The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been a juggernaut in the entertainment industry for some time -- people can’t get enough of the MCU. Ryan Coogler’s Black Panther is breaking records and grossed over 1 billion dollars after less than a month. Joss Whedon’s The Avengers is one of the top five highest grossing movies of all-time. Even Avengers: Infinity War, which hasn’t even come out yet, is breaking records as its trailer was YouTube’s most watched trailer within 24 hours with more than 200 million views. One of the biggest reasons for Disney and Marvel’s historic success are their casting decisions.
Marvel and Disney have cast both big name actors and relative unknowns to numerous roles that they seem born to play. In the minds of the fans, there is no other Iron Man, Captain America, or Thor other than Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth. Because Marvel movies are such big events, whenever a new character or movie is announced, fans are beside themselves trying to figure out who could possibly fill in the role, leading to a number of juicy rumors. Here are eight Avengers casting rumors better than what we got and seven that are much worse.
15 BETTER: EMMA STONE AS THE WASP
Evangeline Lilly made for a very effective Hope van Dyne who had hardened over the years but still had her soft spots. But before Lilly was chosen, it was said that Emma Stone was in talks for the role. Emma Stone may have started out as primarily a comedic actor, but she has proven herself to be one of the best young actresses out there. In La La Land, she gave a breathtaking performance as an aspiring actress filled with optimism and actually won an Oscar for Best Actress for that movie.
Plus she already has superhero experience with her role as Gwen Stacy in the Amazing Spider-Man series; many people consider her to be the best thing in that entire series. Plus, her extensive background in comedy would’ve worked perfectly in Ant-Man and her chemistry with Paul Rudd would be out of this world.
14 WORSE: JARED LETO AS DOCTOR STRANGE
As soon as Marvel announced a Doctor Strange movie, fans immediately cried out for Benedict Cumberbatch to take the role. He’s an incredible actor capable of playing anything from an egotistical detective to a freaking dragon. On top of that, he bears a resemblance to the character. But when he said he couldn’t do it, Marvel scrambled to find a replacement and Jared Leto was considered.
Being weird in real life doesn’t mean that it’ll translate effectively to the screen. Jared Leto isn’t a bad actor at all. But his reputation as a too extreme method actor would likely alienate the other actors and would be bad for team chemistry. Doctor Strange will be an integral part of Avengers: Infinity War and most likely the team itself moving forward. Every member needs to have some sort of chemistry with one another and Leto’s antics would not be conducive to that.
13 BETTER: JOAQUIN PHOENIX AS THE HULK
Please put the pitchforks away and hear us out. Mark Ruffalo is an exceptional actor and he has proven to be a fan-favorite Bruce Banner and Incredible Hulk. Not only is he loved by audiences, but he’s done a great job at everything asked of him, effectively playing everything from a deeply troubled Banner in Avengers: Age of Ultron to a befuddled Banner in Thor: Ragnarok.
But if there was one small issue with his character, it’s his anger, or lack thereof. Ruffalo just doesn’t portray that deep well of unresolved anger that is bubbling just below the surface. This wouldn’t be the case if the rumors of Joaquin Phoenix portraying Dr, Bruce Banner came to fruition. Joaquin Phoenix is also a very talented actor, but he has made a career of playing characters with a fire so powerful that it threatens to overtake them at times.
12 WORSE: ARNOLD SCHWARZENEGGER AS THANOS
Honestly, whose idea was this? Surprisingly, it was Jim Starlin, Thanos’s creator, who mentioned Schwarzenegger after the Mad Titan appeared in the end credits of The Avengers. He didn’t say that’s who he wanted in the role, nor does he have any official say in the MCU, but that didn’t stop fans from taking this rumor and running with it.
Thanos needs to be taken seriously and that would not be possible with Schwarzenegger’s Austrian accent coming through his mouth. Thanos speaks in a very Shakespearean kind of way and Arnie would have not been able to pull it off. In addition, with Thanos being a primarily motion captured character, his face and voice are, by far, the most important aspects of the performance. Josh Brolin is an excellent actor and he seems poised to oppose the Avengers an inhumanly composed yet extremely menacing villain.
