Action and/or Adventure, Television

Tom Wopat in: MacGyver

as: Angus MacGyver (Who else?)

The timing of this one would’ve been perfect, as MacGyver began airing in the fall of 1985, after The Dukes of Hazzard had wrapped up its run in the spring of that year. Sure, Richard Dean Anderson would’ve been out of a job, but with Tom Wopat in the Angus MacGyver role, who would’ve missed him?

No one, that’s who. Wopat FTW!

Representative Scene: Opening Gambit

Obviously, for anyone to be a true MacGyver, they’ve got to do some MacGyvering. Anderson did a more than admirable job of this, as he basically invented it, but we think Tom Wopat could’ve been even better. The two actors share a similar physicality, and at the time had equally spectacular ‘80s hair. Luke Duke knew a thing or two about tinkering, having customized the General Lee to the hilt, so Wopat would likely have felt right at home rocking the Swiss Army Knife.

MacGyver’s “Opening Gambits” are the show’s cold opens where MacGyver MacGyvers his way out of a jam prior to the opening credits. Because they’re largely context-free, with MacGyver already elbow-deep in a mission, the Opening Gambits are a great place to start imagining Wopat in the role.

macgyver

Finding himself locked in a cluttered storage room by an unnamed villain, MacWopat must free himself using only what is readily available around him (as the character so often must).

Though he can’t just pick the dang lock, Tom MacGyver manages to unbolt a lengthy section of the room’s tubular ventilation shaft using just his bare hands. With a wide nylon packing strap he finds on one of the room’s many shelves, he secures the vent tube to a stack of wooden pallets.

MacWopat then stuffs a full beer keg, one of many stored in the corner of the room, into one end of the tube. The other end is pointed at the room’s sole door. He somehow unscrews the pressure gauge from the boiler (because of course that would be in the room, too) and jury rigs it onto the keg’s bunghole.

Using his sweet karate moves, our hero then smashes some of the wooden planks from the shelves into kindling, which he places into a handy metal bucket. He pours out a few bottles of whiskey onto the wood to help it light. However, Wopat then realizes he is sans fire starter. Fortunately, an overflowing ashcan yields a pack of matches.

Placing his bucket of kindling under the exposed end of the keg, MacWopat sets the wood and booze aflame. He watches as the pressure gauge slowly makes its way into the red. When he determines the time is right, Wopat gives the pressure gauge a swift kick. It snaps off, and the resulting jet of superheated beer sends the keg rocketing into the door, smashing it to splinters.

MacWopat escapes into the night. Roll opening credits.

Photo credit: Charles Williams via Foter.com / CC BY

Action and/or Adventure

Tom Wopat in: Batman

as: Batman/Bruce Wayne

batman

When it was first announced that Michael Keaton would play the role of the Caped Crusader in Tim Burton’s Batman, Warner Bros., the studio behind the film, received roughly fifty thousand letters of complaint. Keaton was far and away not the right man for the role. While Keaton’s performance ultimately proved these early critics wrong, we still think there’s one actor who would’ve been even better. (Bet you can’t guess who we’re thinking of!)

Key Changes

The first, and most obvious, change with Tom Wopat playing Batman (and his secret identity, billionaire playboy Bruce Wayne) is that this Batman would be much more in line with the roguishly handsome, athletic, and rugged character depicted in the comic books. One of the complaints about Keaton playing the role was that he was not a “traditionally” good looking chap—Wopat is about as traditionally good looking a guy as you’ll ever find.

Additionally, Wopat’s stunt-fighting work on The Dukes of Hazzard would have made him more convincing in Batman’s action scenes. Keaton (and/or his stuntman) certainly did an admirable job in the film, but Wopat’s history of kicking butt on camera would’ve given the fight scenes a little more credence.

Casting Tom Wopat as Batman (Wobat?) would’ve also created a sort-of crossover between two of the most iconic pop culture automobiles of all time. While the Wobatmobile certainly wouldn’t have been painted bright orange or featured a “Dixie” horn blast, seeing Luke Duke behind the wheel would’ve been an unforgettable sight.

And, while Batman’s driving in the film is precise and controlled, a loosey-goosey, Duke Boys style of driving would’ve been more believable, in my opinion. No one could make such tight, perfect turns at high speeds as those depicted in Batman—with a Batmobile that long (over 21 feet from nose to tailfins) and powerful (0-60 MPH in 3.7 seconds), fishtailing would’ve been all but inevitable.

