Whilst instances of minor or even non-existent characters stepping into lead duties second time round have become less common in this post Marvel world, not every studio has the freedom or foresight to make their actors sign multi-picture deals. Whether its Jeff Goldblum subbing in for Sam Neill in The Lost World, or a less genetically gifted dancer stepping up for Channing Tatum in errr Step Up 2; Hollywood has had a long history of swapping out lead characters and hoping the audience won’t notice. The following examples aren’t simply studios recasting the same character with a different actor, these crimes against casting are the equivalent of C-3PO replacing Luke Skywalker in Empire Strikes Back.
Now on to the countdown!
Transformers: Age of Extinction (2014)
There’s no denying the Transformers franchise had gone to shit well before the fourth instalment, and Shia LeBeouf’s exit from the series was hardly surprising, given the fact the actor had well and truly discovered his eccentric side following his turn in Dark of the Moon, moving on to less family friendly fare such as Nymphomaniac. Still, we’d gladly swap his lively yet likeable Sam Witwicky over the bland new cast of characters we were given in Age of Extinction. Sorry Marky Mark, its nothing personal, we can still be friends, right??
2 Fast 2 Furious (2003)
Its hard to believe now, but Vin Diesel’s presence in the Fast & Furious franchise wasn’t always guaranteed; with Dom Toretto being completely absent in the first of the series sequels. With Paul Walker taking over lead duties alongside other series mainstay Tyrese Gibson, the casting decision only served to make the audience realise that what really made the first film memorable was the two original leads bouncing off each other. Tokyo Drift would continue to slam the brakes on the series by omitting all the original characters, but luckily the producers had the foresight to include a stinger at the eleventh hour alluding to Dom’s return, resulting in audiences everywhere losing their collective shit. Four billion dollars later, its safe to say Diesel has solidified his place in the series, and can pretty much name his salary from here on in.
The Bourne Legacy (2012)
Its almost comical that a film with the name Bourne in the title can all but completely erase its main protagonist, but there’s no stopping the franchise train when there’s money to be made, despite the creative team of director Paul Greengrass and star Matt Damon seemingly departing the series for good. Working around the awkward omissions, we get only fleeting glimpses of Damon from the previous films, and are given a new secret spy named Aaron Cross (AKA Not Bourne) in his place. Poor old Jeremy Renner tries his darnedest to make us care, but Damon’s absence is felt in every frame of this ‘ok but forgettable’ action flick. Greengrass and Damon would of course eventually change their tune and re-team for the forthcoming Jason Bourne, essentially rendering this instalment not only Bourne-less, but also pointless.
Halloween III: Season of the Witch (1982)
Much like the Bourne series, its hard to imagine the Halloween films without its lead scream queen Jamie Lee Curtis or indeed its antagonist Michael Meyers, but thats exactly what happened with Halloween III: Season of the Witch. In place of the teen slasher template set by the first two films, producer John Carpenter opted to instead go for a science fiction tinged horror. It was Carpenter’s intention for each new instalment in the series to be an anthology film, thus removing the need for the same characters to return and making everyone expendable. Although a bold experiment, the gamble didn’t pay off, with Meyers returning in the franchise’s next entry, funnily enough titled The Return of Michael Meyers.
Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997)
Its safe to say Keanu Reeves’ absence from Jan de Bont’s follow up to his nineties action classic was the elephant in the cinema when this il advised sequel was released to little fanfare in 1996. In his place we were given a Keanu clone in the form of Jason Patric’s Alex Shaw, with Jack’s absence being vaguely explained in an off-hand comment where Annie (Sandra Bullock) explains the two “didn’t work out”. Its safe to say the studio wasn’t pleased when Reeves passed on the film, even going as far as fabricating the actors true reasons for leaving; claiming he turned down the role to perform with his band. In truth, Reeves simply didn’t like the script and had no interest in doing another action movie after working on both Speed and Chain Reaction in quick succession. Sandra Bullock on the other hand had no such qualms, netting a cool eleven million for her troubles.
Thats all folks! So what sequels promoted the characters you couldn’t give a toss about? Let us know in the comments section below.