Whenever a new Marvel movie or television series is announced speculations ensue about who will get to star in it. Fans love casting actors of their own choice in prominent MCU roles and sometimes these fan-casting wishfuls and rumors actually pan out. However, more often than not, a different actor lands the part and we’re left wondering what if. At the current stage of the ever-growing MCU, it’s hard to keep track of every actor who’s appeared in one of Marvel’s movies or television series. Still, there are plenty of actors who haven’t yet managed to land an MCU role, despite their efforts to do so. With all the rumors and speculations surrounding Marvel’s casting decisions it’s impossible to remember every single actor that was once up for a certain role.
Superhero roles, especially MCU ones, usually attract a lot of actors for a myriad of reasons. Whether it’s reviving their career or hoping for a big break, actors are drawn to superhero movies like a moth to a flame. Some are merely rumored, others fail they auditions, and the rare ones say no. With that in mind, here are the 20 actors you never knew were up for an MCU role.
20. TIMOTHY OLYPHANT
Timothy Olyphant is best known for his outstanding performance in the critically acclaimed FX crime drama Justified, in which he played the tough Deputy U.S. Marshal Raylan Givens, notorious for his unconventional enforcement of justice. Olyphant’s other notable roles include the HBO series Deadwood and the action-thriller movie Hitman. However, Olyphant could have become an even bigger star if he landed the part of Iron Man in the MCU.
According an interview the actor gave in 2015, he screen-tested for the role of Tony Stark the same day as Robert Downey Jr. and he’s still waiting to hear back.
19. MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD
Most of you probably remember Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers from the comedy movie Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. But Winstead has had other prominent roles including the role of Nikki Swango on the critically acclaimed black comedy series Fargo as well as Laurel Healy on the political satire show BrainDead. However, what you may not know is that Winstead also caught the eye of the superhero behemoth MCU.
Before the Revenge star Emily VanCamp landed the part of Agent Carter’s niece Sharon Carter, a number of other actresses were being considered. Among them was the Scott Pilgrim vs. the World star Mary Elizabeth Winstead. While Emily VanCamp has been doing an excellent job so far, we doubt anyone would mind if Winstead had been picked instead.
18. DOMINIC COOPER
Unfortunately, in Thor: Ragnarok we witnessed the unceremonious death of the Warriors Three at the hands of Hela and her henchmen. Finding himself out of a job, Zachary Levi hopped over to DCEU and accepted the role of Shazam. Of course, Levi was not the only actor to portray Fandral in the MCU. After Stuart Townsend withdrew from the movie days before filming was to begin, Once Upon a Time star Josh Dallas took over.
Dallas couldn’t reprise his role in the sequel due to scheduling conflicts and Zachary Levi was cast. However, before either of these gentlemen got the part another MCU star was rumored for the role. Dominic Cooper, who later played Howard Stark and who currently plays Jesse Custer on Preacher, was one of the actors speculated to take on the role of Fandral.
17. DAVID TENNANT
The Doctor Who actor, David Tennant, played Kilgrave, the season one villain on Netflix’s Jessica Jones, and he is set to reprise his role in the show’s second season. Tennant’s excellent performance made Kilgrave one of the most beloved MCU villains across the board and we can’t wait to see what he has in store for season two.
However, way before Jessica Jones got under way, Tennant was close to landing a different Marvel role. Back when James Gunn was casting his Guardians of the Galaxy, the former Doctor Who was being considered for the part of Rocket Raccoon. As we all know, the role ended up going to Bradley Cooper and it worked out for the best. While we’re certain that Tennant would do Rocket justice, we’re pretty sure Kilgrave suits him better.
16. JOEL KINNAMAN
Joel Kinnaman’s career seems to be prospering quite nicely. Kinnaman came under the scope in 2011 with the critically acclaimed series The Killing, in which he had a starring role opposite Mireille Enos. He’s since starred in the RoboCop remake, DCEU’s Suicide Squad, as well as the Netflix series Altered Carbon.
However, prior to joining the DCEU, Kinnaman was up for a huge role in the rival Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Before Chris Hemsworth snatched the part of the God of Thunder, a number of actors were considered for the role of the strongest Avenger. Among them was the Swedish actor Joel Kinnaman. Many would probably argue that given his Scandinavian origins Kinnaman would have been the better choice, however, Marvel opted for the Aussie instead.
15. ISAIAH MUSTAFA
Upon the release of Guardians of the Galaxy, the lovable brute Drax immediately became a fan-favorite. His unlikely rich vocabulary in stark contrast with his appearance and behavior as well as his lack of understanding of metaphors provided the audience with lots of laughter. The WWE champion-turned actor Dave Bautista delivered an excellent performance and it’s hard to imagine anyone else in his place.
However, there are other actors who were considered for the part of Drax. Aside from DCEU’s Jason Momoa who was actually offered the role, Marvel also considered Isaiah Mustafa, whom you must know from the Old Spice The Man Your Man Could Smell Like commercials. Interestingly enough, Mustafa’s Old Spice co-star Terry Crews has also expressed the desire to join the MCU as Luke Cage.