Fun/Interesting Fact

Michael Keaton is four days older than Tom Wopat.

Photo credit: wiredforlego via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Action and/or Adventure

Tom Wopat in: The Fast & The Furious Series

as: Tom O’Conner

“There’s no ‘Tom O’Conner’ in the Fast & Furious movies?” says you, the blog reader/massive Vin Diesel fan. “Do you mean Brian O’Conner?” No, no I do not. For our purposes, we’ve added a new character to the series, played, of course, by Tom Wopat. How does he fit in? Read on, friend!

Fast & Furious: Generations

Trading on Tom Wopat’s reputation as an action-adventure guy who knows his way around a high-powered, custom automobile, but acknowledging that he’s a little too old to be part of the films’ regular crew, we’d have his character be the father of the above-mentioned Brian O’Conner (the late Paul Walker).

The fifth film in the physics- and logic-defying series, 5 Fast 5 Furious, establishes that Brian never really knew his father. We say fie on all that, and would’ve had Tom O’Conner be part of the series from the start. Though he’s now just a regular joe who works the factory floor at some random company—a brush manufacturer, maybe?—Tom spent a good bit of time in the World of Outlaws as a younger man. Tom passed his considerable driving skills on to Brian, allowing him to compete with the other skilled street racers in the first film. It’s not like the LAPD has a stunt driving school, you know.

Meh. Gimme the General any day of the week.

Meh. Gimme the General any day of the week.

Tom also clearly passed his piercing blue eyes and striking good looks to his son, so you’re welcome, ladies and select gentlemen. (Coincidentally, Tom Wopat is pretty much the perfect age to be Paul Walker’s father, so that works out smashingly.)

In our reimagining of the F&F movies, we’d have Wopat’s character show up in the first film for his one big scene, and pop up for cameos in the rest of the series. He’d most likely be in just one or two short scenes here and there, and maybe in some instances just being a voice at the other end of Walker’s phone. We see the Tom O’Conner character being the comic relief in most cases, with a few sage words of wisdom peppered in.

Representative Scene

In The Fast & the Furious (the first movie), after “proving” himself in a street race, Brian O’Conner and Dom Toretto (Diesel) flee the police who came to bust all the punks at said race. Brian takes Dom to his parents’ home, where the two hope to lay low for a while. As they pull into the driveway, Toretto spots a sweet, competition-orange 1969 Dodge Charger in the garage.

“Who’s ride is that?” he asks. “My old man’s,” Brian replies.

Inside, they find Tom O’Conner asleep in a Barcalounger with a Dodgers game on the TV before him. Brian wakes him up and, after introductions, Tom offers beers all around, which Brian and Dom gladly accept. Shortly, Brian excuses himself to use the restroom.

Tom’s no fool, and instinctively knows that Toretto is something of a ne’er-do-well. He gives his son’s bald, musclebound associate the third degree, trying to figure out just what his game is. Before long, Dom has had enough of the elder O’Conner’s questioning.

“Let it go, old man,” Toretto growls. “I don’t answer to you or anybody else.”

“Okay, tough guy,” Tom replies. “Don’t wanna hurt your feeling.”

“I’m gonna have to hurt a lot more than your feelings if you don’t shut your mouth,” Dom growls. (Note: “growls” is how Vin Diesel always talks.)

Lightning quick, Tom slaps Toretto across the face while simultaneously sweeping his legs out from under him. Brian returns from the loo just in time to see Dom hit the floor, with Tom standing over him, smirking.

Tom extends a hand to help Toretto to his feet, which he accepts. As he stands up again, Dom laughs and growls, “You know what, Brian? Your old man is all right.” From then on, respect all around.

Photo credit: Lee Bennett via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Original Wopatizations, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Armageddon 2 (A—More or Less—Original Wopatization)

as: Mark Frost

First off, let me say that, despite its obvious scientific inaccuracies and the fact that it’s directed by unabashed schlockmeister Michael Bay, I absolutely love Armageddon. I can’t really explain why, but I do. Hard. Which is why I would love to see a sequel, as utterly ridiculous as it would inevitably be.

