Fantasy booking actors into roles, namely superhero ones, is always fun, especially when you find out that some of your choices almost became reality, like the ones listed below! Marvel has dominated the superhero genre for the past 10 years with their cinematic universe, delivering movie after movie that have been hailed as critical successes and dominated the box office. Along the way, they have helped propel countless actors careers into superstardom and even helped revitalize the careers of a few others. But, in order for that to happen, several other actors had to be passed over for roles that could’ve changed their lives forever.
And then there are the ones who willing passed on the roles and watched the paycheck and fame pass them by. A lot of superheroes have joined the Avengers since the initiative started with Iron Man, and if the rumors are true, after Infinity War, they’ll be in need of some replacements. It’s possible that some of the actors on this list who missed out on one character may end up being perfect for another one down the line. Or an actor who regretted turning down a role will not let the next opportunity pass them by. But when it comes to the past and this list, there are some actors that you can easily envision in the role they auditioned for, a few where you’ll wonder what the heck the studio was thinking, and then there are the wildcards that were so crazy, they just might have worked (number 8, especially). So, whether or not they regret the opportunity they missed, here are – 20 Actors Who Missed Out On Being An Avenger.
20 Tom Cruise – Iron Man
The entire success of the Marvel Cinematic Universe lied entirely on the shoulders of the first film, 2008’s Iron Man, so it’s hard to imagine if they would’ve reached the same amount of success they have today without Robert Downey Jr. However, if you replace him with someone who is already an established star, like Tom Cruise, you got a decent shot at replicating that success. Tom Cruise as Iron Man goes way back to the early 2000s, with Cruise set to star in and produce an Iron Man movie, even before Jon Favreau was involved.
Ultimately, Cruise left the project after nearly a decade of trying to get it made, and RDJ ended up winning the role.
There’s no denying that Cruise had the star power back then to carry the franchise and the MCU, but it’s interesting to wonder if his take on the character would have connected with the fans the same way RDJ did. With that being said, I’m sure there is an alternate timeline where Cruise is Iron Man, and the MCU is probably doing just fine.
19 Liam Hemsworth – Thor
This is an example of sibling rivalry at its finest. That’s right, there was a time when Liam Hemsworth, the youngest Hemsworth brother, was being considered for the God of Thunder, and he is also slightly responsible for Chris Hemsworth landing the role.
Chris and Liam both auditioned for Thor, but it was Liam who got further along in the selection process than Chris. However, not wanting to be outdone by his little brother, Chris asked for another chance at the role and got it.
It turns out, Mama Hemsworth may have a favourite son, as she read lines with Chris for the audition tape he made for the producers, which put him back in contention for the role. Poor Liam not only had the role stolen right out from under him, but from his own flesh and blood! Liam has gone on to forge a decent career for himself since, but there’s no denying he would have become the popular Hemsworth that everyone knows and loves if he had landed the role.
18 Tom Hiddleston – Thor
Unlike the previous entries, at least Tom Hiddleston was able to find his way into the MCU in the end, but as an enemy to the Avengers, and a great one at that. Before he landed the role of Thor’s brother, Loki, Hiddleston took a stab at playing the hero. Like Liam, Hiddleston made it far in the audition process, to the point where he was given a screen test in full Thor gear.
However, even though he fully committed to the role by dying his hair blond and getting jacked, he didn’t have what the studio was looking for in Thor.
But they clearly saw something special in him, and as a result, we got one of the best Marvel villains to date. There’s no denying that Hiddleston is a fantastic actor, but it feels like the attributes that make his performance as Loki so great, would have been lost as the hero.
17 John Krasinski – Captain America
Long before the lovable goofball on a hit NBC show, Chris Pratt, joined the MCU as Star-Lord, another lovable goofball on a hit NBC show, John Krasinski, auditioned to be a Marvel superhero as well. That’s right, Jim Halpert almost became Captain America. Let that sink in for a moment. John has proven in the years after The Office that he can be an action hero, with the body to back it up. However, at the time, he would’ve been asking the audience to suspend their disbelief a bit too much, which he even agreed with, as he admitted that was one of the reasons why he ended up pulling out of the running.
He’s another actor on this list to make it all the way to a screen test, but you won’t find his footage anywhere since he never went through with it.
Apparently, he ran into Chris Hemsworth before the test, which made him realize that he didn’t have the right physical look to play the Hitler punching hero, so he left.
