Fantasy Casting - X-Men in the 1980's

  • By Russall Beattie

Fantasy Casting - X-Men in the 1980's

Next up for our Fantasy Casting is the X-Men film in the 1980’s. This would be a franchise, or at least a two-parter, so not all the characters would appear in one film. I am casting the X-Men team young, not as people who fully understand their powers, while Magneto's team and the other villains are mostly adults.

This film would be an epic movie that feels like a cross between The Goonies, Star Wars, and Ghostbusters. I know that’s a lot to process but I’m talking about a Cindy Lauper soundtrack, toys, Pizza Hut tie-ins, MTV promo - the lot of it. You know those 80’s films that could only exist in the 80’s.

Also I know some of these characters were not even created in the 80’s but this is a fantasy casting after all.


River Phoenix

I am casting quite young on this one. I want to get back to the roots with teenagers fighting and protecting the world. 

Angel is one of those characters that soon is underpowered as the powers in the X-Men world went out of control, where being able to fly started becoming very common. So what do you do when you see him losing his authority? You upgrade him like they did in the comics; becoming an Archangel, or you make his character the strongest part of him over his power. If you can remember any of River’s roles, he was easily the strongest person on screen. I could watch him for days! I could have kept watching him as young Indiana Jones for the whole movie in The Last Crusade

River had a way about him that would have made Angel a way more complex and engaging character than we have seen on the big screen.

John Vernon

When I think of Apocalypse, I think of the 90’s X-men cartoon, especially the voice, that imposing voice of a mutant god. Sure you could do that with sound effects, but you don’t need to. Listen to Vernon, he sounds scary as fuck just with how he speaks. Close your eyes and you can hear the sound of Apocalypse so clearly.

Forest Whitaker

This would be a two part casting. First would be Forest Whitaker playing the super smart and super intimidating Beast and second would be the Jim Henson Creature Shop. 

There are many master special effects guys who were all on the top of their game but I found Jim Henson the best as he understood character much more than most of the other guys at the time.  So with that characterisation aspect in mind, Forest would be able to create genuine sympathy to the Beast. Just look at his body of work, he made a mass-murdering dictator kind of likable in The Last King of Scotland.

Laurence Fishburne

The man from the future is always coming back to save the day! Here, I’m taking a step back and am making him smaller and getting in a good actor to play him. Laurence Fishburne is the exact actor I need. I need someone who can preach about how humanity and mutants are going to destroy the world, that they don’t fight to save it, blah blah blah... Laurence Fishburne is the best at giving those speeches. It’s pretty much all he did in The Matrix films.


Rutger Hauer

Here we have another crazy time traveller who is the son of Cyclops and Jean Grey (well a clone of her). He is a walking armoury with no sense of humour, created in a time where everyone wanted the anti-hero. This one is a no-brainer for me. When he played Roy in Blade Runner, he brought more humanity as a robot than Harrison Ford did as a human (yes I’m aware some people think that Decker is a Replicant, but this is not the place for that argument). I’m just saying that I think he would be an amazing Cable, physically, and he could act the shit of it.

Arnold Schwarzenegger

Hmm, do I even need to write this one up? Can’t I just put a picture side by side of them? He is Arnold Schwarzenegger. You have seen him play a Russian in Red Heat, you have seen him play an unstoppable metal monster in Terminator, you have seen him take on armies single-handedly in Commando and you have seen him have impossible strength in… well, everything.  And most importantly, you have seen him with a flattop! Do I really need to go on?

Jason Patric

Poor Cyclops.  He ended up being wasted space in the X-men films. He is not their leader, rather he ends up being portrayed as just a guy who brown-noses Professor X. We need someone who could be the backbone of the team and I think Jason Patric could do it. Now there are plenty of square jaw hero-types from this generation, like Josh Brolin, Rob Lowe... I could go on, but I think Jason Patric could bring the depth to Cyclops that he deserves. Jason always makes interesting choices as an actor and I think this role would be no different.

Mickey Rourke

A man that walks the line of good and bad and is also charming as hell.  That could be how you describe Gambit or 80’s Mickey Rourke. Watch any of his early films and you would get sucked up in this troublemaker's charm. 

Corey Haim

This is another one I’m going to cast young. I picked an actor that I think could play him a bit differently. A lot of my casting choices are picked to see how the actor would play off others. In this case, I’d be interested to see how Corey Haim would play off Cyclops. As mentioned, the biggest thing I hate about the X-Men films was how they handled Cyclops. To add on to that I hate that they made Havok the older brother. Fighting in the Vietnam War? I want the brothers' summer rivalry, bring back the family relationships! Corey Haim would play it so differently from any other version, but he would play well off Jason Patric. We saw them together in The Lost Boys and I could easily go for another round.

Anthony Michael Hall

Again we have another young casting. This is someone I think who can bring the funny chops. Just look at any of his films with John Hughes. Whether he is asking for Molly Ringwald’s underwear or showing himself to be an outcast in The Breakfast Club, he could be the prankster which was his position on the original team and that has been denied to us on screen.

Jean Gray
Brooke Shields

This casting was the hardest one,  and I looked at a lot of actresses. I had Molly Ringwald on the list for quite some time but then I realized I was only looking at the physical aspects of the character- just the red hair. Then I got over the hair and thought of one of the most beautiful girls of the 80’s, Brooke Shields (who had red hair in Brenda Starr). I like her because there is so much room to grow with the character. She can be on the weaker side to begin with, having all the boys fighting over this demure beauty, but when the time comes for the dark phoenix, she is able to transform into the destructor of worlds. I would totally buy it.