As you may recall, the hero of the original Armageddon was Harry Stamper, played by Bruce Willis with typical Bruce Willisness. You may also recall that Harry got blown to smithereens at the end of the flick, sacrificing himself to ensure the detonation of the bomb that would blow up the “planet killer” asteroid.

To replace the Harry character in Armageddon 2: Armageddon Harder you’d need an actor who can fill ably fill those empty, Bruce Willis-sized shoes. That actor is Tom Wopat.

A much simpler solution to the asteroid problem.

A much simpler solution to the asteroid problem.

Plot Synopsis

Much like the original film, Armageddon 2 is about a giant asteroid that’s on a collision course with Earth, and the heroic oil rig workers and astronauts who work together to save the day. In Armageddon, Willis played the father of Liv Tyler’s character, Grace Stamper; in Armageddon 2, the lead character, Mark Frost, is the father of Ben Affleck’s character from the first film, A.J. Frost. (We’re going to assume that all the characters who didn’t die in the first film will be returning for the sequel, as will the actors who portrayed them.)

Again, the US guvment detects an incoming asteroid—this one FOUR times the size of Texas—and comes up with a cunning plan to stop it: the same plan they used dang near 20 years ago when it happened the first time! They round up A.J. and the rest of the gang, but determine that stopping a bigger asteroid requires a bigger crew. A.J. immediately volunteers his father, Mark (played by Tom Wopat).

A.J., Grace, et al set out to track Mark/Wopat down. They find him working in the booming oil fields of North Dakota, operating a frac sand plant. He hasn’t worked on an actual oil rig in years, he explains, and so has lost his touch for the precision deep-drilling needed for the mission. A.J. eventually convinces him to join them, and they set off for NASA HQ in Houston for training.

As NASA no longer flies its own space missions, the project is a joint venture between American and Chinese space agencies, and Chinese astronauts are training with A.J., Mark, and the US team. Mark, being an old-school, true-blue-American type, is more than a little reluctant to work with, as he puts it, “those Commie SOBs.”

The training goes remarkably well for the most part, as many of the crew went through a similar process in Armageddon. The whole gang takes off into space, this time in THREE separate shuttles—the Freedom II, the Independence II and the Liberty. As in the first film, the crew is divided up into multiple teams to ensure success in case one of them crashes into the asteroid and dies horribly (or fails in another, less spectacular fashion).

After a quick pit stop at the International Space Station, which does not go down in flames like Mir did in a similar situation in the first film, all three shuttles fly out to meet the asteroid head on, having learned a valuable lesson the last time out about approaching a colossal space object from behind. Nevertheless, Freedom II is struck by flying debris and is destroyed; her entire crew dies with her.

Independence II and Liberty land safely on opposite sides of the asteroid and commence drilling, with A.J. leading the crew of the former ship and Wopat captaining the team from the latter. Both teams work to drill to the center of the asteroid, so that another ginormous nuclear bomb can be stuffed inside. A.J.’s team is doing exceptionally well at first, hitting the various depth checkpoints well before the allotted time has passed. The other group initially fares poorly, as Mark continues to butt heads with his Chinese teammates.

Before long, A.J.’s drill hits a gas pocket, and the ensuing explosion (because everything unexpected must lead to an explosion in a Michael Bay movie) leaves A.J. injured and unable to continue his task. The drill itself, a new-and-improved version of the Armadillos from the first film, is damaged but still functional; they also lose the ability to communicate with the Liberty team. One of the Chinese team members takes control of the Armadillo and continues drilling.

Meanwhile, Wopat and crew are hitting their stride. Mark, despite his ongoing disputes with his Chinese colleagues, rediscovers his deep-drilling groove and is soon closing in on the target depth. However, their slow start means that the “zero hour,” the time by which they absolutely must detonate their bomb, is rapidly approaching.

To make matters worse, miscommunication between Mark and a Chinese crewman lead to their team’s drill being incapacitated following another (larger and louder than necessary) explosion. Following a considerable verbal and physical altercation, Wopat sets out to deploy the bomb, shoving it ahead of him into the hole he’s drilled. He knows they haven’t reached their mark, but there is no other alternative.

As he reaches the bottom of the hole, Mark/Wopat realizes that he’s in the same scenario that Harry Stamper found himself in all those years ago. Knowing he will likely die, he apologizes to his Chinese teammates in the kind of manly-yet-tearjerking monologue common to action movies of this ilk.

