-Men.
When he first joined the team, he almost left right away because he was already graying and was so much older than the rest of the team, many of whom were still teenagers at the time. Banshee was also an ex-cop before becoming an X-Man. Had he actually been cast, Sean Bean could have handled all of those aspects, playing a more grizzled Banshee than expected, but one that would be comic accurate at the same time.
2 Jamie Bell as Toad
When Toad was reintroduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past, there was a chance to do something different with the character than had been done in the past. Toad never got a single line in the movie, but was meant to have an actual arc, as he served with Stryker’s precursor to Weapon X military unit before being moved by Magneto’s speech into joining what would become the Brotherhood.
Jamie Bell would have brought a sensitivity to the role that would actually have been engaging for fans to watch.
Even in an overstuffed movie, he could have been a scene stealer and could still pull off that mix of aggression and oafish awkwardness that a character like Toad needs to have.
1 Garrett Hedlund as Havok
This is a fan casting in which the comics actually did most of the work. While lights had been introduced to Havok’s costume in the late ‘90s, the character got a total redesign after the release of Tron Legacy to sort of reflect the design of that movie. Hedlund already looked like the comic character, so giving the two of them almost identical outfits made it that much easier for fans to picture.
In addition to this, the prequel movies never really aged up Havok, since Lucas Till made his debut in X-Men: First Class. Apocalypse is set twenty years later, but Till looks no different and has a teenage brother. It would have been much easier to get someone at least a little older.
What do you think? Which of these X-Men fan castings would you most like to see on the big screen? Sound off in the comments!