The Best CBM to Never Happen II: X-MEN '85 Fan Casting
Imagine if filmmakers and actors took CBMs as seriously 3 decades ago as they do today. Find out what an X-Men movie might look like in 1985 after the jump.
With X-Men: Days of Future Past mere days away, anticipation has been at an all time high for FOX's latest cinematic installment about everybody's favorite superpowered mutants. With the future seemingly so bright for CBM fans, I figure now would be a great time to contemplate a brighter past.
If you read my The Best CBM to Never Happen: Justice League '82 Fan Casting, you'd know that in an alternate reality, long, long ago, that a group of Hollywood's then brightest stars and up-and-coming actors were assembled to make a classic comic book movie following Superman 2. Now, with the world reeling from the success of Justice League in 1982, Marvel is influenced to throw their big budget, cinematic hat into the ring.
The year is 1985, or International Youth Year as it would be designated by the United Nations. This is a year riddled with controversy and many epic firsts.
In 1985, the Internet's Domain Name System is created, British Telecom announces the phasing out of its famous red telephone boxes, and, the hit single for charity "We Are the World" is recorded. William J. Schroeder becomes the first artificial heart patient to leave the hospital. Minolta releases the world's first autofocus single-lens reflex camera, and, five lionesses at the Singapore Zoo are put on birth control after the lion population increases. Amadeus wins Best Picture at the 57th Academy Awards held in Hollywood, California while WrestleMania debuts at Madison Square Garden. South Africa finally ends its ban on interracial marriages. U.S. President Ronald Reagan joins German Chancellor Helmut Kohl for a controversial funeral service at a cemetery in Bitburg, Germany, which includes the graves of 59 elite S.S. troops from World War II. Back to the Future opens in American theatres and ends up being the highest grossing domestic film of the year. At 13, Ruth Lawrence becomes the youngest British person to ever earn a first-class degree and the youngest known graduate of Oxford University. In Hiroshima, tens of thousands mark the 40th anniversary of the atomic bombing of the city. Super Mario Bros. is released for the Nintendo Entertainment System which would later be released for the first time in the US. In New York City, John Gotti becomes the leader of the powerful Gambino organized crime family after having organized the hits on Mafia bosses Paul Castellano and Thomas Bilotti. Carey Mulligan, Kiera Knightley, Bar Refaeli, and, T-Pain were among the celebrities born during this year. While the World bids farewell to the likes of Orson Welles and Dian Fossey. Those were just a handful of the shots heard 'round the world at the time.
And somewhere in the midst of all of this, X-Men is brought to the silver screen for the first time. With threats of nuclear war ever present and racial tensions intermittently flaring, the stage was set for something new.
I always thought that X-Men: The Animated Series had a great storyline with the 'Morph' centric "Till Death Do Us Part". If you're not familiar with the show, you should check it out. It also influenced the roster I chose.
Basically, shape shifting team member, 'Morph' returns from the dead with the help of 'Mr. Sinister' to wreak havoc on his former team. He feels like he was left behind to die in their last mission, and, he proceeds to systematically isolate and put the X-Men out of commission. What he does not know is he is just Sinister's pawn in a larger plan to adbuct 'Cyclops' and 'Jean' for his experiments.
It's just an all-around great arc that touches on themes of trust, sacrifice, and redemption along with the social commentary about civil rights and fear of change that is a staple of the series.
Director: John Badham (Saturday Night Fever, Blue Thunder, WarGames, Short Circuit)
Producer: George Lucas ( American Graffiti, Star Wars, The Empire Strikes Back, Raiders of the Lost Ark)
Professor X/Charles Xavier - Christopher Plummer
Height: 5'10" (1.79 m)
This highly decorated Canadian actor started his illustrious career back in the late 1950's. By now, he is a veteran actor with decades of acting experience under his belt, and, no one would (should) dare question if he has the acting chops to play the founding patriarch of the X-Men. He also exudes the coolest, compassionate demeanor, which is a requirement for the iconic 'Charles Xavier'.
