The Avengers—one of the best superhero movies of all time, garnering over $1.5 billion box office receipts globally, not to mention the numerous critical awards and nominations it received.
The actors chosen to be our favorite superheroes—Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, and Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner—are simply great actors before they were cast.
And now we could say, they are among the most beloved actors today after playing the superhero roles. We can’t almost talk about the actors without mentioning their alter ego. Casting directors really did a good job in picking these guys to give life to our favorite comic superheroes.
But what if different actors were cast instead of the guys we know today as “Avengers”? Would the movie achieve the same success they have today?
Here are the actors we call the “almost Avengers.”
1. Captain America, played by Chris Evans
The almost Captain America: Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lungren, or Val Kilmer
Arnold Schwarzenegger: The Terminator was considered for the 1990 adaptation of Cap, but due to his thick accent, Arnie didn’t land the role.
Val Kilmer: He was also eyed to star in the earlier Cap movie, but he rejected it, which was good for him (Matt Salinger got the part with 0 percent rating). This is not the only film he had shunned. Kilmer turned down the offer to return in Batman and Robin, Blue Velvet, and Indecent Proposal.
Dolph Lundgren: Lundgren chose to revive Frank Castle in a miserable version of The Punisher than play Captain America. Lundgren may be a skilled actor, but if he were chosen as Cap, people would rather see him remain frozen in North Atlantic Ocean.
2. Black Widow, played by Scarlett Johansson
The almost Black Widow: Emily Blunt or Eliza Dushku
Apparently, it wasn’t effective.
3. Iron Man, played by Robert Downey Jr.
The almost Iron Man: Sam Rockwell, Tom Cruise, or Nicolas Cage
Sam Rockwell: Rockwell was shortlisted to play the superhero. Why not, he and RDJ almost look like twins. Iron Man director, Jon Favreau, said, “He was one of the actors I was looking at for Tony Stark. There was some things he would bring to the role that would have been great. Sam is very charismatic and when I was looking at the character there was a list and he had a spot on it, which might have surprised some people. Robert surprised some people, too, though, and now he is Tony Stark, he owns that role. Sam would have come up with interesting and different things.”
Tom Cruise: The Mission Impossible star was very much interested in playing as the walking tin man that he also wanted to co-produce it. But in the end, he turned it down because he didn’t like the script. He said, “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.”
But it was before Favreau re-wrote the story.
Nicolas Cage: He has been connected to every other movie under the sun, including Iron Man. Cage didn’t reject the role because there was simply no offer for him to do it in the first place.
4. Thor, played by Chris Hemsworth
The almost Thor: Tom Hiddleston, Liam Hemsworth, or Rikki Lee Travolta
Tom Hiddleston: Hiddleston originally auditioned for the part of Thor, but the film’s director, Kenneth Branagh, believed he was better suited to play the villainous role and he was instead offered the role of Loki.
Liam Hemsworth: Little brother also auditioned for the role, traveled all the way from Australia—only to be beaten by big brother.
Rikki Lee Travolta: This Shakespearean-trained actor and martial artist, who also claimed he is John Travolta’s nephew, was rumored to play the part of Thor. Thankfully it was just that—a rumor. It would have been crazy to cast the guy just because of his hair.
5. Bruce Banner aka The Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo
The almost The Hulk: Tom Cruise, Billy Crudup, Jeff Goldblum, Johnny Depp, Steve Buscemi, or David Duchovny
Tom Cruise: Cruise was originally offered the role of Bruce Banner in Ang Lee‘s 2003 blockbuster film, but he refused.
Billy Crudup: Crudup also turned down the offer to play the role of The Hulk in Lee’s adaptation. The role was eventually given to Eric Bana.
Jeff Goldblum: The The Lost World: Jurassic Park actor was actually tested for the particular role, but obviously, he wasn’t successful.
Steve Buscemi: That’s right, Buscemi, who is known for playing neurotic and paranoid characters, was also tested for the same role but for “some reason,” he wasn’t cast.
David Duchovny: When Eric Bana refused to return for the sequel, Duchovny was supposed to be signed for the project, but in the end, Edward Norton was cast.
6. Lindsay Lohan as someone
If we are to believe the Freaky Friday actress in her claim in one of the episodes of her reality TV show, she said that she was supposed to have a part in the movie, but due to her manager not pushing hard enough for her to get the role, she lost it to some unknown actress. The question is, whose character was she supposed to play?