16 Emily Blunt – Black Widow & Agent Carter
This is the closest anyone on this list has gotten to being an Avenger, as Emily Blunt was actually cast as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 and was ready to film. Unfortunately, she had to pull out at the last minute due to a scheduling conflict. The movie she ended up doing instead? Gulliver’s Travels, which is not the best trade-off, that’s for sure. An action movie would’ve been something new for Blunt, but after seeing her performance in Edge of Tomorrow, there’s no denying that she would’ve been a perfect fit for the former Russian spy.
Blunt did get a second chance at the MCU, in a much smaller role, when she was offered to play Agent Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, but again, she had to drop out because of a scheduling conflict.
And no, it wasn’t for Gulliver’s Travels 2. It’s unclear how many more opportunities Blunt will be given to be a part of the MCU, but hopefully she ends up landing a role, as she would be a great fit and fresh addition to the Avengers.
15 Jessica Chastain - The Wasp
Back when Edgar Wright was attached to Ant-Man, reports suggested that he was seriously considering Jessica Chastain as The Wasp for the film, but she ended up turning it down. This does sound like it would have been a huge acquisition now, but Chastain wasn’t quite the star then that she is today. She was, however, at the right point in her career when Marvel likes to snatch up soon-to-be stars for their heroes, and it no doubt would have been huge for her career.
Then again, Chastain has proven time and again that she didn’t need the extra rub, and with where her career is at now, it would be difficult to see her in a Marvel film anytime soon, if ever. So, we may have missed our chance of seeing Chastain in a superhero outfit.
14 Olivia Wilde – Gamora
Olivia Wilde is another actor on this list who didn’t lose out on the role but turned it down altogether. She was offered the role of Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy, which ended up going to Zoe Saldana, who has been great in the role and made it her own, but it definitely feels like Wilde could have easily hit it out of the park as well.
Wilde never gave any reason as to why she turned down the green-skinned Guardian, but it’s possible that she was holding out for a starring role, particularly that of Captain Marvel.
Unfortunately for Wilde, Brie Larson got that part, so it doesn’t appear that we’ll be seeing Wilde in a Marvel movie anytime soon, if ever.
13 Joaquin Phoenix – Doctor Strange
Joaquin Phoenix is one of the most talented actors of his generation, which makes the prospect of him playing a superhero so intriguing. If anyone were to truly make the character their own, you can count on Phoenix to do just that. But his originality is also one of the main issues keeping Phoenix from appearing in the MCU, or any superhero franchise for that matter. The closest he’s come to donning a cape on the big screen came when he was in talks to play Doctor Strange. He was even in the final stages of the hiring process before talks inevitably fell through, and the studio moved on to Benedict Cumberbatch.
Phoenix gave his reasoning for passing on the role, citing that he came across the same issue he has with every script he reads for a superhero movie, which is that it focuses more on the description of set pieces than on character development.
So, unless the formula for a superhero movie changes, don’t expect to see him pop up in one anytime soon. Marvel can thank Phoenix, though, for at least showing interest, as it is believed that they were able to get some of the names mentioned later on this list to at least show up for a meeting because of his early involvement.
12 Jason Momoa – Drax The Destroyer
Before Dave Bautista stole every scene he was in, in Guardians of the Galaxy, as Drax the Destroyer, another giant dude who is used to not wearing a shirt was up for the role, but turned it down. Jason Momoa, who’s probably best known for his role in Game of Thrones, auditioned for Drax, and even screen tested with Chris Pratt, but in the end decided the part wasn’t for him, because it was too perfect for him.
According to Momoa, he was getting tired of playing the same shirtless, speechless role that encompassed his career at that point.
Props to Momoa for realizing he probably wouldn’t have given it his all and let someone else take a stab at it, which led to the hilarious, star making performance from Bautista. Momoa’s comments seem somewhat contradictory today, though, as not long after, he popped up in Justice League as the silent, shirtless Aquaman, who looks eerily similar to Drax, but with a full head of hair.
11 David Duchovny – The Hulk
David Duchovny was apparently a lock to star as The Incredible Hulk in the second, and often forgotten, film in the MCU, but ultimately ended up losing out on the role to Edward Norton. Then, when Norton wasn’t brought back to reprise his role in The Avengers, it seemed only fitting that Marvel would go back to the guy they nearly hired the first time, but instead, they went with Mark Ruffalo, who hasn’t looked back since.
