Imagine Clint Eastwood in blue tights with a big red ‘S’ on his chest. During an interview with the Los Angeles Times‘ Hero Complex blog, the 80-year-old actor/director mentioned how he was considered for the iconic superhero role in the 1978 “Superman,” which ended up going to then-unknown Christopher Reeve. The site went ahead and Photoshopped a ’70s-era Eastwood onto the character’s body. But here’s his explanation for turning down what was allegedly offered to everyone and their brother at the time:
“I can remember – and this was many years ago – when [Warner Bros. President] Frank Wells came to me about doing Superman. So it could have happened. This was when they first started to think about making it. I was like, ‘Superman? Nah, nah, that’s not for me.’ Not that there’s anything wrong with it. It’s for somebody, but not me.
It’s particularly fun to ponder the casting ‘what if?’ in the context of having seen Eastwood go up against Gene Hackman (Lex Luthor in that particular “Superman” series) in “Unforgiven.” They also appeared together in “Absolute Power,” also directed by Eastwood. Alas, he went with the orangutan movie instead. But how about thinking of Eastwood as 007? He additionally claims to Hero Complex to have been offered the role of James Bond when Sean Connery left the franchise. But I always question the legitimacy or extent of plausibility whenever an American actor is mentioned for the character. Here’s the quote regarding that passed-over opportunity:
I was also offered pretty good money to do James Bond if I would take on the role. This was after Sean Connery left. My lawyer represented the Broccolis,” who produce the Bond franchise, “and he came and said, ‘They would love to have you.’ But to me, well, that was somebody else’s gig. That’s Sean’s deal. It didn’t feel right for me to be doing it.”
It’s a little easier to picture him in the tuxedo than the tights, but Eastwood, who’s not a stranger to franchises (“Man With No Name,” “Dirty Harry,” “Every Which Way But Loose”) was really unsuited for either role. So I’ve thought up five other film series he would have been better for. Some of them he was actually thought of in serious discussions while others are just wishful hypotheticals.
1. “Batman” – According to his IMDb trivia, Eastwood was to play Harvey Dent/Two-Face in the 1960s “Batman” TV show, but the series was canceled before the casting could commence. Now it’d be a bit of a dream to see the actor as a villain in a comic book movie, especially if done more in the vein of Christopher Nolan’s run of the franchise. But even better would have been Eastwood as Batman himself. Apparently he was wanted for the role of a middle-aged incarnation of the Caped Crusader in an adaptation of Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns.”
2. “X-Men” – When I first got on the Internet back in the mid-90s, the majority of my time online was spent reading newsgroup debates on who to cast for a then-only-dreamed-of “X-Men” movie. One of the names that always popped up for the part of Wolverine, I believe in addition to Jack Nicholson, is Clint Eastwood. However, at 6’2″ he’s way, way too tall for the character, and this was indeed one of the constant arguments for fans in that Usenet forum.
3. “Indiana Jones” – It’s difficult to imagine anyone else but Harrison Ford starring in “Raiders of the Lost Ark” and its sequels. Every once in awhile we’re reminded that Tom Selleck was a strong contender until “Magnum P.I.” took priority. I can pretty easily see Eastwood as the adventuring archaeologist. Indy is kind of like a cowboy, and with so few western franchises out there, this might have been the most appropriate for one of the genre’s biggest legends. It would have been odd by the time “Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade” came around, though, at least if they still cast Sean Connery, who is the same age as Eastwood, as the character’s father.
4. “Toy Story” – There’s not a specific character in Pixar’s original franchise that I’m thinking of for Eastwood, yet if he would ever have voiced an animated character, these would be the films to do so in. Maybe as Woody’s father? If I have to go with a part that exists already, how about Stinky Pete, the Prospector? I don’t know why they’d go with Kelsey Grammar over a western icon. Maybe if they do “Toy Story 4”? Or would Eastwood be better doing the Paul Newman thing for some kind of vehicle in the “Cars” franchise?
5. “Meet the Parents” – Not that I wish any kind of career-ruining role such as Jack Byrnes on any acting legend, but I think Eastwood might have been more serious, less cartoonish as the conservative father played by Robert De Niro. I’m thinking his cranky, racist role in “Gran Torino” — as is — dropped into the comedy. More a retired soldier or sheriff than ex-CIA. Or, what if he took it easy and went against-type as Ben Stiller’s homemaker father, Bernie (Dustin Hoffman’s role in the two sequels). Eastwood married to Barbara Streisand seems almost perfect, too, right?