Jake Gyllenhaal Was Almost Spider-Man & Batman, But Playing A Hero Would've Drastically Changed His Career
One of Hollywood's most talented actors is, without a doubt, Jake Gyllenhaal. There is nothing the man cannot do. From the sci-fi genius of Donnie Darko to the heartbreaking Brokeback Mountain and the stylish noir Nightcrawler, Gyllenhaal has done it all. His most recent role as a boxer in Southpaw has once again proven the actor's incredible versatility. There are two very pivotal roles that Gyllenhaal missed out on, though: at different points in his career, Gyllenhaal was almost Spider-Man and Batman, but lost out on the roles.
Speaking to Daily Mail UK, the actor revealed how he feels about having been rejected for both parts. "I believe whatever happens, happens for good," he told the paper. "I was definitely open to both the roles (of Spider-Man and Batman). However at a certain point you realise there is always someone more interesting, talented and ready to do the role. In any case, you are not going to get every role you go for. So you can say I neither rue nor am I thankful for having not worked on these superhero films."
Umm... is there really always someone more talented and interesting than the multifaceted Gyllenhaal? I think the actor is being a bit too demure for his own good. I will concede, though, that the world may be better off for having Toby Maguire as the (original) star of Spider-Man, but I am less certain about Christian Bale snagging the role of Batman in Batman Begins. There's no doubt in my mind that Gyllenhaal could have played both Bruce Wayne and Peter Parker, but let's imagine for a moment what his career would look like now if he had.
If Gyllenhaal Had Played Spider-Man...
Gyllenhaal came very close to stepping in for Toby Maguire when the second Spider-Man rolled around in 2004. At the time Gyllenhaal was working on one of his two big commercial projects, the disaster movie The Day After Tomorrow (his other being 2010's Prince of Persia: Sands of Time). If Gyllenhaal had continued courting mainstream movies, Spider-Man would have been the logical next step.
There are a couple of problems with Gyllenhaal taking on the role of the famed web-slinger. As versatile as Gyllenhaal is, I have my doubts about him playing the quippy, cartoonish Spider-Man from the 2004 film. While Maguire has a certain "aww, shucks" innocence, Gyllenhaal is darker and deeper. He could have done it, but I don't think the world is missing much by not having a Gyllenhaal Spidey. In fact, I would argue Gyllenhaal was much better off for missing out on the big, franchise role in favor of more serious and darker parts, instead.
In 2005, Gyllenhaal starred in three movies including Jarhead and Brokeback Mountain. Both are held in high regard, and Brokeback Mountain is a groundbreaking classic. Maguire did just one movie between Spiderman 2 and Spiderman 3, the somewhat forgettable The Good German. Not only did not being Spider-Man free Gyllenhaal up for more diverse roles, it kept him from being tied to a franchise that was overly cartoon-y and about to turn Maguire into a living meme (sorry, but I'll never forget you, West Side Story Peter Parker!).
If Gyllenhaal Had Been Batman...
The case of Batman is a little more complicated. I feel confident in saying Gyllenhaal dodged a bullet when he lost the role of Spider-Man, but I have no doubt he would've been a fantastic Batman. He has the looks, and he can channel the inner darkness necessary to make the character sing. Also, it would have meant Gyllenhaal could have once again played off of Heath Ledger, this time in The Dark Knight, with both actors bringing a totally different energy to the table than they did in Brokeback Mountain.
In terms of career trajectory, Gyllenhaal may not have been able to turn out as many films between 2005 and now as he has if he'd taken the role, but being Batman hasn't limited Christian Bale or diminished his indie cred. Bale has bounced back and forth between mainstream projects like Terminator Salvation and Oscar bait like The Fighter. He was iconic as Batman, but the role did not consume his career, and he continued to take a variety of parts until, after three turns as Bruce, he hung up the batsuit for good.
I think Gyllenhaal and the audience were robbed on this one. Bale was undeniably brilliant as Batman, but I think Gyllenhaal could have been an even more natural fit. The added bonus of Gyllenhaal and Ledger sharing the screen again has me sold. Gyllenhaal could have been an amazing Batman without making any major career sacrifices.
I can't really complain about Gyllenhaal not getting the chance to be a superhero on the big screen, though. His career is amazing just as it is. Still, he definitely could have done the role of Batman proud. Big mistake, Hollywood. Big, big mistake.
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