Ah, the DC Extended Universe. With numerous films attempting to create a shared continuity, it wasn’t until Man of Steel that Warner Brothers finally managed to bring a little competition to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It meant they could bring some of their most legendary characters to the big screen for millions to see, but they had to get these films into production first and then properly cast each character. It’s a long process, but the rewards can be huge. These benefits can be massive, for the fans and the producers.
The actors they cast can be propelled into the stratosphere of fame — or they might not even get the chance to step in front of the camera. Hollywood is a complicated business. With films jumping on and off the shelf from development hell all the time, just because an actor has been cast doesn’t even mean the film will see production. Or sometimes, a scheduling conflict gets in the way of an actor being able to fill a cape and cowl, a spandex suit or a picking up a sword and shield. These potential casting choices in the DCEU give us a glimpse at what might’ve been — both good and bad.
15. MATTHEW GOODE AS SUPERMAN
The English actor is no stranger to working with Zack Snyder after starring in Watchmen as Adrian Veidt/Ozymandias in the 2009 film. And before Henry Cavill made his DC debut in Man of Steel, Matthew Goode was one of the frontrunners to portray Superman. He was the right age for the role at the time but never got the chance to wear the iconic blue and red suit.
This was at a time when the DCEU wasn’t a confirmed plan, just an idea, and it seemed like Warner Bros. wanted to cast a lesser known actor in the role in the hopes of creating a new iconic vision. Goode was later meant to appear in Batman v. Superman, even meeting with Warner Bros. to discuss a role, but that didn’t come to fruition either.
14. JAKE GYLLENHAAL AS RICK FLAG
Suicide Squad had quite a few problems, with audiences and journalists alike criticizing the relationship between June Moone aka The Enchantress and Rick Flag. But instead of Joel Kinnaman, how would that relationship have changed if Jake Gyllenhaal had taken the role? We’ll never know, since he dropped out of the role with no explanation given. Maybe it was the script, maybe it was the character.
It’s a shame, since we’ve seen his wide range of acting from Donnie Darko all the way to Nightcrawler. He might’ve been able to bring an extra dimension to Rick Flag that didn’t quite come out as intended during the final cut of Suicide Squad. The character clearly has some personal issues, and Gyllenhaal can definitely do conflicted heroes well. Just look at his portrayal of Detective Loki in Prisoners.
13. NICOLE KIDMAN AS HIPPOLYTA
The Wonder Woman solo film was a riotous success, with critics and fans alike praising the scenes involving the Amazonians on their home island, Themiscyra — it was fantastic to finally see it on the big screen. The film showed off their military prowess, as well as fleshing out the society and backstory for Diana. But before we had Connie Nielsen in the role of Wonder Woman’s Mother, Australian actress Nicole Kidman was meant to be portray Queen Hippolyta.
Unfortunately, due to a scheduling conflict Kidman was unable to make an appearance in the film, as she was filming Big Little Lies at the time. It meant that the role went to Connie Nielsen instead, but we are eventually going to get Nicole Kidman in the DCEU when she plays Aquaman’s mother in his solo film.
12. JEFFREY DEAN MORGAN AS BATMAN
And no, before you say it — we don’t mean the potential role of Flashpoint Batman. Back in 2009, before his Negan villainy, Jeffrey Dean Morgan starred as The Comedian in Zack Snyder’s Watchmen. And during the press tour promoting the film, Snyder reportedly told Morgan than he desperately wanted to do a live-action version of Frank Miller’s Batman — and wanted to cast him in the title role.
Batman v. Superman was an extremely loose adaptation of what Miller created during The Dark Knight Returns — but it definitely shares some connective tissue. Luckily, we might not have to wait too much longer to see what a Batman played by Jeffrey Dean Morgan could look like, as The Flash movie will use “Flashpoint” as a basis for the plot. It could bring Barry to an alternate timeline where Thomas Wayne is Batman rather than Bruce. Interesting.
