There was time when most of us would collect and exchange comic books with each other. Those colorful panels often featured some of our famous heroes, bringing them to life on paper yet still leaving quite a lot for our own imagination. Still, we always wished to see these heroes on the big screen as well, however, that didn't always go as planned (we're looking at you Batman and Robin). Time passed and with technology came the possibility of bringing these characters to life on the big screen with as much detail as possible. Thus began the age of the superhero movies.
Since then, Marvel has been leading the charge with a whopping 19 films now, the 19th one being none other than Avengers: Infinity War. The studio spent years of careful planning to link each and every single one of these films and establish backstories for pretty much all of their important characters. Now, obviously you need good actors to make a character successful and Marvel seems to have that figured out as well. Most of those actors are now permanently associated with their respective roles for the audience at least such as Robert Downey Jr. who has played the role of Tony Stark to such perfection that we can't imagine anyone else being Iron Man. Still, the concept of 'what if' is quite interesting and true in this case as well. With Avengers: Infinity War doing so well at the Box Office, we decided to do our own research and came up with a list of people who for various reasons missed out on becoming a part of the most famous cinematic superhero team to date.
It wouldn’t be a wrong assumption if one were to say that Val Kilmer has had a bit of a tough time in Hollywood, in fact, many people now use him as an example of what not to do if you’re looking to create a place for yourself in the industry. Kilmer’s first foray into superhero movies started when he was cast as Batman in the famous Batman Forever, a role that would essentially push Kilmer out into the limelight. Still, he was never considered to be a friendly actor and there were countless stories of how he was extremely difficult to work with.
Not only this, he took some very odd decisions where he ended up turning down roles that might’ve turned him into one of the most valuable actors in the industry. Still, if there is one decision that he made right then it definitely has to be when he turned down the role of Captain America. We’re not talking about the current Chris Evans Captain America that you know, we’re talking about that horrible 1990 Captain America film. According to IMDB, Kilmer supposedly turned down the role of the first avenger in favor of another film, The Doors which was released in 1991.
When searching for an actress for the role of Black Widow, supposedly Marvel’s first choice was none other than the stunning British actress Emily Blunt. Black Widow was first introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with Iron Man 2 but Blunt ended up turning down this role. She was then offered a role again as Captain America’s love interest, Peggy Carter in the movie Captain America: The First Avenger but she didn’t really like the idea of that either.
According to Syfy, Emily Blunt made this revelation during an interview with the New York Magazine in which she said, “Usually the female parts in a superhero film feel thankless: She's the pill girlfriend while the guys are whizzing around saving the world. I didn't do the other ones because the part wasn't very good or the timing wasn't right, but I'm open to any kind of genre if the part is great and fun and different and a challenge in some way. I would love to do a comic-book movie or a science-fiction film that would scare the bejesus out of me.” The roles of Black Widow and Peggy Carter ended up going to Scarlett Johansson and Hayley Attwell respectively.
Right now, we cannot imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr. being Iron Man but just like every other role out there, multiple actors were being considered to be put into the shoes of Tony Stark. One of these was none other than Sam Rockwell, the famous Moon actor who had proved his acting skills from time to time again. According to Iron Man director Jon Favreau, he had been considering Rockwell for quite some time:
"He was one of the actors I was looking at for Tony Stark. There was some things he would bring to the role that would have been great. Sam is very charismatic and when I was looking at the character there was a list and he had a spot on it, which might have surprised some people. Robert surprised some people, too, though, and now he is Tony Stark, he owns that role. Sam would have come up with interesting and different things."
The role eventually went to Robert Downey Jr. obviously but according to What Culture, Favreau was so adamant about bringing Rockwell in that he adopted the role of Hammer for him specifically which would make him the literal opposite of Tony Stark in the film.
If the last name is any indication then it is quite obvious that Rikki Lee belongs to the famous Travolta family and more specifically, he is the nephew of John Travolta. Back then, a big requirement for the role of Thor seemed to be luscious blonde hair and excellent physical shape, both of which Travolta had. He was in the run for the role along with Chris Hemsworth back in 2006. At this point, Marvel had officially decided to go along with the idea of introducing more Avengers and one of these was Thor, with David Goyer who had been given the responsibility of writing the film.
