Is there no actor that Marvel can't grab for their films? After having Robert Downey Jr. in the lead role of their franchise, the MCU has been bringing in several big names for years. Now their movies can effortlessly integrate actors like Sylvester Stallone, Vin Diesel, and Benedict Cumberbatch and no one bats an eye. That being said, not every actor is thrilled with the superhero universe that Marvel has created. Some have stated that it wouldn't be an opportunity that would benefit them. After all, there are plenty of actors who have already made it big without having to parade around in a colored costume and CGI effects.
There are still memorable actors who have yet to play a part in the MCU, but it's not because they were never asked. Several times, Marvel has had a vision for their characters and who they want to portray them. More often than you would expect, these actors have said no. Some issues involved scheduling conflicts, but most of them involved the fact that they wanted nothing to do with the MCU. Don't expect to see any of these names in the next Avengers film, because they think they're a bit too good for the MCU (even though they're really not).
15 MEL GIBSON
When it came to creating the world of Asgard, Marvel had their work cut out for them. On top of having to make Thor an interesting character, they had to give enough life to Asgard and its inhabitants to make it stick. Part of that was making sure that Thor's father, Odin, was played by a high-caliber actor who knew how to nail the part.
Of those who were in the running, Marvel wanted Mel Gibson to play the part of Thor's father. As we all know, he didn't end up donning the golden eye patch. As it stands now, Gibson isn't enamored with the MCU. He has gone on record saying that he finds some funny but that many others are just retreads of old ideas.
14 JESSICA CHASTAIN
Ant-Man is one of the Marvel movies to suffer a serious change in direction. Scott Pilgrim director, Edgar Wright, was the one originally signed on for the project (and even made a test reel to prove to Marvel that it could be done), but he eventually dropped out due to creative differences. Along with him, there was another person who was reportedly in the running who left: Jessica Chastain.
This actress, famous for her role in Zero Dark Thirty, was apparently considered to play Hope Van Dyne in Ant-Man. However, she decided that she was more interested in movies like The Martian and Interstellar. As such, the role of Ant-Man's beautiful partner went to Evangeline Lilly, who was previously known as Tauriel in The Hobbit trilogy. We can only imagine how things could've turned out differently.
13 JOAQUIN PHOENIX
Joaquin Phoenix has been renowned for going all out with his movie roles. Notable for his performance in Walk the Line, he was one of the actors on Marvel's radar when it came time for Phase 3 as he was in the running to play Marvel's resident Sorcerer Supreme, Doctor Strange. The concept of magic was already going to be a hard sell, and they needed to have a committed actor to make it convincing.
The reason that Phoenix ultimately decided to leave the project is that he didn't feel that they would be fulfilling, coinciding with some other audience complaints that Marvel movies are feeling like products rather than the result of creativity. Phoenix felt that his skill set would be better suited in other projects, though he is in talks to play the Joker in some form. Seems a bit hypocritical.
12 EMILY BLUNT
Emily Blunt is an actress who has grown bigger the past few years. Back in Phase 1, Marvel took notice and tried to get her in the MCU. Originally, they wanted her to play the ex-Red Room assassin known as Black Widow. However, things didn't quite line up for Blunt and she ended up dropping out of the project.
Later on, they would contact her again for the role of Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. Once again, she would drop out of the running and the role would be given to Hayley Atwell. Blunt was also rumored to be in the running to play Captain Marvel (before it went to Brie Larson), but she denied the idea. Since then, she's starred in other big films, so she's doing well.
11 MATTHEW MCCONAUGHEY
Matthew McConaughey is every girl's dream. Being a suave, attractive guy in the movies, there's no reason why Marvel wouldn't have knocked on his door. When rumors started circulating around Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2, there was a lot of reason to believe that McConaughey was in talks to star in the big budget Marvel film.
So exactly who would he be playing? Star-Lord's father, of course! Seeing his persona and comparing it to Chris Pratt's portrayal of Star-Lord, the two are practically a match made in heaven. However, McConaughey decided that he would much rather do the film adaptation of The Dark Tower with Idris Elba. Unfortunately, the movie wasn't well-received. On the bright side, though, we did get Kurt Russell as Ego.
10 OLIVIA WILDE
Olivia Wilde has had some high profile roles over the years in In Time and Tron: Legacy, but she also had the opportunity to make her name a little bigger. When Marvel announced that it would be adapting their obscure Guardians of the Galaxy comic to the big screen, they needed to have a cast that would land every scene.
Among the members of the team was Gamora, the daughter of the Mad Titan, Thanos. Being a ruthless assassin who doesn't take "no" for an answer, Olivia Wilde was called to bring the character to life. However, she ended up denying the role for a reason that she hasn't disclosed to the public. After Guardians of the Galaxy came out, there haven't been any massive roles that Wilde was in, so it makes us wonder why she turned down the chance to play Gamora.
9 ALEC BALDWIN
After The Avengers became one of the biggest successes in movie history, a lot of actors and directors started taking notice of the the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Bigger names started appearing in the roster. Among the people asked to play in the franchise, Alec Baldwin was called on for an unknown role in Phase 2.
Considering the time frame, he was considered for either Captain America: The Winter Soldier or Guardians of the Galaxy. That said, it was most likely the former as the villain, Alexander Pierce. However, he had to turn down the role due to some personal conflicts and Robert Redford was brought in the film, proving that even seasoned actors can have stellar performances in modern big-budget action blockbusters. Maybe next time, Alec.
