Robin Williams could have been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? It feels odd to say and even more tragic to think about when considering the legend’s passing a few years ago. But there was a time when Williams was actually part of a Marvel movie well before the actual MCU had her been conceived. According to a feature in Variety, Williams was on the set for Howard the Duck voicing the character but lasted only three days.
According to the Variety feature, Robin Williams was the original voice of Howard the Duck back when the original, 1986, movie first came out. The flick had already been shot with the Howard the Duck lines having originally been read by on-stage puppeteers who were controlling the animatronic duck. The bill flapped up and down to mimic the talking but the voice was just done by the people on set. Robin Williams was brought in later to render the voiceover piece with his style.
But according to the story, Robin Williams didn’t last long, leaving because of immense frustration over the process. The problem was that Williams’ style, ad-libbing, adding significant excitement and just general insanity just wouldn’t line up with how Howard the Duck’s bill was moving. Apparently, Williams just couldn’t get the lines in sync with how he wanted to voice the part. He ended up just calling it quits, not wanting to work to reign in his vocal style to match something that had already been done. He probably made the right choice when it was all said and done.
Though Robin Williams left the set of Howard the Duck, the movie went forward with production, ultimately grabbing Chip Zien at the last second to come in and take over the voice duties. And as I said, from a decision perspective, Williams probably landed on the right side of this thing all said and done. Though it has become something of a cult classic over the years, Howard the Duck was a spectacular bomb at the time. It barely made back its $35 million budget at the box office and critics universally panned it, scoring a paltry 14% on Rotten Tomatoes.
If a new iteration had come around, would there have been a place for Robin Williams in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the voice of Howard the Duck? Maybe. Certainly, the comedic legend’s skills would have more than played in the part. And to Marvel’s credit, they are trying to reintroduce the character, around the periphery as something of a mea culpa for that original film. Howard has appeared in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies in cameos with a more hardened and devil-may-care roughness that is more in line with the original comic book than the movie portrayed.
Unfortunately, Robin Williams passed away in 2014 by suicide, bringing a tragic end to one of the true legends of our time on the big and small screen. His career is nearly unparalleled in terms of range and just true magnetism on screen. He made the right decision at the time to walk away from Howard the Duck and went on to have one of the most amazing careers we’ve ever seen in the industry.