During the annual Marvel Studios panel held at the 2016 San Diego Comic-Con, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn revealed Kurt Russell would play a bipedal version of Ego the Living Planet. What’s more, Gunn added, Kurt’s incarnation of the classic cosmic villain would be his film’s version of Star-Lord’s (Chris Pratt) father. The news pleased Marvel fans in attendance, though it also utterly demolished what was left of the rumors that Mar-vell would be Star-Lord’s father, and that Matthew McConaughey would play the role.
McConaughey was allegedly offered a major part in the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, but turned it down for the upcoming adaptation of Stephen King’s The Dark Tower novel. Very little was known about the nature of McConaughey’s initial offer from Marvel, or why he turned it down, but in a recent interview with Playboy the actor explained why he ultimately chose one fantasy world over the other:
I like Guardians of the Galaxy, but what I saw was “It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.” I’d feel like an amendment. The Dark Tower script was well written, I like the director and his take on it, and I can be the creator, the author of the Man in Black — a.k.a. the Devil — in my version of this Stephen King novel. We’ve done the first one. It’s a fantastic thriller that takes place in another realm, an alternate universe, but it’s very much grounded. For instance, the gunslinger’s weapon isn’t a lightsaber or something; it’s a pistol. I enjoyed approaching my character as if I were the Devil having a good time, getting turned on by exposing human hypocrisies wherever he finds them.
In other words, McConaughey opted for The Dark Tower because he liked Danish writer/director Nikolaj Arcel’s take on it. That, and he wanted to “be the creator” of his own version of the “Man in Black” — further signalling his appreciation for The Dark Tower‘s newness when compared to the burgeoning Marvel universe.
But what “colorful part for another big-name actor” did Marvel and Gunn flash before McConaughey’s eyes to attract his attention? He never mentions any details in the Playboy interview, leaving the door open to all kinds of speculation about who McConaughey would’ve played. Would he have been Ego? The role ultimately went to Russell, though as Gunn said in an interview, the Big Trouble in Little China actor wasn’t his first choice. What about Mar-vell? Or another unmentioned (or unused) character?
The world may never know.