Travolta had quite a few skills under his belt, the most important of which being that he was a Shakespearean trained actor and then other one being that he was a martial artist, something that he was definitely going to need if he were to land the role of Thor. At the same time, Travolta was also being considered for the role of James Bond when Pierce Brosnan retired from his role. Despite the fact that he was being considered for these roles, the only noticeable appearance that he ever made was as a bellhop on Crime Fiction and in the end, both of the roles ended up going to different people.
Ever since the introduction of Hulk in Marvel comics, this giant green monster has been a fan favorite. Apart from the comics, Hulk had also been featured in numerous animated films but the real issue came when it was time present him on the big screen. This was no easy task since it required a lot of CGI, however, there needed to be someone who could make the people relate to such a character. This is where Billy Crudup came in. This wasn’t the first time that he had been offered the role of a superhero, in fact, he was Dr. Manhattan in Watchmen which is why he was very well aware of the skills needed to bring such a character to life on the big screen.
When director Ang Lee was told to put together an adaptation of the Hulk for the big screen, his first choice was Billy Crudup. According to Slash Film, this was evident from the fact when Benton Jew, a concept artist working with Lee came up with pictures depicting Crudup as the Hulk. The role ended up going to Eric Bana in the end, however, as Crudup turned down Lee’s offer for reasons that are unknown.
While most of the entries on this list have been about studios reaching out to actors, that hasn’t always been the case. Sometimes, it is the actors who are desperately looking to play a role and they even end up going as far as to campaign for it on TV. This is exactly what happened in the case of Eliza Dushku. Back when Marvel was looking for an actress to play the role of Black Widow in Iron Man 2, Dushku decided to campaign on the Howard Stern show that she should be the one to play the role of the Russian character.
There were numerous times where she brought this up and according to What Culture, this is what she said in an interview she did for Dollhouse, “They’re doing 'Iron Man 2,' and I’m so perfect for the Black Widow character, that they just need to get into it. They need to understand I just learned Russian because I had to play a Russian girl in 'Dollhouse.' Maybe we could all tell them. Let's get on a Black Widow Iron Man 2 campaign.” Obviously, in the end, the studio went ahead with Scarlett Johansson and Dushku never got the chance.
If we were to ask you to list one role that became really iconic for Tom Hiddleston, then you would definitely go with Loki. Similar to many other Marvel actors, we cannot imagine anyone else being Loki other than Hiddleston himself. Still, that is not to say that he didn’t try out for other roles in the Marvel universe, more specifically the role of Thor, whose younger brother he would eventually end up playing.
There is footage of Hiddleston available online where he can be seen wearing a blonde wig and auditioning for the role of Thor. The studio, however, wanted him to join the same rank as that of Sam Rockwell and we can definitely say that this was perhaps the best decision that the studio ever made. Even though the role of Thor eventually went to Chris Hemsworth, it still perfectly complimented the role of Loki with Hiddleston. Not only this, Hiddleston’s physique also worked out for him perfectly since acting as Thor probably would’ve meant that he would need to be all bulked up and everything and we also would’ve missed out on perhaps one of the most memorable and best villains in the Marvel cinematic universe so far.
Ah, the good old Jeff Goldblum, an actor who has kept the internet meme community alive just by his mere presence. His roles in Jurrasic Park and Independence Day were perhaps one of his most iconic ones yet he has proved himself to be a versatile actor from time to time again. He was offered the role of the big, green and angry monster after Billy Crudup, whom we talked about earlier, had refused to participate in anything Hulk related. Since the bigger part of being the Hulk ends up being CGI, the actual performance of the actor is delivered in the form of Dr. Bruce Banner, Hulk’s human form.
Given Goldblum’s acting history, it would’ve been really nice to see him handle the character, however, we’re not really sure if that would’ve really worked with Ang Lee’s vision of a Hulk movie. This is probably why he didn’t get the role in the end and it went to Eric Bana instead who also couldn’t deliver a great performance because of the ponderous tone of the movie. Still, everything worked out for Goldblum in the end since he eventually ended up starring as the Grandmaster in Thor: Ragnarok, officially making him a part of the Marvel cinematic universe.
