We’re months away from the untitled Avengers 4, and we’re already being peppered with casting rumours that hint at what characters we might get and what direction the film might take us en route to the next Phase and beyond. But the details are pretty dry, leaving us to extrapolate whatever we can from news about runtime, and cryptic posts from Tom Hiddleston’s Twitter account. We have become so accustomed to the cast of beloved MCU characters, they have become the faces of the roles for a lot of us. The unprecedented long run of the roles made them more than just a simple casting, but a literal real-life embodiment of the long running comic book characters. While it is almost unfathomable to imagine anyone else embodying our favorite heroes, it is impossible not to let the mind wander when reading about or looking back on casting rumors.
MCU rumors are a big part of the life blood of the internet. Any time an actor has come in to read for a role, or posts anything that looks like role prep to their social media accounts, we jump out to speculate if they might be playing the next big role in the next big Marvel movie. But there is absolutely no doubt that some of these rumors are more exciting than others. Looking back on the rumors of the past, here are our takes on 10 Avengers casting rumors that would have improved on what we got, and 10 that would have been unwelcome.
20 BETTER: SAOIRSE RONAN AS SCARLET WITCH
Saoirse Ronan is in an incredible actress who already acts well above her weight class. She is a chameleon who has embodied different looking characters with different statures and looks. She is also a veteran of action, having starred in Hanna when she was only 17.
The character in the MCU had an emotional journey from a foreign country, to being held against her will, to losing her brother, and joining The Avengers in a massive battle before becoming a member of the team. Absolutely no question that this veteran actress would have crushed it in the role. And, at the very least, we can be pretty confident that Ronan is a bit better at consistent accents.
19 WORSE: CHANDLER RIGGS AS SPIDER-MAN
The Walking Dead fans have watched Chandler Riggs grow up before our eyes on screen. An emotional center for the long running zombie apocalypse series, Carl has been the motivation for so many characters, and the kid to protect as he grew into his own as the Sherriff’s son.
But Riggs has never really burst past being somewhere between the unlikely quiet hero and quiet source of conflict for parent types. We just can’t fathom any Spider-verse where Riggs could bring the charm and child-like wonderment that Tom Holland brought to the high school-aged hero and Iron Man protégé.
18 BETTER: JOSEPH GORDON-LEVITT AS STAR-LORD
Chris Pratt certainly brought a level of comedy to Star-Lord that blended well with the quirky vibe of James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy films. But, arguably, the performance was a bit vanilla, with not much depth beyond the jest, despite the character’s emotional journey.
Word is, Joseph Gordon-Levitt was at one point in consideration for both the role as leader of the Guardians, and also was rumoured to have been courted for the spot of Ant-Man (but we aren’t here to suggest anyone could Rudd better than Rudd). Considering his comic sensibilities and emotional range, he would have been a great leader of the ragtag gang of space buds.
17 WORSE: SAM ROCKWELL AS IRON MAN
Sam Rockwell is one of the most underrated actors of our time. He has showcased great range in his almost solo performance in Moon, and has been wacky and charming from The Way Way Back to Seven Psychopaths. But the dude couldn’t have become the billionaire playboy quite like RDJ.
As much as we want to see him bring his signature dance moves to the otherwise polished Tony Stark, we just think his brand of quip and charm are so much better honed into a villain, which made him the right casting as Justin Hammer, and not the man to play Tony Stark.
16 BETTER: EMILY BLUNT AS BLACK WIDOW
Have you seen Edge of Tomorrow yet? No? Okay, go ahead, go watch it, we’ll wait. Scarlett Johansson brought a lot to Natasha Romanoff and certainly embodied the strangling high kicking Russian spy, but we admit to a sense of disappointment that we lost out on having Blunt in the role.
Blunt is incredibly dynamic and even more likeable. Her charisma leaks off the screen which would make her a welcome member of the cast of everyone’s favorite mega-franchise, and we welcome any and all excuses to see Blunt get back to flipping and shooting and showing off her cut guns.
15 WORSE: JASON MAMOA AS DRAX
The delicate balance of comedy in Guardians of the Galaxy is what made it work really well. We have noted some other casting rumors up top that might have improved on the film, but it’s hard to imagine anyone but Dave Bautista as Drax. The reasons for this are weird, but Mamoa, slated to come in hot in the title role of Aquaman, has a bit too much charisma.