Just when all seems lost, Independence II’s team’s drill breaks through the opposite side of Mark’s asteroid hole. The two teams combined to drill a hole all the way through the asteroid, albeit unintentionally. The Chinese crew member operating the other Armadillo makes a totally hilarious joke about the irony of him drilling all the way through and finding an American.

Wopat rides to the surface on the Armadillo’s extendable arm, but not before placing the second bomb (from the Independence II). The hole through the asteroid somehow makes communication between the two teams possible again, and after a quick explanation of what happened, everyone hastily climbs aboard their respective spaceships.

They take off and are clear of the asteroid with a full minute to spare. The bombs detonate, the asteroid is essentially vaporized, and everyone lives happily ever after. Except all the guys who blew up with the Freedom II, but none of them were main characters anyway, so who cares?

Photo credit: originalrobart via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Star Wars

as: Han Solo, of course.

If The Duke of Hazzard hadn’t started airing two years after the original Star Wars movie was released, I’d be surprised as heck that things didn’t shake out this way to begin with. If you think about it, Han Solo and Luke Duke are clearly cut from the same cloth: roguish, a little bit cocky, dark haired, good looking, and both are excellent drivers/pilots with totally kicka$$ rides. (I guarantee the General Lee could make the Kessel Run in less than 12 parsecs.) And Tom Wopat and Harrison Ford both had flat-out spectacular hair in the late ‘70s, too.

Han Solo

Scene: Escape from the Death Star

After busting Princess Leia out of the Detention Level, and avoiding being squashed like a bug in the garbage compactor, the fearless Han Wopat leads Leia, Luke Skywalker, Chewbacca, R2-D2, and C-3PO back to hangar bay and the awaiting Millennium Falcon.

On the way, they encounter a patrol of Imperial Storm Troopers. Wopat and Chewbacca open fire and give chase.

*Here, we’d replace Han Solo’s pistol-style blaster with one that’s more similar to Chewie’s crossbow rifle, because, y’know, the Dukes love their bows and arrows. Maybe a hybrid pistol/crossbow blaster or something like that.*

After retreating from a phalanx of Storm Troopers who had ambushed them, Han Wopat and Chewbacca soon rendezvous with Luke, Leia, and the Droids. They dash toward the Falcon, with Wopat and Luke blasting enemies left and right.

As Darth Vader approaches, the group wisely decides to make a run for it. Wopat runs, jumps, and slides across the hood of the Falcon, then dives nimbly through the open window and into the driver’s seat. Chewie soon joins him as co-pilot, followed closely by the others, all of whom used the more traditional loading ramp as their entrance.

Wopat brings the Millennium Falcon roaring to life and stomps on the gas. Leaving a cloud of smoke and patches of burned rubber in his wake, he steers the ship up a conveniently-placed but wholly unnecessary ramp. The Rebels flee into space as the orchestral score plays a variation of the intro to Dixie.

Photo credit: John Kannenberg via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Kids and/or Family, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (1990 Version)

as: Baxter Stockman

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles are, essentially, one of the most successful results of a random drunken conversation ever. Over a few adult beverages, creators Kevin Eastman and Peter Laird more or less challenged each other to create the weirdest, most random comic book character they could think of. The result was the Ninja Turtles, quickly amended to the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles to make them even weirder.

No way a sober person came up with this.

No way a sober person came up with this.

After a relatively long and somewhat successful run of black and white comics (first self-published, then picked up by Mirage Studios), the series was transmogrified into the colorful action figures and cartoon series that made the Ninja Turtles into household names. The first feature film based on the characters, released in 1990, is still arguably the best, though it played fast and loose with the comic series’ established mythology (as well as the cartoon series’ mythology, which was itself significantly modified from the comic book version).

As such, we figured another tweak or two wouldn’t hurt. What better way to tweak…well, anything, than by adding Tom Wopat?

Wopatization Is Kind of Like Mutation

Baxter Stockman was always one of our favorite secondary TMNT characters, but he unfortunately never made it into the big leagues of live-action movies. Here, we set out to both correct that egregious oversight and give Tom Wopat a place in the greatest mutant-based film franchise of all time. (Sorry, X-Men.)

In the comic books and the cartoon series, Stockman starts out as a super-intelligent scientist working for the Shredder, and eventually ends up mutating into a humanoid fly (not unlike Jeff Goldblum in The Fly). He also invented the robotic Mousers that terrorize the Ninja Turtles and their mutant rat sensei, Splinter, many, many times throughout both series. Long story short, he’s a bad guy.

