For many actors out there, landing a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the opportunity of a lifetime. It almost always leads to more movies in the future and is one of the best ways to ensure a constant stream of income in today's unreliable film industry for actors today. So it definitely makes sense why there is such massive competition for roles in the MCU. So many actors audition for each superhero role, and with each actor that lands the role, there are at least a handful of actors who get rejected. Some have auditioned for Marvel roles, again and again, only to be turned down repeatedly.
Sometimes it's even more crushing for actors when they know that they came really close to landing the role. When it's between you and one other actor, it can be a huge blow to your self-confidence when the other person gets it, and you go home empty-handed. But this happens so often, and second place just isn't good enough for actors. It's one of the few industries where being the very best is the only option for success.
On the other hand, there were a lot of actors who just barely managed to land roles in the MCU. These actors are no doubt thankful that they made it in, but sometimes it's hard to figure out how exactly they managed it. Sometimes, the actors themselves don't really know how it happened. Casting is definitely one of the most important parts of any film, and it's interesting to hear the stories behind our favorite MCU casting decisions...
18 Leonardo DiCaprio Was Almost Spider-Man
Today, Leonardo DiCaprio is known for such roles as Jack in Titanic, and Romeo in the amazing Romeo + Juliet. But according to Comicbook.com, the legendary actor could have played Spider-Man instead of Tobey Maguire in the first outing of the superhero on the big screen. He allegedly auditioned for the role but for whatever reason, it just didn't work out. He also is quoted by Comic Book as saying that he turned down other superhero roles as well.
To be honest, we're sure that it was the right choice. As good of an actor Leonardo is, we're not quite sure a superhero movie would really suit him.
He really shines in dramatic roles - some involve some action, but it's always a very real and down to Earth storyline. Marvel especially might have been a little too "out of this world" for the young actor to stay grounded.
So was he turned down by casting, or was it his decision not to do the movie. Leonardo seems to suggest that it was his call to walk away from a possible future at Marvel, but then again, that seems like the obvious claim to make. Who knows if he actually auditioned and was turned down... It's not like a star actor like Leo would admit to such a thing willingly...
17 Emily Blunt Couldn't Land The Role Of Black Widow
According to many publications, including the Independent, Emily Blunt was one of the top choices to play the famed role of Black Widow. We all know that the role eventually went to someone else, but there's a hidden story behind this casting, and Emily Blunt came very close to landing the role and a huge future within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. So what went wrong?
The Independent posted quotes from the actress where she explained her reasons for turning down the role of Black Widow and one other Marvel character. She stated: “Yeah, but it was never the right time, really, and it just didn’t work out scheduling-wise with those two. It’s always a difficult thing to talk about because it’s not fair to the actresses who ended up playing them, you know? It just wasn’t the right time.”
Judging by this quote, it would again seem that Emily Blunt auditioned, but walked away from the role herself, rather than being shown the door by Marvel. This paints a very interesting picture, especially Blunt's hesitance to talk about the matter - claiming that it's not fair to the actress who did get the part. She's actually linked with the role of Captain Marvel, so who knows if we'll see her in a super suit one day in the future...
16 Alison Brie Was So Close To Being Squirrel Girl
Alison Brie is a huge fan favorite in the entertainment world and has worked on many interesting projects in the past, mostly for television shows like Community and Mad Men. She's also worked on the odd movie in the past, but never a Marvel flick. Tons of her fans would love to see her as a superhero - and most people were convinced she would land the role of Squirrel Girl.
It never quite materialized, but it's certainly not from lack of trying. Comicbook.com quoted the young actress as admitting:
“I’ve gone through auditions for Marvel movies and auditioned a million times for roles with three lines and you are begging for them. And I’d be glad to get them! It’s brutal, it just is.”
We don't actually know if she ever even auditioned for the role of Squirrel Girl, but tons of her fans were very vocal about it on the internet, which probably made the producers at least notice her.