What works so well about Bautista in the role is the dry deadpan he gives as the alien who manages to miss a few common social cues. His robotic performance is what makes the jokes land and Mamoa just can’t turn what he has off on order to sell that performance.
14 BETTER: TOM CRUISE AS IRON MAN
It is truly impossible to imagine anyone better embodying the role of Tony Stark than Robert Downey Jr. As the grandfather of the MCU, RDJ absolutely sold us on the billionaire playboy. But imagine Tom Cruise?
Despite being viewed as an action trope, which wouldn’t be a bad thing as Iron Man, Cruise has embodied many franchise characters like Ethan Hunt of M:I, and has played quirky leader roles in films like Edge of Tomorrow. He is an action film veteran willing to do crazier stunts (imagine him climbing the Avengers Tower), with the star power and charisma to embody a long running character.
13 WORSE: JOHN KRASINSKI AS CAPTAIN AMERICA
Like Chris Pratt who stepped from comedy into the role of leading man as Star-Lord, John Krasinski got his big break as a funny dude in a sitcom and then later, got swole and became a leading man. Krasinski has played lots of starring roles in action vehicles recently, something we didn't expect from Jim Halpert.
However, all he has come out the other side with is a resume full of false starts with his leading roles in Jack Ryan and 13 Hours. Krasinski can compete with a lot of people, but the guy is no Chris. Is there any beloved genre the guy won’t try to “elevate?”
12 BETTER: ADAM SANDLER AS ROCKET
There were a lot of great rumors for who would voice the wisecracking scavenger trash panda, including Jim Carrey who is no stranger to quirky comic book characters, but we think Adam Sandler would have been a perfect casting The Winter Soldier’s new pal. Sandler is funny, and he has a funny voice and as he grows in his career, he has given dynamic performances, voiced characters, and turned his brand of comedy into one with a bit more “sass.”
Imaging the Sand Man’s fake laugh peppered throughout his popular films is already reminiscent of what Cooper shot for in the Guardians of the Galaxy fake laugh exchange with Star-Lord.
11 WORSE: TOM HIDDLESTON AS THOR
Half of the argument here is that Tom Hiddleston just isn’t the right dude to be the beloved demi-god of thunder. He isn’t an actor that is typically associated with the type of beloved heroism and “bro-trope” we came to want in Mjolnir’s one true user.
The other half of this argument is that any other casting of Tom Hiddleston would have robbed us of having him as Loki. Tom is long and lean and has a smile that looks like he has extra teeth. His mischievous-sounding voice and nose-wiggling scowl make him so perfect for the role as the Trickster God.
10 BETTER: GARRETT HEDLUND AS CAPTAIN AMERICA
*Shields face from tomatoes* HEAR US OUT. No one would argue that Chris Evans absolutely embodied Steven Rogers both on and off screen. As fans gear up for the second or third film that may or may not end the character, we are just as must afraid of the loss of Evans on our screens as of the emotional toll of losing Cap.
That aside, Hedlund could have crushed it. Hedlund has that “all American something,” that would make him perfect to be the Star-Spangled Man. From the Minnesota accent and velvety song like voice, to long soldier stature, Hedlund could have easily turned his Tron headlining into that of the Captain.
9 WORSE: MEL GIBSON AS ODIN
The fact of the matter is, Anthony Hopkins was perfect as the father of the gods of thunder and mischief. Graduating from a generation of audience, Hopkins managed to embody the ultimate patriarch and was successful as the emotional core and motivator for the Avengers’ demi-god. Rumor has it, RDJ campaigned for Mel Gibson in the role -- Gibson could never pull it off.
Gibson is the wrong guy for every role, honestly, and his re-welcoming into Hollywood is unwarranted. But ignoring his past “misdeeds,” there is just no version of the divine patriarch that would be at all improved upon by the casting of Gibson.
8 BETTER: ALEXANDER SKARSGÅRD AS THOR
Chris Hemsworth absolutely embodied the charming and macho literal demi-god from Asgard, and it is difficult to imagine anyone else being a better casting, but rumor has it, Alexander Skarsgård was once rumored for the role. Skarsgård has one massive leg up on Hemsworth in this, as he is ctually Nordic.
Hailing from Sweden, being armed with the natural flowing blonde locks and the bod we all saw in Tarzan, Skarsgård could have absolutely been the right man for the job as the glass smashing hammer wielder. Marvel seemed to notice those routes, and even cast his father, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Selvig in the franchise.
