For almost two decades now, the X-men franchise has kept us entertained with some Oscar-worthy films like Logan to some not so great ones like The Last Stand. The franchise has already run for so long that the coming X-Men: The Dark Phoenix Saga will be a soft reboot of the original. The X-Men movies have always done a great job at translating the comics to the screen without compromising the original characters. With so many more line-ups and reboots it makes us wonder about all the actors who almost got a chance to become an X-Men (on screen at least).
1. Glenn Danzig As Wolverine
Casting directors were searching as hard as they could for the perfect fit for the role of Wolverine in the late 90s. Wolverine was supposed to be the central figure in the forthcoming X-men franchise and the actor had to be someone with the right physique and image to play it. One such prospect was the former Misfits frontman, Glenn Danzig. Unfortunately (or fortunately? ), he had to turn down the role due to a scheduling conflict with a lengthy tour. The role eventually went to Jackman and ever since then fans have loved his portrayal of the wolverine.
2. Jim Caviezel as Cyclops
Jim Caviezel now know mostly for this role in TV’s Person of Interest, almost became a superhero twice. He was almost cast in Superman Returns but lost out to Brandon Routh, and before that, he nearly landed the part of Cyclops in the first X-Men.
However, Caviezel couldn’t make the schedule work with his upcoming film Frequency, causing the role to eventually be given to James Marsden. Even though Marsden did a good job portraying the character; he mostly brings out the arrogant, stubborn nature of the character leaving us to wonder what Caviezel could have done.
3. Angela Bassett As Storm
At the height of the X-Men craze during the early ‘90s, Chris Claremont and Stan Lee pitched an X-Men movie to James Cameron. Even though the movie didn’t eventually happen the idea of Angela Bassett playing Storm gained a lot of momentum. When Bryan Singer announced he could directing an X-Men film, fans quickly assumed Bassett would be the logical choice. Unfortunately, Bassett turned the role down and it went to Halle Berry.
4. Helen Hunt as Jean Grey
For most of the ’90s, Hunt had starred in roles in the likes of Twister, As Good As It Gets, Kiss Of Death and Mad About You. These roles and her forthcoming Oscar nomination were enough to convince the producers that she was apt to play the role of Jean Grey. But the actress decided against it and the role went to Famke Janssen. Famke eventually went on to define Jean’s presence on-screen and played both her subtle and darker moods with utmost brilliance.
5. Channing Tatum As Gambit
In 2014 Channing Tatum signed to play the role of Gambit but ever since the movie has had a troubled future. It has already lost its third director. In 2006, he was in line to play Gambit in X-Men: The Last Stand before the character was written out of the script. Later, when it was confirmed Gambit would be making an appearance in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Tatum had scheduling conflicts and therefore lost the role to Taylor Kitsch.
6. Natalie Portman As Jubilee
Natalie Portman now has a prominent role in a superhero franchise as Jane Foster in the Thor films, but she could have played another Marvel character much earlier. For the 2000’s original X- Men, an early draft was centered around Jubilee’s arrival to the team. In this version of the film, Natalie Portman was offered the part of Jubilee. However, once she declined the character was written off.
Jubilee finally makes her belated cinematic debut in X-Men: Apocalypse, as played by Lana Condor but we can’t help but wonder how Portman would have played the role all those years back.
7. Michael Shannon As Cable
In early 2017, reports surfaced that Michael Shannon was a frontrunner for playing Cable, opposite Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool in Deadpool 2. Michael Shannon is a beast of an actor – digging deep into his roles and characters and exposing whatever humanity lies within would have been perfect to play a character who demands both sympathy and disagreement or even resentment from his audience for his choices in the film.
And he’s just as effective dramatically as he is comedically. Even though the role landed with Josh Brolin who did a wonderful job portraying the character; it would have been great to see what Shannon could have done with the character.
8. Neil Patrick Harris as Nightcrawler
Neil Patrick Harris gave a shot at being a superhero when he auditioned for the role of Nightcrawler in X2. Even though he was very much liked the role eventually went to Alan Cumming. Perhaps Cumming’s fluency in German gave him an edge over Harris, we’d never know.
Although Cumming and Harris both have theatrical and comedic backgrounds, Neil Patrick Harris would have certainly played the character in a whole different light but after so many years seeing Alan play Nightcrawler it’s hard to imagine what Neil’s rendition would have looked like.
9. Johnny Depp as Wolverine
Wolverine being such a titular character in the entire X-Man franchise, it’s no surprise that almost half of Hollywood was considered to portray the character. The list includes everyone from Russell Crowe to Mel Gibson to Aaron Eckhart.
But perhaps the most interesting choice once considered was Johnny Depp. With his enigmatic charm and ability to take on any role we’re sure he’d have done a great job. Despite all this, Hugh Jackman was probably the best choice.
10. Kate Winslet as Rogue
With Jubilee out of the picture and Rogue the focal point of the film, Fox considered Kate Winslet to play the role of Rogue. The idea was to make Rogue a slightly older and a much more powerful character. However, once Winslet turned the role down it landed to Anna Paquin and the character became a timid, shy and uncertain teenagers leaving the fans disappointed.
11. Sigourney Weaver as Emma Frost
After the success of X2, The Last Stand came as a big disappointment. Largely, this is because of director Brett Ratner’s mishandling of the material. The franchiser regular Bryan Singer who didn’t direct the film had a different version in mind. His vision would have greatly focused on the Dark Phoenix arch with Emma Frost acting as the villain attempting to manipulate Jean’s power. The idea was to have Sigourney Weaver play Emma Frost.
When Frost eventually appeared in X-Men: First Class, she left no lasting impression leaving fans to winder that would have happened if Sigourney would have taken the role all those years back.
12. Summer Glau as Kitty Pryde
After starring as River Tam in Whedon’s Firefly, Summer Glau auditioned for the part of Kitty in X-Men: The Last Stand. The casting directors asked Glau to read for the audition using a scene that her former boss, Joss Whedon, had written and the actress even got tips on how to play the character from Whedon.
But it wasn’t meant to be and the role eventually went to Ellen Page. Even though Page’s performance was immaculate it only seems surprising that the part didn’t go to Glau when it seemed like she was meant to play the part.
13. Nick Stahl As Angel
Terminator 3 star Nick Stahl was the actors who auditioned for the role of Angel X-Men: The Last Stand.
Even in the third Terminator film, Stahl’s performance at portraying the future leader of the resistance was mediocre at best. We aren’t very certain that he would have been able to bring out the comic-book Angel to the big screen with the right amount of emotions. The part anyhow went to Ben Foster.
14. Bob Hoskins As Wolverine
It took almost forty years for the X-Men to jump from the pages of the comics to the big screen. Along the way, several attempts were made. What came as a surprise was the fact that for his dream X-Men project, Chris Claremont, who has written a bevy of X-Men story arcs, including that of X-Men: Days of Future Past had Bob Hoskins in mind. We’re not entirely sure why Claremont had such notion but we’re just extremely glad the role went to Hugh Jackman.
15. Jada Pinkett-Smith As Storm
Prior to Halle Berry being signed for the role of Sort; quite a few big names were considered. Most popular was Angela Bassett but she was later considered “too old” for the part. Jada Pinkett-Smith was later offered the role as well but ultimately turned it down due to a scheduling conflict. She would eventually play the role of Fish Mooney in FOX’s Gotham. Either way, we ended up with a mediocre performance by Berry without leaving any lasting impressions on the audience.