14. JESSICA ALBA
Jessica Alba had her affair with comic book lore. Alba portrayed Sue Storm, aka Invisible Woman, in the Tim Story Fantastic Four franchise, which is among her best-known work. Those who grew up in the early 2000s may also remember Alba as Max from James Cameron’s cyberpunk television series Dark Angel, which essentially put Jessica Alba on the map.
Apparently, neither Fantastic Four nor Dark Angel prompted Marvel to take a look at Jessica Alba for a role in the MCU. And not just any role. Reportedly, Alba was among the plethora of actresses being considered for the part of Black Widow in Iron Man 2. While Alba is by no measure a bad actress, we can’t quite picture her as the femme fatale Natasha Romanoff.
13. CHARLIE COX
At the moment, Charlie Cox is best-known for playing the Man Without Fear in Netflix’s Daredevil series. The first season of Daredevil was released in 2015 and since then Marvel’s Netflixverse has been constantly expanding. However, years before Cox got a starring role in Daredevil, he was up for another MCU role — but on the big screen.
It’s nigh impossible to imagine anyone other than Tom Hiddleston playing Thor’s mischievous brother Loki, but naturally many actors were interested in the part. Among the actors who auditioned for the role of Loki was the Daredevil star Charlie Cox. Luckily, Marvel went with Hiddleston for Loki and Cox was up for grabs when time came to cast the best damn avocado New York has ever seen — Matt Murdock.
12. MICHAEL B. JORDAN
Michael B. Jordan is not one to give up easily. After flopping with the Fantastic Four movie, the actor went on to snag the role of the main villain Erik Killmonger in Marvel’s Black Panther film. Jordan’s most prominent roles include Wallace on the HBO series The Wire, Oscar Grant in the critically acclaimed movie Fruitvale Station, as well as Adonis Creed in the Rocky sequel movie Creed.
But before Jordan joined the failed Fantastic Four reboot, he attempted to join the MCU.
The Creed star read for the part of Falcon in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The role as we know went to Anthony Mackie and almost four years later Michael B. Jordan finally got his chance to join the MCU in Black Panther.
11. MICHAEL ROSENBAUM
Casting the Guardians of the Galaxy proved to be one of the more demanding tasks for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Fearing that a movie about a bunch of unknown misfits wasn’t gonna attract a large audience, Marvel felt the movie needed big names to sell tickets. The part of Peter Quill garnered the most attention. Among the actors who were considered for the part of the legendary outlaw Star-Lord was the Smallville star Michael Rosenbaum.
Rosenbaum, who previously played the villain Lex Luthor on Smallville and voiced Wally West in the DCAU, wanted to try his luck with Marvel. After losing the part to Chris Pratt, the actor joined the cast of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as Martinex, the first officer of the Stakar Ravager Clan.
10. GARY OLDMAN
Recently, the Dark Knight Trilogy actor, Gary Oldman, confessed that he’s still waiting for Marvel to call and offer him a role. The actor told People Magazine that his son would very much like to see him in a Marvel movie soon. The worst part is, an MCU role had already eluded Oldman in the past. Reportedly, the former Commissioner Jim Gordon was among the actors considered for the part of Hank Pym in Ant-Man.
The role ultimately went to Michael Douglas, who’s been doing an exceptional job. However, we wouldn’t mind seeing Oldman as Hank Pym or a different MCU character. So, here’s hoping Gary Oldman does get that long-awaited call from Marvel and we get to see him in the MCU soon.
9. MORENA BACCARIN
Morena Baccarin sure attracts a lot of roles in comic book adaptations. The actress is currently engaged on two comic book adaptations. On TV she plays Dr. Lee Thompkins on Gotham, while on the big screen she portrays Vanessa in Deadpool. This gorgeous Brazilian-American actress has also starred on Firefly, voiced characters like Talia al Ghul and Dinah Drake in DCAU, as well as Gideon on the CW’s The Flash.
However, Baccarin missed the opportunity to add another big milestone to her impressive career. When Marvel was casting the part of Agent Maria Hill in The Avengers movie, Morena Baccarin was one of the actresses that screen-tested for the role. Baccarin lost to the How I Met Your Mother star Cobie Smulders and we can’t help but wonder what if.
8. RACHEL NICHOLS
Before Marvel decided to cast Zoe Saldana as Gamora in Guardians of the Galaxy the part was offered to the House actress, Olivia Wilde. For reasons unknown Wilde turned down the offer and the rest is history.
Among other actresses that were attached to the role of the green-skinned assassin was also the Continuum star and Saldana’s co-star from Star Trek, Rachel Nichols.
You may also remember Nichols form the J.J. Abrams’ series Alias, for which she gained worldwide recognition. Rachel Nichols, who’s recently had a recurring role on TNT’s fantasy-adventure television series The Librarians, auditioned for the role of Gamora and was considered for the part along with Adrianne Palicki and others. However, the role of Gamora ultimately landed in the hands of the Avatar star.