7 WORSE: JOAQUIN PHOENIX AS THE HULK
Hulk has had a hard time getting a franchise off the ground and his filmography is a small resume of one offs. It used to be unclear whether any of the Hulk standalone films, which starred Eric Bana and Edward Norton in the title role, are in MCU continuity, but it's since been confirmed that Norton’s take is. So when frictions lead to a loss of Norton, we didn’t get to see the Hulk again until The Avengers where Mark Ruffalo has stepped into the role.
Ruffalo had the right blend to be a mild mannered Banner, and Phoenix, while talented, doesn’t seem to have anything like that in him. Though, he might have been decent in a role that both he and another Joker actor were rumored for...
6 BETTER: JESSICA CHASTAIN AS THE WASP
Jessica Chastain is a lot of things. She has brought so much depth to her performances that you might even be convinced that otherwise poorly written roles had layers because of what Chastain brought to the table.
Evangeline Lilly didn’t leave us feeling short changed on the role of The Wasp, so to speak, but Chastain has a way of selling characters and their respective films incredibly well. She is an absolute show stealer and is without a doubt an incredible actress capable to keeping up with and bouncing off of a quick and charming performance from a guy like Paul Rudd.
5 WORSE: RYAN PHILLIPPE AS CAPTAIN AMERICA
Those who grew up in the '90s will never forget and be incapable of saying anything bad about Ryan Phillippe. A master of the golden era of slash and thrill, Phillippe is a staple name for fans of the '90s super culture and would probably welcome a comeback for him in the same way we got more out of Josh Hartnett post-2010.
Cap just doesn’t seem like the right spot of the second most popular curly haired blonde dude from '90s fandom. Captain America isn’t just the leading man of his own films, he is arguably the leading man of the entire franchise and at the current top spot of the Avengers. Phillippe is a lot of things, but Cap isn’t one of them.
4 BETTER: J.K. SIMMONS AS J JONAH JAMESON
J.K. Simmons as J. Jonah Jameson was one of the best castings in comic book movie history. It’s to the point that when viewing the character in the comics, it almost looks like JK came before JJ and that JJ was drawn to look like him.
So color us confused but intrigued by the idea that J.K. was once rumored to be reprising his role in the MCU’s Spidey installment, Spider-Man: Homecoming. At this point in the story, Peter Parker isn’t exactly the Bugle’s underappreciated freelance photographer just yet, but JJ would have been a welcome character. Would it have been a bit cheesy and campy to have J.K. cross over and dust off the character? Maybe, but we would have been down for it.
3 WORSE: JARED LETO AS DR. STRANGE
It’s no secret that many fans were pretty down on the portrayal of comic book giant, The Joker, that Leto gave us in Suicide Squad. That said, the camp of people who liked the performance when removed from the film as a whole is not completely barren. Leto has shown his chops in all kinds of roles, which even reserved him seats at the Oscars, but the dude just is not Sorcerer Supreme material.
If we’re being honest, it’s hard to imagine what nightmares he would unleash on the Avengers cast members in his method preparation for a role as a warlock, and the gravitas that Benedict Cumberbatch brings to the role is just too perfect.
2 BETTER: EMILY BLUNT AS CAPTAIN MARVEL
We haven’t seen much of exactly how Brie Larson is going to fare in the lead role of Captain Marvel, so it is too early to decide who definitively would have been better. We just can’t help but somewhat resent Blunt’s second kick at the can going unrealized.
Blunt is an absolute action giant and has played opposite other mega-stars and managed to completely keep up. It is about time she is recognized fully for her talents and made able to lead her own action film. Black Widow didn’t give her the opportunity, and it’s a shame Captain Marvel didn’t either. Fingers crossed for FF?
1 WORSE: LINDSAY LOHAN AS MARIA HILL
In her own docuseries, Lindsay Lohan tells the story of how she campaigned for the role of Nick Fury’s trusted teammate but lost out to it when her manager decided not to push for it. Whatever the reason, Lohan just is not the right person for the job.
Lohan hasn’t had a major role the mid 2000s and has morphed into a campy version of herself, playing bratty tropes, out of touch starlets, and herself. We welcome the opportunity for LiLo’s reckoning and rebrand, but the role of the level headed Maria Hill in the MCU just isn’t the spot for it.