Look, we all absolutely love Stan Lee simply because he is responsible for the majority of comic book characters that we now have and if it wasn’t for him, all the Marvel movies that we now enjoy simply wouldn’t exist. Still, Stan Lee has been proved wrong a few times, especially about the movies that he initially endorsed among which the worst was the 1990 Captain America movie. It ended up being an absolute disaster and there were plenty of reshoots done in an attempt to fix the movie before its release but even that couldn’t save it.
Before Matt Slinger was eventually cast as the iconic American superhero, Dolph Lundgren was being considered for the role. The director at the time initially had plans to cast two actors for the role of Steve Rogers, one who could play the character before its transformation and the second who could play the character after the transformation. Luckily, Lundgren dodged a bullet with this one since he was already starring in another superhero movie that didn’t turn out too great and if you haven’t guessed it already, we’re talking about The Punisher. One could say that Captain America couldn’t have been worse than that but it was and Lundgren narrowly avoided having to wear a Cap suit so bad that Salinger had to wear plastic ears to save his real ones.
From Pirates of the Caribbean to Edward Scissorhands, Johnny Depp has done it all. Long before Ang Lee was brought in to make the big screen debut of the Hulk, Jonathan Hensleigh was the top choice for the direction of the infamous Incredible Hulk during the early 90s. Joe Johnston was originally handed over this responsibility but he had to drop out due to some personal reasons. Michael France was given the task of coming up with a script for this movie but despite such a good team, the concept of this movie was stuck in development hell for so many years and it underwent many rewrite cycles.
For Jonathan, however, the initial choice to play the role of both Banner and Hulk was none other than Johnny Depp. Sometime during the rewrite process, the choice eventually shifted to Crudup, whom we’ve talked about earlier and even that didn’t work out. The eventual script for the movie turned out to be very weak with villains such as the Leader and Absorbing Man, characters nobody had heard of before and quite honestly, we believe that Depp did dodge a bullet there since he was quite an odd choice for this role in the first place.
Now, we suggest taking this one with a grain of salt since confirmation of this came from Lindsay Lohan herself and not from Marvel or any other media outlet. On her own reality show, Lohan went on to say that she was in the running for a major role inside the first Avengers movie and the only reason why things didn’t work out was because of the incompetence on part of her management team.
Reported originally by MTV, Lohan went on to say, “If I don't work in a film, he (manager) passes it to Vanessa Hudgens; he passes it to one of his other clients. Every day I'm not on a film set, I'm wasting my talent because that's what I was born, and live, to do.” She elaborated that the role she was offered went to an unknown instead. Now if we really think about it, there weren’t that many major female roles in The Avengers apart from the already established Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts. That leaves only with the role of Maria Hill, Nick Fury’s second in command, which was played by Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother.
David Duchovny had really created a name for himself as the lead for X-Files and that wasn’t all since he was also voted as one of the most handsome men around, an important quality if you’re looking to play the role of a shirtless and angry green monster. Both him and Goldblum were being considered for the role of Dr. Bruce Banner and his alter ego, the Hulk at one point yet it didn’t work out for both of them. However, the key difference in the case of Duchovny was that his role was never intended to be released in the cinema, oh no, it was to be featured in a direct to DVD release which was supposed to be the sequel to the 2003 Incredible Hulk.
Eric Bana had bailed out on the last moment and Duchovny almost ended up signing the contract but not before the project was officially scrapped. What we got instead a few years down the lane was a complete reboot of the Marvel cinematic universe with Edward Norton as the Hulk. Still, Duchovny became the only actor to be denied the role of Hulk not once but twice. He had missed out the role to Eric Bana in the 2003 film and later on the direct to DVD release.