So it seems that Alison Brie just hasn't done what it takes to even get a role in the Marvel Universe - yet. The fact that she's even in the audition room so much is a really good sign, and if she's constantly being called for auditions, that probably means that they're actively searching for a role that fits her. Despite these failures, Alison Brie has a lot to be happy about, including a picture-perfect marriage with Dave Franco...
15 John Krasinski Actually Auditioned For Captain America
Captain America is undeniably one of the biggest roles in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, and picking the right actor to play "Cap" must have been quite a challenge. We all know who originally landed the role, but fans might be unaware that at one point, John Krasinski was up for the role, and even got the point where he was auditioning while wearing the famous Captain America outfit.
Elle quoted the legendary actor as explaining the moment when he realized when the role of Captain America wasn't for him: "I was putting on the suit like, 'this is so amazing!' and I got right to my waist. I was still shirtless, feeling pretty good about myself–wasn't 13 Hours yet–but all of a sudden Chris Hemsworth walked by as Thor and was like 'Hey mate!' and I'm like...'I'm good. This is stupid. It's okay. I'm not Captain America. It's fine.'"
It's interesting to think about what could have been, and we're sure that John Krasinski would have made a great (albeit very different) Captain America. Judging by his quote, it's not clear whether the actor was actually turned away by Marvel, or whether he chose to walk away. But one thing's clear - for whatever reason, the role of Captain America eluded the star from The Office.
14 Tom Cruise Could Have Been Iron Man
Tom Cruise is certainly no stranger to playing heroes - he does so in pretty much every single one of his past movies. But he's never been a superhero, and a lot of people are asking themselves why this is. On paper, he seems like an obvious choice to play characters like Batman, Cyclops, or even Iron Man. Well, according to many insiders, Tom Cruise was actually in the running to play Robert Downey Jr's iconic role.
Comicbook.com once quoted the actor as saying that he was never really close to getting the part. When asked if he was almost Iron Man, he replied:
"Not close. Not close, and I love Robert Downey Jr. I can't imagine anyone else in that role, and I think it's perfect for him. I look at a movie and I don't rule anything out..."
"...It's, 'What's the story? Does it interest me? Do I feel this is where the audience would like to see me in? What can I learn?' And 'What can I contribute?' That's how I choose my movies."
Again, it's not really clear whether Tom Cruise rejected the role because he didn't like the superhero genre, or whether he actually lost out because of the fact that Robert Downey Jr. was the better fit for the role. Most actors probably don't like to admit that another person beat them in an audition, but it's not really clear what happened with this. All we know is that Tom Cruise could have been Iron Man in another world.
13 Josh Hartnett Auditioned For The Role Of Loki
Tons of people are huge fans of Tom Hiddleston's portrayal of the character Loki, and today it's hard to imagine any other character playing the role. It fits the actor's look and personality so well, but one has to wonder - what if another actor had landed the role instead. What about Josh Hartnett, for example? Well, according to many insiders, he was in the running at one point.
While the role was still being cast, MTV posted an article which explored the potential actors who could play the trickster god, and Josh Hartnett was one name they really focused on. In fact, they claimed that the actor had not only auditioned and made a great impression but also met with the director and seemed to be the favorite for the role of Loki.
We all know that it didn't pan out that way, but it seems like Josh Hartnett really came close. As for why he wanted the role so badly, MTV claimed back in the day that Josh Hartnett had been inspired by Heath Ledger's portrayal of the Joker in the Batman franchise, and wanted to play a villainous character also. Who knows - the actor might one day get his chance.
12 Liam Hemsworth Auditioned For Thor
Thor is one of the biggest roles in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and one that tons of people love. He's a very unique and interesting hero, and he's constantly in the biggest Marvel movies. Today, that role is inseparable from the very talented Chris Hemsworth, but as the actor himself admits that it was his younger brother who came closest to landing the role in the first round of casting.
Chris Hemsworth admitted in an interview with W Magazine that it was his younger brother that initially got lots of interest for the role of Thor.
