The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been so popular with the audience that people tend to forget that it’s not the only series based on Marvel characters that is running. In fact, 2008’s Iron Man was far from the first successful franchise that came from Marvel. The Avengers also wasn’t the first film to perfect the superhero team-up; it just greatly popularized it. The honor of being the first superhero squad film lies with X-Men in 2000.
That film introduced a host of superheroes at the same time, and while it was the first of its kind, it pulled it off so well that almost twenty years later, the series is still going on. In the coming years, this series will be integrated into the MCU, but for now, these are two different universes. In the time the X-Men series has been around, a vast number of actors have portrayed the characters. Most of the time, it has been the same character played by different people due to their being many flashbacks and films set in the past. At the moment, the series is going through another shift as the previous cast has been replaced with younger counterparts due to the new timeline introduced in X-Men: Days of Future Past.
So, we’re here to present those actors that didn’t become part of the series and might have been better than the ones we got. We’re not saying these people would definitively be better, but they would most definitely be preferable to some people over the X-Men we saw onscreen.
19 Daniel Radcliffe As Wolverine
The idea of making Daniel Radcliffe the next Wolverine has been making the rounds recently. After all, Wolverine is traditionally supposed to be very short in stature and Daniel Radcliffe fits the bill here.
Daniel has become rugged in appearance as of late and you could imagine him filling the role especially when you feast your eyes on this edit. Having Daniel as Wolverine would be a superb contrast to Hugh Jackman who had a dominating presence. Many fans will prefer this version of Wolverine over the one we got because Daniel is more appealing to the younger fanbase, especially among the female fans, and will be something out of the box.
18 Liam Neeson As Cable
The role of Cable required someone who was significantly older to take it. Josh Brolin did a commendable job at it, but he already is Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as well. Giving the role to another well-known actor wouldn’t have hurt it either.
Liam has excellent comedy chops and is even more tough-as-nails than Josh Brolin, so he would have been perfect for the casting. We’ve seen him do action like it was second nature in films like Taken and Run All Night, meaning Liam would’ve been terrific in the role. Just looking at this picture by Boss Logic make us feel it’s a shame this opportunity was missed.
17 Lupita Nyong’o As Storm
For someone who won the Academy Award in her first go, Lupita Nyong’o hasn’t done much else since. Although she’s still been in movies – the blockbuster Star Wars sequel trilogy including – she hasn’t been on as much as we would’ve liked.
Since Storm is supposed to be younger now, Lupita could fill the role in the future. Compared to Halle Berry, you could argue Lupita should’ve replaced her in X-Men: Days of Future Past. Being in her thirties means Lupita is the right age. Even though Rob of War’s illustration isn’t that refined, you can tell Lupita wouldn’t have needed any convincing to fit as Storm.
16 Maisie Williams As Mystique
The Mystique in the original X-Men trilogy was very different in personality to the one Jennifer Lawrence now plays. The old one was simply a baddie who took no prisoners and held no doubt. The Jennifer Lawrence one meanwhile had a tortured psyche and is now a good guy.
Maisie Williams would’ve been a better choice than Jennifer Lawrence as we have seen her play more adequately a tortured individual in Game of Thrones. If someone’s watched her in Doctor Who, they’ll know Maisie can also play the coy and conniving role as well. In Boss Logic’s illustration, you can sense a level of humanity behind those mutant features.
15 Millie Bobbie Brown As Jean Grey
The new X-Men film about to come out is called Dark Phoenix and will focus mainly on Jean Grey becoming the Phoenix force. X-Men: The Last Stand’s Phoenix force left everyone feeling the story wasn’t handled well and now the series is looking to rectify that wrong.
But we feel rather than the Young-adult Jean Grey in X-Men: Dark Phoenix, the film should’ve gone with a much younger Jean. Millie Bobbie Brown is one of the coolest acts in show business and she would be the right age for Jean to be. This way, we could see her torn between her powers and emotions while not being bogged down by teenage angst.
14 Alexandra Daddario As Rogue
We all thought of Anna Paquin as an innocent little girl until she became way too adult-oriented in True Blood; the same way, we thought of Alexandra Daddario as the little girl from Percy Jackson until she pulled off the same move as Anna in True Detective.
This shows Alexandra can play both the shy girl and a total force when needed. Since Rogue is traditionally shown as a young woman, Alexandra can take over and continue the role. Had she been the original choice, even then Alexandra has a shot at being the better version as her appearance more closely resembles a shy girl with a secret.
Illustration by SPYRAL_super_hero
13 Jon Hamm As Cable
Although Liam Neeson would’ve been awesome as Cable like we previously mentioned, he is rather too old for the role considering he’s about to be 70-years-old soon. However, here’s where Jon Hamm comes in.
Jon isn’t even 50 at the moment, so he could’ve had a long tenure as Cable especially seeing as these movies are released a number of years apart. It’s also too bad we haven’t seen Jon take on many roles in action or in superhero movies, so seeing him play Cable would’ve been a pleasure. Jon is proven in the comedic field even more than Josh Brolin and his physique goes without saying.
Illustration by Dave Rapoza
12 Gatan Matarazzo As Beast
Gatan Matarazzo has a very cute face and he’s been perceived as such due to this. This would also be the reason why he would make an awesome Beast as his Hank McCoy would be underestimated until he let the Beast out.
The weird love angle between Mystique and Beast fell flat in later films in the X-Men films series so it would be better if a young person like Gatan stepped in and the love angle went away. Gatan’s age would also mean his Beast would only just be facing problems with his appearance and it would be more compelling than what the current Beast has going on.
11 David Harbour As Sabertooth
David Harbour has been unveiled as the latest Hellboy, so it won’t be anytime we’ll be seeing him in the X-Men series; however, he does have the makings of a burly man. This makes him the perfect stature for playing Sabretooth.
