Comic book movies are thinking about the long-game nowadays - characters will show up or be referenced who aren't entirely relevant to the story yet, just to lay the groundwork for when they become mutated into something (usually something green). And that's the fun part - becoming a crazy villain or robo-suited hero - it's even worth playing an average human being for a movie or two. However, sometimes the actor gets replaced or the sequels never happen and they placed a regular person in a CGI-fest for nothing. Here are four actors who never got to do the best part of the characters they were playing.
1. Billy Dee Williams (Tim Burton's Batman movies)
Poor Lando. You deserved better than this.
Remember far back into the past, to the original Batman movie. No, not that Christian Bale one. The one before that. No, not the Adam West one, you went too far back. Definitely not the Ben Affleck one - sidenote: wow, there have been a LOT of Batmans, huh? No, we're talking Michael Keaton - the shortest Batman ever (at 5'10") and the only one to go on to star in Multiplicity. Back in his Batman movies, there was a character named Harvey Dent - and played by Billy Dee Williams. He was just a regular ol' DA, trying to do good and having both sides of his face perfectly intact. But ya see, it was the plan to turn him into (decades old spoiler alert) Double-Face (or something like that?).
But alas, Tim Burton left the series and handed the reins over to the neon-encrusted hands of Joel Schumacher, who decided to make Two-Face one of the main villains of his film, Batman 4Eva. Except he decided that as part of Two-Face's horrible scarring incident, he would somehow turn into Tommy Lee Jones - because every Oscar-winning actor needs at least one role to be totally embarrassed about. So Billy Dee ended up having laid groundwork for a villainous character he would never get to play - but seeing how the Schumacher Bat-films turned out (this and Batnips & Robin), maybe it was for the best.
2. Dylan Baker (Sam Raimi's Spider-Man movies)
Dylan Baker is a delightful actor - and just inherently creepy-looking. Go see Happiness. Yikes.
Anyways, he was playing one-armed genius scientist Dr. Curt Connors in the Sam Raimi Spider-Man films - mentoring Peter, introducing him to supervillains, and generally being frustrated at having only one arm and zero lizard tails. He appeared in both Spider-Man 2 (non-Amazing version) and Spider-Man 3 (both non-Amazing AND non-amazing) - and all signs pointed to him becoming the villainous Lizard in the next film (since pretty much every other villain that had been set up was dead or a pile of sand floating in the wind by that point).
And guess what (you may be slightly ahead of us here)? The Lizard WAS the main villain of the next film! ...the reboot. That had none of the original actors. So after all that work setting up the character, poor Dylan Baker got replaced by Rhys Ifans, who had spent zero films setting up that character. Then again, seeing how the Amazing Spider-films turned out, maybe it was for the best. Notice a trend here?
3. Terrence Howard (Iron Man)
Terrence Howard was the first person cast in Iron Man - and the first one to get kicked to the curb. Well, the only one to get kicked to the curb.
Howard played James "Rhodey" Rhodes - an air force colonel who was for some reason best friends with super-rich genius playboy Anthony "Rhoney" Stark. Sidenote: how did these two become friends? Tight-laced military man and a billionaire with daddy issues who spends most of his time talking with his British AI? As you probably know (since there have already been three Iron Man films), Rhodey was destined to become War Machine - an Iron Man suit that was a lot grayer and used a lot more actual bullets (also a hella good character in Marvel vs. Capcom 2). But it wasn't to be - Howard was replaced in Iron Man 2 by Don "Has Anyone Ever Actually Seen An Episode of House of Lies?" Cheadle, who immediately got to put on the War Machine suit and brutally murder Mickey Rourke.
There are some conflicting stories as to why exactly this happened, but a few things are mostly agreed upon: Terrence Howard was paid THE MOST for Iron Man. More than Jon Favreau, more than Jeff Bridges, and more than Robert Downey Jr. He was the first on and his contract was settled in a way that it couldn't be renegotiated once the movie came together. Marvel didn't really want to pay him a bunch more money for the sequel, so they replaced him with the guy from Hotel For Dogs and Hotel Rwanda (the thinking being Rhodey should be intimately familiar with multiple kinds of hotels).
4. Tim Blake Nelson (The Incredible Hulk - and soon The Fantastic Four)
Tim Blake Nelson is a little bit of a weird-looking dude - hence, the perfect predecessor for people who are horribly mutated into weird-looking villains! He appeared as Samuel Sterns in the "oh right that exists" Ed Norton Hulk movie - and suffers an accident at the end of the film that makes his head super-big and turns him into Hulk-villain The Leader! And given this film was part of the ridiculously successful Marvel Cinematic Universe, it was pretty much guaranteed he'd get to play that villain in a follow-up film! Right?
Nope. The Incredible Hulk became pretty much the only film in the MCU to be collectively ignored. Seriously, it's like everyone just agreed to forget that film ever happened in any manner - Ed Norton's Hulk was replaced with Mark Ruffles-o and every other actor in the film was banished for daring to appear in a Hulk film that was only slightly better than the Eric Banana mess that preceded it.
To add insult to injury, Tim Blake Nelson is due to appear in the Fantastic Four reboot as Harvey Elder - aka The Mole Man, the FF's first villain. Except, of course, the main villain is gonna be Doctor Doom and Mr. Nelson's just laying character groundwork AGAIN for a potential sequel that will probably fall apart and/or get replaced by Tommy Lee Jones.