11 BETTER: MARY ELIZABETH WINSTEAD AS SHARON CARTER
Emily VanCamp is alright as Sharon Carter, but her performance is somewhat limited and her chemistry with Captain America is cringeworthy. She’s a talented actor, but something about her portrayal of Agent 13 doesn’t work. But before VanCamp was selected, Marvel apparently wanted Mary Elizabeth Winstead for the role but she didn’t want to be signed to a multi-picture deal.
Mary Elizabeth Winstead has already proven that she can bring so much to a character. From the apathetic but damaged Ramona Flowers in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World to the terrified but determined Michelle in 10 Cloverfield Lane, her talent is apparent. She would’ve brought a lot to the table as Sharon Carter and almost certainly would’ve managed more chemistry with Cap. She’s shown that she can handle action as Ramona and her eclectic filmography shows that she can handle anything thrown at her.
10 WORSE: ASA BUTTERFIELD AS SPIDER-MAN
When it was revealed that Spider-Man would make his MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War, fans went wild speculating about who would bring the wallcrawler to the MCU after Andrew Garfield. Asa Butterfield was one of the highest profile names after the big budget Ender’s Game was released in 2013. Many assumed he would be the front runner, but the relatively unknown Tom Holland ran away with it in the end and that turned out to be another inspired casting choice by Marvel.
Asa Butterfield is known for more morose and self-serious characters. He just wouldn’t bring that youthful energy to the character that Tom Holland did. Plus, now that Tom Holland has seemingly perfected the blend of Spider-Man and Peter Parker, it’s hard to see anyone else having the right combination of youthful looks, infectious energy, wit, awkwardness, nervousness, and determination.
9 BETTER: GARY OLDMAN AS HANK PYM
When it was revealed that Marvel would be getting an actor of Michael Douglas’s caliber to play Hank Pym, fans were, understandably, excited. They wanted to see what Douglas could bring to a character as influential in Marvel Comics as Hank Pym. Though Pym turned out to be an older character who had retired from the role of Ant-Man, he still was entertaining as the mentor to Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang.
Michael Douglas is undoubtedly one of the best actors to have ever been in the industry and he did a wonderful job as the jaded and determined Hank Pym. But there’s no doubt that Gary Oldman would have brought even more to the role. When he performs, he’s barely recognizable. He just would have brought everything that Michael Douglas did to the character and then some. He’s been looking for a Marvel role anyway.
8 WORSE: MICHAEL B. JORDAN AS FALCON
Michael B. Jordan has established himself as one of the best young actors on the planet. He is incredibly talented, capable of breathtaking intensity with visible vulnerability layered in his performances. However, he’s at his best when he is playing a character with a relentlessly powerful drive to achieve his goals. This is why his portrayal of Killmonger was so exceptional.
Meanwhile Anthony Mackie’s take on Falcon fits better with his role in the MCU. Sam Wilson in the MCU is an older but cool presence on the team. He fits extremely well with Cap as he’s a soldier; he gets him. And his laid back demeanor and unquestioning loyalty was integral in helping Captain America adjust to the era. With the comic book link between Captain America and Falcon, this relationship is important and it works best in its present form.
7 BETTER: KEIRA KNIGHTLEY AS AGENT CARTER
Hayley Atwell has brought quite a bit of life to a character whose comic book history isn’t as extensive as many others. Peggy Carter’s influence didn’t really extend beyond the World War II era and she faded away once Cap was frozen in ice. In the MCU, however, Peggy is a dynamic and driven woman who dealt with Cap’s loss by swearing to protect the world while he was gone.
But perhaps Keira Knightley could’ve done it better. Knightley is well known for her performances in period pieces. Agent Carter has only really appeared in the MCU’s period media: Captain America: The First Avenger and Agent Carter. We’ve already seen that Keira Knightley can believably handle action as she was a dynamic, strong character in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Her diverse filmography will also ensure that she could handle anything that might be needed in the role.
6 WORSE: JESSICA ALBA AS BLACK WIDOW
Jessica Alba has had some good movies, but she’s been in a rut for quite a while. There wasn’t much good about Fantastic Four, but her performance as Sue Storm did not help. It seems like she tried but missed the mark and didn’t portray the toughness balanced with sensitivity that Susan Storm possesses. Some of that was the script, but some of that was her as well.