Sabretooth has been criminally underutilized in the X-Men series with his only appearances in X-Men and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the latter one was where he was younger and looked nothing like the former version of Sabretooth. All of these wrongs can be set right by having this version of Sabretooth come onscreen. Considering the past ones we got, it would’ve been better had David Harbour been playing Sabretooth from the start.
10 Sadie Aink As Emma frost
Like many other mutants, Emma Frost’s utilization has been all over the place. We first got an inaccurate version in X-Men Origins: Wolverine where she was nothing like the actual Emma Frost, only to get an Emma Frost in X-Men: First Class who was promptly ended by the next part.
It would’ve been better to have had this Sadie Frost version who would’ve started out young and confused, and then become the character who Emma Frost is. It would’ve been splendid to see how Professor X would’ve tackled battling a young Emma Frost, and we could’ve seen Emma Frost discovering just how powerful she really can be.
9 Jamie Chung As Jubilee
X-Men: Apocalypse didn’t really work out because none of the characters were given their time to shine; instead, they were all around just to make up the numbers. Jubilee was a casualty of this and most of her scenes were cut from the final film.
From what we saw of her, she wasn’t very interesting anyway and her being a teenager like the rest only makes her stand out even less. This is why Jamie Chung as Jubilee would be more interesting. She could instead take on the role of a teacher and guide the new class of mutants. This would’ve given her more of characterization, and besides, she looks better in the part.
Illustration by Philip Boutte Jr.
8 Charlize Theron As mystique
While Rebecca Romjin was a better Mystique than Jennifer Lawrence, you have to believe Charlize Theron would’ve given a better performance has she been the original Mystique.
Facially, it goes without saying she would’ve pulled the look off, but performance wise as well Charlize would’ve been superior considering she is more talented in this regard. Her chemistry with Hugh Jackman would’ve been off the charts and we’ve seen her be tough in films like Aeon Flux, so Mystique would’ve been right up her alley.
7 Brad Pitt As Cable
Brad Pitt did find himself in Deadpool 2 in the end, but this role was ended within two seconds of his appearance so it was a waste of his talents. As we mentioned before with Josh Brolin, he already has Thanos so it would’ve been better to leave the door open for Brad Pitt to take the role.
Brad’s awesome at being funny as we’ve seen him be both action-oriented and comedic in films like Mr & Mrs. Smith and War Machine. The exclamation mark for this claim is this awesome artwork which shows how Brad would’ve looked like as Cable.
6 Harvey Keitel As Wolverine
In the opposite of the case made for Daniel Radcliffe, a seasoned version of Wolverine would also have been compelling to a great degree. In 2000, Hugh Jackman was not well-known while Harvey Keitel very much was; this would’ve made him instantly recognizable as Wolverine.
Not only that, but Harvey is an exceptional performer both in drama and action, and his Wolverine would not have known any doubt due to being so advanced in age. We could’ve gotten the Logan storyline earlier on while giving this Wolverine more characterization rather than leaning toward Jean all the time. This illustration even makes Harvey look older but tough.
5 Chris Pine As Cyclops
Honestly, all you need to do is shove glasses onto Chris Pine’s face and he immediately becomes Scott Summers. Chris is just as fetching to look at as James Marsden and back in 2000, Chris was only 20-years-old, which would’ve made his Cyclops a lot younger, but this would’ve given us room to know him more.
Chris can play the bad boy as well, and this would’ve been a better version than James Marsden’s one whose only trait seemed to be suspecting something was going on between Jean and Wolverine. It would’ve been better to see a bad boy and tough version of Cyclops and Chris would’ve done just that.
4 Daniel Craig As Magneto
This would be cool simply because it is such a radical departure from our expectations of Magneto. Michael Fassbender and Ian McKellen’s Magneto seem to be pretty much the same in characterization, which is why the Daniel Craig version would be great.
Had Michael Fassbender not been cast, the Daniel Craig version would’ve run with it. He wouldn’t have had that boyish rage that Fassbender’s one has; instead, this version would’ve been dead set on his mission of vengeance.
3 Summer Glau As X-23
It’s a wonder why Summer Glau hasn’t been in superhero movies despite her perception being that of a Sci-Fi icon. Her role in Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles was very well-received and fans were hoping for more.
Now, her days of playing a young mutant are gone, but Summer could still have been the X-23 we saw in Logan. Logan himself was 197-years-old when the film began, so having a daughter in her thirties wasn’t something that would be far-fetched. Moreover, it would’ve been cool to see Wolverine come across an already grown up daughter who could compete with him.
2 Scarlett Johansson As Emma Frost
Scarlett Johansson just has the kind of face that will look wonderful for a superhero. She’s already played Black Widow for about a decade and will helm her own movie soon. We made the case for Sadie Sink as Emma Frost, but that was for a young Frost – Scarlett would’ve been great for the Emma Frost we saw in X-Men: First Class.
Scarlett is a more refined actress than January Jones and she knows best how to appear intimidating. The Emma Frost in First Class was stoic all the time and Scarlett can get this job done without problems. Abask’s artwork more closely resembles the X-Men Origins: Wolverine version, but it’s not bad a thing.
1 Stephen Lang As Magneto
We’ve only seen the extremely old Magneto and the young Magneto – Stephen Lang’s Magneto could be one to fill in the gaps. Since we’re talking about whether Stephen Lang’s version would be better than the ones we got, then this version would have been more preferable to the Magneto we saw in X-Men: Apocalypse and the one we’ll see in X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
This is because Fassbender is nowhere near as old as the timeline of those films and Stephen Lang is appropriate for that age. Stuart Cooper's Magneto looks like he also cares about his appearance while maintaining his dominating presence.