7. DJIMON HOUNSOU
Marvel’s first choice for the role of Drax the Destroyer in Guardians of the Galaxy was the current Aquaman — Jason Momoa. Reportedly, the actor even got to put on the costume before pulling out of the negotiations. Upon Momoa’s departure Marvel turned to the former WWE champion Dave Bautista, whom we now know as Drax.
However, Jason Momoa and Dave Bautista are far from being the only two actors Marvel considered for the role of Drax. Actor Djimon Hounsou who provided the voice for T’Challa in the animated mini-series Black Panther was on Marvel’s radar for the part of Drax. Hounsou didn’t get to play Drax, but he did appear in Guardians of the Galaxy as the mercenary Korath — the guy who fights Star-Lord for the Orb at the start of the movie.
6. NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU
This Danish actor is best-known for portraying Ser Jaime Lannister on HBO’s hit series Game of Thrones. Aside from the famed Game of Thrones, Nikolaj Coster-Waldau also appeared in movies such as Black Hawk Down, Oblivion and Gods of Egypt. Still, the actor has yet to take part in a superhero movie and not for lack of trying.
The Captain America villain Crossbones made an appearance in Captain America: The Winter Soldier portrayed by the actor Frank Grillo. However, before the role landed in Grillo’s hands a number of other actors screen-tested for the part of Brock Rumlow. Among them was the Game of Thrones actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau. Here’s hoping next time Waldau is up for an MCU role he indeed does get it.
5. KEIRA KNIGHTLEY
Keira Knightley achieved worldwide recognition with the role of Elizabeth Swann in the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Knightley has also appeared in a number of other successful movies such as The Imitation Game and Never Let Me Go. However, this English actress has somehow made it this far without doing a superhero movie.
That is not to say that her name hasn’t been mentioned when casting decisions were being made. In 2011, Hayley Atwell appeared for the first time as Agent Margaret “Peggy’ Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. But before Atwell landed the part of Agent Carter, Keira Knightley was among the actresses considered for the role. Hopefully, Marvel hasn’t given up on Knightley just yet and we get to see her in the MCU.
4. LINDSAY LOHAN
The former child star Lindsay Lohan seems to be at an impasse in her acting career. Lohan’s fall from grace came after a number of arrests on DUI and possession charges back in 2006. Ever since then, the actress has been struggling with landing acting jobs.
Lindsay Lohan saw the MCU as her chance to get her acting career back on track.
Reportedly, the actress auditioned for the role of Scarlet Witch in Avengers: Age of Ultron and was very disappointed and angry with her agent after the role went to an unknown actress. While we have nothing against Lindsey Lohan and wish her all the best in her future career, we’re not exactly sure she would have been the right fit for Scarlet Witch.
3. NICOLAS CAGE
Comic book movie adaptations seem to seek out Nicolas Cage, for better or for worse. Cage portrayed Johnny Blaze in the Ghost Rider movies, as well as Big Daddy in Kick-Ass. We were fortunately spared the horror of watching Cage ruin Superman when the movie he was cast in got axed. However, what you may not know is that Cage was once attached to the role of Tony Stark.
Much like Tom Cruise, Nicolas Cage also expressed interest in portraying the Invincible Iron Man in a live-action adaptation. If for whatever reason you would like to see Cage as Iron Man, there is a hilarious fan-made Iron Man 3 poster with every human face replaced with Nicolas Cage. Disclaimer, we’re not responsible for the potential emotional trauma said poster may cause.
2. JOE AND KEVIN JONAS
Ohh how we wish we were kidding. But apparently, two of the Jonas Brothers wanted to be part of the MCU. The Jonas Brothers, if for some reason you’re not familiar with them, were a pop-rock band consisting of three brothers — Kevin, Joe and Nick. The brothers have also appeared in movies, both together and separately.
And when time came for Marvel to cast Captain America, two brothers showed interest in the role. Reportedly, Joe and Kevin Jonas were among the myriad of actors who auditioned for the part of Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger. And out of all of the names on the extensive list, Joe and Kevin Jonas seem like the two least fitting choices to portray this iconic comic book hero.
1. EMMA STONE
As one of the rising stars of Hollywood, Emma Stone has no shortage of offers from which to pick and choose. The actress got her big break with the critically acclaimed Easy A and her portrayal of Gwen Stacy in The Amazing Spider-Man franchise landed her among the biggest Hollywood stars. And it’s only natural that Marvel would want an actress of her caliber to join their ever-growing cinematic universe.
Reportedly, at the time when Edgar Wright was still Ant-Man’s director he had seriously considered casting Stone as the Wasp.
However, when Wright stepped down as the director Marvel shifted gears and the role eventually went to Evangeline Lilly. This summer, we’ll finally get to see Lilly in action once the Ant-Man and the Wasp movie hits the theaters.
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