Bringing a famous and well-loved character to life on the big screen is a challenge for any actor. With superhero movies dominating the box office more than ever, the choices being made by studios are being more scrutinized by audiences than ever before. With many A-list actors coming to embody comic book superheroes, issues of recasting and altering characters are on the minds of the people who support the latest big screen adventures of Marvel, DC, and more. These studios often have the pick of the litter when it comes to chosen the next incarnation of a hero on the silver screen, but they are still limited by who fits the look and age at the moment.
But what if you could choose a dream team of actors from across the decades to bring these iconic characters to life? Who would be the ideal choice for a hero that has been loved for decades? Given access to any actor or actress at any age, would there be an even better choice for a character than who suits the role right now?
In this entry, and future entries to follow, I choose new people to play a famous cast of characters based on their acting skills, career, looks, and attitude. Some may be long gone, others may be too old now, but at a point in time, they would have made stellar choices. Here, I choose a new cast for The Avengers!
One rule for this casting, any actor who has already played the character cannot be chosen. However, actors who have played a related character can be picked for a different character on the list. So Robert Downey, Jr. is out for Iron Man, but he’s available for anyone else.
Let the casting begin!
Clark Gable as Iron Man
Iron Man is a lovable rogue that you can’t help but love, despite his many shortcomings and his frequent flawed actions. It’s a balance that few actors could ever pull off on the big screen. Of course, Robert Downey, Jr. is perfect for the role, but Clark Gable in his prime could have pulled it off just as wonderfully. Gable was charming and gruff in equal measure, being incredibly adept at being a strong leading man who was also a gifted comedian, which was especially remarkable in the Golden Age of Hollywood. It’s a blend that fits the whip-smart Iron Man while keeping audiences hooked even through his major mistakes. Also, he’s a dead ringer for many comic book interpretations of the character.
Robert Redford as Captain America
There’s a staunch integrity at the core of Captain America that needs to come off as still relatable and aspirational thanks to the charm and inherent goodness of the character. Robert Redford excelled at playing these types of characters. Of course, he’s the kind of actor that can pull off any role given to him really. Think of a young Redford around the time of Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid. Handsome, charming, all-American, and physical commanding on screen – he would bring the layers the character should always have, even when fighting supervillains around the globe. Want more proof? Redford’s political thriller Three Days of the Condor was a major inspiration for Captain America: The Winter Soldier and was part of the reason he was given the role of Alexander Pierce.
Russell Crowe as Thor
Thor is The God of Thunder. That means a lot of things to wrap up in one big screen version of the character. He’s a noble Norse god, a daring superhero, a lover, and one of the most powerful characters in comic books. He needs to be immediately imposing on the big screen, the kind of hero that you just can’t wait to see bust heads. But he also has to be interesting, nuanced, and dynamic, or else he’s just a big dumb brute. Of course, the immediate parallel between the character of Thor and Crowe’s big screen career is his role as Maximus in Gladiator. It’s a character that pulls off some of cinema’s best fight scenes ever made, while having major depth. Put Mjolnir in his hand and give him long blonde hair like Master and Commander, and a younger Russell Crowe would crush.
Jeff Goldblum as Bruce Banner/The Hulk
Bruce Banner is an unhinged genius with some serious rage issues. While his many faults and mistakes may make him hard to like at times, the right actor can get those difficulties across in a likeable and charismatic way. Jeff Goldblum is known and loved for his many eccentric roles, both as the star and a supporting cast member in countless movies. His quirks and funny ticks could make Banner himself just as interesting as The Green Goliath he transforms into when angry. As for the other side of Banner, Goldblum has plenty of experience playing a scientist that changes into a monster, with his work in The Fly being one of the great sci-fi roles. He’d do wonders on both sides with today’s technology.
Jensen Ackles as Hawkeye
No offense, Jeremy Renner, but there’s someone who’s actually the perfect epitome of Hawkeye. For anyone who has read Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Jensen Ackles is the living embodiment of the archer, with his work as Dean in Supernatural having obvious parallels to the Marvel character. Clint Barton is a screw-up who stills lives the type of life that makes fans envious on a James Bond level. He travels the world, beats the bad guys, and gets the girl. He just can’t keep his personal life together because he’s kind of an idiot. He’s also funny as hell. That’s a perfect role for Ackles, who would be able to steal scenes from the bigger and more popular characters until he’s given the solo movie he deserves.
