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8 Superhero Movies That Almost Starred Black Actors

Marlon Wayans as Robin

Learn about ten surprising black actors that almost became awesome superheroes. The Guardians of the Galaxy movie has made over half a billion dollars. Superhero movies are big business, but strangely, there are very few that star a minority character in the lead role. In fact, the last one was Blade: Trinity starring Wesley Snipes ten years ago. Over the years many have tried and failed to make a major motion picture starring a black superhero. So, while we're waiting for a Black Panther movie,  here are the 10 that came the closest to making it a reality.

#1. Marlon Wayans as Robin

Back when Tim Burton was making Batman Returns he wanted to have a young, black teenager repair the Batmobile after it was destroyed by Penguin. He would have named "Robin" but not Dick Grayson. Back in 1995, Batman Returns screenwriter Daniel Waters said, "One of our big bonding issues is me and Tim Burton hate Robin. He's just the most worthless character in the world, especially with Tim's conception of Batman as the loner of loners, to have this gushing boy run around, it made us both kind of sick to our stomachs! Mark Canton [Warner Brothers' production chief at the time] was a Robin fanatic and at the first film would sit there mumbling in dailies, 'Where's Robin?'. So we had this black character that works in a garage and helps Batman out of a jam. He's wearing one of those old-fashioned garage mechanic uniforms and it just has an R on it. We really didn't even make reference to it. In fact he helps him out and they have this camaraderie." 

But they felt there were too many characters, so the Black Robin was cut from that film. When they planned out the third film Marlon Wayans signed up to play Robin. But, when the director changed from Tim Burton to Joel Schumacher, they recast his part. The funny thing is, even though he never appeared in the film he still gets residual checks. His contract stipulated royalties whether he played or not. Now that's a great lawyer.

#2 - Jamie Foxx as Luke Cage

Marvel is making a Netflix series about Luke Cage AKA Power Man. Back when Columbia Pictures had the rights to the character, John Singleton was going to direct a Luke Cage movie. John Daniel Singleton is an American film director, screenwriter, and producer best known for directing Boyz n the Hood in 1991, but he also directed the very successful action film 2 Fast 2 Furious. It was a project he felt strongly about saying in 2007, "There’s scripts on [Luke Cage]. Hollywood has a very limiting view on what makes a pop culture picture. If you put a black face on it, they think it’s black thing; but yet we have all these movies that have come up and whenever they any black people in it, they make all this money. That’s the thing that’s holding 'Luke Cage' up. They think it’s a small superhero movie. It’s not going to be a small stupid movie like ‘Meteor Man’. I’m trying to make 'Luke Cage'.He had a list of several actors he wanted for the role including Jamie Foxx.

Jamie Foxx told IGN, "I was actually approached to play Luke Cage back in the day. But it just didn’t work out."

#3 - Tyrese Gibson as Luke Cage

Another name up for the lead role in Singleton’s Luke Cage film was Tyrese Gibson. Gibson told IGN, "Right now they're doing a rewrite on the film. John Singleton's got me at the top of his list. I'm not full-on committed to the project but it's something I'm extremely interested in. Met up with Neal Moritz a few times about it. Met up with Avi Arad a few times about it, and you know, we'll see what happens.

"It's not my movie, for the record. But it's something they're really interested in me being a part of. I'm interested in being a part of it and I think we'll be able to determine—if John Singleton, if me, or whoever else is gonna be on the project—we're waiting on the product. We can't do a movie without a good bible. What are we gonna read?"
So, apparently, they never got a good bible since the project died.

#4 - Will Smith as Superman

Back when they were casting Bryan Singer's Superman Returns the studio approached Will Smith to play the "Man of Steel". Smith turned it down. He later explained why saying, "The last 'Superman' I got offered the script came, and I was like, 'There is no way I'm playing Superman!' Because I had already done Jim West [of 'Wild Wild West'], and you can't be messing up white people's heroes in Hollywood!" He added, “You mess up white people's heroes in Hollywood, you'll never work in this town again!" But he still got to play a superhero. Smith went on to play the superhero Hancock in the film of the same name.