Did you know? Plummer is a second cousin of actor Nigel Bruce, the British actor best known as 'Doctor Watson' to Basil Rathbone's 'Sherlock Holmes'.
Cyclops/Scott Summers - Mark Harmon
Height: 6'0" (1.83 m)
Who better to play the headstrong leader of the team and Xavier's right hand man than a young 'Leroy Jethro Gibbs'? If you've ever watched NCIS, then you know who I'm referring too. He personifies a sense of justice, strength, and 99.9% of the time, he's right. Even though he wouldn't earn this role until many years later, the athlete-turned-actor was no stranger to the responsibility of being a leader as a starting UCLA quarterback. In his very first game, he engineered a stunning upset against the 2-time defending champion Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Did you know? In 1996, Harmon saved two teenage boys involved in a car accident outside his home. A sledgehammer from his garage was used to break the window of their burning car, and, he dragged them free of the flames.
Jean Grey - Rebecca De Mornay
Height: 5'06" (1.66 m)
After a bit part in a Francis Ford Coppola film, De Mornay had earned notoriety as the titillating seductress to a young Tom Cruise in the 1983 coming-of-age classic, Risky Business. I mean, after that subway scene, I'd have no problems understanding why Wolvie and Cyclops would be competing for a woman like this. Besides having the whole stunning, girl-next-door look going for her, she has a quiet confidence that commands attention.
Just think... This is the same woman who eventually played the pyschotic 'Peyton Flanders' in The Hand That Rocks the Cradle. If The Dark Phoenix Sage was the focus of a sequel, she would grow into the role well.
Wolverine/James "Logan" Howlett - Mel Gibson
Height: 5'10" (1.77 m)
Not surprised? Sorry... I actually thought I was being original when I started thinking about this fan cast a few months back. Anyways, I realize he has squandered away his popularity in recent years, BUT, at the time, I couldn't envision another actor potentially owning this role like Mel. Mad Max and Lethal Weapon are the most compelling reasons why he is so right for the role. He would bring some much needed appeal to the film as he was also voted People Magazine's sexiest man alive during this year. This would also add to the hype of the onscreen rivalry between 'Wolverine' and 'Cyclops', as Mark Harmon would take the title of People Magazine's sexiest man alive the following year. And just maybe, in this reality, the social commentary of the X-Men makes Mel change his world views for the better.
Did you know? Gibson was recommended for the role of 'James Bond' by Sean Connery but turned down the opportunity for fear of being typecast.
Storm/Oruro Munroe - Phylicia Rashad
Height: 5'06" (1.68 m)
Very few actresses come to mind that can embody the character of 'Storm'. She's a beautiful, self-empowered, majestic character who is also traveled and resourceful. She often exhibits qualities of leadership that have allowed her to lead the X-Men on many, many occasions. In my opinion, Phylicia Rashad is THE perfect actress for the job at this point in time. As far as acting ability goes, she has been in many a Broadway production and eventually earned a Tony Award for Best Performance by a Leading Actress in a play. But, she is most known for her role of 'Claire Huxtable' on The Cosby Show, which sets a solid character foundation for her in the Ororo Munroe role.
Did you know? As a youth, Rashad's family moved to Mexico and she speaks Spanish fluently.
Beast/Henry "Hank" McCoy - Ron Perlman
Height: 6'01" (1.85 m)
I have no doubts that Perlman has the chops to pull off the intellectual philosopher of the X-Men. He is classically trained in theatre arts and has starred in numerous plays, television, and, film productions. But, after seeing him in full makeup for his Golden Globe winning role of 'Vincent' on The Beauty and the Beast TV series, I was sold. Additonally he has the build and the look of Hank McCoy before his hair raising transformation.
Honorable Mention: James Earl Jones. Yes, you can call the Forced Diversity Police because I went there.