However, there’s more than enough going on in the first Ninja Turtles movie without adding another mutant baddie, so we’d leave his mutation (and the Mousers) for later films. In our Wopatized version of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Stockman would be one of those minor characters that you can tell will become important later on. (For other examples of this talking picture phenomenon, see basically any movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.)

Here, Stockman would be a brilliant, but unappreciated scientist whose occupational apathy gets him fired from TGRI, the company shown in the sequel, The Secret of the Ooze, to be responsible for the mutagen that made the Turtles what they are. Stockman soon enters Shredder’s employ, instantly becoming the smartest person on the Foot Clan payroll.

However, his genius is still underutilized. Instead of actual scientific research, Stockman is put to work sciencing up the metal stampings that make up Shredder’s armor in an attempt to make the razor-sharp metal plates even more deadly. Again feeling unappreciated, and realizing that his new boss is a villain, Stockman defects and joins the Ninja Turtles to thwart the Foot’s schemes.

Why Wopat?

Tom Wopat is the perfect actor for this role for a number of reasons. Number One, he’s awesome. No more explanation necessary there, amirite?

Beyond that, we feel that Wopat could very convincingly portray a super-scientist in this sort of film. At the time the film was released, he was 39 years old, which seems about right to be a scientist who’s that advance in his career, but also straight up sick of his job. Wopat would give the character the ideal balance of comic book energy, charm, and pathos. He’d also be just the right amount of famous to play a character about whom viewers are meant to think “he’s not that important now, but I bet he will be later.”

Photo credit: W10002 via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Iron Man

as: Tony Stark/Iron Man

Iron Man was the first film in what is now known as the “Marvel Cinematic Universe.” (Previous Marvel films—like Spider-Man and the Dolph Lundgren version of The Punisher—aren’t included in said universe because they weren’t produced/released by Marvel Studios.) It set the bar pretty high, and, for my money, has yet to be surpassed by any of the increasingly-interconnected comic book movies that have been made since.

Iron Man also heralded Robert Downey, Jr.’s big comeback. (Comeback #4 or so, by my count, but this one stuck.) RDJ is undoubtedly great in the role, and I for one am glad that he’s back in the Hollywood game; he seems like a pretty good dude, and just so happens to be one heck of an actor. Because he is so darned great, it seems inevitable that he would’ve made a solid comeback at some point, with or without Iron Man. There’s another actor who’s more than due for a comeback, and for whom the role of Iron Man would’ve been perfect. You’ll never guess who I’m thinking of…

iron mang

Why Not Wopat?

RDJ’s take on Tony Stark/Iron Man is an equal mix of charm, attitude, and smarts. Another character that matches that description? Tom Wopat’s Luke Duke. Imagine if, instead of souping up a ’69 Dodge Charger, Luke put his mechanical know-how to work building a high-powered, weaponized suit of armor—pretty much a perfect fit, no? Give essentially the same rambunctious rapscallion a few billion dollars, knowledge of advanced military technology, and some state-of-the-art precision machining equipment, and you’ve got Tony Stark.

Tom Wopat’s definitely got the chops to carry the role. What about the look? In the comics, Tony Stark has always looked more or less like RDJ did in his portrayal: dark hair, goatee, etc. Wopat’s got hair for days, but he might look a little funny with the hipster-magician facial hair Downey sports in Iron Man. Surely the hair and makeup department could’ve found a style that would fit Wopat’s handsome mug.

One big difference between RDJ and Tom Wopat is their age: when Iron Man was released, Downey was 43; Wopat was 56. RDJ is already a little on the “old” side to be portraying a superhero, even one that doesn’t actually rely on physical superpowers (as all of Iron Man’s abilities come from his super suit). However, I think Wopat’s additional years would’ve actually made more sense for the character. Follow me here:

In the comics, Tony Stark is the CEO of Stark Industries, one of the biggest weapons manufacturers in the world and a multi-billion dollar corporation. Though he essentially inherited the position from his father, Howard Stark, the founder of the company, how many major, multi-billion dollar CEOs are in their 40s when they reach that echelon? I’d guess not many. Iron Man’s director, Jon Favreau, has stated that he was going for a more realistic feel for the film (as realistic as one can be when chronicling the exploits of a dude in a walking tank), so an older, though still as cocky and confident, Tony Stark would be more believable.