He admitted: "I came into the audition with Kenneth Branagh and thought I nailed it and then never heard anything back. Months went by and then my brother, my little brother, Liam, was in Australia and sent a tape across and he got a callback, then another callback and then was down to the last kind of four or five people for it."
There's no doubt that all of the Hemsworth brothers are immensely talented, and they all seem to be involved in big things. Liam Hemsworth obviously looks a lot like Chris, and he probably would have made a brilliant Thor. But we're sure that in the end, the casting directors made the right choice in casting Chris over Liam. However, we're sure that Liam has a future in the MCU someday.
11 Joaquin Phoenix Was Almost Dr. Strange
We all know that the new Dr. Strange movies are some of the most popular in the MCU right now and for a very good reason. They are awesome, interesting films that go in a unique direction when compared to other franchises under the Marvel umbrella. And of course, the films are made even better by the fact that the very talented Benedict Cumberbatch is playing the lead role. But what would the movies be like if, say... Joaquin Phoenix had been cast in the role?
Joaquin Phoenix was in fact closely linked with the role at one point, and Cinema Blend quoted the actor as he explained why it didn't work out. He stated: "I think they make some great, fun movies. There's nothing wrong... I'm not an [expletive], like, cinephile. I'm not a snob and I'm totally fine with... I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the [expletive] industry going in some ways, so I don't have a problem with it at all. I think that everybody was, is... I'm trying to figure out how to say this most diplomatically, okay... I think everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied."
10 Joseph Gordon-Levitt Might've Been Ant-Man
Ant-Man was another Marvel movie that really broke the mold a few years back, and just like Dr. Strange, took a lot of people (pleasantly) by surprise. We all know that the eventual winner of that role was Paul Rudd, but there was a lot of competition for the lead back when it was being cast. Although there is always a lot of competition for any role in Hollywood, Paul Rudd came up against a very competent actor in Joseph Gordon-Levitt. The star was very closely linked to the role, and tons of his fans got their hopes up, although it wasn't meant to be in the end.
Back in 2013 when the film was being cast, there were very strong rumors that Joseph Gordon-Levitt was a front-runner for the role of Ant-Man, and eventually, he was forced to address the rumors directly.
NME quoted the actor's statement, confirming he was being considered for the role, which read: “There is always a lot of rumors around these projects and so far it is still only discussions. I am always very transparent when it comes to my role and my career. I’m usually the first to speak and communicate with my fans if something happens. If you hear nothing from me, they are just rumors."
9 Jensen Ackles Auditioned For Captain America
Captain America is a role we've already mentioned in this article, and we all know what happened with John Krasinski. But if you can believe it, there were many other big names attached to this role at one point, and it seems like Marvel searched high and low for the perfect leader of the Avengers. And yes, at one point, Jensen Ackles allegedly auditioned for the role of "Cap."
So what went wrong? Jensen Ackles has only vaguely hinted that he was ever in the running, and he seems pretty tight-lipped about the whole affair. It's not really clear whether that's because he's a tad bitter about losing the role or he just doesn't want to talk about it. But numerous publications, including CBR, Vulture, and others, have insisted that Jensen Ackles came very close to landing the role, with some even claiming that he was the "second choice."
So what would Captain America be like if Jensen Ackles had played the character? To be honest, probably not all that different from the actor who eventually played him. He has all the right mannerisms and traits, and he probably wouldn't have taken the role in a drastically different direction. He's also no stranger to playing heroic characters, from his time on Supernatural.
8 Olivia Wilde Could Have Been Gamora
Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the most beloved films to ever come out of the MCU, and we're sure that many more sequels are on the way. It had a slightly more light-hearted and fun approach when compared to a lot of other, much darker films from Marvel, and tons of fans really appreciated this unique approach to storytelling. Of course, the thing which made this movie amazing was its cast of interesting characters.
Gamora is definitely one of the biggest and most popular characters from the franchise, and she's definitely one of the most prominent female heroes in the MCU today. And today this role is irrevocably linked to the very talented Zoe Saldana, who did a great job of portraying the green-skinned assassin. But what if another actor had landed the role... Say, Olivia Wilde, for example?
