It’s not an exaggeration to say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has pretty much changed the landscape of blockbuster filmmaking as we know it. It’s largely thanks to the stellar quality of the individual films and the charisma of the perfectly picked casts that geek culture has integrated near seamlessly into the mainstream zeitgeist. However, the Disney produced franchise has always had a big, gaping hole in it. In the disparaging decade of the '90s, Marvel had to sell the film rights to several of their biggest intellectual properties in order to escape financial destruction, a decision which would later come back to haunt them.
While they eventually worked out a deal to share custody of Spider-Man with Sony, some of their biggest properties like the X-Men and Fantastic Four were owned by Fox. But then the House of Mouse stepped in. Since they basically run the world and wanted to complete their toy set of characters to play with, Disney bought out Fox at the tail end of 2017 for the staggering price of $52.4 million, or 0.3 Jeff Bezoses. While the kinks in the intellectual property rights are being hammered out, no MCU film based on Fox’s previous characters have been announced. But since when has that stopped online fans from speculating which of Hollywood’s pantheon of celebrities could play which of the many characters now under Disney’s domain. And just like everything else on the internet, some of the ideas are good and some are terrible -- really terrible.
20 HOPE: HAILEE STEINFELD AS KITTY PRYDE
After rocking our worlds (literally) as Gwen Stacy in Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse, Hailee Steinfeld’s comic book credit Is pretty good right now. She could build it up even further by playing the perfect Kitty Pryde in future MCU films. Once seen as the perpetual little sister of the X-Men family, Pryde has since evolved as a character into the confident and competent team leader she is today.
Steinfeld has been a consistent tour de force since, can emulate this journey better than any other actress working today. Her youthful face and naturally wavy brown hair not only makes her already look the part, but enables her to play the character at any and all stages of her life.
19 DON'T: DANIEL CRAIG AS PROFESSOR X
Whoever first thought that Daniel Craig would be a good fit as Professor X needs to be interrogated. Nevertheless, a not insignificant faction of the internet would like to see the reluctant ‘Bond’ actor take the wheelchair. For starters, can you imagine Daniel Craig bald? No? Probably because he’d look terrible. Also, the only reason British actors are considered for the part of Professor X is because Sir Patrick Stewart played the part in the original film series.
Stewart exudes enough natural, paternal charisma that everyone now thinks a native New Yorker should sound like he was born and raised in the Shire. Craig, unfortunately, doesn’t have half of Stewart’s effortless charm and leadership.
18 HOPE: KEANU REEVES AS SILVER SURFER
Keanu Reeves is one of the most surprisingly versatile actors working today. Despite giving emotional, human performances, there’s always been an alien element to his style. Maybe that’s why the internet seems to have agreed he’s a prime candidate to play the Silver Surfer. Whether he’s “whoa”-ing in a Bill and Ted movie or flipping guns around as John Wick, Keanu has a strange, indescribable distance between himself and his audience.
This, alongside his indisputable skill and wiry frame, makes him a perfect pick to play the Herald of Galactus. Only Keanu could pull off being a relatable, tragic character while still having uncomfortable, extraterrestrial factors included in his performance.
17 DON'T: ADRIEN BRODY AS MR. FANTASTIC
A few deep corners of the online comic book community have floated Adrien Brody’s name forward to play Mr. Fantastic in the MCU Fox character films. It’s clear to see why: Brody is a credible performer and his thin body is a perfect frame to place Reed Richards onto. But the problems arise in the details. First off, Brody is best at subdued, underplayed, tragic performances.
His style would feel off in the bombastic, over the top world of comic book movies. Second, Brody has never been much of a physical actor. While stunt doubles and effects teams could cover the difference, it’d be better to pick an actor with a more appropriate style who could participate in some stunt work.
16 HOPE: OSCAR ISAAC AS NAMOR
Oscar Isaac isn’t only one of the most dependable actors in the world, he’s also one of the most likeable. His only notable flop so far has been X-Men: Apocalypse and that wasn’t so much his fault as the script’s. But it did give Isaac experience in acting like a bloated, holier-than-thou leader. That, combined with his regal visage, noble brow, and sharp chin, makes him more than qualified to play the imperial submariner Namor.
His innate ability to give big performances through small touches rather than heavy moments certainly doesn’t hurt. But to be fair, the requirements for this role pretty much begin and end with “doesn’t look stupid in a speedo” and if anyone could convince us those things are cool, it’s Isaac.
15 DON'T: JAVIER BARDEM AS DOCTOR DOOM
It’ll be pretty easy to cast an actor as the MCU’s version of Doctor Doom. The helmet of possibly the most iconic supervillain of all time ensures virtually anyone can play the role so long as they can give a good physical performance and have an intimidating enough voice. And a few years ago, he would be perfect. His performance in No Country For Old Men was pure evil and he showed off his range in Eat Pray Love and Skyfall.
