Steve Buscemi To Nicolas Cage: The 18 Actors Who Could Have Been Avengers

From Tony Stark’s loveable dickishness to Bruce Banner’s “puny God,” the gang of Avengers who assemble every few years to bring us the ultimate in superhero cinema and hashtag squadgoals have become so sometimes it’s hard to tell them apart.

But can you imagine if a whole host of other faces — faces that are now famed for , say, or just a — were rather the Avengers and not the guys you know today. No? Then maybe this list of ‘almost Avengers’ will help.

1. Captain America – Chris Evans


Who we could have had: Val Kilmer, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Dolph Lungren

Val Kilmer: Adding to the long list of movies Val Kilmer turned down (Batman & Robin, Blue Velvet, Indecent Proposal), he rejected the chance to star in the 1990 Cap movie featuring Matt Salinger. Dodged a bullet, some may say!

Arnold Schwarzenegger: Also lined up for the 1990 adaptation, it was because of Arnie’s thick accent that he didn’t land the part.

Dolph Lundgren: Rather than play Captain America in the same 1990 film as the other guys, Lundgren was busy working on bringing Frank Castle to life in a pretty (read: very) shit version of The Punisher.

Black Widow – Scarlett Johansson


Who we could have had: Emily Blunt or Eliza Dushku

Emily Blunt: First choice to play the Black Widow, Blunt had to turn down the role . Instead she had to star in Gulliver’s Travels, and not only was she the best thing about that movie by a country mile, it was a total flop. She was lined up to play Peggy Carter in Captain America, too.

Eliza Dusku: Ex-Buffy star Dusku basically pleaded for the role on Howard Stern show, saying:

“They’re doing ‘Iron Man 2,’ and I’m so perfect for the Black Widow character, that they just need to get into it. They need to understand… I just learned Russian because I had to play a Russian girl in ‘Dollhouse.’ Maybe we could all tell them. Let’s get on a Black Widow Iron Man 2 campaign.”

And although she was apparently considered, clearly she didn’t make the cut.

Iron Man – Robert Downey Jr.


Who we could have had: Sam Rockwell, Tom Cruise or Nicolas Cage

Sam Rockwell: On the shortlist for Iron Man, unsurprising seeing as he plays Stark’s mirror image in Iron Man 2, director Jon Favreau once 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: Favreau’s objective to make Stark a “likeable asshole,” explains not only the casting of RDJ but why Cruise was linked earlier to the project, too. The reason Cruise turned the role down? He didn’t like script. That is, before Favreau came in and re-wrote it.

Cruise once explained,

“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.”

Nicolas Cage: Cage has been under the sun but it would seem his failure to play Iron Man wasn’t down to his rejection nor overlapping schedules, his desire was just simply ignored.

Thor – Chris Hemsworth


Who we could have had: Tom Hiddleston, Liam Hemsworth or Rikki Lee Travolta

Tom Hiddleston: Although Hiddleston was originally lined up to play Thor, director Kenneth Branagh felt he was far more suited to a villainous role.

Liam Hemsworth: Liam travelled half way around the globe to audition for the part of Thor…only to lose out to his brother. Ouch!

Rikki Lee Travolta: The rumor train certainly went wild for this one. Not only was this Shakespearean trained actor and martial artist supposedly banked to play Thor, but he was also said to be John Travolta’s nephew. Both claims, obviously (and thankfully), turned out to be .

Why “thankfully?”

Watch this:

Enough said.

Bruce Banner a.k.a The Hulk – Mark Ruffalo


Who we could have had: Tom Cruise, Billy Crudup, Jeff Goldblum, Johnny Depp, Steve Buscemi or David Duchovny

Tom Cruise: Offered the part in Ang Lee’s 2003 blockbuster and turned it down.

Billy Crudup: Also turned down the role of Bruce Banner in Lee’s adaptation and was replaced by the coincidentally named Eric Bana.

Jeff Goldblum: Was apparently tested for the same role yet somehow proved unsuccessful. Criminal, really.

Steve Buscemi: Yup. He also tested for the role but for some “unimaginable” reason, was not cast.

Johnny Depp: Johnny Depp was the first man wanted for Ang Lee’s creation. He turned it down and was replaced with Crudup…you know the rest. What a kerfuffle!

David Duchovny: Pegged for the straight-to-DVD sequel to Lee’s ’03 effort, Duchovny was thiiiis close to signing before the project was pulled completely. Phew!

Lindsay Lohan as someone


According to the Mean Girls actress reveal on her reality TV show, Lindsay, she was somewhere within the Marvel universe. She didn’t, obviously. And the reason why is totally the fault of the manager, obviously.

Would you prefer any of these almost Avengers to the heroes we have?