Duchovny is the only actor to literally have a second chance at the role that slipped through his fingers the first time but wasn’t able to capitalize. Luckily for him, the X-Files was recently revived, so he’s doing well for himself. And at the end of the day, Ruffalo has been fantastic in the role, so missing out on Duchovny’s version of the big green guy isn’t the worst thing to happen in the MCU.
10 Jensen Ackles – Hawkeye
Unless you’re a fan of the show Supernatural, there’s a good chance you have no idea who Jensen Ackles is, or you know him as that guy who starred in the remake to My Bloody Valentine, which is probably even more unlikely. However, his anonymity is exactly why casting him as Hawkeye would have been perfect, seeing as Hawkeye is often referred to as the forgetful Avenger. Sure, Jeremy Renner wasn’t that big of an actor before he popped up in Thor, but he had been nominated twice for an Oscar, so he had some name value. As for Ackles, he’s been attached to the same role for over 10 years now, so if he was going to try and make a name for himself, a role in the MCU, no matter how small, would’ve been the ideal career choice.
Unfortunately, Ackles turned down playing Hawkeye because of scheduling conflicts with Supernatural, and simply because he loves doing the show way too much.
However, it has to end at some point, but the MCU can last forever, so don’t be surprised if he makes the leap to the big screen once his time on the small screen is up.
9 Asa Butterfield – Spider-Man
When Marvel finally acquired the rights to the web-slinging hero, or menace, depending on who you ask, one of the first things they wanted to do was ditch the 21 Jump Street style casting and cast someone who was age appropriate and actually believable as a high-school student. There was a long list of candidates, but one that had a legitimate shot at being Peter Parker, and was even considered a lock at one point, was Asa Butterfield. It is unclear why the studio changed their minds, but in the end they decided to go a different route.
Like Tom Holland, who ended up getting the gig, Asa is a relatively unknown actor, mainly because he’s still young.
But I’m sure a good chunk of people would at least recognize him from a photo as the kid in Hugo or Ender’s Game. Regardless, there’s no denying the talent this young kid possesses, and he would’ve been great in the role, with the only question mark being the strength of his Queen’s accent.
8 Glenn Howerton – Star-Lord
Sometimes, it’s better to lose decisively than it is to lose in a photo finish because then there’s never the moment where you truly believe that you won. The same can be said for a movie role, when you’re told that if things didn’t work out with the actor chosen, then you would’ve been given that life-changing role. This is what happened to It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia star Glenn Howerton, who was essentially the backup plan for director James Gunn if Chris Pratt couldn’t play Star- Lord, for whatever reason.
Howerton’s take on the role would have been interesting, to say the least, especially since the release of his new show, AP Bio, where he has shown glimpses that he can be a loveable jerk. But at the time of the casting, he was mainly known for his work as a backstabbing asshole, and possible serial killer, which might not have been the best look for a Disney owned superhero.
7 Joseph Gordon-Levitt – Ant-Man
This is one casting choice that didn’t seem to extend past the discussion process, as Joseph Gordon-Levitt confirmed that he was in talks with Marvel for the role of Ant-Man, but that’s about as far as it went. He was a heavy favorite though, along with eventual winner Paul Rudd, back when Edgar Wright was still attached to the film. Wright apparently wanted to cast someone who was known more for their sense of humor and not their muscles, so it’s fair to say that he narrowed it down to two appropriate choices. Rudd’s performance was perfect for the movie, but JGL definitely wouldn’t of disappointed, either.
JGL has been known throughout his career for smaller, more independent style movies, and who can forget his years on the comedy TV show 3rd Rock From the Sun? But after his turn as Robin in The Dark Knight Rises, a superhero franchise didn’t seem like such a far stretch for the actor. Regardless, JGL seems to keep busy, so I doubt not getting cast in a Marvel movie has kept him up at night.
6 Saoirse Ronan – Scarlet Witch
Ronan had actually auditioned for the role of Scarlet Witch, but was rather just a prototype of what the studio and Joss Whedon were basing the character on. When Whedon was pitching the role, he would use Ronan as an example of the type of actor they wanted for the part, but it’s unclear if they ever actually offered it to her.
At one point, Ronan heard about this and expressed interest in playing the character, telling an interviewer that she’s a fan of Joss and his films and would answer the call if they came knocking.