If you do a quick internet search then you will come up with a very long list of movies that Nicholas Cage almost ended up doing but couldn’t because of a number of reasons. Many of the Cage haters take a sigh of relief upon realizing that the actor couldn’t ruin some of their favorite franchises. Still, whether you love him or hate him, he has starred in a number of films throughout his acting career. He almost landed the role of Superman once, footage of which can be found online using a simple Google search but this never happened so Cage turned his attention to another, more popular Marvel superhero and we’re not talking about the Ghost Rider here.
Instead, it is the eccentric Tony Stark aka Iron Man except for this time, no one really paid much attention to Cage’s campaign to be cast as one of the most important Avengers. He also ended up pitching the idea of a She-Hulk film to Marvel, asking for Eva Mendes to be cast as a co-star but this also never came to fruition. Still, Cage did get his moment of comic book hero fame when he was cast as Ghost Rider which ended up being quite popular.
Turns out, the infamous Incredible Hulk directed by Ang Lee had a lot of big names attached to it. We’ve already talked about it a couple of time in some of our earlier entries. This is where Steve Buscemi also comes in. Before this, both he and Bill Murray were on the waiting list to be cast as Batman yet this never happened. Buscemi then turned to try his luck at playing the big green Avenger and that would’ve probably worked really well since Buscemi has been known to play some mild-mannered roles in the past and quite convincingly too which would make his a great Bruce Banner.
Even despite the fact that Buscemi isn’t known for many physical roles in the industry, what a lot of people might not know is that he used to wrestle as varsity back in high school and also spent four years of his life as a firefighter so there would be no doubt in thinking that he could’ve easily pulled off the role of the Hulk as well. Despite all of these things going in Buscemi’s favor, he was still considered as one of the odd choices for the role and it ended up going to Eric Bana.
Often times people end up confusing the Hemsworth brothers and a lot of them don’t even know that Liam and Chris are two very different people. One of them ended up with a role in The Expendables and then later went on to date Miley Cyrus and if you’re wondering which brother that was, then it certainly wasn’t the one who starred as Thor. Yes, we’re talking about Liam Hemsworth here.
While there were quite a few choices for who was going to be the son of Odin, it all came down to between the two Hemsworth brothers. The director, Kenneth Branagh was obviously more impressed by Chris Hemsworth which is why he was finally selected to play the role of Thor.
In an interview to Cinema Blend, Chris Hemsworth talked about the sibling rivalry with his brother when auditioning for the role of Thor, “I came in kind of with a little, I guess, motivation and maybe frustration that my little brother had gotten further than me. It's a little family, sibling rivalry sort of kicked up in me.”Still, if Marvel ever decides to go down the road of creating an evil Thor clone (the idea is not as silly as it sounds) then there will be no one better to play that role than Liam Hemsworth.
Ah, Tom Cruise, the guy who loves to pull off his own stunts and is a complete adrenaline junkie. Naturally, he would’ve been the perfect guy to play the role of Tony Stark, no offense to Robert Downey Jr. of course. Jon Favreau, the guy who was tasked to make Iron Man a success was looking to create a character that was a douche but also would be loved by everyone. Tom Cruise was considered for the role for quite some time before the entire deal was scrapped just because Cruise wasn’t very content with the script.
Back in 2004, Kevin Feige reportedly said that “There have been discussions (with Cruise) over the last several years and there are a number of factors involved. All we know is that we’re putting all the pieces in place and then we’ll find the best Tony Stark that we can get.” It definitely would’ve been something to watch the Mission Impossible star feature as Tony Stark but we suppose it wasn’t meant to happen. Tom Cruise went on to talk about his rejection of the role in an interview to Comicbook.com: “I don’t know. It’s just that they came to me at a certain point and when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work.”
After a very successful career in the world of bodybuilding, Arnold Schwarzenegger turned his attention towards acting with his first role being Conan the barbarian. Many of the one-liners from his movies are still quite famous all over the world, helping his movies achieve the status of cinema classics. Still, the biggest problem that he faced throughout his time in Hollywood was that of his accent. Even though he was physically built like a Roman God, he wasn’t very good initially at delivering lines, especially when it came to superhero movies.
