It’s not an easy job being a movie director and trying to cast actors for the roles in your movie. If you don’t cast the right people, then your movie is doomed from the start. But if you pick the right people, people who audiences believe are the perfect fit for their roles, then you can breathe a sigh of relief.
There have been plenty of cases of actors matching perfectly with their role in a movie: Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise, Daniel Radcliffe as Harry Potter in the Harry Potter franchise, Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, and the list goes on and on. We look at these actors in these movies and feel that they were just born to play these roles. No one else could play them like they did. Of course, they should have been the #1 choice, right? Right?
Well you would be surprised at how often actors are considered for roles that probably make us all wonder, “What in the world is Hollywood thinking? Why would they cast that guy when this guy could do it so much better?”
Marvel has made a lot of great casting picks for their movies over the years, but even they almost made the wrong choices. Luckily, they dodged plenty of bullets. Here is the list of 15 horrible Marvel castings that almost happened. Please note that some are better than others and wouldn’t be all that terrible. Others are.
15 James Franco As Spider-Man
Yes, James Franco almost played Spider-Man. A little hard to believe that the actor who played Peter Parker’s best friend Harry Osborn, almost played Peter Parker/Spider-Man himself. The story goes that Franco auditioned for the role of Peter Parker, and the studio wanted him for the role, but the director for the movie Sam Raimi, preferred Tobey Maguire instead. I’m not saying Franco couldn’t pull off the role he originally auditioned for, but it’s just a little difficult to imagine him wearing the Spider-Man costume and playing the web-slinging hero. It's (very) far from the worse option on this list, though. You'll see...
14 Val Kilmer As Captain America
I’m not trying to say anything bad about Val Kilmer, here but when I think of him I don’t really think “all-American hero,” which is basically what Captain America is. It’s not enough to just act the part; you have to look the part as well. Maybe it’s because Chris Evans seems to fit the role of Captain America so well that it’s hard to ever imagine someone else wielding that nearly indestructible shield. But if anyone else were to play the patriotic super-soldier, I think Val Kilmer should have been one of the last choices. He probably could have played one of the villains in the movie, but it would just be a little weird seeing him as the main character. Wouldn't you agree?
13 Tom Cruise As Iron Man
Can you imagine someone else besides Robert Downey Jr. playing Iron-Man? Can you? You can’t, can you? It just seems that Downey Jr. was just made for the role of the arrogant but entertaining armored superhero. It’s the role that has largely become associated with his name. When you think Robert Downey Jr. you automatically think Iron-Man, so it should probably come as a huge surprise when you learn that Tom Cruise was once in the works to play the titular protagonist. For years Cruise’s name was being thrown around, and things got as far as Cruise reading the script. However, he eventually lost interest in the script and turned down the role. It was probably for the better. Cruise is a great actor, but trying to picture him attempting to pull off Tony Stark’s characteristic witty and sarcastic humor would most likely just make us all cringe.
12 Jessica Alba As Black Widow
Jessica Alba isn’t a stranger to superhero films; after all, she played Susan Storm/Invisible Woman in the Fantastic Four franchise (albeit a role that some Fantastic Four fans weren’t too happy to see her play). But I don’t think Alba could have portrayed Black Widow the way she should have been portrayed. Granted, Iron Man 2 wouldn’t have been unwatchable by any means with Jessica Alba playing Black Widow, but it just wouldn’t have been the same without Scarlett Johannsson. Sure, Alba could have played the role of a sexy spy, which Black Widow shows shades of, but I just couldn't see Alba portraying anything deeper than that.
11 Jim Carrey As Loki
Ok, yes, Jim Carrey played a character who donned a mask created by Loki in the 1994 hit film The Mask, but that’s about as close to playing Loki he’s ever going to get. Sure, Carrey is a terrific comedian and actor, but that doesn’t mean he would be a good fit for the role of Loki. Carrey is known for his high-energy slapstick humor; Loki is a lot more complicated than that. After all, he is one of the more compelling villains in the MCU. He’s manipulative, cunning, and is arguably more popular than hero Thor is among fans. Carrey would certainly bring a different feel to Loki’s character that would change it completely, and probably not for the better.
10 Jared Leto As Doctor Strange
For Doctor Strange director Scott Derrickson, Benedict Cumberbatch was always his #1 choice to play the titular character. But when Cumberbatch initially declined the role due to scheduling conflicts, Derrickson was forced to look for someone else to fulfill the part. Jared Leto was one of the actors that Derrickson considered. But after auditioning multiple actors for the role, Derrickson realized he couldn’t do the movie without Cumberbatch, and he pushed back the film’s release date so Cumberbatch could play Doctor Strange. I think it was a good decision on Derrickson’s part to wait for Cumberbatch. He suits the role of Doctor Strange so perfectly that it’s hard to imagine someone else taking his spot. Personally, I just couldn’t see Leto playing that part. I just don’t think he has the right look for the character. In retrospect, I’m sure Leto isn’t upset about being passed over to play Doctor Strange, as he wouldn’t have been able to play the Joker in Suicide Squad, a role he said was the most fun he ever had.
9 Leonardo DiCaprio As Spider-Man
Leonardo DiCaprio is no doubt an amazing actor. He’s come a long way from the heartthrob male lead in Titanic to an A-list actor (who finally won an Oscar for The Revenant last year—about time!). But even the best actor can’t pull off a role that simply isn’t meant for them to play. Spider-Man just isn’t for DiCaprio. He’s just too… un-Peter Parker. Peter Parker is supposed to be a socially awkward science nerd who gets nervous around the object of his affections, Mary Jane, and is the target of bullies at school. Leonardo DiCaprio portraying a nerd? Any kind of nerd? If there would be a role for him in the franchise, it definitely wouldn’t be him playing Peter Parker.
