I spent many hours as a kid not just praying my favorite superheroes would get their own big budget action movies, but actually casting these can’t miss vehicles with the stars of the day. Forget the budgetary impact of having all the biggest stars of my youth in one movie, the only limitation was my imagination! It was quite a way to toil away the time; necessary as Words With Friends was still decades away.
These days, the game is less a hypothetical exercise and more of a “guess who it is before Feige tells you” because almost every character is getting the comic movie treatment. Honestly, Marvel is like two big hits away from dusting off William Goldman’s Forbush Man script.
So instead of pontificating about foregone conclusions, let’s break out our time machine and play what if. What if they had made some of the big superhero movies of today back in times gone by. Today’s installment?
What if the X-Men film had been made about 20 years earlier? Who is in it? Let’s play the game!
PROFESSOR X: Telly Savalas
What he was known for then: A long and prestigious film career and the TV show that would make him an icon; Kojak.
Why it works: Look at that head. How bald is Telly Savalas? Very, very bald. If you had a script in the 70s or 80s that required the character to be bald, Telly Savalas got the first look. Little known fact, the bald lady in Star Trek: The Motion Picture? Roddenberry offered it to Savalas first but he decline due to scheduling conflicts. He’s that bald.
WOLVERINE: Clint Eastwood
What he was known for then: Eastwood got his start on television in Rawhide and by early 80’s was already playing Dirty Harry.
Why it works: “Do you feel lucky? Well…do ya….bub?” As long as we keep Stallone away from this role (Sly really WAS rumored when they discussed this from time to time in the era) we are half way there. Eastwood would actually have been a really strong Wolverine. At times, it feels like Jackman is channeling his inner Eastwood. Clint’s hair in the 80’s even kinda looked like Logan’s ‘do.
CYCLOPS: Timothy Hutton
What he was known for then: Hutton was as hot as they come in the early 80s with Taps, Ordinary People, and Falcon and the Snowman.
Why it works: If you had an all-american male teen role in the early 80s, it would be criminal not to give it to Hutton. An Oscar winning actor (youngest male ever to win) and a clean cut superhero look, Hutton could capture Scott’s serious and isolated angst without playing Cyclops as a simpering punk like Marsden.
JEAN GREY: Rene Russo
What she was known for then: She was one of the most successful supermodels of the day. Interestingly, Russo didn’t make her acting debut until 1987, but it WAS in a supporting role in the short-lived ABC television series Sable based on the comic book, Jon Sable: Freelance, by Mike Grell.
Why it works: Knowing she’s a really talented actresses, we are gonna poach her early. We’ll probably even underpay her. As Lethal Weapon and the Thomas Crown Affair would later prove, Russo has the range to capture Jean’s spirit and power.
MAGNETO: Laurence Olivier
What he was known for then: Being the greatest actor ever to live in the history of ever and everything.
Why it works: Even though he was the man who changed film acting forever, as he would prove with his turn as Zeus in Clash of the Titans, he’d take the genre movie paycheck, thank you very much! Olivier wouldn’t need a Brotherhood along with him in the film because he could out act even this talented cast from his dressing room.
What she was known for then: Like Russo, she was an incredibly famous supermodel who had done some acting (and would do much more later in her career).
Why it works: Because even when the ACTUAL X-Men movie came out, they should have still cast Iman as Storm. That’s why! Unfortunatley she was considered too old by the 21st Century… But here, we correct this wrong! Iman’s a strong actress and, like Storm, she is actually from Africa; adding authenticity. With her amazing voice and accent, I’d have been much more forgiving of the Toad/Lightning joke. Sad that a fashion model would have been far better in the role than an Oscar winner.
KITTY PRIDE: Jennifer Beals
What she was known for then: My Bodyguard and Flashdance
Why it works: This is an 80’s X-Men movie. Kitty Pride was a very 80s character. Picture the 80s in your head. After you get past the images the 1980 US Hockey team, the Billie Jean video, and Max Headroom you envision Beals in leggings getting doused with water. Jennifer Beals was the 80s! She had to be in my 80s X-Men movie. It was either cast her as Kitty Pride or as Unus the Untouchable. We went with Sprite…
ICEMAN: Matthew Broderick
What he was known for then: Max Dugan Returns and War Games
Why it works: Iceman always struck me as comic relief for the X-Men. A little levity to go along with all that brooding. Pre-Ferris Broderick? Wind him up and let him go. Beside, I don’t need to prove that this works. Has Matthew Broderick ever been bad in anything he’s done?