This should go without saying, but superhero movies are big business.
These days, every A-list actor seems to have a Marvel or D.C. character on their resume (or under their utility belt). However, casting directors often make difficult decisions when several major players are up for the same part.
Here’s a look at several celebrities who were in line to play major superhero roles—but, for whatever reason, backed out at the last second.
1. Bill Murray was an early choice for Batman.
In 1983, a script called The Batman was floating around Hollywood. Director Ivan Reitman was attached to the project, and the film would have had a fairly comedic tone that referenced the 1960s Batman television series.
Naturally, the studio believed that they needed a comedic actor to pull it off, so Bill Murray was floated as a possible Bruce Wayne. Tim Burton took over the project, however, and steered it towards a darker interpretation of the comic book.
Alec Baldwin and Mel Gibson were also reportedly considered for the role, but, of course, Michael Keaton won the honors.
2. Tom Cruise was almost Iron Man.
In the late 1990s, Tom Cruise was a major action movie star, so he was an obvious choice to play the title role in Iron Man. He apparently received an offer, but he turned it down since he didn’t like the idea of playing a superhero and didn’t believe that the could get into the role.
The Iron Man script floated around for a decade, changing considerably before director Jon Favreau finally got a hold of it. Robert Downey Jr.’s performance as Tony Stark has been heralded as one of the greatest superhero interpretations of all time.
3. Leonardo DiCaprio could have been Spider-Man.
DiCaprio is one of those “serious” actors, so we can’t really picture him cracking wise as Spider-Man. Nevertheless, her was up for the role, which he turned down.
“That was another one of those situations, similar to Robin, where I didn’t feel ready to put on that suit yet,” he said to ShortList.
Wait, Robin? Yep, that Robin. DiCaprio was up for the role of Robin in the ill-fated Batman Forever, but he turned that one down, too.
4. Nicolas Cage was almost Superman.
In the late 1990s, Nicolas Cage signed on to an ambitious project: Superman Lives. The movie would have shown Superman as more of a real, human character, complete with personality flaws and a wry sense of humor.
It actually might have been good, and it would have forever changed our image of Superman. Unfortunately, it never got off the ground. We do, however, have pictures of Nicholas Cage in a Superman costume.
Okay, so the costume design is pretty terrible. The film would have featured two of Superman’s most iconic villains, Doomsday and Brainiac, and as Cage is a huge comic book fan, we’re sure he would have brought some intensity to the role. Unfortunately, we’ll never know for sure.