Did you know that Tom Hanks was once considered to be Michael Keaton’s replacement as the lead in Batman Forever? It is still a little hard to imagine even a ‘90s-era Hanks as the Caped Crusader, but the concept does intrigue me, even if it may seem that his chance to star in a superhero movie has come and gone. However, I would argue that the Marvel movies have a few currently uncasted roles that would be a pretty good fit.
The beloved 64-year-old Toy Story star can play just about any type of character (with two Academy Awards under his belt for 1993’s Philadelphia and Forrest Gump to prove it) and is not afraid to take on every type of genre. Not to mention, the man was strong enough to survive one of the first high profile celebrity cases of Covid-19. Therefore, as far as I am concerned, it seems to me that Tom Hanks would be up for the task of joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe for a future big screen or even small screen installment.
Of course, his role would not necessarily have to be full-fledged costumed vigilante, but I have not ruled out that possibility either. I believe I have managed to maintain a good deal of variety (just as Tom Hanks likes it) when selecting the following five characters from the pages of Marvel comics that he could breathe life into, starting with one who would be a fun callback to one of his most famous characters and one of his more recent roles as well.
Having already had the pleasure of (technically) playing a cowboy in four Toy Story movies, Tom Hanks finally starred in a traditional western film (and as an actual human) in 2020's News of the World. His performance as a Civil War vet coming to the aid of a young, kidnapped girl in director Paul Greengrass' adaptation of Paulette Jiles' novel gave me an idea for a way he could make his next western outing his first Marvel outing, too.
Not to be confused with Ghost Rider (although that was his original title) Phantom Rider became the alter ego of 19th-Century schoolteacher Carter Slade after a Native American resurrected him from a fatal shooting into a mystical justice seeker. He actually would cross paths with the aforementioned demon hunting biker, which I think would be a cool way to reboot the character in the MCU (again) with Tom Hanks as an aged Slade, serving as his mentor.
Speaking of MCU reboots, no revitalization of a Marvel property is more highly anticipated than the X-Men following Disney's merger with Fox. Everywhere you turn there is someone speculating over who should be the next actor to play Wolverine or Storm or Gambit. However, I see less people wondering who should be the next Dr. Henry "Hank" McCoy, otherwise known as Beast, after Nicolas Hoult's more recent, younger iteration.
Personally, I would love to see Kelsey Grammer return to play the mutant, who makes up for his monstrous exterior with his monstrous intelligence. Yet, I cannot think of a better additional choice than Tom Hanks, who already did well with the role of a soft-spoken smart guy turned action hero in The Da Vinci Code. All it would take to perfect his portrayal is some blue makeup and fur.
Speaking of being soft-spoken and smart, can you think of a comic book character more skilled at giving valuable pep talks than Peter Parker's late uncle, Ben? Furthermore, can you think of an actor who embodies the same fatherly persona that Ben Parker is famous for more authentically than Tom Hanks?
We did not necessarily need to see the relationship between Spider-Man and Uncle Ben unfold in the MCU since Tom Holland did a great job conveying his lessons of great power equaling great responsibility on his own. Not to mention, Tony Stark, essentially, filled the father figure role for him. However, for the sake of honoring this iconic character, I would not mind seeing at least a quick flashback to one of his last, most precious moments with young Peter and I think Tom Hanks and Maris Tomei could make a nice couple, don't you think?
Speaking of father figures, while this Marvel character may bear the name of a protective parental unit, he is really anything but. Father, whose real name remains unknown, was involved in the robotics division of the Weapons Plus program (which Weapon X is an incarnation of), but his true intentions were to create a world purely for androids - which he would become in order to survive Deadpool's beheading of him.
Now, I know it seems a little odd and very much against type to cast Tom Hanks as a villain, but it would not be the first time. In fact, Father has a few things in common with Hanks' antagonistic role as a shady tech wizard in The Circle. Thus, digging even deeper within himself to channel his darker side is all it would take for this underrated evil to rise once again.
On the other hand, if we are going to go ahead and cast Tom Hanks as a bad guy for his comic book movie debut, we might as well make him as bad as he could be. So, why not challenge with him with a portrayal of the man commonly referred to as the Satan of the Marvel Comics Universe?
The extra-dimensional demon Mephisto (short for Mephistocles) makes even the God of Mischief, Loki, look like a harmless playground bully with how more strongly he embodies pure evil. It is the kind of character that actors with an interest in taking the villainous route would kill to play, but not without fearing the consequences of not meeting expectations. Well, with Tom Hanks, it would be impossible to know what to expect and that is only one reason why painting the man behind Forrest Gump and Mister Rogers red for the role sounds exciting as hell to me.
I cannot be the only one who would love to see Tom Hanks bring out his bad side for the MCU. Perhaps we will find out if my suggestions become a reality, and we will be sure to let you know if it does, as well as everything going on in the world of comic book fiction, here on CinemaBlend. In the meantime, who do you think the beloved actor's debut comic book role should be?
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Jason Wiese writes feature stories for CinemaBlend. His occupation results from years dreaming of a filmmaking career, settling on a "professional film fan" career, studying journalism at Lindenwood University in St. Charles, MO (where he served as Culture Editor for its student-run print and online publications), and a brief stint of reviewing movies for fun. He would later continue that side-hustle of film criticism on TikTok (@wiesewisdom), where he posts videos on a semi-weekly basis. Look for his name in almost any article about Batman.