He is a master of playing earnest as perfectly as he can portray characters with a charming wit, but Timothy Olyphant is even funnier in real life. You can cite any guest appearance on his good friend Conan O’Brien’s talk show as proof, like in 2015 when he said he was “still waiting” for results on his Iron Man audition (which is only allegedly real) or his deleted Avengers: Infinity War cameo as Captain Japan (which is undoubtedly false). Jokes aside, it is a little surprising that Timothy Olyphant has not shown up in any Marvel movies yet.
Ironically, if the western genre was still as dominant today as it was decades ago, the 52-year-old, Hawaiian-born actor would be as big as any of the major players in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He has been a go-to guy to for southern lawmen since he played the lead of Deadwood, followed by the lead in Justified, a cameo as a Wild West TV series lead in Once Upon a Time… in Hollywood, and, most recently, a guest spot as a Tattooine marshal in the Season 2 premiere of The Mandalorian.
Now that costumed vigilantes have replaced the gunslinger as the most popular hero in modern day fiction and his buddy Walton Goggins has already nabbed a taste of the pie, I think many would agree that Timothy Olyphant deserves a chance at the glory of starring in a comic book movie (or even TV show) as part of the MCU continuity. Six characters ripped from the pages of Marvel Comics come to mind, starting with a relatively lesser-known hero who is already right up the actor’s alley.
Carter Slade was a 19th-Century Ohio schoolteacher until violent cattlemen shot him down, forcing him to seek the aid of a Native American medicine man who revived him into a champion of justice on horseback known as the Phantom Rider. This is not to be confused with Ghost Rider, even though that was Slade’s original title and the pair have starred in Marvel Comics crossovers before. In fact, if the MCU ever brings back the demon-hunting motorcyclist again, that might be a fun way to introduce the character through some cool time travel scenario, and who better than Timothy Olyphant, the present day king of westerns, to play him.
Of the many reasons to be pissed at Netflix for cancelling Santa Clarita Diet, one is (SPOILER ALERT) being robbed of seeing Timothy Olyphant’s Joel Hammond as one of the undead after his wife, Sheila (Drew Barrymore) bites him in the Season 3 finale. Well, one way that we could potentially see Olyphant get his zombie on is by casting him as the aptly named Zombie, who was originally a scumbag businessman killed by his gardener and resurrected with voodoo as a mindless, but oddly heroic, creature of the undead. It may seem a little odd for a rotting reanimated corpse to join the MCU, but the greenlight of Blade and Sam Raimi helming Doctor Strange 2 shows signs the franchise is ready to embrace horror and this, if not an official Marvel Zombies adaptation, seems like a great next addition.
Speaking of Blade, one of the greatest arch enemies of the vampire hunter (who is actually half-bloodsucker himself) is Deacon Frost, previously portrayed by Stephen Dorff in the original Wesley Snipes-led adaptation from 1998. Of course, that depiction of the immortality-seeking scientist turned creature of the night, was a diversion from the middle-aged, white-haired man we know him from the comics and if that is the version Mahershala Ali is destined to fight in his Blade reboot, why not the middle-aged, gray-haired Timothy Olyphant? It has been a while since he played a villain and, as Scream 2 and Live Free or Die Hard can prove, he ain’t bad at it.
In fact, while we are at it, there are plenty of other currently uncast, white-haired Marvel villains we could throw out whom Timothy Olyphant is a winning choice for. For instance, there is Robert Hunter - a Scranton, Pennsylvania, native (and there is our connection to The Office) who was genetically altered by a group of Kree Nazis, essentially, into a human bomb who can regenerate back into his bodily form after every self-detonation. While there are many different heroes who have put up with this exploding wonder, the first was Captain Marvel (Mar-vell, specifically), so, naturally, a sequel with Brie Larson reprising her role as Carol Danvers would be the next natural place to find Nitro, potentially.
Okay, so, technically speaking, the potential to see this baddie face off against Tom Holland’s Peter Parker has come and gone since we already saw a quasi-version of him as one of Mysterio’s Elemental illusions in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Yet, that was just the spectacle of the Sandman’s ability to manipulate his particles like the coarse minerals of his namesake and not the tragic backstory that led impoverished thief William Baker to become half-man, half-beach like Thomas Haden Church’s portrayal in Spider-Man 3 did. It sounds like the kind of role that Timothy Olyphant does not get enough chances to play and might just nail if we ever get the chance to see this sympathetic story retold in the MCU.
If there is one well-known hero whom Timothy Olyphant has the wit, onscreen credibility, and mirror image appearance to match flawlessly, it just might be Reed Richards - the elastic leader of the Fantastic Four. Granted, he would have to beat out the reigning fan-favorite John Krasinski (whose wife, Emily Blunt, is also a top choice to play Invisible Woman whenever Marvel’s first superhero family gets an official MCU reboot), but all it might take to is charming conversation to give him the edge he needs to land the part of Mister Fantastic. If not, he might even be an intriguing choice to play The Thing.
What do you think? Would clobberin’ up the place as Ben Grimm for a decent consolation to Timothy Olyphant for losing out on playing Reed Richards or should he just reprise Cobb Vanth in his own Star Wars movie spin-off instead? Let us know in the comments and be sure to check back for additional information and updates on this space cowboy, as well as even more hypothetical comic book movie casting sessions, here on CinemaBlend.