CBR claims that Olivia Wilde was, in fact, one of the first choices for the role, but she turned it down because "female superheroes are expected to be too perfect."
She decided to work on another film instead, and today she's definitely not hurting for acting opportunities. Who knows whether she really did turn it down, or whether she was rejected by Marvel. Still, it would have been really cool to see the talented actor as a superhero.
7 Summer Glau Was Almost Kitty Pryde
Fans of science fiction movies and shows will no doubt recognize the lithe, flawless figure of Summer Glau. She has graced shows such as Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Firefly, and countless other movies and TV shows in the science fiction genre. She is definitely a well-known figure in the scene, so why hasn't she been in a Marvel movie yet? She seems like an obvious choice.
Well, according to What Culture, she actually did come pretty close to landing a huge role in the MCU - Kitty Pryde. Although the role eventually went to someone else, Summer Glau was very much in the running.
The article posted a quoted from screenwriter Joss Whedon, who claimed that Summer Glau read for the character. He stated: "So the girl I turned into sort of a superhero in my movie was going to read for the character that most influenced ALL my girl-heroes, Kitty Pryde. Karmically funky. Anyhoo, she called me after and said it was very emotional and kind of like when she read for Firefly, she just got into a very intense groove. She started telling me about the scene she read and that's when I realized why it was kind of like she read for Firefly."
6 Scarlett Johansson Barely Landed The Role Of Black Widow
It seems unthinkable that any other actor could have played Black Widow. But as we've already discussed, Scarlett Johansson wasn't the only one in the running to land the role - and she might not have even been the first choice. We know that Emily Blunt turned down the role, so was Scarlett Johansson the one they turned to next? What's clear is that is was anything but easy for the talented actress to land the role, and there was tons of competition, especially from Emily Blunt.
While it's impossible to imagine any other actress playing the role, many were surprised that Scarlett Johansson was going to be playing Black Widow when it was announced all those years ago.
As quoted by CBR, this is something that Scarlett Johansson herself recognizes. She stated: “I loved Iron Man, and I met with Marvel to see what was possible. People were surprised that I wanted to play a comic book heroine.”I had done my research, and the Black Widow character resonated with me. She is dark and has faced death so many times that she has a deep perspective on the value of life. Black Widow is a superhero, but she’s also human. She’s small, but she’s strong. It’s hard not to admire her. She packs a big punch.”
5 Chris Hemsworth Was Very Close To Losing The Role Of Thor
We've previously talked about how Liam Hemsworth was very close to booking the role of Thor, and that really says a lot about how close Chris was to losing the role entirely. According to interviews with the actor himself, he admits that he pretty much blew his first audition and that he had at one point accepted that he was not going to play Thor. But somehow, things turned around for Chris Hemsworth, and he ended up just barely landing the role.
In an interview with W Magazine, Chris Hemsworth admitted that he was very much an outsider for the role of Thor, after giving a bad audition.
He stated: "I remember sitting in Vancouver, shooting Cabin in the Woods with Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon. Both of them were looking at the trades at this sort of top five guys for Thor and saying, 'Why aren't you in the mix here? What happened?' I said, 'I don't know. I blew my audition I guess.' None of those guys got it. My manager then called up and said, 'You know, he's got an older brother. Can we bring him back in?' So I did an audition in Vancouver in this hotel room with my mum reading Anthony Hopkins' part. She must have nailed it because it got me back in the room and that second audition was a lot different than my first one."
4 Alan Cumming Just Barely Landed The Role Of Nightcrawler
Although he appeared many years ago in the X-Men franchise, the character of Nightcrawler was a standout performer and really endeared himself to a lot of Marvel fans. Of course, the character was already immensely popular with Marvel fans from the pages of the comic books, but seeing him come to life on the big screen was truly a joy to behold.
