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With the MCU's Multiverse Saga now in full swing, it has opened the full gates for alternate versions of our favorite characters. This new plot device has been used to great effect in movies like Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and Spider-Man: No Way Home and the Disney Plus series What If…?.
However, there's always room for more variants to enter the fold. And since we have the better part of two whole phases to get through following this thematic thread of alternate dimensions, why not speculate on who they could cast next as variants?
Specifically, it would be fun to look at the actors who were previously considered for Marvel roles that didn't pan out and ask: What if we brought them back as a variant version? For this list, we've taken the time to research some of the most compelling Marvel castings that didn't quite work out, either due to the actor declining or the studio going with another choice. In each case, we'd still love to see them in the MCU as a variant version of the character they were once in talks to play. With that said, here's our list in no particular order:
lexander Skarsgård as Thor
At one point in time, True Blood star Alexander Skarsgård was considered a serious contender for the role of Thor in the MCU. Despite this, Chris Hemsworth eventually won the part thanks to a second audition that impressed executives. In the years since, Skarsgård has proven his salt as a Viking character tortured with a thirst for vengeance in one of last year's best movies, The Northman. We could easily see some kind of dark and gritty Thor from another universe being played to perfection by Skarsgård thanks to this.
Chace Crawford as Steve Rogers
Though Jensen Ackles once auditioned for Captain America, only to play a macabre pastiche of the character as Soldier Boy in the Prime Video series The Boys, we actually think his co-star Chace Crawford, who plays The Deep in The Boys, would be a more interesting choice for a variant of Steve Rogers. Crawford also auditioned for the part of Steve Rogers, as well as Wyatt Russell, the latter of whom went on to play U.S. Agent in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. While both Ackles' and Russell's Captain America-adjacent characters exude an arrogant and macho persona fitting of a corrupted hero, we could see a more conniving and under-the-radar version of the character should he be played by Crawford as a variant.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
If Emily Blunt's astounding performances in films like Sicario or Edge of Tomorrow are any indication, she is already equipped to the gills with the kind of bravado of a seasoned soldier with a high kill count required for the role of Black Widow. As such, why not bring Blunt in as a variant of the character that Marvel once eyed for her to play? Blunt declined the offer to appear as Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2, due to scheduling conflicts, with Scarlett Johansson ultimately taking the role. However, maybe she will want in on the Marvel action now that her husband, John Krasinski, has portrayed a variant of Reed Richards in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Plus, there's room for another Black Widow since Johansson's version of the character was sadly killed off in Avengers: Endgame.
Tom Cruise as Iron Man
The idea of Tom Cruise playing Tony Stark is a bit of a meme wrapped in a myth nowadays. For example, rumors spread like an out-of-control wildfire that he would play Superior Iron Man in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness prior to the film’s release. However, there is a small basis in reality when it comes to the idea that Marvel once courted Cruise for the role, with the actor declining the offer. Cruise’s filmography as a villain is rather slim but extraordinary, as evidenced by the legendary performances he gave as the wolf-like assassin in Collateral and slimy Hollywood executive Les Grossman in Tropic Thunder. With Superior Iron Man being a villain in the comics, now might be the perfect time for Cruise to reconsider the part of Tony Stark in a remixed capacity.
courtesy of wegotthiscovered.com
Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Strange
Joaquin Phoenix once turned down an offer by Marvel to play Doctor Strange. We think he could play an interesting version of the character, should he be written as someone whose main emotional crutch was not arrogance, like Benedict Cumberbatch’s version, but guilt. That backstory was briefly mentioned in Multiverse of Madness. However, it is an aspect of the character that hasn't been explored in depth and we think Phoenix is the perfect person to do it.
Jason Momoa as Drax
Another actor who turned down a prominent Marvel role is Jason Momoa, who was the first choice as Drax in Guardians of the Galaxy. It’s understandable why Momoa decided against the part since he didn’t want to be typecast as a brute-like character. However, now that the possibility of variants has been introduced, won’t you reconsider, Mr. Momoa? After all, he could do much to reinvent the Drax character as the noble warrior type he seemed destined for in the first Guardians movie.
Glenn Howerton as Star-Lord
We don’t doubt the casting genius that made Chris Pratt synonymous with Star-Lord in Guardians of the Galaxy. However, should a slightly more cynical, more mean-spirited version of the character emerge from the multiverse, Marvel should really consider giving runner-up Glenn Howerton a call. Howerton admitted in a social media post getting passed up for the role "still hurts." However, we think he has the comedic chops to play a slightly more antagonistic version of Peter Quill, like if he was injected with a bit of the mischievous energy of Loki.
mandla Stenberg as Shuri
If Marvel ever reboots Black Panther or brings in another T’Challa character from a different universe, maybe they should consider rebooting Shuri while they’re at it. Marvel would be wise to keep in their consideration Amandla Stenberg, who previously turned down the role of Shuri, as Cosmo pointed out. Stenberg gave an absolutely commanding performance in the lead role of a moving drama, The Hate U Give, in the same year Black Panther was released. We think Stenberg could make a good Shuri should she play a more reserved version of the character who is less obsessed with dropping catch-phrases from the internet ("What are those!").
Timothée Chalamet as Peter Parker
The MCU probably doesn’t need any more Peter Parker variants in their roster since they technically have the likes of Tom Holland, Tobey Maguire, and Andrew Garfield at their disposal thanks to the events of Spider-Man: No Way Home. However, should they need one more, look no further than Timothée Chalamet, the Dune star who has already proven to have a leading man gravitas. It would be fun to imagine him having a competitive type of relationship with Holland’s character as Armored Spider-Man, the variant from Spider-Man: The Animated Series who was rich, arrogant, well-loved (even by J. Jonah Jameson), and came from a universe where Uncle Ben never died.
manda Seyfried as Gamora
Zoe Saldaña deserves all the praise for bringing to life not one but two versions of Gamora in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise. However, before Saldaña’s reign, the part was originally offered to Amanda Seyfried, who turned it down thinking the first film would flop. There’s now a good excuse to bring her back to the fold as yet another Gamora variant if the entire Wakandan royal family gets a refresh of some kind. Seyfried, who is kinder, gentler, and actually has chemistry with the self-proclaimed Star-Lord.
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