If there's one thing the Marvel Cinematic Universe does right on a consistent basis, it's casting. From Chris Evans as Captain America to Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow, and Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther, it's hard to fault any of the decisions Marvel Studios has made over the years.
However, there are a number of actors who were nearly cast in the MCU, and we're taking a look at them today. From the big (and small) names we think would do a better job than the stars who ultimately landed these roles to actors we simply think it would have been fun to see play these iconic heroes and villains, there are some names here who will almost certainly surprise you.
It's crazy to think about what might have been, that's for sure, and the Marvel Cinematic Universe could have ended up looking completely different to what we all know and love today.
So, to check out the biggest casting decisions which almost happened, hit the "Next" button below!
10. Jessica Chastain As The Wasp
When Edgar Wright was still in charge of Ant-Man, he had a very different idea for The Wasp. We don't know whether the plan was still for Hope Van Dyne to be the one suiting up in place of Janet, but the filmmaker was in talks with Jessica Chastain to take on the role...until she turned him down.
It's unclear what about the project didn't appeal to the actress (and why she would think Dark Phoenix was ultimately a better fit for her), but the character would have been totally different.
Evangeline Lilly has done a great job as The Wasp, of course, but it's hard not to get excited about seeing Chastain finally playing a bona fide superhero like this on the big screen. Instead, she chose the worst X-Men movie to date, but here's hoping she bounces back from that...
9. Jim Carrey As Rocket Raccoon
Jim Carrey has shied away from big budget blockbusters in recent years, but he stole the show as the villainous Dr. Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog, and fans of the actor are anxious to see what he does next.
However, long before joining that video game franchise, he had the opportunity to board the MCU. Before Bradley Cooper was chosen to play Rocket in 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy, Carrey was reportedly going head to head with Adam Sandler for the chance to voice the beloved trash panda.
We don't know why this didn't happen, but the character would have been totally different with either one of those actors in the role and Carrey's take, in particular, would have been much different to Cooper's.
8. Mel Gibson As Odin
Mel Gibson has become something of a controversial figure in Hollywood thanks to his personal views, and while he's turned things around in recent years, he wasn't overly popular back in the early 2010s.
In an interview back in 2016, the actor confirmed that, "[I was approached] long time ago to play Thor's dad." He didn't elaborate on what happened, but Marvel Studios presumably thought twice about what that would do for their image, and instead chose the well-respected Anthony Hopkins to play Odin in Thor.
It may have been Robert Downey Jr. who pushed for Gibson to join the MCU after working on Iron Man as there have been rumblings that he wanted the actor/filmmaker to take charge of Iron Man 4!
7. Joaquin Phoenix As Doctor Strange
British actor Benedict Cumberbatch ultimately landed the role of Doctor Strange in the MCU, but Joaquin Phoenix was Marvel Studios' top choice for a time, and it's fair to say his take on the Sorcerer Supreme would have been...unique? You need only look at Joker for proof of that.
Asked why he didn't end up playing the hero, Phoenix recently explained that, "I think they make some great, fun movies. 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."
It definitely sounds like there were creative differences there, and Phoenix not being someone who wanted to commit to countless appearances in this shared world isn't overly shocking. That was likely the sticking point, and probably explains why he turned the role down.
6. Lindsay Lohan As Maria Hill
Following some questionable decisions a few years back, Lindsey Lohan's career is, well, a complete and utter train wreck. Even after seemingly turning things around, studios are reluctant to hire the actress, and it's hard to believe Marvel Studios would have ever considered doing business with her.
Well, during her documentary series Lindsay, Lohan claimed she wanted a part in The Avengers, but her manager failed to chase it down for her. The role she was referring to was Maria Hill, and that ultimately went to Cobie Smulders.
Believe it or not, Lohan wrote Smulders off as an "unknown," but not only did Marvel Studios make the right decision by not casting the actress, they also dodged a bullet by not taking on someone you have to belive would have been a complete nightmare to work with.
5. Chadwick Boseman As Drax
How crazy would this have been? Talking to The Hollywood Reporter last year, Marvel Studios casting director Sarah Finn told the trade that Black Panther star Chadwick Boseman auditioned to play Guardians of the Galaxy's Drax.
Given how synonymous the actor has become with T'Challa after playing him only a handful of times on the big screen, this one is hard to picture, but the Guardians as we know them would have been undeniably different. Dave Bautista brings something truly unique to the role, and Boseman's take would no doubt make the hero completely unrecognisable.
That wouldn't necessarily have been a bad thing (perhaps his version was going to be a little more comic accurate?), but it's fair to say things worked out for the best by the time all was said and done.
4. Mark Ruffalo As The Hulk
Wait, doesn't Mark Ruffalo already play Bruce Banner/The Hulk in the MCU? Well, yes, but did you know that he was actually director Louis Leterrier's first choice for the role in The Incredible Hulk?
Marvel Studios seemingly disagreed and instead decided to go with Ed Norton, a decision they definitely ended up regretting. After all, had those creative differences with the actor not proved to be such a problem, the second MCU movie probably wouldn't be viewed as its black sheep!
Ruffalo was later announced as the new Hulk in 2012's The Avengers at Comic-Con, but Marvel Studios definitely should have cast him in the first place (even if it was just for the sake of continuity).
3. Emily Blunt As Black Widow
As of right now, Emily Blunt is a fan-favourite choice to take on the role of the Invisible Woman in the MCU, but she's come much closer to playing a couple of other characters in this shared world.
First, she was eyed for Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but concerns about being tied to a big franchise for a number of years forced her to turn Marvel Studios down, so it was ultimately Scarlet Johansson who took on the role of the badass S.H.I.E.L.D. agent. Later, she was offered Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger, but scheduling issues stopped that from happening.
It doesn't sound like she's too bothered about missing out on playing these characters, but the hope is that we will now see the British actress join real-life husband John Krasinski in the Fantastic Four reboot.
2. Timothy Olyphant As Iron Man
Since starring in Deadwood, Timothy Olyphant may not have become the world's biggest movie star, but you need only look at his work in the likes of Justified and Santa Clarita Diet for proof that he's a huge talent. Unfortunately, we still haven't seen him in a major comic book blockbuster!
We're not sure why that is, but it may have something to do with what happened to him in 2006/2007.
Olyphant has revealed that he auditioned for the role of Tony Stark in Iron Man the same day as Robert Downey Jr., and he's still waiting to hear back about whether he got the part! He's clearly able to joke about it, but this must have stung, and could be what's put him off from trying again.
1. Sebastian Stan As Captain America
Many fans hoped that Bucky Barnes would become the Marvel Cinematic Universe's new Captain America, but the mantle is instead being passed to The Falcon. However, had things played out slightly differently, Sebastian Stan would have been the one suiting up as the MCU's original Star Spangled Avenger!
During an interview with CNBC, Stan revealed that he auditioned for the role of Steve Rogers, but was told he was not "right for the part." Admitting that it "worked out" in the end, he added that it's important to, "Try not to take things personally, learn how to face rejection, no matter what you do, stay obsessed with it."
It definitely feels like Marvel Studios ultimately made the right decision, and Bucky will soon take centre stage in The Falcon and The Winter Soldier alongside the new Captain America.