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Marvel came knocking, and these actors passed on huge comic book super-hero movie roles.
Several celebrities have missed out on significant comic book movie roles for various reasons. Some of these decisions were due to scheduling conflicts, creative differences, or simply underestimating the potential success of the projects. Here are a few instances:
Tom Cruise as Iron Man
Before Robert Downey Jr. was cast as Tony Stark/Iron Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Tom Cruise was reportedly considered for the role. However, Cruise declined the offer, and Downey Jr. went on to become synonymous with the character.
Will Smith as Neo in "The Matrix"
Will Smith was approached to play the role of Neo in the iconic "Matrix" franchise but turned it down in favor of "Wild Wild West." Keanu Reeves ultimately landed the role and became a central figure in the sci-fi series.
Emily Blunt as Black Widow
Emily Blunt was initially considered for the role of Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts with another film. Scarlett Johansson ultimately took on the role and became one of the franchise's key characters.
Jude Law as Superman
Jude Law was considered for the role of Superman in the early 2000s, but he declined the offer. The role eventually went to Henry Cavill in "Man of Steel."
Josh Hartnett as Batman in "Batman Begins"
Josh Hartnett was offered the role of Bruce Wayne/Batman in Christopher Nolan's "Batman Begins" but turned it down. Christian Bale went on to portray the Dark Knight in the critically acclaimed trilogy.
Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Strange
Joaquin Phoenix was in talks to play Doctor Stephen Strange in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before ultimately passing on the role. Benedict Cumberbatch was cast as Doctor Strange instead.
Leonardo DiCaprio as Spider-Man
Leonardo DiCaprio was considered for the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" franchise but decided not to take the role. Tobey Maguire ended up portraying the iconic web-slinger.
Emily Blunt and John Krasinski as Sue Storm and Reed Richards in "Fantastic Four" (2015)
Real-life couple Emily Blunt and John Krasinski were both rumored to be in contention for the roles of Sue Storm/Invisible Woman and Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic in the 2015 "Fantastic Four" reboot but did not end up in the film.
Nicolas Cage as Superman
Nicolas Cage was set to play Superman in Tim Burton's canceled project titled "Superman Lives" in the late 1990s. The film was ultimately shelved, and Cage never got the chance to don the iconic red and blue suit.
Sean Connery as Gandalf
Sean Connery turned down the role of Gandalf in "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy, citing a lack of understanding of the script. Sir Ian McKellen took on the role and received critical acclaim.
Emily Blunt as Peggy Carter
Emily Blunt was considered for the role of Peggy Carter in the Marvel Cinematic Universe but couldn't take it due to scheduling conflicts. Hayley Atwell was cast as Peggy Carter instead and became a beloved character in the MCU.
Heath Ledger as Batman
Before being cast as the Joker in Christopher Nolan's "The Dark Knight," Heath Ledger was initially considered for the role of Batman. He opted for the villainous role instead, which earned him posthumous acclaim.
Russell Crowe as Wolverine
Russell Crowe was the first choice for the role of Wolverine in the X-Men film series, but he turned it down, and the role went to Hugh Jackman, who became synonymous with the character.
Emily Browning as Bella Swan in "Twilight"
Emily Browning was initially considered for the role of Bella Swan in the "Twilight" film series but declined the offer. Kristen Stewart was eventually cast as Bella.
Sean Young as Catwoman
Sean Young was set to play Catwoman/Selina Kyle in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" but had to drop out due to an injury. Michelle Pfeiffer took on the role and delivered a memorable performance.
Viggo Mortensen as Wolverine
Before Hugh Jackman was cast as Wolverine, Viggo Mortensen was considered for the role but turned it down. Jackman's portrayal of the character became iconic.
Bob Hoskins as Wolverine
Bob Hoskins, known for his role as Mario in the "Super Mario Bros." movie, was considered for Wolverine in the early stages of development for the X-Men film, but he didn't pursue the role.