Before the Marvel Universe started pumping out movies every year, it used to just be a comic book series that everyone loved. The first ever Marvel comic book was released in October of 1939. That was a long time ago!
When it comes to movies though, some would argue that the first Marvel picture was the 1944 Captain America movie, while others would argue that Marvel didn’t really break ground with blockbuster hits until 98 when Blade was first released.
Either way, since the late '90s, early '00s, we have watched as actors like Chris Hemsworth, Hugh Jackman, Robert Downey Jr., and Scarlet Johansson have played in some of our favorite Marvel movies. We could never imagine anyone else filling their roles. Some of these actors have been playing as these roles for a century now. Crazy right?
But, truth of the matter is, if the people behind casting would have gotten their ways, a lot of the roles we grew up loving would have been played by completely different people.
Roles such as Wolverine, Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk, and Doctor Strange could have all be played by different actors. Could you imagine someone else playing the role of Wolverine, other than Hugh Jackman? He was made for that role.
Here are 26 actors who were picked to play Marvel roles but turned them down.
26 Same Thing, Different Part
When Jason Momoa first got invited to play a superhero role, he turned it down. Before Dave Bautista was casted as Drax the Destroyer in the movie Guardians of the Galaxy, Jason Momoa got offered the role. Jason found the role to like all the other characters he has portrayed and decided to turn it down.
“I’ve done so many things where I don't say much, and I'm colored up and I have my shirt off again," he said.
DC Universe must have done a better job wooing him since not long after he got casted for the role of Aquaman.
25 Something More Interesting
Everyone can admit that Chris Pratt was made for the role of Peter Quill, a.k.a. Star Lord. There is no doubt about it, but, Chris Pratt wasn’t the studio’s first choice.
According to screenrant.com, Joseph Gordan-Levitt was the studio’s first choice when it came to the role of Star Lord. Unfortunately, Joseph was more interested in his role as Johnny in Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and turned down the part.
Here is a little bit of surprising info, Chris Pratt also turned down the role. He felt that he was to out of shape to join the MCU. Luckily, he changed his mind.
24 Already Booked
When one thinks of Black Widow, we automatically think Scarlett Johansson. What most don’t know though is that the role was originally meant for Emily Blunt. It all started in 2009 during the making of Iron Man 2, a time when Emily’s career was still on the rise. Marvel called and asked if she wanted the role of Black Widow and Emily said yes.
What a lot of people don’t know is that Scarlett Johansson actually lost the role to Emily. According to screenrant.com, Emily was already in contract to do another Fox project, Gulliver’s Travels, and because of the time frame, she had to turn down the role of Black Widow, thus the studio choosing Scarlett Johansson.
Emily has no regrets, though. She feels that the men in MCU are given better stories. Sadly, for her, though that may have been true in the past, things are starting to change thanks to Black Panther and the upcoming Captain Marvel film.
23 Needed More Time
One person that was born for his role in the MCU is Hugh Jackman. When people talk about him, they automatically think of him as Wolverine. However, according to screenrant.com, the role of Wolverine originally was meant for Dougray Scott.
When production started in 2000 for the superhero movie X-Men, Dougray Scott was still filming with Tom Cruise for his movie, Mission Impossible 2. Supposedly, Tom Cruise kept calling the director of the movie X-Men and asking for more time with Dougray, but it was later learned that he had actually been in a motorcycle accident and was never going to be healed up in time to play Logan. Thus, Hugh Jackman stepped in and filled the role.
22 He Just wasn't Into Superhero Movies
When it comes to Green Lantern, most people would agree that the movie was a big tank. Luckily for Ryan Reynolds though, it did not hurt his pride and he bounced back quickly.
What a lot of people don’t know though is that Ryan Reynolds wasn’t the creators first choice when it came to the role of Hal Jordan. Jon Hamm, the star of Mad Men, was their first choice for the role. He had this to say as to why he turned them down:
“I mean, they came after me pretty hard for Green Lantern. But I was like, meh, that's not what I want to do. Never say never, but those aren't the kind of movies I like to go see.”
Some people would say that he got lucky with turning this one down, seeing at how bad it tanked.
21 Not his Thing
There is one actor that MVU has been trying to get their hands on for years to play one of their movie roles. Sadly for them, though, he keeps turning them down.
