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10 Amazing Lead Actor Ideas for Superhero Movies

by Charlie Parker
fact checked by Darci Heikkinen

Superhero movies have been massive hits at the box office, pulling in audiences with their thrilling stories of heroes and villains. One key part of these films is the casting, which brings beloved characters to life in unique ways. Some casting choices are obvious, but others are surprising and push creative boundaries.

In this list, we’ll look at some interesting and unexpected casting ideas that could have given superhero movies a different twist. Think about comedians in serious roles or seasoned actors playing characters with unexpected quirks. Imagine a Wolverine who’s not just a tough guy but has a surprising twist or a Hulk who’s more than just muscle.

These casting ideas show how different actors can change how we see these characters and add new layers to their stories.

Related: 10 Underrated Superhero Films & Shows That Aren’t Marvel Or DC

10 Danny DeVito as Wolverine

Wolverine, but it’s Danny DeVito

Picture this: the ferocious, unstoppable Wolverine, but with the inimitable charm and wit of Danny DeVito. While Hugh Jackman has made the role iconic with his towering presence and fierce intensity, DeVito would bring a completely different yet equally compelling energy to the character. His portrayal could lean into the grizzled, world-weary aspects of Wolverine, adding a layer of humor and unpredictability that would make the character uniquely his own.

Imagine the berserker rage scenes infused with DeVito’s signature sarcasm and unorthodox physicality—a Wolverine that slices through enemies with both claws and cutting one-liners. This unlikely casting choice isn’t just a whimsical flight of fancy; there’s a dedicated fan movement advocating for DeVito to take up the adamantium claws. Fans have even started a petition, arguing that his unique take could add a refreshing twist to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, making it both memorable and distinct.

It’s an idea so bold and out-of-the-box that it just might work, bringing a new dimension to a beloved character. [1] [1]

9 David Duchovny as the Incredible Hulk

David Duchovny as the Incredible HULK? | WICHB

David Duchovny, renowned for his role as the introspective Agent Mulder in The X-Files, was once considered for the part of Bruce Banner, the man behind the Hulk. This potential casting would have brought a unique depth to Banner’s character, emphasizing his intellectual struggle with the monstrous alter ego. Duchovny’s experience in portraying complex, psychologically rich characters could have provided a fresh take on the scientist’s internal battle with his own destructive impulses.

In the early 2000s, Marvel Studios was exploring various actors for the Hulk, and Duchovny’s name came up as a top contender. His thoughtful and nuanced acting style might have portrayed Banner’s transformation into the Hulk not just as a physical change but also as a profound personal conflict. This approach would highlight Banner’s fear and frustration over losing control of his inner beast, offering a more emotionally layered and introspective view of the character.

Duchovny’s potential involvement with the Hulk could have redefined the character, focusing on balancing Banner’s intelligence and the Hulk’s brute strength. His portrayal would likely have added a cerebral element to the narrative, presenting the Hulk as a figure struggling with the duality of intellect and rage. This casting might have offered audiences a more relatable and psychologically complex version of the Hulk, moving beyond the traditional portrayal of the character as simply a destructive force.[2]

8 Will Smith as Superman

Hancock – Prison Basketball Scene (HD)

Imagine Will Smith donning the iconic red cape and soaring through the skies as Superman. Known for his versatility and charisma, Smith could bring a fresh and dynamic energy to the Man of Steel, combining heroic gravitas with a modern, relatable charm. His previous roles in action-packed films like Independence Day and Men in Black showcase his ability to balance intense action with moments of humor and heart, qualities that would make for a captivating Superman.

Despite Smith’s proven track record in blockbuster hits, he reportedly turned down the role of Superman due to concerns about racial typecasting and the immense pressure of stepping into such an iconic character’s boots. This decision left many fans imagining the unique spin he could have brought to the role, merging traditional superhero ethos with his own distinctive flair. Smith’s portrayal could have addressed and expanded the cultural relevance of Superman in today’s world, bringing a new dimension to the beloved character.