The biggest proof of this was his role as Mr. Freeze in Batman and Robin, a movie that is still easily considered as the worst Batman movie ever made, though we don’t really blame Arnie for that. He was considered for the role of Captain America in the horrible 1990 film which was nothing short of a disaster. As you’ve probably already guessed by now, His thick accent is what made him miss out on this role, though that was probably for the best since Arnold really wouldn’t have been too proud of it anyway. The role ended up going to Matt Salinger in the end and even he couldn’t save the movie.
At this point in time, we really can’t imagine anyone else being Captain America other than our very own Chris Evans, however, back when Marvel was still deciding on whom to cast for the role, there were a number of actors that were being considered. One of these was none than John Krasinski and we’re pretty big The Office fans here so it was quite exciting to hear that Krasinski was being considered for the role. It wasn’t just a ‘there were talks’ sort of deal either, oh no, Krasinski made it all the way to the costumed audition but he ended up dropping out of the race himself.
During his appearance on Conan, he had quite a weird, yet funny reason for changing his decision. While he was putting on the Captain America costume and getting ready for the audition, he saw Chris Hemsworth walk by all dressed up as the mighty Thor which quickly made him realize that he really wasn’t in the best of shape to play this role. We sort of agree with Krasinski here especially since Chris Hemsworth is a pretty big guy and he can be pretty intimidating. Still, the fact that Krasinski decided to give the whole superhero thing a shot is pretty cool on its own.
All of the Parks and Recreation fans rejoiced the moment that Chris Pratt was cast as Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. What a lot of people might not know, however, is that there was another equally talented actor competing for this role. We’re of course talking about none other than the star who played Dennis Reynolds, Mr. Glenn Howerton. Director James Gunn was given the responsibility for bringing the Guardians of the Galaxy to the big screen and so casting somebody who had the screen presence to bring a character such as Star-Lord to life was important.
Howerton was obviously an excellent choice and Gunn was seemingly very impressed by his performance in the audition, something that he acknowledged during an interview with GQ later on: “Glenn came along a bit later, but there was a good chance that, if I didn’t cast Chris, that I would’ve cast Glenn Howerton in the role.” That was quite something, especially when coming directly from Gunn himself. The only thing that led to Chris Pratt getting the role was that he had auditioned much earlier than Howerton and by the time the latter came along, director James Gunn had already made a decision to cast Pratt as Star-Lord.
Kevin Feige's concept of a connected cinematic universe really paid off when the first Avengers movie came out. Combining a bunch of superheroes and then putting all of them together in one film was every comic book nerd’s dream. By the time that the second Avengers movie had come around, quite a few characters had been introduced including Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch, both of whom showed up at the end credits scene of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. These two were going to have a quite a big presence in Avengers: Age of Ultron and not only that but in quite a few of the future Marvel films as well.
As soon as rumors for Scarlet Witch started circulating, the name that came forth was that of Saorise Ronan. It was said that the concept for the Scarlet Witch character resembled Ronan quite a bit and that she was the inspiration behind how the character eventually ended up looking. Ronan obviously took notice of this and said in an interview, “I have heard about it and yes, I would. Yeah, of course, I would [be interested]. I love [Avengers director] Joss [Whedon] and I love those films, and I love his handle on them and how he portrayed these kinds of superheroes. I think it’s very different from what anyone else has done. So yeah, I’d love to be in it.” It didn’t work out eventually because of Ronan’s busy schedule.
Unlike many of the other origin films for Marvel characters, Guardians of the Galaxy didn’t feature just a single hero, instead, it was a band of space traveling misfits who came together and formed a team based on pure luck. Similar to Star-Lord, a core member of the team is none other than Drax the Destroyer. As you can tell from his title, he is a brute and really excels when it comes to raw strength. For James Gunn, the first choice for the character was going to be none other than Jason Momoa. This was also for the reason that Momoa had already played a number of physically powerful characters so there was no doubt about the fact that he was going to be amazing as Drax.
However, this was also the reason why Momoa ended up turning down the offer for the role of Drax. He didn’t want to have ‘brute’ as his only acting specialty. This is something that he conveyed very clearly during a Zap2it interview: “Dave [Bautista] is perfect for that role, for Drax. It didn't really fit in my time because I've done so many things where I don't say much and I'm colored up and I have my shirt off again. I made a conscious choice to turn down some movies that were action-based to direct 'Road to Paloma' so people could see that side."
