On the eve of Avengers: Age of Ultron hitting screens, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth and the like playing earth’s mightiest heroes.
But what if the team had been assembled in 1985? Who would Marvel choose and what would they look like? We thought it would be fun to speculate a bit, so the following are our choices, with the ‘85 age listed next to each name for a bit of context. And obviously there are no right answers here, so when you’ve had a read, let us know your casting suggestions in the comments below…
Iron Man – Burt Reynolds (49)
Burt Reynolds was one of the biggest stars on the planet back in 1985, thanks to the success of the Smoky and Cannonball Run movies. And while they had fair jokes and good stunts, much of the popularity was down to Reynolds' charm and charisma, which could be put to good use as Tony Stark. But the guy could also do tough, as the likes of Deliverance and Sharky’s Machine prove, so he could handle himself as Tony is so frequently forced to. As for the look, that iconic moustache would need to be trimmed and the rest of his facial hair developed, but make those tweaks and you’re looking at Iron Man ’85.
The Hulk – Mel Gibson (29) & Arnold Schwarzenegger (38)
The Hulk is a character that’s fuelled by aggression and rage, and in 1985 Mel Gibson had already played a character filled with aggression and rage (Mad Max) and was about to play a character tormented by those same emotions (Martin Riggs). For that reason – as well as the fact that he’s a pretty great actor – Gibson is our Bruce Banner. But in those pre-CGI, post-Lou Ferrigno days, we’d need a giant to green-up to play the Green Goliath, and for that role we’re looking no further than Austrian Oak Arnold Schwarzenegger.
Thor – Dolph Lundgren (28)
Back in 1985 Dolph Lundgren was making his silver screen debut as a muscle-bound bodyguard in A View to a Kill and a Russian boxer in Rocky IV, so he was hardly a household name. But look at any photos from the time and you realise that he basically was Thor, just without the flowing locks. And while he might not have been the greatest He-Man in 1987’s Masters of the Universe, his Swedish accent make him a much better fit for the Norse God a couple of years before.
Captain America – Patrick Swayze (33)
This is a tough role to cast. Especially as Chris Evans has absolutely nailed it across The Avengers and a pair of stand-alone Cap movies. Kevin Costner would have been a good shout, but back in the mid-1980s he was best known as the dead corpse cut out of The Big Chill. And both Kurt Russell and Dennis Quaid scream square-jawed all-American hero. But we’re going for Patrick Swayze, who played a brave patriot in Red Dawn, and became the youth of America’s stoic big brother in The Outsiders. Strong, handsome, athletic and tough, he looked good as a blond in Point Break, and spent the bulk of his career playing likeable heroes, so it’s easy to imagine him as the ultimate good guy.
Hawkeye – Tom Cruise (23)
Tom Cruise would have made an amazing Tony Stark in the late 1990s when he was linked with the role. In 1985 he was just 23-years-old however, making him a little young to play the billionaire industrialist. But the cocksure kid from Risky Business and All the Right Moves would have made a fantastic Hawkeye. The Cruise of the time was all intensity and steely-eyed determination, plus you just know he’d be a crack shot with that bow-and-arrow.
Black Widow – Michelle Pfeiffer (27)
Coming off the back of Scarface and about to start work on Into the Night, Michelle Pfeiffer was the dangerous dame du jour back in 1985, making her a great choice to capture Natasha Romanoff’s dark side. But it’s her later work as Catwoman in Batman Returns that convinces us she'd make a great Black Widow, with Pfeiffer effortlessly combining athleticism and sexuality to leave you in little doubt that she’s the most dangerous woman on the planet.
Nick Fury – Clint Eastwood (55)
In 2008, when he made his debut as Nick Fury in the MCU, Samuel L. Jackson was 60-years-old and having played gangsters, a Jedi and all manner of tough guys, was pretty much the baddest man on the planet. Back in 1985, having embodied both ‘The Man With No Name’ and Dirty Harry on the big screen, Clint Eastwood was just as tough. Give him an eye-patch and the then 55-years-old basically is Nick Fury, though his iteration might also wear a cowboy hat. Because he’s Clint.
Agent Coulson – Bill Murray (35)
Thanks to the colossal success of Ghosbusters, Bill Murray was the box office king heading into 1985. Combine that with his understated comedy genius and he’d be an impeccable choice for the deadpan Phil Coulson. And while up-to-that point he’d rarely dipped his toe in dramatic waters, Murray’s modern-day output proves that he’s equally as skilled with the dramatic stuff, enabling him to bring much needed pathos to a role that turns tragic in the team-up flick.
Spider-Man – Michael J. Fox (24)
Yes we know Spidey isn’t in Avengers or Age of Ultron, but with the character joining the MCU for Captain America: Civil War, we thought we’d cast the role anyway. And though he was busy shooting Family Ties during the day and Back to the Future at night in early ‘85, Marvel would have to find some kind of window is his schedule as Michael J. Fox is our wall-crawler. He’d have to scale back the cool of Marty McFly a little, but the baby-faced star was a dab hand at playing plucky young upstarts you could really root for in the 1980s, and upstarts don't come any pluckier than Peter Parker!
Courtesy of IGN