If she had trouble with Sue Storm, you know she’d have a hard time as Black Widow. Natasha Romanoff is one of the most complex characters in the MCU. She has a past that she’s incredibly ashamed of and regrets that her life couldn’t be different. Yet she hides it underneath the coolest demeanor on the Avengers. She still gives people a scare occasionally with her enigmatic nature, but you ultimately know where her loyalties lie.
5 BETTER: NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU AS CROSSBONES
Brock Rumlow was introduced in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a S.H.I.E.L.D agent but comic book fans knew that his character was destined for a darker path. He turned out to be a member of Hydra and eventually transformed into the villainous Crossbones. Frank Grillo has been excellent in the role with his villainous fervor dialed in to a perfect level that allows him to be believable yet still an intense force.
The only knock on Grillo’s performance is something that isn’t really within his power to change: Crossbones is a massive individual. He’s 6’4 and 290 pounds, meanwhile Grillo is 5’10 and around 170 lbs. He’s not diminutive by any means, but he’s considerably smaller than Rumlow is supposed to be. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is 6’2 and is still a talented actor as shown by his portrayal of one Jaime Lannister in Game of Thrones.
4 WORSE: MICHAEL ROSENBAUM AS STAR-LORD
When Guardians of the Galaxy was announced, talented actors got cast left and right to fill the team. Zoe Saldana, Bradley Cooper, and Vin Diesel were already household names and Dave Bautista was very well known by any wrestling fans. But speculation raged over who would play Star-Lord and one such name was everybody’s favorite small screen Lex Luthor, Michael Rosenbaum.
Ultimately, Chris Pratt was the perfect choice for Star-Lord in James Gunn’s version of Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s equal parts charismatic and goofy. He plays Quill perfectly as an initially reluctant leader who manages to always punch above his weight but can’t fully resist his roguish tendencies. Rosenbaum is a good actor, but he couldn’t have pulled off goofy and charismatic at the same time as well as Chris Pratt did.
3 BETTER: EMILY BLUNT AS CAPTAIN MARVEL
When Marvel announced that they would be presenting their first female-led movie with Captain Marvel in 2019, fans rejoiced at the inclusion of one of the most important and powerful characters in Marvel comics right now. The next step would be choosing the actress to portray the commanding Carol Danvers. There were a great deal of actors that were linked to the role but one that stood out was Emily Blunt.
Brie Larson is a fine actor and will most likely do very well as Carol Danvers. However, Emily Blunt has shown herself to be a powerhouse in the acting world. She’s displayed incredible range with roles ranging from as Earth’s best soldier in Edge of Tomorrow to Mary Poppins. This goes to show that she can be the duty-driven warrior that Carol Danvers is while also coming across as a believable person who cares about people.
2 WORSE: TOM CRUISE AS IRON MAN
At the inception Marvel Cinematic Universe, Jon Favreau needed somebody to play Tony Stark in Iron Man in what would possibly become the most important casting decision ever. Tom Cruise had long been flirting with the idea of developing an Iron Man movie as a starring vehicle for himself. However when Jon Favreau took over, went to bat to cast Robert Downey Jr instead. The rest is history.
Cruise may have a more celebrated career, but Downey is the better actor for this role. In Tony Stark, Robert Downey Jr has given us an extremely complex character who projects confidence in spades and is a master of deflecting others from his true feelings. The story of Tony Stark lines up with the story of Downey’s career. Tom Cruise is no doubt a talented actor, but this role required the services of Robert Downey Jr. -- there’s no other Iron Man.
1 BETTER: MORENA BACCARIN AS MARIA HILL
The problem with Maria Hill isn’t Cobie Smulders' performance. She fits very well within the lighter side of the MCU. However, that is not the Maria Hill from the comics. Maria Hill is beyond no-nonsense. She’s callous, unyielding, outspoken, powerful, latina, and more than capable of running S.H.I.E.L.D on her own.
Morena Baccarin may be slight, but she can bring forth an anger that would terrify a bear. Her performance as Dr. Leslie Thompkins in Gotham shows that she is capable of an intense fury and can seem very powerful despite her slight stature; her role as the fiery Vanessa in Deadpool backs up this assertion. Meanwhile, she was nominated for an Emmy for her performance as Jessica Brody in Homeland so she has range. In addition, she’s Brazilian, so that would bring her character even closer to comic book Maria Hill.