Another plus for Wopat: he’s several inches taller than RDJ. In superhero movies, bigger is always better, especially when it comes to the hero himself. A minor quibble, but a taller Iron Man is a bigger Iron Man is a better Iron Man, no doubt.

Photo credit: Chris Blakeley via Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: Terminator 2

as: Miles Dyson

Let us preface this by saying that we strongly dislike the Terminator movies. We don’t object to the violence or the salty language; no, we object to the fact that the basic premise of the series is stupid.

If Skynet and their robotic minions are so smart, why did they make their cyborgs—which are initially intended to infiltrate the human resistance and wipe it out from the inside—all look alike, and more than that, make them all look like an easily recognizable person? “Hey,” a human resistance fighter says as another perfectly-muscled stranger strides up to their camp, “isn’t that the same meathead who tried to blow us up last week?” If, for whatever reason, the Terminators did all have to look the same, wouldn’t it have worked better if they looked like average dudes?

Also: if your cyborgs are meant to blend in with your enemy, and the majority of the fighting apparently takes place in (the ruins of) America, why give them thick Austrian accents?

With that in mind, we dreamed up a scenario in which Tom Wopat, stepping into Joe Morton’s role, makes one small choice that ultimately ends the series at its logical conclusion (the end of the second movie).

Squint and it looks just like Tommy Dubya.

Squint and it looks just like Tommy Dubya.

Key Changes

Rather than changes based on the actor playing the role, the Wopatized Terminator 2 would change the path the character takes. This change could easily have been made with Morton still in the role, but if we’re going to have an actor save us from three—and counting?—lousy sequels and a short-lived, easily-forgotten TV series, it might as well be Tom Wopat, right? Right.

The Wopatized film progresses exactly as the original version up until Arnold Schwarzenegger leads John Connor, Sarah Connor, and Wopat’s Miles Dyson to Cyberdyne Systems’ headquarters. There, instead of destroying the remaining components of the destroyed Terminator from the first film, he simply alters all the blueprints and data that Cyberdyne has thus far developed toward the creation of new cyborgs.

He doesn’t even need to make significant changes. By simply altering the designs so that each component is a tenth of an inch off from its original dimensions, it would completely screw everything up. Parts for the prototype Terminators would come back from the short run stampers and nothing would fit right.

Instead of blowing himself up in a gigantic fireball that takes half the building with him, Wopat/Dyson could just keep fudging the information every month or so. Just like five or six different parts (out of probably thousands) every time—not enough so it’s easily noticeable sabotage, but enough to keep the machine from being assembled correctly. Eventually, the Cyberdyne bigwigs would tire of wasting money on a project that is going nowhere, and would cancel the whole thing.

Granted, this tactic wouldn’t help defeat the evil, shapeshifting T-1000, but hey, that’s what Arnie’s there for.

Photo credit: Thomas Hawk via Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Action and/or Adventure, Original Wopatizations, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Water-Man: An Original Wopatization

Superhero/comic book movies are all the rage these days, even if their source materials are becoming increasingly obscure—there’s going to be an Inhumans movie, for crying out loud. Since these flicks are more popular than ever, regardless of the familiarity of their characters, we thought we’d concoct our own superhero tale for the one and only Tom Wopat.

Though he’s not the “typical” actor you see playing a superhero, we think Tom Wopat is an ideal choice. First of all, he’s got enough name recognition that moviegoers would think, “Tom Wopat as a superhero? That seems odd,” which would build intrigue (much like Heath Ledger’s casting as the Joker in The Dark Knight). Intrigue sells tickets.

Second, why do superheroes always have to be young dudes? Putting an older actor such as Mr. Wopat in the starring role would: A) make it feel slightly more grounded in reality (what are the odds that the only people who ever get superpowers are those under 30?); and B) bring in the older audience that most superhero flicks are missing out on. Young folks come for an action-packed superhero tale, older folks come for the relatable man of a certain age doing the heroing. It’d be like printing money!

He is Water. He is Man. He is… Water-Man!

Water-Man

Brock Benjamin (played by Tom Wopat) is an ordinary guy in NYC. He makes a living installing industrial equipment at locations all over the city. One day, he’s installing a commercial water softener at an experimental research facility when an explosion (caused by the film’s villain, the Blue Buzzard) knocks him into the softener’s deep reservoir tank.

