15 Actors Who Were Almost Cast as Your Favorite Avengers
Tom Hiddleston recently rewatched his original Thor audition on The Tonight Show With Jimmy Fallon, but some fans might have been surprised by the footage: Hiddleston originally auditioned for the role of Thor, not his now-iconic role as Loki! He's not the only actor who narrowly missed out on a role as one of the Avengers.
It's hard to imagine anyone else playing any of the Avengers, since the Marvel movies have become such an iconic part of our pop culture. But, as with most movies, there were plenty of other options along the way, and several of the Avengers were very nearly played by someone totally different! While a few of them, like Hiddleston, went on to other roles in the Marvel universe, others ended up completely steering clear of superhero movies altogether. Ahead, see some of the biggest Avengers what-could-have-beens!
John Krasinski as Captain America
At the height of his fame from The Office, Krasinski was widely rumored to be the front-runner for the role of Steve Rogers, the stouthearted everyman-turned-supersoldier.
Garrett Hedlund as Captain America
The star of Disney's sci-fi reboot Tron: Legacy was also listed among the top candidates for the role of Cap in early 2010, around the same time that Marvel Studios became a Disney subsidy.
Chace Crawford as Captain America
According to the same MTV report that named Krasinki and Hedlund, Crawford was also among the top names pursued for Captain America.
Alexander Skarsgard as Thor
Frankly, this one doesn't seem shocking at all. Skarsgard admitted to MTV in 2009 that he'd come very close to wielding Thor's hammer.
"I met with [Marvel Studios Chief] Kevin [Feige] a few times and the director [Kenneth Branagh]," Skarsgard said, even noting that he got to do a costume test. "That was pretty fun."
Sam Rockwell as Iron Man
Like Hiddleston, Rockwell initially was considered for one of the marquee Avengers roles, but instead made his Marvel debut as a villain — in his case, as Iron Man 2's slimy Justin Hammer.
"At one point, Jon [Favreau] had called me about possibility screen-testing for the part of Tony Stark in Iron Man. And whatever happened, I think I was out of the running. Robert [Downey Jr.] just killed it, you know, and I never heard anything after that," Rockwell told The A.V. Club. "So in a way, I think Jon was basically saying, 'This [playing Hammer] is your chance to be Tony Stark. This will be your version of Tony Stark.' We gave him the glasses and kind of sleazed him up a little. But that's exactly right. It was a chance to do Tony Stark."
Timothy Olyphant as Iron Man
Olyphant came very close to landing the role of Tony Stark, but there was just one little problem: he ended up screen-testing the same day as Robert Downey Jr., and, well, we know how that went!
"A wonderful actor, Robert Downey Jr. and I, we screen tested on the same day," Olyphant said on Conan in 2017. He then joked, "And I'm still waiting to hear back!"
David Duchovny as The Hulk
According to a Rotten Tomatoes report from 2006, The X-Files star was apparently the first choice to replace Eric Bana, who dropped out of what eventually became The Incredible Hulk due to plans to make it a direct-to-video release. In the end, though, the role went to Edward Norton, who was then replaced again by Mark Ruffalo for the full-fledged Avengers franchise.
Jensen Ackles as Hawkeye
Ackles auditioned for Captain America and failed to land the role, but reportedly impressed Marvel execs so much that they offered him the role of Hawkeye instead. Unfortunately, Screen Rant reported, Ackles had to turn it down because the shooting schedule interfered with his commitments to Supernatural.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
Like her husband Krasinski, Blunt was under consideration for a role as one of the original Avengers: Black Widow. She ultimately passed on the role — as well as the role of Peggy Carter — because, as she later told Vulture, "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."
Saiorse Ronan as Scarlet Witch
In 2013, Ronan responded to rumors that she was under consideration for Scarlet Witch, telling The Mary Sue, "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." Ultimately, though, she didn't end up playing the role, for unknown reasons.
Glenn Howerton as Star-Lord
The role of Star-Lord was a career-turning role for Chris Pratt, but if he hadn't taken the role, director James Gunn knows who would have: It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's Glen Howerton. "There was a good chance that, if I didn't cast Chris, that I would've cast Glenn Howerton in the role," The A.V. Club reported Gunn as saying in a GQ profile of Pratt.
Lee Pace as Star-Lord
Pace, of course, ended up in Guardians of the Galaxy as the villainous Kree Ronan the Accuser, but he almost had a much more heroic role. MTV caught up with Pace in 2012 just before a late-round audition to play Peter Quill.
"I go in on Monday to meet them all and audition for it, so wish me luck. I'm very excited about it. The script is great. The character is a lot of fun... I have been [reading up on Star-Lord]. You want to know what you're doing. I hope it works out." It didn't work out for him to play Quill, but he did impress them and wound up playing Ronan in the original Guardians and in 2019's Captain Marvel.
Olivia Wilde as Gamora
Wilde was apparently one of Marvel's top picks to play Gamora — she was even offered the role! In the end, she turned it down, most likely out of exhaustion with playing similar roles for years.
"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 …'," she admitted to the Guardian in 2013, likely explaining, indirectly, her reasons for passing on Gamora.
Joseph Gordon-Levitt as Ant-Man
In 2013, Variety reported that the role of Scott Lang, aka Ant-Man, was pretty much narrowed down to two actors: Gordon-Levitt and Paul Rudd. Of course, Rudd wound up snagging the role, and Gordon-Levitt, who had previously dabbled in the superhero world as future "Robin" John Blake in The Dark Knight Rises shot down the rumors as "nothing but lies" in a red carpet interview, according to Screen Crush.
Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Strange
Long before he took on an iconic supervillain in Joker, Phoenix was approached to play a superhero: Doctor Strange. In the end, it didn't work out, but when asked about it by CinemaBlend, Phoenix didn't seem to hold any negative feelings about the whole situation.
"I think they make some great, fun movies... I'm not a snob and I'm totally fine with... 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 everybody was really happy with how things turned out. All parties were satisfied."