Everybody knows the actors that get the role. Everybody knows Chris Evans as Captain America. They know Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man. Of course, they weren't the only ones up for the job, but I doubt you knew the name of the ones who didn't get the part.
So, here are just a few of the actors who were almost Superheros!
Nicolas Cage as Superman
This is one most people know about. In the '90s, Warner Bros. got the full rights to the Superman movies and they had every intention to use them. Their first order of business? Get Kevin Smith to write the script. And that attracted Tim Burton to direct. And it wasn't long before Nicolas Cage was cast as the titular hero.
Cage is very tight-lipped about the film. However, he is a giant Superman fan, even going out of his way to get an Action Comic #1, and this was a role of a lifetime for him. After the film was scrapped, Cage had to fulfill his dream to be a superhero in 2007's Ghost Rider. To learn more about this film, go watch the great documentary The Death of Superman Lives: What Happened?
Cage wasn't the only one who was almost Superman..
A Bunch of Almost Supermen
Josh Hartnett was an up-and-coming star in the early 2000's and Warner Bros. wanted him to play Superman in a film. In it, Superman was going to be Batman's best man before to two fought it out. This film was scrapped and turned into a J.J. Abrams' screenplay called Superman Flyby. Hartnett was offered a lot of money for a trilogy, rumored to be $100 million, but he apparently didn't want to sign on for that many films. Ironically, very few actors sign that short of a contract nowadays.
Christopher Reeve might have been to perfect Superman in the original film, but he was far from the only one in the running for the part. Christopher Walken, Dustin Hoffman, Paul Newman, Robert Redford, Clint Eastwood, James Caan, Nick Nolte, Steve McQueen, and Al Pacino were all reportedly courted and possibly screen tested. Burt Reynolds and Muhammad Ali were also rumored to be approuched and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Sylvester Stallone both campaigned for the role themselves.
Henry Cavill might be the Man of Steel now, but when Superman Returns was being cast, he was up for the role. That role eventually went to Brandon Routh, but it seems like Cavill won in the the end.
George Miller's Justice League
George Miller's Justice League Mortal is the thing of legend. The movie, which was supposed to run concurrently with Nolan's Batman films, gathered a bunch of talented people to play the superheros in the league. One of those talented people was Armie Hammer as Batman. Hammer, 22 at the time was excited to play the Caped Crusader, at the time telling E! News:
"I was looking down, and I was thinking, This is the best," E! quoted Hammer as saying. "Then I stood up, and they turned me around, and I faced a mirror—there was Batman. But then it hit me like a ton of bricks—it's not just Batman, it's me!"
He know looks back at the time with a little bit less excitement, telling Yahoo Movies:
"I would have made a terrible Batman. Really terrible," he said. "It's too young. No-one wants to see a 19-year-old Batman. What can a 19-year-old do?"
"It'd be like [Bruce Wayne's] parents had just been shot last weekend, and so you became Batman," he said.
The movie would have also had Common as Green Lantern, D.J. Cotrona as Superman, Adam Brody as The Flash, Megan Gale as Wonder Woman, Santiago Cabrera as Aquanman and Jay Baruchel as Maxwell Lord. What a cast a great cast, yes?
Tom Cruise As Iron Man
It might be hard to think of anyone, but Robert Downey Jr. donning the Iron Man suit, Cruise was actually cast as the hero long before Downey even had a shot at the film. Cruise was in serious talks with Marvel to not only star, but to also produced the film. He dropped out over the script and not feeling like he belonged in the role.
Russell Crowe and Dougray Scott as Wolverine
Another charcter that is hard to imagine anyone else as, Crowe was offered the role. He turned down the role over pay, but her did suggest Hugh Jackman for the role. Jackman didn't get the role, at first as Dougray Scott was cast instead. Luckily for us, unluckily for Scott, he had to dropout three weeks into filming, and Jackman finally got the role.
John Krasinski as Captain America
Yes, Jim from the office. Krasinski was Marvel's choice to be Steve Rogers after multiple read-throughs and screen tests. The only reason he didn't get the part was Chris Evans. Evans originally turned down the role multiple times, before finally reconsidering and taking the role.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
Speaking of people who were almost in the MCU, Blunt was offered the role that Scarlett Johansson made famous. Blunt had to unfortunately turn down the role for a film that ended up being Gulliver's Travels. Blunt also reportedly turned down the role of Agent Carter, but I could never imagine anyone but Hayley Atwell in the role.
Hopefully, some of those Captain Marvel rumors are true and Blunt gets to join the MCU soon.
This is just a short list.
For every superhero, there are a hundred different actors up for the role. Some of those actors are interesting, while others are not. But, it sure keeps you guessing.
Who would you like to see as a superhero?