From Being John Malkovich to being a superhero?
When thinking of who I would consider to be among the most likable, easily relatable, and consistently compelling actors in Hollywood, my mind tends to go toward John Cusack, who really can (and pretty much has) done it all, from romantic comedies like Say Anything to intense dramas like Runaway Jury. He, technically, has even done a comic book project, since Amazon Prime’s 2020 remake of the UK series Utopia centers around a coveted graphic novel, and someone once made a fake, late-‘90s-style trailer for Batman v Superman that imagines the Golden Globe nominee as Clark Kent.
However, in reality, superhero movies have not found a place for yet Cusack, but I have few characters in mind for him in the event that the Marvel movies would reserve a spot for him, including one somewhat similar to one of his most acclaimed roles.
One of the most memorable and unique movies that John Cusack has starred in (hell, it has to be one of the most most unique movies ever conceived) is Being John Malkovich, from 1999. Written by Charlie Kaufmann and directed by Spike Jonze (with Oscar nominations earned by each), the surreal dramedy follows a puppeteer (Cusack) who gets the chance to give the ultimate puppeteering performance when he discovers a portal that sends him into the mind of actor John Malkovich and, eventually, allows him to assume his identity completely. Of course, the concept of mind control is not uncommon in the Marvel Comics universe, either.
For instance, Basil Sandhurst would grow up to become a serial control freak after spending much of his childhood ill and bed-ridden, and longing to have some authority over his life. This led to his development of a device called the “Slave Disc,” which allows him to control the mind of whomever he attaches a disc to, and becoming a recurring Iron Man villain under the apt title of “Controller.” Of course, since Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is no longer alive in the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity, perhaps John Cusack could be introduced in the role in the Ironheart TV show coming to Disney+.
Another strange, funny, and clever comedy from John Cusack’s filmography (which often pokes fun at the era of movies during which he became famous) is Hot Tub Time Machine from 2009. Cusack, Craig Robinson, and Rob Cordry play three hapless middle-aged men who (along with Clark Duke as Cusack’s nephew) get the chance to literally relive their glory days at a ski resort when the titular device magically sends them back to the 1980s. Of course, the concept of time travel is most definitely not uncommon in the Marvel Comics universe (or Marvel Multiverse, I could say).
In fact, the majority of time travelers found in Marvel Comics have either been cast or are very well established in the MCU already, meaning I had to dig deep to find a new one to introduce who was also fitting for an actor like John Cusack to play, based on his previous experience with jumping through history. One of the most fascinating and lesser-known characters I found was Dog Logan – a skilled hunter born in the late 1800s, but able to exist in various parts of history after discovering magical Time Diamonds. He also happens to be Wolverine’s brother, which would be an amazing subplot to explore when the X-Men movies are rebooted by Marvel Studios.
On the other hand, if I was John Cusack and I was considered for a role in Marvel Studios’ X-Men movies reboot, I think I would want to play a character that might be promised a little more shelf life. Well, when considering the actor’s onscreen reputation for being both soft spoken and down-to-earth in some instances (such as in High Fidelity), but also a badass force to be reckoned with other times (like when he played a hitman in Grosse Pointe Blank). When you put those two personas together, there is no better answer.
Dr. Henry “Hank” McCoy is one of the most valuable members of the X-Men team, due to his monstrous exterior and even more monstrous level of intellect that would earn him the name, Beast. The character has previously been portrayed in modern-day by Kelsey Grammer in X-Men: The Last Stand, and in his younger years by Nicolas Hoult – both of whom would bring their own unique spin to the role. I would love to see what new aspects John Cusack could bring to the part, which would be his first time undergoing quite the extensive make-up procedure.
Speaking of undergoing a dramatic transformation, while putting on blue skin and fur to be Beast would certainly be a trip, would it not be the ultimate fantasy of any actor to wear multiple new faces? If that is the opportunity that John Cusack would hope for in a Marvel movie (and one I think he could pull off with flying colors), I think he should look no further than starting his campaign to portray the first live-action iteration of the Chameleon. In fact, this is a job that could be up for grabs as we speak.
The elusive, shapeshifting Spider-Man villain (whose real name is Dmitri Nikolaievich Smerdyakov) is actually the half-brother of fellow Spidey enemy Sergei Kravinoff (better known as Kraven the Hunter), who is getting his own solo movie soon. So far, the only name on the casting list is Aaron Taylor-Johnson (also known for playing Quicksilver in a couple of MCU movies), meaning that John Cusack still has a shot to take that role, which I think would be really fun to see him play. Not to mention the fact that it would, technically, not be the first time he played a Russian (i.e. Dimitri in the 1997 animated classic, Anastasia).
I just now realized that most of my suggestions so far have been villains and, in retrospect, it is almost impossible for me to picture John Cusack as a definitive bad guy – not that he couldn’t. I mean, I am actually quite fascinated by the idea of him playing a foe, but I think I would rather see him show off his best skills in a Marvel movie as someone more likable and easily relatable. In fact, I have another Spider-Man character in mind for him to put on this very kind of performance.
I cannot be the only one who wishes we could have at least one moment to meet the MCU’s iteration of Peter Parker’s late uncle, Ben – something that the franchise’s recent experiments with inter-dimensional crossovers could make possible in a future Spider-Man installment. Hell, I would settle for a quick flashback, especially if it is the only way we can see John Cusack’s take. Plus, he and Aunt May actress Marisa Tomei have already done a couple of movies together (namely War, Inc. and Grace is Gone), meaning they already have the chemistry to come across as a believable couple.
Do these Marvel characters sound like a good fit for John Cusack to you?
Jason has been writing since he was able to pick up a washable marker, with which he wrote his debut illustrated children’s story, later transitioning to a short-lived comic book series and (very) amateur filmmaking before finally settling on pursuing a career in writing about movies in lieu of making them. Look for his name in just about any article related to Batman.
Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News
Thank you for signing up to CinemaBlend. You will receive a verification email shortly.
There was a problem. Please refresh the page and try again.
Cinemablend is part of Future US Inc, an international media group and leading digital publisher. Visit our corporate site.
© Future US, Inc. 11 West 42nd Street, 15th Floor, New York, NY 10036.