But then he did Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales. In that disaster of a movie, he had to overact and give a physical performance all at the same time. And it took just that performance to turn him into something of a joke.
14 HOPE: JESSICA CHASTAIN AS JEAN GREY
Just looking at Jessica Chastain should explain why vocal contingents of the internet, including a plethora of fan artists, think she might be a perfect pick to play Jean Grey. Her angular face, natural red hair, and sincere smile make her look nearly identical to the classic comic book character.
She showed her vulnerable side in films like Tree of Life, and her intensity in Zero Dark Thirty and Molly’s Game. She checks all the boxes necessary to play both the demure Jean Grey and the powerful Phoenix Force in the MCU’s version of the X-Men. A character who’s been through pretty much every comic book trope in her existence several times over deserves an actress who can depict her truthfully.
13 DON'T: STEPHEN LANG AS MAGNETO
Fan art of Stephen Lang as the X-Men’s biggest villains has been floating around the internet for a while, but while he does look admittedly awesome in the artwork, it cannot be stressed enough what a bad choice this would be. Magneto is inherently a tragic character, no matter which side of the morality spectrum he falls on. Sir Ian McKellen and Michael Fassbender were able to play the part by mixing big, bombastic moments with the subtle, nuanced performance that the role deserved.
Lang’s most subdued film role was in Don’t Breath, where he was plenty intimidating but lacked minutia. While there’s certainly a place for Lang in the MCU, Magneto is too important a part to be placed on his shoulders.
12 HOPE: TERRY CREWS AS THE THING
The Thing’s whole shtick as a character is that he’s the outsized personality in every family. Whether he’s seen as the jubilant uncle or attentive dog of the Fantastic Four, he is defined by his ironically thin skin and defensive, uber-New Yorker attitude. And who in pop culture embodies these ideals more than Terry Crews?
His naturally expressive face could easily translate through makeup or CGI, depending on what the director might be inclined to use. Plus, his experiences on Brooklyn Nine-Nine demonstrates his ability to seamlessly appear as part of a team or family dynamic. Several people on the internet have come forward to name Crews as a possible choice and we hope Kevin Feige agrees.
11 DON'T: AIDEN TURNER AS GAMBIT
The Disney-Fox merger hadn’t even been announced and people were discussing the possibility of Irish actor Aiden Turner taking the role of the ragin’ Cajun. The reasons why this is a terrible idea should be obvious. First off, of all the X-Men, Gambit will be the hardest to translate to screen. Taylor Kitsch failed at it in X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Channing Tatum has trying desperately to get a Gambit solo movie going ever since.
Second, Aiden Turner is Irish and could only barely pull off an accent in the Hobbit films. Also, Turner doesn’t really have a history of being a Han-Solo-style ruffian. The closest he’s played to a Cassanova was in his weird romance with Tauriel, which was less than impressive.
10 HOPE: JASON ISAACS AS MAGNETO
Several fan sites have encouraged the rumor that Jason Isaacs would make a good pick for Magneto in the MCU. Isaacs has a history of playing intimidating characters with deceptive, hidden natures. Even in his prolific voice over work, he’s been gifted with a presence that just oozes a dangerous malice until he’s slowly allowed to reveal the heart of his characters. This fits Magneto perfectly.
He’s got the physical chops to play the master of magnetism and has proven before that he can pull off a sufficient eastern European accent, if the director so desires him to. While he’ll never be as iconic as McKellen in the role, he can certainly be just as deadly.
9 DON'T: STEPHEN MERCHANT AS MR. FANTASTIC
A couple of different sites have proposed the idea of comedy writer and actor Stephen Merchant to play Mr. Fantastic. It doesn’t really make a lot of sense. For one thing, Merchant is better known for his writing and partnership with Ricky Gervais than for his acting chops. Actually, scratch that. He’s probably most known for voicing Wheatley in Portal 2.
Whoever takes the role of the Marvel Universe’s greatest scientist is going to have to spill out a ton of jargon and at least sound like they know what they’re talking about. Do you trust Stephen Merchant to credibly throw around discussions of cosmic radiation, abnormal biological responses, and superpowers with any believability?
8 HOPE: EMILY BLUNT AS INVISIBLE WOMAN
Invisible Woman is far and away one of the best characters that just landed in the Marvel wheelhouse, so the casting department needs to be particularly careful when selecting an actress for the role. However, the majority of the internet seems to have decided that Emily Blunt is the woman for the role. And they’re not really wrong.
