'The Avengers' Countdown: Remembering The Avengers That Almost Were

'The Avengers' Countdown: Remembering The Avengers That Almost Were

Jan 23, 2012

John Gholson is a life-long Avengers fanboy who has previously covered all manner of superhero news at AOL. After dabbling with comic book self-publishing in the '90s, John moved on to study sequential art at the Savannah College of Art & Design, and currently produces a regular web comic, ‘Appetite for Destruction,’ for Tapsauce.com. He’ll also buy any comic with Hawkeye on the cover. You can read his AvengersCountdownhere at Movies.com every other Monday.

This Summer could’ve been a lot different. Instead of thrilling to Joss Whedon’s ensemble of Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, and Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers, we came this close to seeing Tom Cruise, Alexander Skarsgard, John Krasinski, and Emily Blunt as the team.

Tom Cruise was interested in Iron Man for so long that it seemed like an inevitability that the star would play Tony Stark. Then Oprah’s couch-jumping happened, then Paramount dissolved their long relationship with his production company, and then nothing seemed inevitable at all anymore concerning the career of Mr. Tom Cruise. Director Jon Favreau moved on, picking Robert Downey Jr. for the part of Iron Man, in a move that revitalized Downey’s career. Coincidentally, Cruise’s career bounced back the same year of Iron Man’s release (2008), with a tiny but memorable part in Tropic Thunder.

All it took was Kenneth Branagh to have lunch with actor Alexander Skarsgard, and, suddenly, the net was buzzing with rumors that Skarsgard was Branagh’s pick for Thor. Branagh took his sweet time before settling on star Chris Hemsworth, so comic fans were anxious to attach a famous name to the godly role. Someone as Nordic as Skarsgard seemed to make a lot of sense. Deadline reported that Marvel was considering actors Charlie Hunnam or Josh Hartnett around the same time that Skarsgard might have been in the running. While Alexander Skarsgard didn’t participate in Thor, his famous father did. Stellan Skarsgard played Professor Erik Stelvig and reprises the role in The Avengers.

Did fan backlash kill John Krasinski’s chance to play Captain America? When news broke that Krasinski was the front-runner for the part, comic geeks got vocal, unable to picture the actor as anything but that guy from The Office. At the time, insider reports were saying that Marvel “are not really looking at other guys” and that Krasinski was a lock, but in less than a month they’d turned around and officially signed Chris Evans as Cap. It was certainly easier to picture square-jawed, blonde-haired, blue-eyed Evans in the role, but fanboys cried out then too -- how could Johnny Storm also be Captain America? Oh, fanboys.

Emily Blunt was cast as Black Widow in Iron Man 2, but was locked in to her schedule for Gulliver’s Travels and the studio (Fox) wouldn’t relent. “It’s a little disappointing is all I can say,” Blunt said of the missed opportunity to kick ass alongside the Avengers. Instead, the role was filled by last-minute replacement Scarlett Johansson.

Whedon may have lucked out with his choices. While any of these rejected actors would have been fine in their individual films, some of the anticipation for The Avengers is based around the hope that the three leads that were chosen will have the playful chemistry we’re expecting from them. On their own, Downey, Hemsworth, and Evans all made for lively, funny superheroes. Together, they might be magic.


Avengers News Assembled!

-- Superhero Hype has new images from the latest issue of Empire, featuring an exclusive Avengers cover for Empire’s subscribers. Nothing ground-breaking is revealed, but we have to say -- Empire’s doing a better job on their superhero covers than Entertainment Weekly.

-- Kevin Feige, head of Marvel Studios, confirmed some of the rumors we’ve been hearing about the Skrull, namely that they aren’t in The Avengers. “It's not Skrulls, I've been clear about that. Beyond that, we want to hide it. The identity of the alien race is not impactful. It exists in the comic books, but we're not setting up the Kree-Skrull war or anything like that.” Feige told Empire. We reported in September that The Avengers might feature the Chitauri, a different race of shape-shifters, but at this point, Marvel still wants to keep it under wraps.

-- WeLoveFine.com (home of some of the all-time coolest Marvel tees) is running an Avengers t-shirt contest where designers can not only see their shirt in the store but also possibly walk away with a cool $2500. All designs have to incorporate Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, and the Hulk in some way, but the official Avengers logo is off limits. Contest ends February 12, 2012.

-- Want to see the Quinjet? Well, here it is! Yep. That’s the Avengers’ Quinjet all right.

-- Newsarama digs deep to bring us a list of the 10 Greatest Avengers Villains of All Time. I take exception to their number seven and number eight picks, as one is someone I associate with being one of the greatest Avengers of all-time, and the other I associate, almost exclusively, with Spider-Man. Am I wrong? Check it out for yourself.

-- Artist Retrovenus Miravis has re-imagined Iron Man as Iron Monster. In his concept, Tony Stark is a brilliant genetic engineer, instead of a brilliant inventor. The results are pretty creepy and very cool.

-- Joss Whedon told Entertainment Weekly that the story in The Avengers will be told through Captain America’s eyes. It makes sense, seeing as how Captain America: The First Avenger left the character on such a cliffhanger ending. We’ll leave you with this awesome picture of Cap (from Superhero Hype), in which you can see his costume in battle-scarred detail. Pretty impressive.

The Avengers, a Joss Whedon film, stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth. There are 101 days until release.


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