Hugh Jackman has been playing Wolverine in the 'X-Men' movies for so long that it's hard to imagine anyone else in the role at this point. Heck, it's hard to believe that he wasn't even the first choice for the role and only nabbed it after Dougray Scott had to pull out at the last second. But before they ultimately cast a (at the time) relatively unknown Australian actor, the first 'X-Men' movie pursued one of the most famous Australian-born actors in Hollywood for the role.

Yep, Mel Gibson could have played Wolverine and concept art exists to prove it.

In 1997, three years before Bryan Singer's first 'X-Men' movie arrived in theaters, Gibson was approached about playing the adamantium-clawed mutant superhero. It's the kind of casting that makes perfect sense at the time -- Gibson was one of the biggest stars in the world, a likable onscreen presence with a record of leading major hits and a fresh Oscar under his belt. Most importantly, he seemed just feral enough to give Wolverine the necessary edge. Nearly two decades (and countless scandals) later, the idea of Gibson taking on this role seems like a bad joke, but mid-'90s Gibson was a whole different beast than 2014 Gibson.

Although the studio ultimately passed on Gibson due to reported salary concerns, concept art revealed by Will McCrabb (via Yahoo Movies UK) from their courtship with the actor still exists and it's really weird. Seeing it is a reminder that, once upon a time, Gibson could have played superheroes, not the villains in B-productions like 'The Expendables 3' and 'Machete Kills.' This is the closest you'll ever get to an actual time warp to 1997.

We imagine that younger 'X-Men' fans who grew up in an age where Gibson was a big joke won't get it, but man, this art represents something that feels all too plausible.

Mel Gibson Wolverine Concept Art
Miles Teves via Twitter

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