Joaquin Phoenix has proved time to time again that he has what it takes to play a multitude of roles, from the evil Commodus in Gladiator to the warm and mellow Theodore in the movie Her. It was only a matter of time before someone from either Marvel or DC reached out to him with an offer (more on DC later). When it was time to bring Doctor Strange to the big screen, Marvel was on the lookout for somebody who could really do the Sorcerer Supreme justice and Phoenix was among the actors who were seriously being considered for the role.
It also would’ve been an almost perfect casting given Phoenix’s acting history and skill. Despite negotiations, however, Phoenix decided to drop out with one of the biggest deciding factors being that he would have to take part in a six-month publicity tour to promote the film, something that he didn’t want to do. Still, he doesn’t regret missing out on the chance of becoming Dr. Strange and rumors have been circulating for the past few months that he has agreed to work with DC for the role of Joker in an upcoming standalone film about the clown prince of Gotham.
Even though Michael B Jordan is a young actor compared to many of the other folks in the industry, he has proved both his versatility and skill by taking on iconic roles such as that of Oscar Grant in the movie Fruitvale Station or as Adonis Creed in the famous sequel of the Rocky film, Creed. Still, way before his eventual run-in with Marvel as the villain Killmonger, he almost made it on the team as none other than Falcon.
Jordan went in to audition for the role of Sam Wilson who was to be featured in the second Captain America movie that turned out to be Captain America: The Winter Soldier. He was successful all the way up to the auditions phase where he ended up losing the role to none than Anthony Mackie. In an interview with the Daily Beast, Jordan explained his feelings about racial diversity when it came to comic book superheroes: “With superheroes, a lot of those comics were created before the 1960s, so they weren’t going to have a black man save America,” Jordan told Daily Beast soon after being passed over for the role. “So I think it’s more of a continuity thing now. With more generic superheroes, why can’t you have a black, Asian, Hispanic actor play the role? Hopefully, in my lifetime, we’ll see more black superheroes.”
This wasn’t the first time that Joseph Gordon Levitt had been associated with a superhero franchise. Unlike some of the earlier entries on our list, Levitt had a pretty big role in Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises which was part of a Batman trilogy that is still considered as one of the best ones to date. Near the end of that movie, (spoilers, if you still haven’t seen it) Levitt’s character can be seen discovering the Batcave and supposedly taking on the mantle of Batman. This is why Levitt was no stranger to the superhero genre and decided to try his hand at the role of Scott Lang, or in more familiar terms, Ant-Man.
He even gave the character of Star-Lord a shot but the studio was more interested in casting him as Ant-Man. According to news outlet Variety, both Gordon Levitt and Paul Rudd were being considered for the role as the big screen adaptation of Ant-Man. Despite meeting up with Marvel execs, Levitt, unfortunately, ended up missing out on the role and it went to Rudd instead. Still, it would’ve been quite cool to see Levitt’s take on the characters since he’s such a versatile actor.
Supernatural has probably been one of the longest-running shows on CW with Jensen Ackles as the actor for the lead role and the incredible success of the show has really allowed him to become popular with not only the ladies but also with other fans as well. During the time that Marvel was looking to cast Captain America for the movie Captain America: The First Avenger, Ackles was among the few people to audition for the role. Still, Marvel was pretty adamant about getting Chris Evans on board despite the fact that he had rejected it a whopping six times before finally accepting it.
The studio really liked Ackles’ audition, however, which is why they ended up offering him the role of Hawkeye. Now, for those who are familiar with the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hawkeye isn’t the most powerful character out there, with his archery skills being his only superpower. Ackles ended up quickly turning down the role, citing his hectic schedule with Supernatural as the reason though according to CBR, this reasoning is questionable since Ackles was already willing to play the role of Captain America. Perhaps it was the fact that Ackles considered the Hawkeye role to be nothing more than a consolation prize from Marvel.