Gregory Peck as Ant-Man
Ant-Man, specifically Hank Pym, is meant to exude intelligence and invention, but in a different manner than the cocky Tony Stark. Pym is a character that has suffered from dissociative identity disorder, accidentally created one of the most dangerous supervillains in the Marvel Universe – Ultron, and even hit his wife – Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp. Yet he’s also one of the world’s greatest minds and a man committed to helping the world. Peck played characters who could inspire thanks to their moral compass, like Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, which would be essential to the character. There’s also a charm, humanity, and intelligence that was integral to many of his characters. Shrinking down to microscopic size or not, he’d make a great Pym.
Grace Kelly as The Wasp
Janet Van Dyne, aka The Wasp, has always been one of Marvel’s most glamorous heroines. She’s just as well known for her ever-changing style as she is for being able to shrink down, fly, beat up far larger foes. Grace Kelly was one of Hollywood’s most elegant actresses, bringing style and charm to every role she inhabited. But she was also fiery and energetic, like her role as Lisa in Rear Window, where she yearned for excitement and new experiences to the point of confronting a killer in his apartment. There’s something old school and fiery about Wasp that has stuck with the character since her debut in the ‘60s. Kelly’s style would work just as well today as it would back then.
Djimon Hounsou as Black Panther
Black Panther has always been one of the leading minority heroes in the Marvel Universe. As ruler of the fictional country of Wakanda, he’s a noble leader who also crusades as a superhero. The great thing about Black Panther (real name T’Challa) is that he’s basically the Marvel equivalent of Batman thanks to his lack of powers, use of technology, and lack of superpowers, except he also runs an entire African nation. Being born in the African country of Benin, Hounsou would bring something authentic to the role of an African superhero. As for heroics, he has a physicality shown in Gladiator and Blood Diamond. His acting chops are obvious from these films, as well as Amistad. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s now 50 and was cast in Guardians of the Galaxy, he would have been a sublime pick for Black Panther.
Emily Blunt as Captain Marvel
What you need when casting a great Captain Marvel is a woman who is kickass, magnetic, and able to break stereotypes without giving up the feminine qualities that make Carol Danvers a strong female protagonist. Emily Blunt has made a consistent career out of strong female characters that don’t play into the stereotypes of either the damsel in distress or the tough chick that is female in appearance only. Her strong heroines are complicated and magnetic, standing toe to toe with her male costars. Just look at her as Rita Vrataski in Edge of Tomorrow – she’s a kickass heroine that makes you feel for her while still being in awe of how cool she is throughout it. Now think of what she can do decked out in red, blue, and yellow while wielding cosmic powers!
Michael B. Jordan as Falcon
The Falcon is one of those heroes that has always been taken as a counterpart to Captain America. While he’s far from a sidekick, he’s been transitioning from partner to leading hero in recent years, with his taking of the mantle of Captain America in 2014 being a major development for the character and Marvel Comics in general. With so many changes happening to the character, a rising African American star today is right for the character. No mistake, Anthony Mackie is fantastic for The Falcon, but since the rules here call for recasting, Michael B. Jordan would be a great fit, as well.
Linda Hamilton as Black Widow
If there’s a number one contender for all-time badass actress, it’s Linda Hamilton. Her role as Sarah Connor, especially in Terminator 2, is easily one of the best lead female characters in any movie. Any actress who plays Black Widow should give the impression that she can stand up to any villain that comes her way and have the capabilities needed to fight alongside her fellow Avengers. Hamilton knows how to handle a machinegun and is especially intimidating in Terminator 2. Her at this stage would easily fit the role, giving her a pathos and intelligence that is just as vital to the former assassin as her ability to fight like hell.
Jeremy Irons as Vision
The Vision is one of the many Marvel heroes that started off far more morally ambiguous before embracing his heroic nature in order to save the world. He’s the kind of hero that should keep you guessing about his true loyalties before coming down firmly on the side of the angels. Plus, he’s an android, which mixes in all manner of notions concerning the presence of a soul inside a robot and whether programming or desire will win out in the end. Jeremy Irons has that kind of menace that’s balanced out with charm and wit so that even when he’s playing bad guys, he can win you over to a degree. Mix that with moral ambiguity and he could give The Vision a dynamic nature. Plus, even covered in makeup or turned into a CGI character, his voice would shine through. This is the guy who voiced Scar in The Lion King, after all.