ByKarly Rayner, writer at Creators.co
Editor/Senior staff writer | Movie Pilot's celebrity savant.
Karly Rayner

Just like the Hulk transforming without his stretchy trousers on, some things can never be unseen... Actors like Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans are practically burned into our retinas as the superhero characters they now embody.

While it's a huge stretch to imagine anyone else lifting Thor's hammer or wriggling into Black Widow's catsuit, the casting choices that we know and love weren't always set in stone, but do you think the MCU would have imploded if any of the alternatives below were cast?

Iron Man

It's almost scientifically impossible to imagine anyone but the legendary RDJ as Tony Stark these days, but believe it or not all of the blokes below were in the runnings.

Hugh Jackman

Wolverine himself was rumored to be the next sure thing for Iron Man. But, of course, that didn't happen and he went on to star in three movies the following year, including Australia and Deception. Maybe there is such thing as too much Hugh Jackman in the Marvel universe...

Timothy Olyphant

Olyphant's name was attached to Iron Man during the early stages of the project, and he apparently read for the role, but alas his iron jawline didn't win him a place in the suit.

Nick Cage

Dramatisation: May not have happened
Dramatisation: May not have happened

Back in 1996, Nick Cage was considered as Iron Man. I'll just let that sink in for a moment...

Tom Cruise

It's been widely reported that way back in the late '90s/early '00s, Tom Cruise's name was firmly attached to play everybody's favorite tin-man, and even produce the feature as a vehicle for himself. But he apparently lost interest in the project due to the script not being up to his standards:

I don’t know. It just … they came to me at a certain point and … when I do something, I wanna do it right. If I commit to something, it has to be done in a way that I know it’s gonna be something special. And as it was lining up, it just didn’t feel to me like it was gonna work.

Clive Owen

British treasure Clive Owen was considered for the role by Iron Man’s director Jon Favreau, but he didn't make the grade.

Sam Rockwell

Sam Rockwell was invited to read for the role, but Robert Downey Jr. pipped him to the post. It wasn't all bad news though, Rockwell impressed Favreau so much that he was cast in Iron Man 2 as Stark’s nemesis Justin Hammer.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Iron Man?

Pepper Potts

Love her or hate her, Gwyneth Paltrow always seemed pretty well cast as Pepper Potts to me, but it could have been very different.

Rachel McAdams

Rachel turned down the role of Pepper Potts in Iron Man allowing Gwyneth Paltrow to step in. She still got to act alongside RDJ later on in Sherlock Holmes though!

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Pepper Potts?

Black Widow

Scarlett Johansson slipped into Black Widow's iconic cat suit like it was a second skin, but she wasn't first choice for the role...

Emily Blunt

Emily Blunt was the favorite to become Black Widow, but she turned down the role because she isn't a fan of female representation in superhero movies. She explained:

Usually the female parts in a superhero film feel thankless: She's the pill girlfriend while the guys are whizzing around saving the world. I didn't do the other ones because the part wasn't very good or the timing wasn't right, but I'm open to any kind of genre if the part is great and fun and different and a challenge in some way. I would love to do a comic-book movie or a science-fiction film that would scare the bejesus out of me. Maybe I need to be James Bond! I just did Looper, because it's so original and breathtakingly cool. The time-travel aspect is just a backdrop to visit this heightened world, where you're atoning for something and attempting to be more than you've been

Angelina Jolie

Although she never auditioned, Angelina Jolie was considered to be deadly enough to be cast as Black Widow.

Jessica Biel

Just like Angelina Jolie, Biel never actually read for the part, but was strongly considered by directors.

Gemma Arterton

British Gemma Arterton's kick-ass turn in The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time led to her being considered as Black Widow.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Black Widow?

Thor

Competition for Thor led to the battle of the Hemsworth's, but do you think the right brother won?

Daniel Craig

Daniel Craig declined donning a flowing blond wig for Thor, probably due to his commitments as James Bond at the time.

Charlie Hunnam

Charlie Hunnam might have the obligatory luscious blond locks and beard, but he didn't get the part.

Liam Hemsworth

The battle of the brothers could only have one winner, and in this case the older Hemsworth reigned supreme. It didn't always look like it would be this way though, Chris Hemsworth explained that:

I auditioned for 'Thor,' and I didn't get called back. I was intimidated by the director, Kenneth Branagh. To me, he is Shakespeare. My brother, Liam, was luckier. He was one of the final five guys up for the part.

Alexander Skarsgård

Despite being the closest to being an authentic Nordic man, Alexander Skarsgård never got to lift Thor's hammer.

Channing Tatum

Although he didn't read for the role, Channing Tatum was also considered for the part of Thor.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Thor?

Loki

Tom Hiddleston couldn't have owned the part of tricksy Loki with any more gusto, but things could have been very different...

Charlie Cox

Charlie Cox of Daredevil fame read fro the park of Loki before Hiddleston snatched it from under him.

Jim Carey

Funny man Jim Carey was originally the favorite for the role.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Loki?

Captain America

Chris Evan's was practically born to be Captain America with his chiseled all-American blond good looks, but he was actually pretty late to the game in terms of favorites for the role...

John Krasinski

The Office's John Krasinski made it pretty far along the selection process to wield Cap's mighty shield, but he never got to try the iconic red boots on for size.

Will Smith

Will Smith was once in talks to play Cap, but clearly things didn't work out between him and Marvel.

Garrett Hedlund

Garrett Hedlund turned down the role for TRON, which I'm sure he is still losing sleep over... he explained:

I met with the director last year before going to shoot Country Strong. Then, when they'd come in and talked to me about it [becoming Captain America], we'd just continually pass on it because of scheduling. Also, to be in something that had a second and a third film following it, we felt that TRON already had that, you know. To mix in another heroic character with that was not necessary. In short, we kind of always passed on it. I didn't really think that was my gig.