The idea of Will Smith as Superman highlights the potential for superhero roles to evolve and reflect a broader spectrum of humanity. His presence could have redefined Superman for a new generation, emphasizing themes of diversity and resilience. It’s a casting decision that invites us to rethink the boundaries of traditional superhero narratives and celebrate the possibility of a more inclusive cinematic universe.[3]

7 Robin Williams as the Joker

Rewind: Robin Williams on almost playing the Joker in “Batman”

Envision the late Robin Williams, with his unparalleled comedic talent and dramatic depth, stepping into the chaotic shoes of the Joker. Williams was known for his ability to switch seamlessly between humor and intensity, qualities that are essential for portraying Batman’s arch-nemesis. His interpretation of the Joker could have been a mesmerizing blend of dark humor and chilling menace, offering a performance that balanced the character’s madness with a profound psychological complexity.

Williams was reportedly considered for the Joker role in Tim Burton’s Batman but ultimately lost out to Jack Nicholson. Fans and critics alike have often speculated how Williams’s unique approach could have transformed the character, emphasizing the tragic backstory and deranged psyche behind the Joker’s anarchic actions. His portrayal could have highlighted the character’s tragicomic essence, adding a layer of pathos and unpredictability that would have set his Joker apart in the annals of superhero cinema.

Williams’s potential take on the Joker remains one of the great “what ifs” of superhero casting. It’s fascinating to imagine how his signature blend of humor and pathos could have redefined the character and left an indelible mark on the Batman franchise.[4]

6 Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Strange

Joaquin Phoenix May Play Marvel Studios’ Doctor Strange – IGN News

Imagine Joaquin Phoenix, known for his intense, transformative performances, taking on the role of Doctor Strange. Phoenix’s ability to dive deep into complex, often troubled characters would have brought a unique gravitas to the Master of the Mystic Arts. His portrayal could have emphasized the darker, more introspective aspects of Stephen Strange’s journey from a brilliant but arrogant surgeon to a humbled and powerful sorcerer.

Phoenix was reportedly in talks for the role before Benedict Cumberbatch ultimately took up the mantle. Fans often wonder how Phoenix’s interpretation might have diverged from the established portrayal, potentially offering a more brooding and enigmatic take on the character. His Doctor Strange could have delved into the psychological and moral complexities of wielding such immense power, providing a more nuanced and possibly more haunting exploration of the character’s inner demons and mystical responsibilities.[5]

5 Emily Blunt as Black Widow

Why Did Emily Blunt Have to Turn Down the Role of Black Widow?

Emily Blunt, known for her commanding presence and versatility, would have brought a refreshing take on Black Widow. Her ability to seamlessly navigate between action-packed and dramatic roles could have infused Natasha Romanoff with a unique blend of sophistication and raw intensity. Blunt’s portrayal could highlight the character’s complex layers—a lethal assassin with a haunted past constantly seeking redemption, adding a new depth to Black Widow’s internal struggles and resilience.

Blunt was initially cast as Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts. This missed opportunity has left fans speculating how her interpretation might have differed from Scarlett Johansson’s iconic performance. Blunt’s version could have emphasized the character’s intelligence and strategic prowess, bringing a nuanced portrayal that would have expanded Black Widow’s arc within the Avengers. It’s intriguing to imagine how Emily Blunt’s Black Widow could have redefined the character and added a fresh dynamic to the Marvel Universe.[6]

4 Tom Cruise as Iron Man

What Could Have Been: Tom Cruise’s Iron Man

Imagine Tom Cruise, the epitome of Hollywood action stardom, taking on the role of Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Cruise’s dynamic presence and undeniable charisma would have made for an intriguing take on the billionaire genius. His experience in high-octane films like Top Gun and the Mission: Impossible series would bring an authentic intensity to Iron Man’s thrilling aerial battles and daring escapades, making him a natural fit for the role’s physical demands.

Cruise was reportedly considered for the role before Robert Downey Jr. was cast, a decision that shaped the Marvel Cinematic Universe as we know it. While Downey Jr. brought a quirky and rebellious charm to Tony Stark, Cruise’s portrayal could have leaned more into the traditional action hero archetype, emphasizing Stark’s relentless drive and perfectionism. His interpretation might have highlighted the character’s struggle with the duality of being a man and a machine, offering a different but equally compelling dimension to Iron Man’s persona.

