In an alternate universe, imagine Tom Cruise as Iron Man. Many of those who have seen and loved the Iron Man films would be quick to scream no, that Robert Downey Jr. totally owns the role of Iron Man in the same way Hugh Jackman owns Wolverine. But Cruise was actually close to donning the iron suit and becoming that billionaire, playboy, slash philanthropist we all know today. It may be hard to imagine, but audiences are surely thankful to the studio for not pursuing that casting choice.
In the acting business, casting a character yet alone the leading star is a difficult process. Cruise almost being Iron Man is not the only shocking revelation you’ll hear about today. ExploreTalent has put up a list of popular Hollywood movie stars who almost starred in a superhero movie:
1. Channing Tatum as Thor
Tom Hiddleston, Liam, and Chris Hemsworth are three of the most popular names that pop up when the role of Thor was being cast. Little did audiences know was that Channing Tatum, who rose to fame thanks to the Step Up movies and Magic Mike, was also considered for the role. He even went on to meet with director Kenneth Branagh.
It is hard to imagine the ultimate American stud playing a Norse god, so it is a relief that this casting did not work out. Tatum is now a front-runner for yet another Marvel character, this time the card throwing X-Men member Gambit.
2. Viggo Mortensen as Wolverine
Now here’s someone that audiences might approve of! Viggo Mortensen, who is well known for playing Aragorn in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, was tapped to play Wolverine for the first ever X-Men film. If he did take the part, there is no doubt that he would do the role justice. But as everyone knows, Hugh Jackman took the iconic role and it has since made him a big star in the industry.
Aside from Jackman and Mortensen, other choices for the casting director included Russell Crowe and Dougray Scott.
3. Emily Blunt as Black Widow
Scheduling conflicts played a huge part when Emily Blunt was forced to concede the role of Black Widow. The role of the mysterious and alluring Russian spy went to another popular actress, Scarlett Johansson. Johansson went to make her big screen debut as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 released back in 2010.
But that was not the end of Marvel’s attempts to lure Blunt into their cinematic universe. She was also considered for the role of Captain America’s love interest Peggy Carter in Captain America: The First Avenger. For unknown reasons, Blunt turned down the role, which eventually went to Haley Atwell.
4. Adam Brody as Joker
Maybe he isn’t a superhero, but no one can doubt that the Joker is one of the most iconic comic book characters of all time. A slew of actors have gotten the coveted role, including Jack Nicholson and Jared Leto, who is playing The Joker in the upcoming Suicide Squad film.
But someone has yet to surpass the mind-blowing performance done by the late Heath Ledger in The Dark Knight. He managed to capture the dark and most sinister side of the Clown Prince of Crime in the film. However, Ledger was not the only actor in director Christopher Nolan‘s mind. Adrien Brody, who is known for his Academy Award–winning role in The Pianist, was among the names that were shortlisted for role of Joker.
5. Josh Hutcherson as Spider-Man
Casting the web-slinging hero Spider-Man is not an easy feat, but it is quite an interesting one. The recent casting of Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War proved just that after numerous young actors battled it out before Holland got the role. But long before Holland, there was Mark Webb‘s Amazing Spiderman films that featured the charming British actor Andrew Garfield in the titular role. Like all the superheroes on this list, Garfield was not Webb’s first choice. The closest to being cast was Josh Hutcherson, whom moviegoers now know as Peeta Mellark from The Hunger Game Series. Hutcherson proved to be adept to the role when his audition tape circulated online.
Bonus: Actors who could have been Batman
Batman has been adapted numerous times into the big screen. From the forgettable George Clooney to the unexpected breakthrough performance of both Christian Bale and Michael Keaton. Numerous actors did try out for the masked vigilante, including Mel Gibson, Bill Murray, and even Jake Gyllenhall. As to why the studios did not cast them was never disclosed, but it is safe to presume that it was the best decision they have ever made.