Aquaman’s Jason Momoa was almost part of a different comic universe. Following his success on season one of Game of Thrones, Momoa’s career catapulted overnight. Hollywood clamored to get anyone from Game of Thrones involved with their latest franchises. Marvel was no exception. Momoa got a call that could have made him even bigger had he not rejected the role.
Drax makes his mark
Fandom notes that Drax is one of the funniest, most vengeful characters in the MCU. Played wonderfully by Dave Bautista, Drax is just ferocious enough to take on his intergalactic foes and just childish enough to be a significant nuisance on the journey. Beneath a tough exterior and all the braggadocious claims about his violent past, Drax has a heart of gold that will go to battle for those he believes in most.
This came in handy, as the titular Guardians started as a gang of misfit smugglers who were a far cry from the earth-dwelling Avengers. With Thanos’ adopted daughter in the group and an intergalactic conspiracy to alter time and space as we know it, however, the Guardians became a group of noble mercenaries who fought side-by-side with the Avengers to stop Thanos’s reign of absolute terror.
The franchise made Bautista a movie star like fellow wrestlers-turned-actors Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and John Cena. However, at the time of casting, the role almost went to Momoa.
A different Drax
Insider notes how when Guardians of the Galaxy was in its early stages, James Gunn, Kevin Feige, and the rest of the creative team wanted to make sure that they cast someone as physically imposing as the comic book and as funny as the script called for. Momoa, who had already been a hard-working journeyman actor on television and movies, was perfect for the role.
Drax was originally a sad character who opened up later. Although it may have been another role to raise his Hollywood stature, he may have made the right call declining it. After all, it later got him a starring role as a more well-known superhero more akin to Momoa’s wild man persona. A father himself, Momoa wanted roles that his kids could look up to not as a sad character but as an inspiration.
Furthermore, he wanted to spread his wings after playing similar roles in the past.
“I want my children to see their father happy. It’s not that it’s not a good role. It just wasn’t the right thing. I was on ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ for four years playing a similar character called Ronon, who was an alien who didn’t say much and grunted. I’ve been there and done that, whether people have seen it or not. You want to stretch,” Momoa told IGN in 2014. Despite the success, he never regretted the decision, either, stating, “I think it’s perfectly cast. Dave is perfect for that role, for Drax.”
It worked out for all parties involved. Now, Momoa headlines one of the most successful non-Marvel franchises there is.
Momoa learns to swim
Momoa’s first on-screen role was in the latter seasons of Baywatch. This might have come in handy when Warner Brothers was looking for its Aquaman. Momoa had a brief cameo in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, but its disappointing reception overshadowed his turn in Justice League. Luckily, Momoa got to work on the solo movie with the Fast franchise’s James Wan on a solo movie that was a moderate hit commercially and critically.
Sometimes, actors give up roles they later grow to regret. Other times, those missed opportunities pave the way for greater success. Now, Momoa is one of Hollywood’s most famous leading men, and Aquaman is a major reason why. Still, one can’t help but wonder how the Guardians would look with Momoa’s Drax naively chiming in between cracking his enemies’ skulls.