Jubilee/Jubilation Lee - Phoebe Cates
Height: 5'07" (1.70 m)
As if I really need to explain this one. But, the former model and actress was America's sweetheart for a period in the 80's, and, that's despite doing full nudity scenes at the tender age of 17 in the film Paradise. She went on to star in popular films like Fast Times at Ridgemont High, Gremlins, Gremlins 2, and, Drop Dead Fred. Her youthful appearance and Asian American heritage would be perfect to bring Jubilee to life on the big screen.
Guess what happens next...
Phoebe Cates in Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982)
Rogue/Anna Marie - Kelly LeBrock
Height: 5'08" (1.73 m)
Kelly LeBrock was one of the sexiest actresses in Hollywood during the 1980's particularly after the release of the Weird Science and The Woman in Red. She definitely has the assets, hair, and raw, sexual appeal to play one of Marvel universe's most untouchable females. I think this former supermodel would have been great addition to this cast as the sultry, southern belle & powerhouse of the team.
Did you know? LeBrock was the first Pantene spokesperson to use the pop-culture catchphrase "Don't hate me because I'm beautiful."
Gambit/Remy Etienne LeBeau - Lorenzo Lamas
Height: 6'02" (1.88 m)
Lamas' career has had many ups an downs, but, I think he has a passion for acting that could elevate his skill and the overall production. On the up side, he was even nominated for a Golden Globe Award, so, the potential is there. Besides, it's the Renegade. Between 'Reno Raines' and his various soap opera roles, he could be the bad boy, smooth operator type that this role needs. Additionally, he would be able to implement his martial arts background for the necessary fight choreography. This could have been the breakout role, that could have solidified Lamas as a A-class performer.
Did you know? Lamas initially began praticing Karate and Taekwondo at the age of 13 to manage his weight problem.
Morph/Kevin Sydney - Bronson Pinchot
Height: 5'09" (1.75 m)
You may not recognize this actor, but, I promise you he would be spot on for this role. Very much like, Morph, Pinchot is a very animated actor and capable of portraying the annoying but likeable character. This would also require an actor he can play a believably conflicted character -- almost a split personality -- as he would be playing a villain for part of the film. Pinchot, to me, was always an exceptional supporting actor that never got a breakout film role.
Do you remember? Pinchot portrayed comic book villain 'The Prankster' on Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman.
Mr. Sinister/Nathaniel Essex - Stephen McHattie
Height: 6'0" (1.82 m)
Stephen McHattie has the kind of stare that can freeze a steaming hot pot of coffee. I think he would be a perfect fit as the master manipulator and mad genius fixated solely on his own survival. Ironically enough, out of all of the villainous roles he's stamped, it is his role of the manipulative psychiatrist, 'Dr. Reston' from the popular sitcom Seinfeld, that seems the most evil. Outside of the obvious cold delivery of his lines, it's the way that he abuses the trust of his patient with a self-serving purpose and absolutely no regard that screams Mr. Sinister.
Did you know? McHattie voiced the villain 'The Shade' in Justice League, and portrayed 'Hollis Mason', the first 'Nite Owl', in the film adaptation of Watchmen.
Post Credit Scene
Let's leave them wanting more by setting up the franchise with a sequel teaser. Fan favorite nemeses of the X-Men, the Brotherhood of Mutants led by none other than the master of magnetism, begin recruiting members for the ultimate fight against humanity. Magneto and Juggernaut break into a maximum security prison to free and enlist the sadistic Sabretooth.
Magneto/Erik Lensherr - Paul Newman
Height: 5'10" (1.77 m)
Sabretooth/Victor Creed - Sidney "Sid" Eudy
Height: 6'07" (1.99 m)
Juggernaut/Cain Marko - Merlin Olsen
Height: 6'05" (1.96 m)
Like it, love it, or hate it? Let me know how you feel in the usual place. Don't forget to give me that thumbs up if you found the article worthwhile. As always, thanks for reading.
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