Eleven Movies That Almost Starred Bears (and would have been way better)

Did you know that some of the biggest movies of all time could have been even better until someone at the studio dropped the ball and ruined everything? It’s true, many movies started out with bears in lead roles but they changed their mind at the last second.

Just imagine how much better these movies would have been if Hollywood had left well enough alone and kept the bears where they belonged: in every movie ever made.

Thanks to the BNN Facebook fans for helping compile this list.

1. Armageddon (1998)
Original title: Bearmageddon

(Suggested by Travis Vail)

For being a movie about the end of the world, Armageddon got a little mushy at times. Turns out the studio dialed the action and violence way back on this one to make more room for Ben Affleck making out with Liv Tyler. Big mistake, Hollywood. In the original version, the asteroid was covered in hostile bears and the drilling crew was mauled as soon as they landed on the asteroid, then the world ended. It seems the producers got wet feet when the ending didn’t test well with crybabies.



2. Home Alone (1990)
Original title: Jingle Bears

(Suggested by David Bergeron)

In the original script for Home Alone, Macaulay Culkin’s character, Kevin was going to be stalked relentlessly by two very cunning grizzly bear hunters. It wasn’t until the studio decided they wanted to go family friendly that they replaced the bears with two dopey criminals and made Kevin into the Wile E. Coyote of child actors.

3. March of the Penguins (2005)
Original title: Munch on Some Penguins

(Suggested by Dylan Marvin)

Disney’s touching documentary is all smoke and mirrors. Literally, almost 99% of the film had to be redone using CGI because the original film (which was way better) was about a large horde of penguins inadvertently finding themselves in bear country. The entire movie was footage of uppity, tuxedo wearing penguins getting chewed to bits in the jaws of Alaskan Kodiak Bears.


4. Lethal Weapon (1987)
Original title: Grizz & Murtaugh

(Suggested by Guy Samsquamch)

Most people think Lethal Weapon was a great film. It was unless you realize what it could have been. In Shane Black’s original script, Detective Murtaugh (Danny Glover) is forced to partner with a reckless loose cannon grizzly bear named Grizz who has a chip on his shoulder and doesn’t play by the rules. The script didn’t change much except that they switched “Grizz” with Riggs and replaced the bear with Mel Gibson and the bear’s cave with a small trailer on the beach.



5. Rocky IV (1985)
Original title: Rocky Dies

(Suggested by Daniel Swinton)

Sylvester Stallone had written the perfect script. A Rocky movie that was more than just another underdog story. Rocky IV was set to be a brutal, Shakespearean tale about a man who had such pride in his sweet science he thought he could take on a Russian grizzly bear in the ring. The tragic ending was lauded by the studio at first as unconventional and poignant, but once the film was done, Stallone got cold feet. He didn’t want the unending string of sequels to ever end. He knew that maybe one day he would write Rocky V and it would be the greatest one ever made. Well, we all know how that went. They replaced the bear with Dolph Lundgren, and the movie was good but now you know how great it could have been.



6. Pacific Rim (2013)
Original title: Ursine Storm

(Suggested by Andy Clark)

Guillermo Del Toro’s Kaiju VS. Robot epic, Pacific Rim is a disappointment when you see the rare footage of the film’s original battles. Before Knifehead and Mutavore were written into the script, there were bears the size of football stadiums coming up out of the ocean and tearing the Jaegers limb from limb. Though the movie was significantly shorter, it was undeniably cooler.



7. Joe Versus the Volcano (1990)
Original title: Bear vs. Volcano

(Suggested by Adam Boal)

Before it was a zany family friendly romp starring Tom Hanks, Joe vs. the Volcano was the first movie ever made where a volcano is literally defeated on camera without any special effects. The original film, Bear vs. Volcano featured the world’s largest grizzly bear single-handedly laying waste to an active volcano. Hello, who doesn’t want to see that?


8. the Exorcist (1973)
Original title: The Exurcist

It’s amazing to think that one of the greatest horror films ever made actually could have been a lot better. In the original version of The Exorcist, the priest, Father Bearrin, is played by a 1,800-pound Kodiak. Grizzly bears aren’t afraid of little girls with crucifixes and spinning heads. In this version of the film, Regan was devoured almost the moment she showed signs of possession, then the bear dug a pit to hell and killed every last demon before he hunted down Satan himself and chewed his head right off of his neck. Why this version was never released still baffles film buffs to this day.



9. Over the Top (1987)
Original title: A Bear Tore My Arm Off

Though the film Over the Top already was considered “over the top” by most critics, director Menahem Golan’s original vision for the film was much more dangerous to film. Sylvester Stallone would have found himself competing in an underground arm wrestling tournament between truck drivers and giant Eurasian brown bears. The never-ending slaughter would result in a pyramid of detached human arms lying in the corner. When Stallone sat down to arm wrestle his first bear, he nearly lost his appendage and refused to be in the movie unless they took the bears out.



10. Mrs. Doubtfire (1993)
Original title: Bear Dad

The touching 90s comedy in which Robin Williams disguises himself as an old woman in order to invest in his relationship with his kids wasn’t always about an old woman named Mrs. Doubtfire. In the original version of the film, Robin Williams would turn himself into a massive grizzly bear, tear the door down of his ex-wife’s fancy house, rip Pierce Brosnan limb from limb and lead the children out into the wilderness to live in a cave. But ultimately Robin Williams complained the bear suit was too hot and after a lot of arguments among studio execs the film went from being about a grizzly bear to an old woman with a weird nose.


11. The Dark Knight (2008)
Original title: Night Bear

It would be nice if Hollywood would stick closer to the originals, but they never do. Case in point, you know Batman? He was supposed to be a bear all along. A massive grizzly bear who lives in a cave full of bats. But that all changed once the caped crusader was transitioned to the silver screen. Studio execs decided the bear effects were too expensive, and hiring a real bear was too dangerous. Ultimately, Night Bear became the Dark Knight and now the greatest movie ever made is sitting in a vault somewhere at Warner Bros.


What do you think? Would these movies have been better with bears in them? Silly question, I know. Do you know other movies that would have been better with bears? Tell us in the comments and share this article with your friends. Maybe if word gets out, Hollywood will start making movies the way they should have been made all along. With bears.


Editor in Chief of BNN. Author of Bearmageddon, Axe Cop and the upcoming Dickinson Killdeer’s Guide to Bears of the Apocalypse: Ursine Abominations of the End Times and How to Defeat Them.

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