8 JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT
Renowned for his roles in 500 Days of Summer and The Dark Knight Rises, Joseph Gordon-Levitt is a beloved actor. After appearing in a DC movie, Marvel decided it was time that they snag him for one of their projects. They wanted him for a fitting role as the main character in one of their new franchises: Guardians of the Galaxy.
That's right. Joseph Gordon-Levitt was in talks to play Peter Quill, the Star-Lord. However, he dropped out of the project for unknown reasons. He doesn't talk about it and has even gone as far to say that his calls from Marvel were just rumors. Nonetheless, multiple sources claimed that he was also in the running for both Ant-Man and Doctor Strange. Yet, he hasn't appeared in the MCU.
7 JASON MOMOA
We all know Jason Momoa as one of the most ripped guys in Hollywood. Renowned for his role in Game of Thrones, he has since gained more traction as an actor. He is now, currently, the one playing a much more metal version of Aquaman from DC Comics. Debuting in Justice League, his solo movie is set to release in late 2018.
However, that wasn't the first superhero role he was considered for. As a matter of fact, Marvel called him to try out for the part of Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy along with other big names like Isaiah Mustafa. As we all know, Dave Bautista eventually got the role. The reason that Momoa dropped out was because he felt that Drax was too similar to all of his other characters: big and buff. Now he's playing Aquaman. We're calling shenanigans.
6 TOM CRUISE
Marvel had a massive undertaking when they decided they wanted to launch the MCU. However, they needed to do it just right, or it was never going to work. Starting with their B-list superhero, Iron Man, they had to bring in a memorable name to portray the playboy known as Tony Stark. That said, Robert Downey Jr. wasn't their first choice.
All the way back in 2004, there was talk that Kevin Feige had talked with Tom Cruise on multiple occasions to play the tech genius who would carry the banner of the MCU for many years. However, he eventually decided to leave the project when he thought that the script was too weak. Interestingly enough, he would later play a movie alongside Downey Jr. in Tropic Thunder that very same year.
5 SAOIRSE RONAN
When bringing the mutant (or whatever she is in the movies) powerhouse, Scarlet Witch, into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Marvel wanted to make sure they could bring an actress who would be able to play the character for many years to come. We all know that the role eventually fell into Elizabeth Olsen's hands, who does a good job with the character (despite an extremely fake-sounding accent).
Apparently, she wasn't their first choice for the part. Originally, one of the actresses they wanted was Saoirse Ronan, famous for her work in The Grand Budapest Hotel and Lady Bird. However, Marvel couldn't snag her for the MCU because every studio wanted her at the time. She eventually decided to pursue other projects, which prompted Marvel to get another big name for Wanda Maximoff.
4 JENSEN ACKLES
When The Avengers debuted, Marvel decided that they weren't just going to use it to bring familiar characters together, but to also introduce some new faces into the MCU (we're ignoring the cameos). Among them was Agent Clint Barton, better known as the master of the bow and arrow, Hawkeye. That said, he wasn't the most memorable part of the film and audiences quickly forgot about him.
Still, things could've been very different from the start. When Joss Whedon was bringing people on board to try out for the part of Hawkeye, one of the people considered for the role was Jensen Ackles. The CW fans might know him as Dean Winchester from the hit series Supernatural. It was likely because of his involvement in the show that Ackles wasn't able to play the part, but he hasn't since been seriously rumored for the MCU.
3 JOEL EDGERTON
Marvel was very prepared with their movies in terms of casting. If three of their top choices didn't come to the project, then they had several backups already in the pipeline. This is especially true with Guardians of the Galaxy. Introducing an entire team for the first time in just one movie, they had to make sure that great cast members were ready to go.
Among the people chosen to portray Peter Quill, Joel Edgerton was on the list. Appearing in movies like The Great Gatsby, Zero Dark Thirty, and Revenge of the Sith, he doesn't exactly have a hard time getting big roles. He was screen tested to play Star-Lord, but ultimately dropped out of the project. It was then than Chris Pratt saw his opportunity and went for it, despite how afraid he was at the time.
2 EDDIE REDMAYNE
The actor who won an Oscar for his performance as Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything is one of the best in his class. Being cast as the lead for the Fantastic Beasts franchise, there are a lot of people who love his work. Apparently, Marvel has noticed the charm that Redmayne brings to the screen, and originally wanted him for the role of Star-Lord.
It's not clear why Redmayne ultimately didn't get the part, but there seems to be a common trend with his involvement in superhero films. He was also in the running to play a part in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise by Sony, but he ended up being left out. He, very well, could've thought that he was a bit too good for those movies.
1 JOHNNY DEPP
It could be argued that the only thing Johnny Depp is good for these days is starring in Pirates of the Caribbean movies, but at one time he was one of the hottest and most in-demand actors in Hollywood. Although still starring in Disney's Pirates franchise, Depp's star power has seriously faded following a string of bombs in his film career. Perhaps if he accepted the role of Doctor Strange as he was once rumored for, things would be very different for him.
Although Benedict Cumberbatch seems to be the perfect fit for the arrogant actual doctor-turned Sorcerer Supreme, Depp's eccentric way of conducting himself and dedication to roles would have seen the Marvel's resident master of the mystic arts taken in a very interesting (and probably weird) direction.