Joaquin Pheonix was the first one to be selected to play the loveable green beast The Hulk. As we know, though, Mark Ruffalo got the part instead. Then when casting began for the movie Dr. Strange, the studio wanted him again to play Stephen Strange. Yet again, he said no.
“I’ve flirted with several of those films, having meetings and getting close, but ultimately it never felt like they’d really be fulfilling.”
Luckily for DC Universe, Phoenix might be coming around. He has opened up and admitted that he would be down to playing the Joker in the upcoming Joker origin story.
20 Too Nervous
We all know Josh Hartnett for not only his role in Penny, but for his roles in hit movies such as Pearl Harbor, Black Hawk Down. What we don’t know though is that by the early 2000s, Josh Hartnett was one of the most wanted actors in Hollywood, according to screenrant.com. If this is true though, then why did he turn down the parts for Spider-Man?
According to an interview he did with playboy, Hartnett admitted that he was nervous about being pigeonholed. Spider-Man isn’t the only role he turned down. He also said no to DC Universe and turned down parts for both Batman and Superman.
19 “I Don’t Want To Be An Amendment”
When it comes to Mathew McConaughey, both DC and MCU have been trying to get him to play in one of their movies, but nothing has spoken to him yet. According to screenrant.com, one role he was offered by MCU was the part of Ego the Living Planet in the hit movie Guardians of the Galaxy.
He said "no" though, and instead, they gave it to Kurt Russel. It was during an interview with Playboy that he opened up and explained his reasoning behind saying no to MCU.
“What I saw was 'It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.’ I’d feel like an amendment.” He would then go on to take a part in the movie Dark Tower, a franchise that he could be in from the beginning, instead of coming in during a middle of an established one.
18 I Want To Be A Superhero, Not A Villain
When Iron Man 3 first started casting for new actors and actresses, originally Jessica Chastain was supposed to play the part of Maya Hansen. According to screenrant.com, there was some scheduling issues though and the part when to Rebecca Hall instead.
Shortly after, Jessica was up for another part in a superhero movie as the Wasp in the movie Ant-Man. Unfortunately, she lucked out though and the part went to Evangeline Lily. When it came to the part in Iron Man 3 and why she turned it down, Chastain had this to say:
“If you’re going to be in a superhero movie, you only get one chance. You’re that character forever. So why do a superhero movie and play the boring civilian?”
As for what happen with her part in Ant-Man, there was no comment, but she did finally nab a part in Fox’s upcoming X-Men: Dark Phoenix.
17 So Over It
Iron Man is another superhero that when a fan hears his name, immediately thinks of Robert Downey Jr. Rob was made to play Tony Stark, just as Hugh Jackman was made to play Wolverine. It is crazy to think that this part that actually launched the MCU and revived Robert Downey Jr.’s career almost went to Tom Cruise.
According to screenrant.com, when the movie Iron Man first got started, it was at a time where there were many different actors, actresses and even directors coming and going. Even Tom Cruise himself was set up to produce the movie at one point. He wound up losing interest though due to the fact Marvel didn’t even get their rights to the superhero back until 2005.
16 I Don’t Know You
Daredevil is one movie that both fans and critics agree was a huge tank. What sucks the most is that it was Ben Affleck’s first part in a superhero movie. Because of the failure of this movie, he has an everlasting negative mark on his record that he hasn’t been able to shake yet.
Ben Affleck has stated in the past that Daredevil is one movie he majorly regrets doing, which sucks because he has an immense love for the character. Matt Damon got lucky one could say. Originally Matt Damon was set up for the part as Matt Murdock. He wound up turning the part down though because he was unfamiliar with the director who was working on the movie, Mark Steven Johnson. Damon was smart to go with his gut on this one.
15 I Wants to get tough
Fans around the world who are obsessed with the movie Deadpool can all admit that when it came to the girlfriend, Vanessa Carlysle, Morena Baccarin did an amazing job.
Here is an interesting fact for all the Deadpool fanatics though, Olivia Munn was actually offered the part before her, according to screenrant.com. Olivia explained in an interview with American Way Magazine that she had no desire to play someone’s girlfriend in a movie. Her eyes were set on something bigger. She wanted a character that could kick butt. It’s a wonder if she knew that Vanessa would later find herself evolving into Copycat down the line? Or maybe she just didn’t feel like waiting and figured she could get her hands on a better role?