Fans often wonder how Cruise’s high-energy approach could have influenced the development of Iron Man’s character and the overall tone of the Marvel franchise. His involvement would likely have resulted in a more action-centric narrative, potentially changing the direction of the entire cinematic universe. It’s fascinating to think about how Cruise’s portrayal of Iron Man might have reshaped our perception of one of the most beloved superheroes.[7]

3 Glenn Howerton as Star-Lord

Glenn Howerton On How He Lost Star-Lord Role To Chris Pratt In ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’

Glenn Howerton, widely recognized for his role as the scheming Dennis Reynolds on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia, was James Gunn’s original choice for the role of Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. Howerton’s sharp wit and comedic timing made him a strong candidate to bring a unique and edgy humor to the character of Peter Quill. His portrayal could have emphasized Quill’s mischievous and flawed nature, making the character more relatable and down-to-earth amid the cosmic chaos.

James Gunn, who directed the film, had Howerton in mind during the casting process but eventually decided on Chris Pratt for the role. Gunn had initially considered Howerton because of his ability to balance humor with a hint of unpredictability, which could have added a sardonic and self-deprecating layer to Star-Lord’s character. Howerton’s interpretation might have brought a distinct comedic style to the role, offering a fresh dynamic to the ensemble cast and potentially shifting the tone of the film to a more grounded and cynical perspective.

The idea of Howerton as Star-Lord invites curiosity about how his unique approach could have influenced the Guardians of the Galaxy series. His portrayal might have leaned more into the darker and more complex aspects of humor, contrasting with Chris Pratt’s more heroic and upbeat performance. Howerton’s version could have added a different flavor to the Guardians’ adventures, blending the outlandish with a more sarcastic and introspective take on the character’s journey.[8]

2 John Krasinski as Captain America

John Krasinski Ran Into Chris Hemsworth In His Captain America Audition | The Graham Norton Show

Imagine John Krasinski, widely loved for his role as Jim Halpert in The Office, stepping into the star-spangled boots of Captain America. Krasinski’s everyman charm and commanding presence could have added a unique blend of relatability and strength to Steve Rogers. His portrayal might have emphasized Captain America’s humble beginnings and unyielding moral compass, presenting a hero with courage rooted in everyday virtues rather than superhuman abilities.

Krasinski was a top contender for the role before Chris Evans ultimately took on the mantle. Fans have often speculated how his version of Captain America would differ, possibly bringing a warmer, more approachable demeanor to the character. Krasinski’s background in comedy and drama could have provided a balanced portrayal, highlighting both the heroic and human aspects of Captain America, making him an inspiring yet grounded leader for the Avengers.[9]

1 Pierce Brosnan as Batman

Pierce Brosnan on Auditioning for Tim Burton’s Batman & Playing Doctor Fate in Black Adam

Pierce Brosnan, famously known for his portrayal of James Bond, was once a top candidate for the role of Batman in Tim Burton’s 1989 film. His natural elegance and sophistication could have brought a unique twist to Bruce Wayne, highlighting the character’s dual life as a charming billionaire and a vigilant protector of Gotham City. Brosnan’s extensive experience in action roles would have added credibility to the physically demanding role of Batman, while his dramatic range would explore the deeper, more complex aspects of Bruce Wayne’s tortured soul.

However, Brosnan’s chance to don the cape and cowl slipped away during a meeting with Burton. In a moment of levity, he made a quip about the absurdity of Batman’s character, referring to him as a man running around in his underwear. This comment, though meant as a joke, likely influenced Burton’s decision to cast someone who would take the role more seriously, leading to Michael Keaton’s eventual casting. Keaton’s darker, more serious portrayal set a new standard for Batman, focusing on the character’s internal struggle and complex psychology.

If Brosnan had been cast, his portrayal of Batman might have leaned more toward a debonair and strategic figure, emphasizing the intellectual aspects of Bruce Wayne’s persona. Brosnan’s version of Batman could have highlighted the detective side of the character, solving Gotham’s mysteries with a blend of sophistication and tactical prowess. It’s intriguing to imagine how this interpretation could have influenced the Batman legacy, offering a different but equally compelling take on the iconic hero.[10]

fact checked by Darci Heikkinen