And the actor responsible for doing that was none other than the very talented Alan Cumming, famed theater and film actor with an incredible reputation in the acting world. He really worked hard to bring the physicality of Nightcrawler to life, and the result was something that truly proved how brilliant an actor Alan Cumming really was. It was one of his few "mainstream" roles.
However, as CBR reported in an article, Alan Cumming had some very strong competition for the role. Other actors, such as Neil Patrick Harris, were also strongly considered for the role. And as CBR claims, Alan Cumming only barely managed to land the role due to the fact that he was a fluent German speaker and he had a background in the theater with strong comedic instincts, making him the obvious choice in the end.
3 Benedict Cumberbatch Almost Didn't Land Dr. Strange
We've already talked about the role of Dr. Strange before in this article, and how it almost went to Joaquin Phoenix. And it might have been even more close than we thought, given the fact that Benedict Cumberbatch almost had to accept that he lost the role entirely at one point. It's hard to imagine any other actor playing the role, but as Hello Giggles reports, it very nearly was taken from him.
So why was he forced to give up on the role at one point? He was allegedly tied down to his role in the theater production of Hamlet in London, so much so that he couldn't commit to pre-production dates on Dr. Strange due to scheduling conflicts.
But luckily for him, the production had so much faith in him that they actually worked around his schedule, which almost never happens in Hollywood these days.
Speaking about how close he came to losing the role, Hello Giggles quoted Benedict Cumberbatch as saying: "I really did think I had to kiss it goodbye. If you can’t jump on board when the ride's going past. that's usually it, so the hugest compliment they paid me was to come back to me. It motivated me to try to fulfill their faith in me. "
2 Nobody Expected Milana Vayntrub To Land Squirrel Girl
One of the most surprising casting decision in the Marvel Universe was Milana Vayntrub as Squirrel Girl. Marvel's New Warriors, which will be airing soon on Freeform, will focus in on many of the franchise's more peripheral heroes, and Squirrel Girl will be a big part of the story. For those who aren't aware of the character, Squirrel Girl has the power to communicate with Squirrels, and she also has some Squirrel-like abilities. She's considered one of the more comedic, light-hearted characters in the Marvel Universe, although she's hardly a minor character in the comic books - she's actually an Avenger if you can believe that.
But just who is Milana Vayntrub? She's known primarily for much smaller roles than this in the past, including a string of AT&T commercials, so how did she even book this role? Obviously, she must have beat other actresses such as Alison Brie and Anna Kendricks, who had a small army of fans screaming for production to cast them as Squirrel Girl. All we know is that Milana Vayntrub must feel quite lucky to land this role and that she must have given one hell of an audition. This is a huge opportunity for her and a breakout role, so it will be interesting to see what she can do.
1 Josh Brolin Had Fierce Competition For The Role Of Cable
After Infinity War, it seemed like no other Marvel movie could compete... And then Deadpool 2 came out. And a lot of people are loving the movie right now. While this was definitely a movie that centered around Deadpool, a new character was also unleashed - Cable. This character is extremely popular not only in the comics but now in the movies.
And after a very long and much-debated casting process, Josh Brolin beat out several other actors, such as Stephen Lang and John Hamm, to name but a few.
Everyone seemed to have a different opinion about who should play Cable, but in the end, it was a solid casting decision that really works well in the movies, with the actor bringing the character to life perfectly.
As quoted by Hollywood.com, David Leitch explained that there was some difficulty in casting Josh Brolin because he was playing Thanos as well: “I think everybody in sort of the Marvel and Fox world considered it, and they take their time and make measured moves. But I think everyone thought it was prudent and was O.K. in terms of the way Thanos is portrayed and Cable is portrayed. They’re very different in styles, and in terms of the way they are presented in the movies, obviously."
References: independent.co.uk, comicbook.com, elle.com, comicbook.com, mtv.com, wmagazine.com, cinemablend.com, nme.com, cbr.com, hellogiggles.com, usatoday.com, vulture.com, hollywood.com, cbr.com, collider.com, whatculture.com