11. SEAN PENN AS JOR-EL
Way back before the DCEU managed to establish itself, Warner Bros. began looking to fill out their Man of Steel cast by adding a seasoned actor to the roster as Superman’s Kryptonian Father, Jor-El. And whilst Russell Crowe eventually landed the role, one of the names on the list of potentials was Sean Penn.
The actor is known for his serious roles rather than light-hearted ones, and since Jor-El is typically quite a wise character, offering advice to Superman in holographic form, the role needed someone who can pull off a world-weary and knowledgeable father figure. Ultimately, Russell Crowe stars in Man of Steel as Kal-El’s Father, but the potential casting of Sean Penn does raise questions as to what the character could have been like.
10. OPRAH WINFREY AS AMANDA WALLER
Amanda Waller is one of the most formidable and cunning characters in the entirety of DC Comics, and since she’s an integral part of forming the Suicide Squad, David Ayer needed someone who could pull that off with ease. But the first original choice for the role, was actually renown talk show host, Oprah Winfrey. The household name would have undoubtedly raised the level of exposure for Suicide Squad more than it already had.
But since we usually see her in a daytime TV setting rather than in a starring performing role, so it’s difficult to say what her version of Amanda Waller would have given to Suicide Squad. Luckily, Viola Davis (How to Get Away with Murder) brings Waller’s ferocity to screen with exuberance and conviction.
9. COLIN FARRELL AS CONSTANTINE
Remember that Justice League Dark film that every so often pops up in the news? Guillermo del Toro originally had his heart set on making it. But then he dropped out of the project, and Doug Liman took over. But there was a consistent rumor that Colin Farrell was to play John Constantine in the film, and since the Justice League Dark titles are firmly rooted in horror, this was to be a gritty supernatural thriller.
Unfortunately, the film still seems to be stuck in development hell, making us wonder if we’ll ever see another cinematic adaptation of the Hellblazer comics. We’ve previously seen Keanu Reeves and Matt Ryan portray the British magician, but he’s a terribly underused character — and it’s time he made his return to the big screen in the form of Colin Farrell.
8. EMMA ROBERTS AS HARLEY QUINN
Harley Quinn is one of the most popular characters in comic books, and given that she’s only been around since the ‘90s, that’s an impressive feat. But the live action adaptation of Harley was played by Margot Robbie, and she did an excellent job. However, the role could’ve gone to a younger actress in the form of Emma Roberts.
The American Horror Story actress was in the running to play Harley until she realized it meant she would have to pass on a role in Scream Queens, and she instead chose to decline the role in Suicide Squad to star in the horror series. As noted before, Margot Robbie filled the lovable anti-hero’s shoes — elevating the character to a whole new height of fame, even though she didn’t don the classic red and black costume.
7. OLGA KURYLENKO AS WONDER WOMAN
We’re still seeing the impact of Wonder Woman’s success (she just crossed $800 million!), and that’s largely down to Gal Gadot portraying the Amazonian warrior. Her performance will likely become as iconic as Lynda Carter’s was in the ‘70s. But another actress was up for the role alongside Gadot in James Bond alumni, Olga Kurylenko.
Interestingly, it’s never been reported why she lost out to Gadot, but she graciously told an interviewer that she was happy for the actress that won the role and even expressed excitement at seeing the film when it arrives in cinemas. Admittedly, now that she’s starred in two DCEU movies, it’s hard to picture anyone else in the red, blue and gold armor alongside Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck other than Gal Gadot.
6. ADAM DRIVER AS LEX LUTHOR
Kylo Ren was supposed to face off against Superman. There are some very interesting opinions on Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of the villain, with some praising the new interpretation and some completely hating his near gleeful performance of what should be a viciously intimidating character. But that could’ve changed if Adam Driver had stepped into the shoes.
