How Re-Casts Shaped the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The role of Iron Man almost went to Tom Cruise. Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi

By Richard Heaton

Tom Cruise, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Tom Hiddleston, Jensen Ackles, David Duchovny. What do these six actors have in common? They were all Avengers. At one point.

It is hard to imagine to Marvel Cinematic Universe without guys like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans, right? Well it turns out many actors have been considered for major parts in the universe. Some actors were even signed on to roles and at the last second backed out or had something else come up.

The first big recast is for Iron Man. It is tough to imagine Iron Man being played by anyone other than Robert Downey Jr, but it almost went to Tom Cruise.

There are many rumors as to why Tom Cruise did not get the role. These include that he lost interest because the producers took too long to acquire the rights, he was not interested in the script, and other reasons.

If Cruise played Iron Man, the landscape of Hollywood would be very different. For starters, Downey may have never been able to rebuild his career. When he was signed for iron Man, he was already a star but his career was going down hill.

Downey faced numerous troubles in the early 2000’s, including drug rehabilitation. It is possible that had he not went on to be Iron Man, he may not have had his big break that would have rebuilt his career.

It would have been just as big a change for Tom Cruise. If he went on to play Iron Man, he most likely would not have had the time to do all of his other films. For example, the three most recent Mission: Impossible films would have never been made. Other films such as Edge of Tomorrow and Jack Reacher may not have had the same success either.

Next on the list is Captain America. Chris Evans was not always the first choice to play Captain America. The role almost went to John Krasinski, and Chris Hemsworth stopped him from taking it.

Krasinski once told Conan O’Brien why he did not take the role, and it was a pretty comedic excuse. He made it all the way to the final auditions and had a chance to audition in costume. Supposedly, as he was putting on the Captain America costume, Chris Hemsworth passed by in full Thor costume.

Krasinski said at that moment he would never be able to pull that off and that superhero roles were not for him. Afterwards, with no competition, Evans earned the role.

One crazy casting scenario belongs to Loki, the God of Mischief. The leading man to play Loki in Thor was originally Josh Hartnett. At the time, Tom Hiddleston was not even auditioning for the role.

Hiddleston was auditioning for Thor. According to the producer, he performed very well but lost out to Hemsworth. After missing the mark, he auditioned for Loki and beat out Hartnett.

Another crazy scenario belongs to one of the stars of Supernatural, Jensen Ackles. He first auditioned for the role of Captain America. He did not get the role, but Marvel liked his audition so much that they directly offered him the role of Hawkeye. The role was his, but in the end he had to turn it down due to scheduling conflicts with the hit show.

When Iron Man 2 was being developed, the MCU was still relatively unknown. Only two films were out at the time, and some actors and actresses had no way of knowing if taking a role would truly be all that great.

Enter Emily Blunt. Ten years ago she was a rising star, so much that Marvel went to her and offered the role of Black Widow. She turned it down because she was working on another film at the time and did not know if it would have been a success.

Later on she was offered another direct role, this time for Peggy Carter but she turned down that role again.

Would you ever picture Glenn Howerton as Peter Quill? It was very close to happening. James Gunn once said that if Chris Pratt did not get the role, that it would have gone to Howerton. Pratt was Gunn’s first choice.

The only problem was that Pratt did not want the role. He even refused to audition. The role was Howerton’s, but eventually Pratt was talked into auditioning and quickly became interested in the role. The rest is history.

We all know what happened with Hulk right? Eric Bana was in the 2003 version of the Hulk. That was not part of the MCU, but Bana was signed for the next movie in the series. He dropped out of the film because he thought the film would not be released in theaters.

So Edward Norton took the role for 2009’s The Incredible Hulk. That role only lasted for one film because Marvel did another re-cast and Mark Ruffalo landed the position. Originally, Norton wasn’t going to take the role because David Duchovny had the role locked up.

These were not the only ones who backed out of a role, turned it down, or had the role stripped away from them. Michael B. Jordan went after the role of Falcon and finished as the runner up in auditions and Joaquin Phoenix nearly won the role of Doctor Strange. Jason Momoa was even offered the role of Drax but did not want to take on more “brute roles” that were similar to his Game of Thrones role.

Fast forward 11 years since the start of the MCU and we are all accustomed to the hand that was dealt with cast members. It is hard to imagine what the main Avengers team would have been like with a team consisting of Tom Cruise, John Krasinski, Emily Blunt, Tom Hiddleston, Jensen Ackles, and David Duchovny.

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