BOND! BATMAN! INDIANA JONES! WOLVERINE! CLINT?!
Do you feel lucky, punk? well..DO YA?! Turns out, Clint Eastwood was just that: lucky. Poxed with luck, looks, brains, charisma, charm ,talent and a no nonsense hard working ethic attitude that made him a movie star and great director. Indeed, he became a brand in himself, influencing the aesthetics and morality, arguably, of other franchises beyond his own cop/western/jazz/biopic/epic comfort zones.
Amidst all of that, and especially during his second wind (65-present from early 1990s onward..), there were hints that the man with no name could in effect be the template for any hero or villain of blockbuster choice. He simply did not need to fulfil those possible outlets. But film history is the better for the speculation and indeed tracing the quite direct connections between Clint’s legacy on film and that of counterpart franchise summer blockbuster fare.
At a glance..
Well known and often acknowledged fact: Clint was on the shortlist for 007 when Sean Connery packed it in (twice). Ultimately, both his own reservations and those of Mr Broccoli came down to casting a non British actor in the part. But there was little if any doubt that Clint had the kind of qualities one needs in a Bond. They needed Jack Palance meets Cary Grant; Clint IS about half way between those.
Can do action /adventure; has style and class (music, piano, sax; articulate political opinions; sense of proper order) and would convince as a veteran serviceman turned spy. His own Firefox project has elements of 007, as do The Eiger Sanction and arguably In the Line of Fire. Bond director John Glen looks a bit like Clint, too? Daniel Craig’s no nonsense take on the role is compatible with the Dirty Harry school of swift yet logical justice, too.
Lesser known fact: Clint kinda inspired certain depictions of BATMAN in comics and on film. Especially in the 1970s, when the character went back to the dark and gritty origins of the piece, away from the high camp of the 60s. Dirty Harry in a mask. Civil yet brutal and primal. Clint had also been mooted to play Harvey Dent/Two Face in the Adam West tv show (they ultimately made that as animated film in 2017 with Bill Shatner as Harvey: it’s awesome). Equally, in 1995, for Batman Forever, Eastwood was for a SECOND time linked with 2-Face.
It made sense as his buddy Jack Nicholson had played Joker and Gene Hackman, Lex Luthor. Scheduling conflicts with Bridges of Madison County prevented the part being played by our fave cowboy, going instead to cinema’s second fave western veteran post John Wayne..Tommy Lee Jones (Mel Gibson also turned it down: the role he was born to play?!). But why stop there? Eastwood was almost BATMAN, himself! As it was, Michael Keaton’s ‘Batman voice’ owed a dash to Dirty Harry. It was a natural and logical step to offer Clint first refusal on adapting Dark Knight Returns / Batman Beyond for the big screen. That almost did happen, in the limbo between 1997 and the Chris Nolan reboot. Missed opp? Maybe.
Ok, not quite. By 1980, Clint was 50 and that would have probably made the hero’s tenure in film a tad shorter. That said? The fact that Harrison Ford has played Dr Jones into his 60s and now, possibly his 80s? Indicates that, given the right actor? NO role is dependent on youth. Gene Hackman was on the shortlist before Tom Selleck was cast and then, post contract clash, replaced by Han Solo himself (Ford). John Shea, Peter Coyote, Perry King and Tim Matheson all tested.
All fine (they’re just not quite Harrison). But one could make a case for saying that Clint was an obvious choice or template, even? The early concept art (by Steranko) for Indy has a kind of man with no name quality to it and the very spirit of the Jones adventures owe a little debt to the aesthetic of the western every bit as much as they do war films or 007 et al. So, whilst not an official candidate to play Indiana..could we still see 90 something Clint play Abner Ravenwood, back in a teaser cameo to haunt his old protégé? It’s been mooted before..could happen in the new 5th film from James Mangold..
Ok so Clint was NEVER considered for a part that went initially to Dougray Scott and then Hugh Jackman. In any event, he was busied back then on Space Cowboys among other projects. But, if you watch Jackman’s Logan performances in all those X Men films /spin offs? They do owe a debt to good old Clint. No question. He’s the travelling fighter of Every Which Way/Any Which Way; he is the lone champion of the down-trodden who reluctantly saves the day then goes into the sunset. And he is the grisly, growly but ultimately heroic and decent rogue with a heart of gold. PURE Clint every bit as much as it is Jackman / Marvel Comics’ baby.
MANY HAPPY RETURNS, CLINT!