Jesse Ventura

This is the 80’s and we need some over the top 80’s muscle. Calling the body himself - Jesse Ventura! You’ve seen him in Predator and Running Man. This loudmouth machine of a man could easily pull off the equally loudmouth Juggernaut. By the way, how crap did Vinnie Jones' suit look in X-Men 3?!?


Christopher Plummer

What can I say here? Christopher Plummer would be absolutely amazing in this role. He has that ‘European thing’ going on, you know he could play someone from any part of Europe and most people would buy it. He also has that ‘don’t push me or I will level your city’ intense vibe to top it off. With over 200 credits to his name, he could play this is his sleep. He was easily the best thing in Star Trek 6.

Mr Sinister
David Bowie

Oh god, could you imagine? David Bowie would eat this character up! He would not only kill this role, he would make the character better. He would bring the theatricality from Labyrinth and the detachment from humanity that we saw in The Hunger.




This is an 80’s film, so it would be a blockbuster cultural event. I would like to bring in the hottest pop star in the world, Madonna. She was already earning the reputation as a chameleon and she always has that dangerous-sexy vibe about her. Perfect for the evil shape-shifting mutant.

Johnny Depp

Here is young Johnny Depp playing the Eastern European creature known as Nightcrawler. Remember, this is in the 80’s before Johnny Depp became Johnny Depp. These days he may overplay everything to an inch of its life but in the 80’s he could do brooding AND fun. Hell, he could even do one of his silly voices.

Professor X
Terrence Stamp

I was first thinking who was a great bald actor and struggling. Then, I thought, we could just shave their head? Boom! Terrence Stamp hit me like a bullet. All of his work is amazing! This would be around the same time as Wall Street but Professor X would be a much darker character with him playing it, but every word he uttered would be loaded as if said by one of the most powerful beings on the planet.

Mark "Jacko" Jackson

One of my big pet peeves in the X-Men films is that they changed the nationality of Pyro. In the comics he is Australian, which as a Australian, was great as we don’t get too many cool mutants.  He is also a joker and in 80’s Australia there was one man that fit this description. Whether he was playing AFL, appearing on short-run TV shows or being in Energizer battery commercials over and over again, Jacko was it.

Tom Cruise

Quicksilver is a serious dude and very protective of his sister. A lot of people could play this role, but Tom Cruise would own it.  He always has that intenseness needed in this role, plus he would be a great twin brother playing off Demi Moore. Just remember those two in A Few Good Men.

Geena Davis

Geena Davis would have to bring out that white trash accent of hers (remember Thelma and Louise?). You can keep your sad Rogue from the X-Men films. I want powerful Rogue, one that still has a lot going on inside her head, but hides it by being larger than life. She should have the whole nine yards with flight and super strength. To add on, I think we could get some pretty great flirting between Mickey Rourke’s Gambit too.

Clancy Brown

Clancy Brown has been a fan favorite online for Sabertooth for years and I am on that team. This would be around Highlander time and he was fucking incredible in that. That voice! It rolls out with a deep almost growl-like sound. This is how I picture Sabertooth; someone who could scare the shit out of me just by hearing his voice. Then you see the man behind the voice. Run… just run.

Scarlett Witch
Demi Moore

Another one I don’t think I need to sell that much. She looks like her, is a good actor and of the time. Really just look at the two images side by side.

Shadow Cat
Daine Lane

This one got me excited, not just because I love almost all of her early work, but I think she would smash this role. She looks the part, could play the character exactly how it reads and enrich it with her amazing acting chops. Just look at Outsider, Rumble Fish, Streets of Fire, The Fabulous Stains, the list goes on...

Grace Jones

A good actor dies somewhere every time I see Halle Berry’s Storm. Storm is believed to be a goddess in some parts of the world, a tall, strong, imposing woman that has been through a lot. There has to be something regal and otherworldly about her. If that's what she is then you need someone that is out of this world. Grace Jones is perfect for this. She would steal the show from anyone who is around her. The biggest thing would be to hold her back and not let her go too big. Also, bring on the white Mohawk!

The Blob
John Candy

John Candy would be perfect! He would provide some comic relief, but he can also bring the scary. Think about the moment in Uncle Buck where he goes psycho on the boyfriend of his niece or when he is wrestling the girls in stripes. I could see him now, smoking on a cigar while fighting off these kids.

Curtis Armstrong

The mutants in the X-Men films are all too pretty. I want someone who is disgusting as Toad. He has to earn the name. In the 80’s there was a film called Revenge of the Nerds and in that film there was a character called Booger, played by Curtis Armstrong. He could easily bring this founding member of the brotherhood of evil mutants alive in all his grossness.

White Queen
Rebecca de Mornay

This is one of those casting I don’t even need to explain…. It’s just so right!

Rebecca de Mornay used her sexuality and smarts to manipulate Tom Cruise in Risky Business so well. Now, imagine giving her telepathic powers. Slam dunk.

Bruce Willis

Here it is…. The one I will undoubtedly get the most disagreements on. Logan. Weapon X. The best at what he does. Wolverine.

Now with Wolverine I am going a little older. He is meant to be that cool guy who is a couple of years older but also a tough as nails bar bawler. Just look at Bruce Willis in Die Hard. Just look! He broke the 80’s action star mould, took it off the muscle men and gave it back to the Steve McQueen types (for a little while at least). Yeah we would have to do something about the hair but Bruce Willis would be the scrapper and shitstarter that I don’t think Hugh Jackman was ever capable of. He is just too nice.


This is a re-posted article from August 2015


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