Is it just me, or do the shots of Hunter (especially the one in the white shirt) make it look like Ben Browder could reprise the role of Pike, (albeit with a more somber tone than he usually hits)? Admittedly, Greenwood's Pike was one of the better parts of the JJ movie.
Hunter looked somewhat leaner and sterner than these shots in the pilot, but still. .
Continuing more or less on topic. .
1st season Kirk was indeed the same idea for the role, as Roddenberry wanted that conflicted captain, but such would not survive the Mighty Shatner for long!
To be honest, tho the Shatmeister is well deserving of his rep for always thinking from that most central position, of self, and of occasionally overstating our man Kirk's import, his positive spirit *was* (at least, imo) a primary component in Trek's success; a despondent man in the center seat would have defeated the very hope that the series represented.
Trek worked largely because of "can do" Kirk: his ever-ready conspiratorial grin, and the sense that he really *did* get exited about people overcoming baser instincts to create and maintain a more enlightened existence (especially if such an inspired society included enlightened (emphasis on lightened) clothing for their women, with *some* allowances for baser instincts following therefrom, weekly).
Additionally, I don't see Hunter convincingly pulling off a romantic scene using "one of those points of light in the sky" as a landing line.
EDIT: I also think Shatner's performance wasn't as OTT *for the time* as people claim. Early TV, an untested and largely unmapped medium, was full of too-expressive acting, of the sort which IS appropriate on the live stage, where nuances are lost in distance, and unenunciated voices oft go unheard. It was a while before the reality of TV was figured out: subtle worked better since the camera caught everything.