#5 - Terrence Howard as War Machine


Terrence Howard played James "Rhodey" Rhodes in Iron Man and it was assumed he'd get to play War Machine on the sequels. War Machine is the name of the superhero "Rhodey" becomes after getting his own suit of armor from Tony Stark. Unfortunately negotiations broke down between him and the studio and they hired Don Cheadle to take his place in Iron Man II and Iron Man III. He later said, “It turns out that the person I helped become Iron Man … when it was time to re-up for the second one, [Robert Downey Jr.] took the money that was supposed to go to me and pushed me out."  They had signed a three picture deal and negotiated his salary for the sequels at $8 million,  but reportedly they told him to accept $1 million or they'd replace him. He said no and Cheadle took over. Robert Downey Jr. meanwhile went on to negotiate bigger and bigger contracts topping out at $50 million for the Avengers.

"Next time baby"

#6 - Wesley Snipes as Black Panther

In 1992, Wesley Snipes was planning to make, and star, in a movie based on the comic book character Black Panther. Black Panther is the name of a fictional African leader who's given superpowers and fights for his country. He's also one of the first Black superheroes. Snipes was passionate about the project saying, "We have a wide-open field for comic book characters on the big screen and we've yet to have a major black comic book hero on the screen. Especially the Black Panther, which is such a rich, interesting life. It's a dream come true to originate something that nobody's ever seen before."  The project was in "development hell" although the studio was actively working on it till 2002.

By then, Snipes was working on his third movie in the successful vampire series Blade. The studio felt he was so recognizable in the Blade character that audiences wouldn't accept him as another Marvel superhero. Blade 3 director David S. Goyer said, "He's already so entrenched as Blade that another Marvel hero might be overkill," Of course, Snipes 3-year prison sentence for tax evasion probably didn't help.

#7 - Michael Jackson as Spider-Man...or Iron Man

Back in the 90s, Michael Jackson had big plans to buy Universal Pictures and take ownership of the Marvel franchise. He wanted to turn the franchise into a money-making machine with movies, theme parks, restaurants and toys. Jackson also had a hidden agenda: he wanted to play a Marvel superhero. Who exactly? There are conflicting stories. A unnamed source “close to the Jackson family" said, “He saw himself as leading men in these films, and especially felt Iron Man was a possibility as he felt he was similar to Tony Stark -  an enigma, mastermind and at the same time childlike. We never knew how fans would react to it as Stark was a always a white character, but Michael always loved to break boundaries."

But Stan Lee said that Jackson wanted to buy Marvel because “he felt that would be the only way that he could play Spider-Man." But Stan Lee felt the whole enterprise might not have been as successful. Lee laughed, “Michael was not a great businessman." The child sex abuse scandals killed the deal and prevented Jackson from ever living his dream of becoming a movie superhero.

#8 - Laurence Fishburne as Luke Cage

Quentin Tarantino is a big fan of Blackploitation films and, considering the character of Luke Cage was born out of that era, it's no surprise he wanted to make a movie out of the comic character in 1992. He told MTV, "After ' Reservoir Dogs,' I had considered doing a 'Luke Cage, Hero for Hire' movie. [Producer] Ed Pressman owned the rights at that time, and we talked about it. I talked to [Laurence Fishburne] about being Luke Cage, and he really liked that idea. Then I ended up writing 'Pulp Fiction.'"

What do you think of the possible superheroes? Which one would you have liked to see? Which one are you glad we didn't see? Which Black actor would you cast as a superhero?

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  1. I think Smith was better off doing "Hancock". I liked that film. I guess Hollywood REALLY wants/wanted to make a Luke Cage film, lol.

  2. Will Smith's comment is hilarious.
    I can see Fishburne and Snipes in those roles.
    Jackson... not so much.

  3. Hey, isn't Jules basically Luke Cage anyway?

  4. fishburne can do anything... doesn't he being in the MATRIX count?


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