20 years ago, Ray Park was set to play a Marvel hero in non-MCU shows and movies before MCU and Sony appearances.
Having been cast as Iron Fist in a movie that never came to be, Ray Park never got his lead role in the film.
The cancelation of the Marvel and Artisan Entertainment projects led to the birth of the successful Marvel Cinematic Universe.

20 years ago, Ray Park, star of X-Men and Star Wars: Episode One – The Phantom Menace, nearly played a Marvel hero who has since had a disappointing 2017 Netflix series. 2000 saw Variety release a report that outlined several plans Marvel made in collaboration with Artisan Entertainment to turn many of the comic book company’s popular assets into non-MCU shows and movies. This plan included Deadpool, Captain America, Thor, and Morbius projects in film and television that pre-dated their MCU and Sony appearances – one of which was set to star none other than Ray Park.

Ray Park has built a successful career as a stuntman and actor. He was cast as Darth Maul in Star Wars, with the voice provided by Peter Serafinowicz. Following his success there, the actor played some other notable roles like Toad in the original X-Men movie cast, and Snake Eyes in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra and its sequel Retaliation. Celebrated for his physical prowess and abilities, the actor was eyed for more significant projects, including the lead role in one of the Artisan Entertainment collaborations.


All Marvel Movies Releasing In 2024

The Marvel movies releasing in 2024 offer a range of film experiences – and some confusion, due to the changed dates of several incoming installments.

Ray Park’s Iron Fist Movie Explained

Ray Park’s Iron Fist Movie Report Details What Could Have Been

Ray Park was cast to play the titular role in an Iron Fist movie directed by Che-Kirk Wong. The Variety report explains about the film, which was intended to be about an orphan taught a mystical martial art which allows his first [sic] to become literally an iron weapon.” The film was speculated to be Danny Rand’s origin story. It would have capitalized on the era’s increasing fascination with martial arts movies, which was present in films like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, and Shanghai Noon.

While the type of role was a departure from the villains and silent types that Ray Park tended to play, it did seem like an excellent choice for the actor’s incredible physical abilities. While a markedly different kind of performer than Finn Jones, who took on the role in the eventual and much criticized Iron Fist Netflix show, seeing more of Park as a lead performer would have been interesting. Unfortunately, the film never ultimately came together.


10 Iron Fist Mistakes Marvel Can Fix For His MCU Return

It seems as though Iron Fist may be returning to the MCU, if that’s true, Marvel will need to address some serious issues with the character first.

Why Iron Fist’s First Movie Was Canceled

The Iron Fist Movie Plans Came At An Unfortunate Time

None of the titles announced between Artisan and Marvel came to fruition. Due to financial concerns and mergers, the deal between the two fell through. Marvel sold off some of their rights to Fox and held on to others, but the plan for an Iron Fist movie disappeared. Instead, the studio created the Marvel Cinematic Universe several years later with the characters they had the rights to, and a Netflix series about Danny Rand was released in 2017.

Ray Park has continued to act through the years, although nothing in a lead role like he was intended for in Iron Fist. The cancelation of these Artisan projects is interesting to reflect on years later: it is intriguing to imagine a Black Panther film starring Wesley Snipes or a Thor television series in the early 2000s. Still, if those had been made, audiences would likely not have the same beloved Marvel Cinematic Universe they now have.


10 MCU Movies & TV Shows Perfect For Iron Fist’s Return

Iron Fist actor Finn Jones has recently teased his return to the MCU, and there are several upcoming and potential projects that could bring him back.

Unfortunately, audiences never saw Ray Park in Iron Fist, despite the actor being interestingly well-suited to the role, as the Defenders saga ultimately brought a different version of the character. Still, with the MarvelIron Fist Netflix series being poorly received, it seems likely that a new character iteration may be introduced to the MCU shortly – though that, too, is unlikely to be played by Ray Park. However, the actor is said to be returning to Marvel as Toad in the upcoming Deadpool & Wolverine, allowing him to appear once more in the superhero genre.

Marvel Cinematic Universe

The Marvel Cinematic Universe is a multimedia superhero franchise that began in 2008 with Paramount’s Iron Man starring Robert Downey Jr. The franchise quickly grew in popularity, with Disney eventually buying out Marvel Entertainment in 2009. The MCU consists of dozens of movies and TV shows, most notably Avengers: Endgame, WandaVision, and Loki.

Upcoming Marvel Movies

Release Date

Deadpool & Wolverine

July 26, 2024

Captain America: Brave New World

February 14, 2025


May 2, 2025

The Fantastic Four

July 25, 2025


November 7, 2025

Avengers: The Kang Dynasty

May 1, 2026

Avengers: Secret Wars

May 7, 2027

“}]] 1 villain actor nearly played another Marvel hero.  Read More