8 Channing Tatum As Thor
It’s somewhat unclear if it was a rumor or not, but supposedly Channing Tatum was being considered to play the role of Thor for the first Thor movie. Now Tatum is a good actor, but I just couldn’t see him playing Thor. I mean sure he’s got the ripping muscles, and he’s just a couple of inches shorter than Chris Hemsworth, who was ultimately chosen to play Thor, but… I don’t know, I just couldn’t see him playing the Norse god. But I guess it wouldn’t be impossible for him to play Thor. Maybe if he put the wig and costume on I could maybe kind of see it. But at least he was a better choice than some other actors who were on the shortlist to play Thor.
7 Sam Rockwell As Iron Man
Before he was cast as slimy industrialist Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2, Sam Rockwell was heavily considered to fulfill the role of Tony Stark/Iron Man during the early stages of the first film’s development. In fact, Rockwell got as far as being on the shortlist. But then Robert Downey Jr., auditioned for the role and blew everyone out of the water, eventually obtaining the part. I think Sam Rockwell fits the role of Justin Hammer more than he would fit the role of Tony Stark. He plays the role of Stark’s business rival slash evil counterpart of sorts if you will so well that his performance is one of the better elements of the movie. The movie just wouldn’t be the same if he was cast as Iron Man instead.
6 Jack Black As Green Lantern
Yes, you read that right. Go back and read it again if you want to. Jack Black could have potentially played Green Lantern. But before you start freaking out even more, Black wouldn’t have played the Green Lantern in the film that you’re thinking of. New Line’s movie adaption of the comic book series would have been a comedy. Jack Black would play Jud Plato, your everyday average Joe who worked in a furniture store. For some reason or another, Plato would be chosen as Abin Sur’s successor to wield his power ring and he would spend the movie attempting to master his newfound abilities. Primary characters like Sinestro would be demoted to the back-burner as comic relief. And Plato would try and use the ring’s power to sleep with a female co-worker and perform with the Beatles. Yes, you read that right as well. Go back and read it again if you want to. It’s a good thing New Line didn’t get their way with Green Lantern. The bad news is that the official film starring Ryan Reynolds didn't fare so well itself.
5 Joaquin Phoenix As The Hulk
When Edward Norton didn’t sign on to reprise his role as the Incredible Hulk in the first Avengers movie, Marvel had to find someone else to play the role. Joaquin Phoenix was a top choice. But while Phoenix is a phenomenal actor, his style of acting wouldn’t exactly match the role of Bruce Banner. Bruce Banner is a mild-mannered and placid character—except of course when he gets angry and turns into the Incredible Hulk—and Phoenix is, well, much more eccentric than that. I don’t think Phoenix would play Banner how Edward Norton did in the Incredible Hulk and how Mark Ruffalo did it in The Avengers. Or maybe he could actually get into the character to play Banner. Who knows. But hey, at least he looks the part.
4 Edward Furlong As Spider-Man
Another option to play Spider-Man on the silver screen? Edward Furlong. Ten years before the first Spider-Man film featuring Tobey Maguire was released, James Cameron had the idea first to make a Spider-Man movie. Impressed with Furlong’s performance in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cameron decided to add Furlong to another one of his films and have him play Spider-Man. Cameron even went as far as writing out a complete script. Unfortunately for him, the movie’s production company went bankrupt in 1995, and Cameron would go on to direct Titanic. I offer the same argument for Furlong as I did for DiCaprio above; Furlong just doesn’t look the part to play Peter Parker. Though a Spider-Man film directed by James Cameron does sound intriguing.
3 John Krasinski As Captain America
The star of The Office John Krasinski, auditioned to play the role of Steve Rodgers/Captain America for the first Captain America film, Captain America: The First Avenger. However, he decided against going after the role. Why? Because he became somewhat intimidated after he saw Chris Evans in costume, and came to the realization he couldn't compete with Evans. Krasinski hasn’t ruled out playing a character in the MCU however, and says he would love to go against Captain America in a future film. Perhaps that is where Krasinski’s true calling lies. I don’t think he would be the perfect choice to play Captain America like Chris Evans, but it’s not impossible for him to find another way to be a part of the Marvel family.
2 Tom Hiddleston As Thor
Wait, what? Tom Hiddleston almost played Thor? Thor? Not Loki, the god of mischief? He was set to play the fair-haired god of thunder and lightning himself? Hiddleston fits the role of the popular villain so well that it’s simply mind-blowing to think he was cast as a completely different character, as his archenemy. I mean it’s almost like Hiddleston was meant to play Loki. He’s that amazing. But when Hiddleston auditioned for the 2011 film Thor, he was in consideration to play Thor. Ultimately, the role went to Chris Hemsworth, and for the better. Can you even picture the Thor movie with Tom Hiddleston playing the hero? It doesn’t look right, does it? I think we can all breathe a sigh of relief that Marvel made Hiddleston the villain instead.
1 Vin Diesel As Any Marvel Superhero
Vin Diesel? As a superhero? Sure, he portrayed Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, but playing a costumed superhero? That’s a different story. Apparently, Diesel is in talks for major roles in future Marvel films, but there isn’t much known about what exactly these movies are. Maybe it’s just me, but it’s a little weird to think of Diesel playing a hero in spandex. Maybe it’s because he’s typecasted as an antihero of sorts that it would be strange to see him playing the role of an idealistic superhero. But who knows? Perhaps there is a Marvel hero out there that’s perfect for Diesel to play. Let’s just hope Marvel makes the right choice for his casting.