It’s unclear what went wrong, but not long after, Ronan dismissed all of this as just rumors. It’s a shame, as Ronan is a young actress who has been wowing audiences with her performances since she was a child, and Marvel landing her this early on in her career would have done wonders for them and Ronan.
5 Michael B. Jordan – The Falcon
This may be one of the only times an actor is actually glad they didn’t get a part, and the fans agree, as it led to something way bigger and better. Anyone who has seen Black Panther, which is clearly everyone, considering the amount of money it made and is still making, knows what I mean.
Michael B. Jordan would have made a great hero, no doubt, but he did make an amazing villain, one that many people believe rivals Heath Ledger’s performance as The Joker. But this entry isn’t about Black Panther.
It’s about what could have been. Jordan followed a similar path as Hiddleston, as he had auditioned to be an Avenger, the Falcon, to be exact. Jordan is one of the most talented and charismatic actors working in the world today, so he would’ve done fine as Captain America’s sidekick. But it’s clear Marvel made the right choice in not casting him, and whether or not it’s because they had bigger plans in mind, or they just got lucky, it all worked out in the end. http://www.thedailybeast.com/michael-b-jordan-of-fruitvale-station hollywoods-new-leading-man
4 Adam Sandler – Rocket Raccoon
This would have been one of the more interesting, and divisive, casting choices Marvel would have made. Even though Adam Sandler would have only been providing the voice for Rocket Raccoon, fans were reportedly not having any of it and were against it from the start. Sandler and Marvel would have been an odd pairing, to say the least, and there’s a good chance that his voice would have been distracting throughout the film.
Apparently, Marvel wanted a comedic actor in the role, but thankfully they trusted the material more and cast someone who could act the lines and let the humor come out rather than just try and be funny.
Plus, even though Bradley Cooper’s name was in the credits, people still didn’t believe it was actually him, unlike if Sandler would have done it, since his voice would have been recognizable with every word uttered. It’s fair to say Marvel and James Gunn made the right choice here.
3 Oscar Isaac – Doctor Strange
It’s clear Marvel wanted to cast a well-known, established actor in the role of Doctor Strange when you look at the short-list of names in consideration, which could have played a huge factor in why Marvel decided not to go with this up-and-coming actor.Oscar Isaac didn’t have any big-budget breakout roles to his name at the time, but was generating buzz for his acting abilities in films like Ex Machina and Inside Llewyn Davis. There’s also the possibility that he was added to the list merely because of his involvement with Disney in Star Wars Episode 7.
This choice definitely would have fallen in line with Marvel’s tendency to hire actors just on the brink of stardom, but in the end, they went with Cumberbatch, who is doing a fine job. It would be nice to see Isaac take on the role of a superhero at some point, though, since his stint as the villain in X-Men: Apocalypse was kind of a dud.
2 Timothy Olyphant – Iron Man
It’s hard to picture anyone other than RDJ as Iron Man, and even though Tom Cruise would have been an interesting choice, another actor that isn’t discussed as much, but should be, is Timothy Olyphant. Known more for his television work than film career, Olyphant has the look and charm to pull off being the billionaire, playboy philanthropist, and would actually be an interesting choice if the role were recast today.
The studio was definitely very interested in Olyphant at the time, too, and even had him screen test.
Unfortunately, his screen test was the same day as RDJ, so his performance was probably overshadowed and forgotten about fairly quickly. If there is anyone who deserves a second look for a role in the MCU, it’s Olyphant, and it may happen soon, considering there’s a good chance not too many heroes make it out of this soon-to-be Infinity War.
1 Matthew McConaughey – Doctor Strange
Start with a big name and end with a big name. Like Tom Cruise, this would have been Marvel’s biggest signing to date, as Matthew McConaughey was enjoying his McConaughey at the time he was being considered for Doctor Strange. Even though McConaughey has expressed interest in appearing in a superhero film, Marvel knew this was a bit of a long shot to happen. But they believed they could get anyone in the room to talk about the role, and so they reached out to one of the bigger names they could find.
Considering that movie was a massive flop, maybe that’s the sign McConaughey needed to finally take on a virtually guaranteed successful role in the MCU. And if he does, I’m sure it won’t disappoint.
References: cbr.com, cinemablend.com, cbr.com, cinemablend.com, cinemablend.com, cinemablend.com, clevver.com, cinemablend.com, ca.ign.com, looper.com, thethings.com, ca.ign.com, syfy.com, whatculture.com, mtv.com, comicbook.com, newsarama.com, mtv.com