14 Chose Something Else
When X-Men: First Class was released in 2011, we got to see the talented Kevin Bacon take on the role of Sebastian Shaw, a mutant who can absorb energy and turn it into raw power.
Kevin Bacon wasn’t the first choice though according to directexpose.com. The role of Sebastian Shaw was originally supposed to go to Bryan Cranston. As much as people love Kevin Bacon, it’s sad that Bryan turned down the role and instead decided to do the movie Drive. For fans of the hit television series Breaking Bad, it is obvious by his role on that show that he would have been perfect for the part as Sebastian.
13 Conflicting Times
Gwyneth Paltrow is amazing at her role as Pepper Pots in the MCU. It is hard to see anyone else taking the role. But, its sad to say, Paltrow wasn’t the first choice for Tony Starks secretary, turned love of his life.
That’s right, Rachel McAdams was up for the role of Tony Stark’s love interest. According to directexpose.com, years before Rachel officially signed up to join MCU in the movie Doctor Strange, she was up for the role as Pepper Pots in the movie Iron Man. Rachel, along with a few others on the list for the movie, had to turn down the role though due to scheduling conflicts.
12 His MMA Career Comes First
So those who don’t know who Quinton “Rampage” Jackson is, he is a one of the biggest stars in the MMA world. He has been fighting long before even Connor McGregor and Ronda Rousey entered the scene.
In 2010, Jackson accepted a part as B.A. Baracus in the movie the A-Team. This comes only one year after turning down the part as John Wraith in the MCU X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which is why Will.I.Am, of the Black Eyed Peas, got the role instead. According to looper.com, Jackson was preparing for his next fight when the studio called him to do the role. He had this to say as the reasoning behind turning it down: "You can't train for a fight and shoot a movie. Your focus has to be on that fight."
11 He Would Rather Hang With Tony Stark Then Jessica Jones
Giancarlo Esposito made it crystal clear in 2016 that he wanted to be in the MCU. "I love those guys at Marvel," Esposito told Comicbook.com. "We've been trying to figure out how to collaborate on something."
Marvel must of agree because supposedly, Esposito was offered a part in an unknown TV show. According to looper.com, Blair Marnell of The Nerdist, was pretty sure that Esposito got the part of Dominic Fortune in the ABC’s Marvel’s Most Wanted, a show that never made it to air. Truth of the matter is though, that no one knows for sure what part he was really offered. Be it Daredevil, or even Luke Cage, Esposito did not care. What makes it weird is that he turned them down. He had this to say about his reasoning behind it: "They came to me with something for their television department, then I realized if I did that, I'd never be able to have that same character be in the film department."
10 Just Didn’t Want To Do It
One doesn’t have to be a fan of the MCU to know that Anthony Hopkins, best known for his role as Hannibal Lecter, is an amazing actor. It’s no wonder he crushed his part as Odin in MCU.
According to looper.com, though, Hopkins wasn’t the only big-time actor in the running for the part of the King of Asgard. That’s right, Mel Gibson was also up for the part. In an interview with The Guardian, Gibson had this to say as to why he turned it down: "I didn't do it." He didn’t elaborate any further than that. He was an odd pick for the role any who.
9 His Wife Was Pregnant
According to cheatsheet.com, in 2013, Alec Baldwin went on The Howard Stern Show to do an interview and opened up about how he had a chance to play a villain in a Marvel movie. Baldwin told Stern:
“I have been offered a role in a superhero movie, but I won’t mention which one. I don’t want to undo somebody because they hired someone else to do it. But they asked me to play a villain in one of these Marvel Comics movies.”
Unfortunately, Alec had to turn down the mysterious part due to his wife’s pregnancy. “I wasn’t available,” Baldwin explained to Stern. “They wanted me to work a certain time. And because of my wife’s pregnancy, I had to turn down two films this summer that I wanted to do.”
8 She was Too Busy
It seems like when it came to Guardians of the Galaxy, Marvel had a hard time trying to find people to fill the casting roles in the movie, including for the role of Gamora, the deadliest alien assassin in the universe, according to indiewire.com. Many big-time actors were approached for certain roles, including Olivia Wilde for the role of Gamora. Wilde declined the part, saying that she was to busy with other projects. It was rumored that Marvel also tried to get Gina Carano, before going with Zoe Saldana.