Before he can swim to the surface and climb out of the tank, an experiment at the facility, designed to simulate lightning, goes haywire and unleashes a massive blast of gamma radiation. The building is leveled, but the tank Wopat’s character was in is miraculously spared destruction.

Benjamin/Wopat stumbles out of the rubble. Fire blazes all around him. Having been momentarily blinded by the explosions, and knocked a little loopy by bonking his head on the side of the tank, he staggers into a flaming pile of wreckage. Rather than being burned, Wopat finds that he has extinguished the flames just by touching them.

He singlehandedly puts out the entire, huge fire at the research facility, dousing the last burning embers just as the fire department arrives, sirens blaring. “How the heck did you do that?” ask the grizzled fire chief.

“I… I don’t know,” Benjamin/Wopat says. He turns to walk away, morphing into a walking puddle that pours through a sewer grate and disappears.

Later, back at his shabby flat in the Bronx, Wopat tests his newfound abilities. The gamma radiation has fused the molecules of his body with those of the water in the tank. He is now capable of turning into water at will, of shooting almost endless volumes of water from his hands, and of manipulating other bodies of water telekinetically. (This last one also applies to other fluids that are mostly water, including Miller Lite—product placement ahoy!—which leads to a humorous scene at a pub where he shows his old buddy, John [played by John Schneider, naturally], his new powers.)

From there, the flick follows the usual superhero movie formula: a burgeoning love interest who will later be imperiled by her connection to Water-Man, an over-the-top villain (the aforementioned Blue Buzzard) with some sort of world-conquering scheme, a huge CGI battle that causes several hundred million dollars’ worth of damage, etc. We’re still ironing out the details, obviously.

Photo credit: Panegyrics of Granovetter via Foter.com / CC BY-SA

Action and/or Adventure, Science Fiction and/or Fantasy

Tom Wopat in: The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

as: Strider/Aragorn

Viggo Mortensen, the actor who ultimately portrayed Aragorn in the blockbuster Lord of the Rings trilogy, did a mighty fine job. He was so into the character, according to interviews in the films’ DVD special features, that he would carry his sword with him at all times (even after shooting wrapped for the day), he learned the entire Elvish language J.R.R. Tolkien created (as opposed to just learning his few Elvish lines phonetically), and, after production, he bought the horse that he rode in the second and third films. And, he was just the right amount of “unknown actor” that he’s been hard-pressed to shake the “Hey, you’re Aragorn” thing in later roles; it’s equally hard to imagine anyone else playing the part.

However, Mortensen was not the filmmakers’ first choice—an equally (mostly) unknown actor named Stuart Townsend initially won the part. After four days of filming, director Peter Jackson recast Mortensen in the role, feeling that Townsend was too young the character who would become King of Middle Earth.

Tom Wopat is eight years older than Viggo Mortensen (in the films—and the books, of course—the character is 87). And he would have been a perfect choice to play Aragorn.

This could've been a Tom Wopat action figure, dammit!

This could’ve been a Tom Wopat action figure, dammit!

Key Changes

At the time the films were released, Tom Wopat would’ve been one of the more widely-known members of the cast—not necessarily by name, but most people would’ve recognized Luke Duke amongst the Fellowship before probably 90 percent of the other actors. This would likely have changed the dynamic of the film somewhat—Aragorn is one of the trilogy’s most important characters as is, but with a more famous face, he probably would have received an even larger allotment of screen time.

I don’t think I’ve ever seen Tom Wopat with a beard, but I doubt it would’ve been a problem for him to grow the appropriate amount of facial hair for the role. There’s always makeup, too, if actually growing a beard was out of the question. And—if we want to get down to the real nerdy nuts-and-bolts of the character—Aragorn wasn’t actually supposed to have a beard, anyway. In Tolkien’s Unfinished Tales, it specifically states that he doesn’t, due to his half-Elven heritage (for whatever reason, Tolkien elves don’t grow facial hair).

Other than that, not much would need to be different. In hair color, height, and build, Wopat and Mortensen are pretty much Even Stevens. Both have recorded and released a number of music albums, and for my money, Wopat has the better voice, which would have made the few scenes in which Aragorn sings more enjoyable.