If Blunt has proved anything in her storied career, it’s that she can literally disappear into any role. From Mary Poppins Returns to Edge of Tomorrow, Blunt has consistently thrown herself deep into the worlds of her movies, a skill that would translate beautifully into the narrative of Sue Storm. Plus, the idea of her once again tag-teaming with husband John Krasinski is just too precious.
7 DON'T: DANIEL RADCLIFFE AS WOLVERINE
When Hugh Jackman said a fond farewell to Wolverine, he was kind enough to name a few actors who could replace him in the role that made him a household name. Luke Evans was one, Tom Hardy was another, but from the deepest, strangest depths of the internet, another name was hollered to the surface.
Daniel Radcliffe, who spent the better part of his childhood in front of the camera bringing Harry Potter to life, is one of the stranger choices that could have been brought up. For one, Radcliffe is very young and, even with the shaggy scrub he sported in Jungle, looks it. While he could feasibly bulk up for the role, there’s no amount of muscle that could take away his babyface looks.
6 HOPE: ANDREW GARFIELD AS THE HUMAN TORCH
While the internet is pretty divided or indifferent on whether or not the Amazing Spider-Man movies were worthwhile, one thing that can be said is that Andrew Garfield can certainly pull off a character role several years younger than his age. This is due in part to his youthful looks, his high-energy performance, and his ability to cultivate chemistry with virtually any co-star.
And certain sections of the internet have agreed that these elements, as well as his experience in the genre, make him an ideal candidate for the role of the Human Torch. He could certainly portray the hot-headed and self-absorbed traits that define the character, plus it’s too tempting to see him and Tom Holland together on-screen, for a variety of reasons.
5 DON'T: HARRY STYLES AS THE HUMAN TORCH
Harry Styles has been trying to make a go of it as an actor ever since he tried to shake the shackles of his boy band origins. However, his acting resume only includes one professional feature. Granted, that feature is the phenomenal Dunkirk, but that’s not quite enough for him to be as worthy as the internet thinks he is to take on an MCU role.
More specifically, he’s been named as one of the internet’s favorites for the part of the Fantastic Four’s Human Torch. While he’s around the right age to play the part and definitely has the good looks of a movie star. But Johnny Storm isn’t an easy part to take on, no superhero is and Styles just doesn’t have the chops.
4 HOPE: NIKOLAJ COSTER-WALDAU AS DOCTOR DOOM
With Game of Thrones ending, it hardly needs to be said that the HBO show is responsible for introducing the world to a cavalcade of talented international actors. This includes Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, who plays the increasingly complex Jaime Lannister, a performance that the internet has largely agreed makes him eligible to play Doctor Doom.
While this has demonstrated his capability to play a villainous character, it’s also given him an opportunity to show off his range. He’s also shown he can act under heavy armor and even with his face covered. Plus, some of his more intense scenes has let him loose a deep and savage growl that would sound awesome combined with the soft echo of Doom’s helmet.
3 DON'T: MILLIE BOBBY BROWN AS KITTY PRYDE
Listen, we love Millie Bobby Brown as much as anyone. She’s talented, charismatic, and it’s always good to see someone handle their early success so admirably. However, several fans have supported a campaign to see her play Kitty Pryde in the MCU and, frankly, this would be something of a mistake. If Brown were to take the role, Pryde would be relegated to the “young sidekick” position on the X-Men.
If that’s the case, Brown will need to rely heavily on the intense stares and enigmatic charm that made Eleven such a compelling character. And while that’s enough to get over a new property in a fresh franchise, it isn’t enough to portray a character who’s had 40 years of development.
2 HOPE: JOHN KRASINSKI AS MR. FANTASTIC
Of all the internet speculation about who could be cast in which now-available roles in the MCU, one of the only ones that pretty much the entire internet seems to agree on is that John Krasinski would make an excellent Mr. Fantastic.
The man’s a mine of charisma and comic timing. Plus, since growing out of his comedy roots, he’s developed a natural, likable paternal energy that comes across on-screen. And so long as he talks fast and ends with a joke like he did for nine seasons, he can spout as much jargon as he wants. He’d fit in right at home in the MCU and he’d slide right into the role of Reed Richards like a glove.
1 DON'T: EDDIE REDMAYNE AS MR. FANTASTIC
Really? Really internet? Eddie Redmayne? While Redmayne has the acting chops and versatility to pull off almost any role, he doesn't have a proven track record of being able to carry a franchise, let alone one that would no doubt be action packed. Reed is a fairly confident character, and Redmayne doesn't exude that quality the way someone like say, John Krasinksi does these days.
If anything, his unintended (or maybe it was intended?) hilarious role in Jupiter Ascending could possibly disqualify him from ever starring in a big, loud action franchise, let alone one in Disney's well-oiled machine known as the MCU.