Thirty years ago, the '80s comedy classic Adventures in Babysitting featured a climactic scene that, somewhat bafflingly, centered on the character of Marvel's Thor.
The character was gearing up to appear in the 1988 TV movie The Incredible Hulk Returns, but had not yet appeared at all in live action and was not, to people outside of comic book fandom, particularly well-known. Many fans, then, wondered how Chris Columbus ended up bringing the God of Thunder to his teen comedy.
“We tried to get Spider-Man. That was our big push and that’s who we wanted. [Marvel] were like no, no, no,” screenwriter David Simkins explained following a screening in Hollywood on Friday. “We went through the whole list [of characters] and then finally I think Marvel came to us and said, 'We’ve got this Thor guy. Just take him and use him and do whatever you want with it. It doesn’t matter to us.'”
Deciding on a superhero was an event unto itself, but before it was Thor (or Spider-Man, or whoever), the deus-ex-auto mechanic was almost a TV newsman.
“In the original script, she had a crush on Dan Rather,” Simkins said. “I kid you not. She was a news junkie. It went through many iterations. Then she had a crush on the Chicago Bears. This was when [Jim] McMahon was big and [then Touchstone executive] Jeffrey Katzenberg wisely said no because ‘in 10 minutes nobody will remember them.’”
Katzenberg left Disney for DreamWorks long before the company ever acquired Marvel and started making superhero movies, so this was surprisingly his one bite at the apple (at least so far).
Simkins did not specify how Dan Rather or the Chicago Bears might have played into the story of Adventures in Babysitting, although one would assume that it probably would have been quite differently than what Vincent D'Onofrio ended up doing with Thor. He did, though, acknowledge that while they may not have gone in angling for Thor, they were ultimately glad he was the character Marvel was willing to let them use.
“We got the runt of the litter, but thank God we did,” Simkins said.