The man: Leonardo DiCaprio
The rumour: June 2008. Latino Review reports that Marvel has the Departed star on its wish list as a possible Cap, but sensibly qualifies the story with the knowledge that no formal discussions have taken place.
Why he could wield the shield: He’s got the square-jawed, chiselly look and he could probably develop the body to go along with it.
If not, they can do wonderful things with muscle suits. And he’s a big star – just the sort of name Marvel would love to boost the franchise.
Why he’s not right: Despite Robert Downey Jr committing to Iron Man and a rack of other projects, we doubt there’s any way DiCaprio would be up for a multi-film contract - which is what Marvel would demand (see: Samuel L Jackson).
And we’re not sure DiCaprio’s quite traditionally heroic for such an iconic comic-book character.[Page-break]
The man: John Cena
The rumour: March 2009. While putting the lie to earlier rumours he was linked to the part, wrestler-turned-action man John Cena pitches MTV (and Marvel) on the idea...
“If you guys are listening over at Marvel, that is a pretty cool rumour. I’m extremely patriotic, I was a captain of the football team once, so I think it works out. I think I’m your man.”
Why he could wield the shield: Well, he has the muscles... Plus, he’s likely to be more affordable than some of the other names on this list and has a built-in fanbase from his grappling days.
Why he’s not right: We’ve seen him act. He can handle the stunt stuff, but if he has to match wits with the likes of Downey Jr and (maybe) Ed Norton, he’d look like an amateur.[Page-break]
The man: Channing Tatum
The rumour: April 2009. Tatum – who is already well versed in heroic matters, thanks to GI Joe – tells MTV, “I would love to talk about it!”
Why he could wield the shield: He has the build and he’s slowly maturing into a decent actor, though we doubt the script would give him much of a chance to prove that.
But more subtle work in films like Stop Loss suggest he'll put in a decent, homespun performance, which seems right for the Cap's alter ego Steve Rogers. And like Cena, he'd be cheap.
Why he’s not right: Not quite A-list enough yet. Marvel is likely looking for someone who can handle both the heroics and bring some real awareness to the character.
Also, he's up against our next candidate...[Page-break]
The man: Will Smith
The rumour: September 2008. MTV talks to Derek Luke...
“I heard they offered Will Smith Captain America,” says he. “Just shows you how times have changed.”
Why he could wield the shield: One of America’s biggest stars? With charm to spare? Yes and yes.
And, obviously, he'd be the ideal Cap' for Obama's America.
Why he’s not right: Well, he doesn’t want the job, for a start - he’s long since shot down the rumour. And he’s already got one superhero franchise bubbling away (Hancock).
And like Leo, we’re pretty sure there’s no way he’d agree to a multi-pic contract.[Page-break]
The man: John Barrowman
The rumour: July 2008. Superhero Hype catches up with Mr Torchwood and asks him if he wants the part. He admits it’s his favourite superhero, to boot.
Why he could wield the shield: He’s certainly got the sparkle and decent acting chops to back it up.
Still, since when has Barrowman admitting he likes something gotten him a part? Oh, wait… that'll be Captain Jack in Dr Who.
Why he’s not right: He’s just not a big enough name, despite his sci-fi following thanks to Who/Torchwood.
Still, Marvel might consider the pre-sold, geeky fanbase and go with a (slightly) cheaper option with relatively light previous-role baggage.[Page-break]
The man: Mark Valley
The rumour: November 2008. Comics website Newsarama holds a poll and Valley, currently to be seen on JJ Abrams’ TV series Fringe (well, occasionally), scores a win.
Why he could wield the shield: As Newsarama points out, Valley certainly bears the closest resemblance to Steve Rogers.
Plus, work on the likes of Boston Public and the late, lamented Keen Eddie prove he’s got the acting skills.
Why he’s not right: Mark who? Like Barrowman, the notoriously conservative Marvel would be taking a big risk in casting a relative film unknown in one of their biggest franchises. [Page-break]
The man: Aaron Eckhart
The rumour: July 2005. Website Imagine Casting (along with a whole host of web board comments before and after) pins Eckhart as a possible Cap.
Why he could wield the shield: That chin, for one thing. It practically screams superhero.
And he’s at the right level of fame for the role – not a huge expensive star, but plenty famous after The Dark Knight.
Why he’s not right:The Dark Knight’s exposure as a soiled urban saviour might play against him.
The tragedy of Two-Face to glittering, squeaky-clean cultural icon might be too much of a leap.[Page-break]
The man: Dwayne Johnson
The rumour: June 2008. The gang at io9 suggest him as a reaction to the Leo casting speculation.
Why he could wield the shield: Out of all the former wrestlers who’ve moved to acting, he’s proved the most adaptable.
Plus, he wouldn’t have to bother with a muscle suit to fill the Cap’s outfit.
Why he’s not right: Aside from some spiteful web board knee-jerks about his race, he’s likely too busy to want to sign his life away to Marvel.
Also, the ex-Rock is developing a bit of a B-movie rep and the studio will want to aim higher.
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