He’s shown he can portray an intimidating villain in Star Wars, and although Lex Luthor is a completely different caliber of bad guy — his portrayal might not have been so polarizing with fans. And although there’s no hint that the green mech suit will make an appearance, Adam Driver would be a much better visual fit in the suit than Jesse Eisenberg would be. Maybe it was the script, maybe it was the performance — but Eisenberg’s Luthor didn’t grab audiences in the way he should have.
5. TOM HARDY AS RICK FLAG
Clearly it took them a while to find their Rick Flag and unfortunately Tom Hardy didn’t end up in the role, but that’s not because he didn’t have the acting skills for it, we all know he does. In fact, Hardy was very supportive of Suicide Squad, and highly praised the script and characters that it used. He specifically mentioned that fans would love how The Joker and Harley Quinn play into the film… (that’s a discussion for another post!).
But Hardy couldn’t take on the role because of a genuine scheduling reason. He had to go back to Calgary to continue filming The Revenant with Alejandro G. Inarritu and Leonardo DiCaprio. And whilst he was excited about getting started on Suicide Squad, he already had a commitment there, so had to follow through with it.
4. GAL GADOT AS FAORA
Yes, Gal Gadot eventually made it to the DCEU as Wonder Woman, but she was nearly completely passed over. When casting began for Zack Snyder’s Man of Steel, the Israeli actress was offered the role of General Zod’s second-in-command, Faora. She’s a formidable opponent, who’s strength and will proves more than a match for some of Earth’s forces.
But because Gal Gadot was pregnant, she had to pass on the opportunity. Luckily for all of us, she managed to come back to the DCEU as Diana Prince a few years later. We’re glad she didn’t accept the smaller part, as she really excels as the Amazonian hero. Her losing that role means she’ll continue on in the DC Universe through Justice League, the inevitable sequel to Justice League and a second Wonder Woman film set (with many more to come, hopefully).
3. JOSH BROLIN AS BATMAN
Before Ben Affleck whipped up a frenzy on the internet when he was confirmed as Batman, we very nearly had Josh Brolin step into the Bat-Cave. He was so close to the role in fact, that he and Zack Snyder had many conversations about the way that Batman should be played. Unfortunately, since they both had different ideas, it ultimately didn’t work out in the end.
Depending on who you ask, Ben Affleck’s Bruce Wayne has so far been quite successful but it does make us wonder what Josh Brolin had in mind when approaching the role. How did he envision the grizzled Caped Crusader to be? We’ll never know. We can’t be sad for long though, as Brolin will appear in both Avengers: Infinity War as Thanos, and in Deadpool 2 as Cable.
2. RYAN GOSLING AS THE JOKER
Yes, you read that right. Heartthrob Ryan Gosling was at a time set to make a villainous debut in the DC Extended Universe. It’s unclear whether his portrayal of The Joker would have been similar to how Jared Leto took on the role, but we have to assume that the gangster, street thug element we see in the final version of Suicide Squad would be in there somewhere — even if his acting was on a whole other level.
The actor has done plenty of romantic roles, but how would he deal with an abusive relationship? The chemistry between Gosling and Margot Robbie could have been something to draw many fans in, but unfortunately Ryan didn’t want to commit to a multiple-film contract so he didn’t take on the role, giving Jared Leto the space to method act his way to infamy.
1. CHRISTIAN BALE AS…ALFRED?
No, this isn’t some kind of parallel universe. Christian Bale very nearly continued working with DC Comics and Warner Brothers after his role as Batman during Christopher Nolan’s trilogy of films. But in the run up to Batman v Superman, Zack Snyder confirmed that he’d spoken to Bale about appearing in the film in some capacity. He never explained what role they’d discussed (although we have to wonder if he asked him to come back as Bruce) but he joked about Bale portraying Alfred.
It would’ve been a gigantic easter egg for fans, but it could also have been too on the nose. After all, it’s only been five years since The Dark Knight Rises (not that it stops Spider-Man in the MCU). If done properly, Bale’s appearance in the film could have been a fantastic way of passing the mantle over to Ben Affleck.
Which of these potential castings would you have loved to see happen? Let us know in the comments!
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