7 Had A Commitment To Supernatural
Fans of the show Supernatural, will agree when I say that Jensen Ackles is amazing at his job. What most don’t know though is that Ackles actually auditioned to play the part of Captain America, according to indiewire.com. Sadly, Marvel decided to go with Chris Evans instead. Though Jensen would have been great, we can all agree that Evans has done an amazing at this role.
Marvel didn’t hate Ackles completely, though, they did try to get him to take the role of Hawkeye in The Avengers, but due to his commitment to Supernatural, Ackles had to turn the part down.
6 A lot Of Great Candidates
The Hulk has had many different actors portraying him through out the years. In 1977, CBS released a television show called The Incredible Hulk with Bill Bixby as Bruce Banner and Lou Ferrigno as the Hulk. Fast forward to the year 2003 and Eric Bana steps in to play both Bruce Banner and his green alter ego, the Hulk. In 2008, MCU revised him, yet again, with the movie The Incredible Hulk, staring Edward Norton as the Hulk this time.
When it came to the revisal of The Hulk for the Avengers, there were many big-time actors that were up for the role, including Vince Chairman and Peter Cuneo. In the end, Marvel had two options, Edward Norton and David Duchovny, according to indiewire.com.
Though all were excellent candidates, Marvel wound up going with Mark Ruffalo as the new Bruce Banner in The Avengers. There is no known reason as to why they turned down the role.
5 He Would Have Missed Out On So Much
John Krasinski was amazing in A Quiet Place, but before he had the leading role in that movie, he had a chance to the lead in Captain America: The First Avenger. According to indiewire.com, John Krasinski, actor and director of the movie A Quiet Place, expressed to Yahoo Entertainment that he is not mad he missed out on such a big role for MCU.
Krasinski turned down the role due to all other projects he was dealing with at the time. He thinks that Chris Evans is wonderful at the part though and knows that if he would have signed on for a multiple MCU deal, he would have missed out on so many great projects.
4 Robert Stole It
As stated before, when it came to the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man, Marvel had many high-level actors they wanted to fill the part. According to indiewire.com, Timothy Olyphant was one actor on the shortlist for the role. As some might know, before Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr. was at the bottom. His career had tanked due to personal issues. He was just starting to work everything out and get his career back on track when he showed up to audition for the role of Tony Stark. That audition happened to be on the same day Timothy Olyphant was taping his audition for the role. Olyphant once joked to Conan O’Brien: “I’m still waiting to hear back. Those superhero movies are huge! That could be a real game-changer.”
3 “I’d Have Loved To”
Elizabeth Olsen has done an amazing job with her role as Scarlet Witch, a.k.a. Wanda Maximoff. According to indiewire.com, though, Joss Whedon, director of Avengers: Age of Ultron, was reportedly thinking of hiring Saoirse Ronan for the role after deciding to write Wanda into the movie. During an interview with The Mary Sue, Saoirse expressed her interest by saying: “Of course, I would be interested. I love Joss and I love those films. So yeah, I’d love to be in it.” The role eventually went to Elizabeth Olsen.
2 No One Else Could have Done It
According to indiewire.com, before Jon Favreau, director of Iron Man, hired the amazing Robert Downey Jr. to play Tony Stark in the movie that would kickstart the MCU, he was thinking about hiring Sam Rockwell for the part. However, he quickly changed his mind after seeing Robert’s audition. Once Robert finished his audition, it was quickly apparent to Jon that no one else could play the role better. Instead, Rockwell went on to play the villain, Justin Hammer, in Iron Man 2.
1 The Better Man Won
I don’t know about most people, but to me, Alexander Skarsgard is a God, well second to Jason Momoa. Good looks, killer eyes and smile, and amazing talent. When one thinks of Thor, the God of Thunder, some would say the true God is Chris Hemsworth though. What many don’t know, according to indiewire.com, is that the True Blood star, Alexander Skarsgard, actually came super close to nailing the part of the God of thunder in Kenneth Branagh’s Thor. Skarsgard went on to admit to MTV that the audition process was actually pretty fun, even though he did wound up losing the part to Chris Hemsworth.
References: screentrant.com, directexpose.com, looper.com, cheatsheet.com, indiewire.com