Mike Vogel

Mike Vogel has high hopes after he auditioned for the part, but alas, they were never realized. At the time he said:

I don't want to comment on it too much, keeping 'em crossed [fingers]. We'll see what happens. I'm very excited!

Wilson Bethel

After a short time in the runnings, Bethel broke the news he hadn't made the grade to his fans by posting the following on Facebook:

O Captain, My Captain... I am not He... Thanks for all of the love & support

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Captain America?

The Hulk

Sure, The Hulk relies heavily on special effects when he is in his ultimate form, but a few famous faces have been considered for Bruce Banner.

Edward Norton

After starring in the Louis Leterrier Hulk back in 2008, Marvel wanted Norton to return to the role, but the actor had other ideas. He explained that:

My feeling was that I experimented and experienced what I wanted to. I really, really enjoyed it. And yet, I looked at the balance of time in life that one spends not only making those sorts of films but then especially putting them out, and the obligations that rightly come with that … I think you can sort of do anything once, but if you do it too many times, it can become a suit that’s hard to take off, in other people’s eyes

Joaquin Phoenix

After Norton declined to take the part, Joaquin Phoenix was reportedly a favorite candidate.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Hulk?

The Scarlet Witch

Elizabeth Olsen cast her spell as the Scarlet Witch, but she wasn't first in line for the bewitching role.

Lindsey Lohan

Ever thirsty for a comeback, Lilo auditioned for the Scarlet Witch once upon a time...

Saoirse Ronan

Although she was keen to be Scarlet Witch and was reportedly used as a “prototype” to create the character, Saorise Ronan didn't get the part, she said:

I have heard about it [being a prototype for Scarlet Witch] and yes, I would. Yeah, of course I would [be interested]. I love Joss and I love those films, and I love his handle on them and how he portrayed these kinds of superheroes. I think it’s very different from what anyone else has done. So yeah, I’d love to be in it

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Scarlet Witch?

Peter Quill/ Star-Lord

It was a long hard road to find the perfect Peter Quill and nearly 20 actors were considered, but below are some of the most notable forerunners.

Joseph Gordon Levit

JGL auditioned and screen tested for the role of Peter Quill/Star-Lord, but he turned it down in order to join Sin City: A Dame to Kill For. Ouch.

Eddie Redmayne

Eddie Redmayne was one of the last dudes standing when it came to this casting battle, but he was very tight lipped about the role. When pressed about whether he would be Star-Lord, he explained:

I love those films when they're done well. I loved watching Andrew and Emma in 'Spider-Man.' I loved watching 'The Dark Knight Rises.' There seems to be an audience now needing satisfaction beyond spectacle. From an actor's point of view, that makes it intriguing. I love going to see those films. I also like to shake it up -- I just did a musical. I don't like sitting in a box

Aaron Paul

Aaron Paul's acting talent and comic timing led to a screen test to be Star-Lord, but he never made it to the heights of the Galaxy.

Cam Gigandet

Cam is yet another one of the hopefuls who auditioned and screen tested for the role of Peter Quill/Star Lord.

Chris Lowell

Chris Lowell might not have got the part, but in his eyes, the best man won. He explained that:

Frankly, to be even compared comedically with the charm level of Chris Pratt, I was flattered. But no, I wasn’t bummed. With those movies, especially a movie like ’Guardians,’ casting is everything… and I think they absolutely went with the right person

Logan Marshall-Green

Tom Hardy lookalike Logan Marshall-Green also screen tested for the part.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Peter Quill/Star-Lord?

Gamora

Zoe Saldana portrayed Gamora's badass attitude with mastery, but would some of the ladies below have done it better?

Olivia Wilde

Olivia Wilde turned down the part of Gamora because she was worried about being typecast and wanted to spread her wings artistically, she explained:

People thought I could only play the badass, so I’d always get those roles. It just doesn’t feel very human . . . I got cast as a computer program in Tron: Legacy and an alien in Cowboys and Aliens. I was, like, ‘There‘s something wrong here...'

Adrianne Palicki

Adrianne Palicki was reportedly a "strong favorite" to face to body-painting ordeal needed to become Gamora.

Rachel Nichols

Rachel Nichols auditioned for the part, but the actress hasn't released any quotes about her experience, so that's all we know so far.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Gamora?

Rocket Racoon

Bradley Cooper undeniably bought heaps of his own personality to the over-zealous Rocket Racoon, but this little dude could have had a Scottish accent!

Adam Sandler

Adam Sandler was a polarizing potential choice for Rocket Racoon, and it seems like Marvel executives might have picked up on that.

David Tennant

It remains unknown if David Tennant would have created a Scottish raccoon...

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Rocket Racoon?

Drax the Destroyer

Dave Bautista cut an impressive figure has Drax the Destroyer, but would these guys have done it better?

Jason Momoa

Momoa was cast as Drax but declined to take the role over fears he would forever be playing the brute, he explained

I think it's perfectly cast,. Dave [Bautista] is perfect for that role, for Drax. It didn't really fit in my time because I've done so many things where I don't say much and I'm colored up and I have my shirt off again. I made a conscious choice to turn down some movies that were action-based to direct 'Road to Paloma' so people could see that side

Isaiah Mustafa

The Old Spice guy is actually a huge comic book fan, but he hasn't made it into the Marvel universe just yet.

Poll

Who do you think would have made the best Drax the Destroyer?

(Source: Pajiba)

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