“I didn’t want to be part of the first Marvel movie that bombed,” feared one star.
Landing a role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is one of the most coveted jobs in Hollywood. As the franchise has expanded (and become total blockbuster hits), some of today’s biggest stars have lined up for the chance to join the MCU. But as large as the universe is, it’s not quite big enough for all celebrities who have auditioned.
In fact, major actors like Joaquin Phoenix and John Krasinski have made it pretty far along in the audition process, only to be turned down in favor of another star. And shockingly, some celebs have even turned down the role that they were offered! Regardless of what happened during their audition process, these stars would have made the MCU a very different place.
Read on to find out who almost joined the MCU…
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Amanda Seyfried was originally offered the role of Gamora in “Guardians of the Galaxy” but turned it down because she didn’t think the film would do well. On top of that, she wasn’t sold on the concept of being painted entirely green everytime she was on set.
“I didn’t want to be part of the first Marvel movie that bombed. I said, ‘Who wants to see a movie about a talking tree and a raccoon?’ Which is clearly — I was very wrong. The script was great, it was all based in not wanting to be ‘that guy.’ Because if you are the star of a giant movie like that, and it bombs, Hollywood does not forgive you. I’ve seen that happen to people and it was a giant, giant fear and I thought, is it worth it?” Amanda said on the “Awards Chatter” podcast.
Zooey Deschanel was once one of the top choices to play the Wasp in the Marvel Universe. According to “The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe,” director Joss Whedon almost introduced the character earlier in the franchise when he thought Scarlett Johansson may not have been able to reprise her role as Black Widow and the team needed another female character.
“It was all about the Wasp. He wanted to cast Zooey Deschanel. [Wasp] was the funniest character in the whole movie, and well-written,” producer Jeremy Latcham said in the book.
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Emily Blunt was the first choice to be cast as Black Widow, a.k.a. Natasha Romanoff, who was first seen in “Iron Man 2.” Unfortunately due to contractual conflicts with her film “Gulliver’s Travels,” she had to pass on the role, which she admits was a very difficult position to be in.
“I was contracted to do ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ I didn’t want to do ‘Gulliver’s Travels.’ It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me. I take such pride in the decisions that I make, and they mean so much to me, the films that I do. So that was tough,” she told Emily said on “The Howard Stern Show.”
Before Jason Momoa joined the Marvel Universe as Aquaman, he was up for the role of Drax in “Guardians of the Galaxy.” He ended up turning down the role because he had previously played a very similar character on “Stargate: Atlantis.”
“I want my children to see their father happy. It’s not that it’s not a good role, it just wasn’t the right thing. I was on ‘Stargate: Atlantis’ for four years playing a similar character called Ronon, who was an alien who didn’t say much and grunted. I’ve been there and done that, whether people have seen it or not. You want to stretch,” Jason told Zap2it.
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John Krasinski was once in the running to play Captain America in the Marvel Universe but wasn’t cast in the role. Although it may seem like a missed opportunity, John says it gave him the chance to take on other projects that have ended up being important to his career.
“I love Chris, I’ve been a friend of his for a while. Those movies are so much fun and I love watching them, I tell him I’m first in line to see his new movies. It’s that zen thing of let life take you where it may and I never would have been here if I had gotten ‘Captain America,’” John told IndieWire.
“Sex Education” star Asa Butterfield was a frontrunner for the role of Peter Parker in “Spider-Man” but the part was eventually given to Tom Holland. After watching the films, Asa realized Tom had an “entirely different portrayal” of the character which he felt “worked well” in the universe. On top of that, he wouldn’t have been able to take on his role in “Sex Education” had he joined the MCU.
“Every so often there’s a part [that you really want] and it’s a script you love, and you kind of put your heart and soul into it, and you don’t get it. And it is tough and it is s—, but I often find that something even better comes out of it at the end. And so in the case of ‘Spider-Man,’ I did ‘[Sex Education]’, because I wouldn’t have been able to do both of those at the same time,” Asa told Collider.
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Jessica Chastain has been up for roles in the Marvel Universe on two separate occasions but turned them both down. She was first offered the role of Maya Hansen, a scientist who has a relationship with Tony Stark in “Iron Man 3,” but had to say no because her schedule was too packed. Several years later, she was rumored to be joining “Doctor Strange” as the surgeon Christine Palmer, but screenwriter C. Robert Cargill alleges that she turned down the role because she wanted to be a superhero instead.
“She’s like, ‘Hey, look, this project sounds awesome, and I would love to do it. But I’m only going to get one shot at being in a Marvel film and becoming a Marvel character; and I trained in ballet, and I really want to wear a cape.’ It’s the coolest rejection ever…She wanted to be in a Marvel movie, but she wanted to be the superhero, not the badass doctor Night Nurse,” C. Robert said on the “Junkfood Cinema” podcast.
Joaquin Phoenix was reportedly in the final negotiations to portray Stephen Strange in “Doctor Strange” but somewhere along the way, the plan fell apart. While it’s not clear what happened, Joaquin says he was happy with the way things turned out and doesn’t have any hard feelings.
“I think they make some great, fun movies. There’s nothing wrong…I’m not a f—ing, like, cinephile. I’m not a snob…I enjoy those movies sometimes, and I think they keep the f—ing industry going in some ways, so I don’t have a problem with it at all. I think that everybody was, is…I’m trying to figure out how to say this most diplomatically…I think everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied,” Joaquin told Little White Lies.
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Matthew McConaughey was almost cast as Ego, the villain of “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” but he turned down the role. Instead, he accepted a part in “The Dark Tower,” a film based on Stephen King’s series of novels which was shooting at the same time.
“I like ‘Guardians of the Galaxy,’ but what I saw was ‘It’s successful, and now we’ve got room to make a colorful part for another big-name actor.’ I’d feel like an amendment. ‘The Dark Tower’ script was well-written, I like the director and his take on it, and I can be the creator, the author of the Man in Black — aka the Devil — in my version of this Stephen King novel,” he told Playboy.
“It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia”star Glenn Howerton made it to the final stages of the audition process for “Guardians of the Galaxy” character Peter Quill. According to director James Gunn, it came down to the final two, but Chris Pratt beat out Glenn.
“I would never share who auditioned & didn’t get the role unless they shared it first — many people know [Glenn] auditioned & was my 2nd choice for the role,” he confirmed during an Instagram Q&A.
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Amandla Stenberg was in the running for the role of Shuri in “Black Panther” but took herself out of the audition process because she felt the role should be given to a darker-skinned actress.
“That was not a space that I should have taken up. And it was so exhilarating to see it fulfilled by people who should have been a part of it and who deserved it and who were right for it. I just wasn’t,” Amandla told Variety.
Sebastian Stan may have been cast as Bucky Barnes the MCU but he originally auditioned for Captain America. Unfortunately, he was told that he was not “right for the part.” Sebastian admits that things “worked out” in his favor and Bucky has been a “much better role” for him.
“Try not to take things personally, learn how to face rejection, no matter what you do, stay obsessed with it,” Sebastian told CNBC Make It.