Space’s Marvelous Marathon Showcases Some Heroic Casting Decisions

The cinematic success of Marvel is still a relatively new phenomenon. While actors in key roles will eventually be replaced and there will be dozens of films to choose from on any given night, the Marvel filmography is still compact enough that you can get a good overview in just a few days. For proof of this, look no further than Space’s Marvelous Marathon, your chance to check-in with five distinct—if occasionally overlapping—Marvel franchises. In all likelihood, the stars of these films will be linked to these roles for the rest of their lives, but most came close to missing the boat entirely.

Here’s a quick look at the near misses and lucky breaks that made the casting of these iconic roles possible.




When casting Wolverine, director Bryan Singer seriously considered everyone from Jean-Claude Van Damme to Russell Crowe, ultimately handing the role to Scottish actor Dougray Scott. However, in one of the most unlucky breaks in acting history, Scott had to drop out when Mission: Impossible 2 went over schedule. For Hugh Jackman, this turned out to be a star-making twist of fate.


Iron Man


Having already forged a career-spanning connection to Wolverine, Hugh Jackman turned down the chance to play Iron Man’s Tony Stark. Fortunately, this opened the door for the actor who became the defining star of the MCU: Robert Downey Jr.


The Incredible Hulk


In a reverse on most Marvel casting dramas, director Louis Leterrier knew who was meant to play this film’s title character (Mark Ruffalo), only to be overruled by the studio, who forced him to cast Edward Norton. Norton’s Hulk was relatively well received, but due to friction between Marvel and the actor, Ruffalo took over the role just four years later.


Captain America: The Winter Soldier


By the time Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, Chris Evans had already established himself as the ultimate Steve Rogers, but just a few years earlier, this seemed like an extreme longshot. During the casting of Captain America: The First Avenger, Evans turned down the role three times, opening the door for candidates ranging from Channing Tatum to Will Smith. In the end, Robert Downey Jr. came to the rescue, convincing Evans that he was the man for the job.


Guardians of the Galaxy


Director James Gunn didn’t even want to audition Chris Pratt for the role of Peter Quill, but the actor managed to win him over within seconds. In order to get into character (and overcome the physical differences between Quill and the actor), Pratt lost 60 pounds over the next six months.


To see all these actors in action, watch Space’s Marvelous Marathon on January 2 and 3. Here are the complete listings:


Monday, January 2

11 a.m. – The Incredible Hulk

1:20 p.m. – Iron Man

3:55 p.m. – Iron Man 2

6:30 p.m. – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

9:20 p.m. – Guardians of the Galaxy

11:45 p.m. – Iron Man

2:20 a.m. – Iron Man 2

4:55 a.m. – The Incredible Hulk


Tuesday, January 3

7:15 a.m. – Guardians of the Galaxy

9:45 a.m. – X-Men

11:50 a.m. – X2: X-Men United

2:30 p.m. – X-Men: First Class

5:15 p.m. – Captain America: The Winter Soldier

8:05 p.m. – Guardians of the Galaxy

10:30 p.m. – X-Men: First Class

1:15 a.m. – X-Men

3:20 a.m. – X2: X-Men Unite