The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the DC Extended Universe have different approaches and tones when it comes to superhero films, and as a result, they also have different casting styles. While both film franchises feature excellent and award-winning actors, the MCU favors American comedians (Chris Pratt, Paul Rudd) and British rising stars (Tom Hiddleston, Benedict Cumberbatch, Martin Freeman, Tom Holland), and the DCEU seems more open to casting lesser known actors (Ray Fisher, Gal Gadot) alongside its A-listers (Ben Affleck, Amy Adams). Of course, the MCU also favors actors named Chris - notably Evans, Hemsworth, and Pratt, but also Eccleston, O'Dowd, Fairbank, and Sullivan - while the DCEU boasts only two "Chris" cast members: Meloni and Pine.
But what if Marvel characters were cast to fit in with the DCEU? How would casting choices differ to fit with the darker, more dramatic style? In this alternative casting, actors who have not previously appeared in either MCU and DCEU were considered. While these new choices will be compared to their MCU counterparts, the recasting should be seen as an fun alternative to fit the tone of another universe as opposed to an attempt at improvement. Obviously the MCU is a big place, so we've stuck to the more Earth bound heroes and major villains (sorry Guardians!) Here are our picks for Marvel characters, cast in the DCEU:
Iron Man - Timothy Olyphant
While it's next to impossible to imagine anyone but Robert Downey Jr. playing Tony Stark, Timothy Olyphant also auditioned for the role of Iron Man. Like Robert Downey Jr., Olyphant has a natural charisma that would make him a compelling choice to play the genius, billionaire, playboy, philanthropist who decides to fight crime. Olyphant, who currently stars in Netflix's Santa Clarita Diet opposite Drew Barrymore, has previously fought crime as U.S. Marshall Rayland Givens in Justified.
Captain America - John Krasinski
Like Olyphant, John Krasinski auditioned for a major role in the MCU. Krasinski made it through several rounds of auditions before he realized that he was not interested in the role. According to Krasinski, he was in an audition along with Chris Hemsworth, who was dressed as Thor when he realized: "I'm good. This is stupid. I shouldn't. It's okay, I'm not Captain America. It's fine." But since Krasinski is set to appear in Amazon's Jack Ryan television series, he isn't opposed to action films - perhaps if he had been offered Captain America styled on the DCEU, rather than the early days of the MCU, he would have been more interested in the role.
Bruce Banner - Dominic West
Bruce Banner has seen a number of cinematic iterations, including Mark Ruffalo, Eric Bana, and Edward Norton. Ruffalo's version of the character has included more humor than the two previous versions, both of which seemed to hinge on the inevitable transformation into the Hulk. Ruffalo's portrayal also succeeded in focusing on Banner rather than the Hulk, which was made possible by his inclusion in the ensemble film The Avengers rather than a standalone film. More recently, Thor: Ragnarok has taken the opportunity to develop the character of the Hulk beyond a plot device.
West's version of the DCEU Hulk would probably not take the same comedic route as Ruffalo's, with the character's more tragic nature playing a much larger role. West's work on The Wire and currently on The Affair prove that he can take on complex and challenging roles. He could embrace the cerebral and the psychological as the DCEU Bruce Banner.
Thor - Charlize Theron
Like many of the Avengers, Chris Hemsworth's Thor seems difficult to replace. However, if the Jane Foster version of Thor was cast instead, then Charlize Theron would be the perfect choice to play the Goddess of Thunder. Theron's dramatic performances in films like Monster combined with her incredible gritty roles in action films like Mad Max: Fury Road and Atomic Blonde make her the ideal choice for a superhero - even though she surprisingly hasn't appeared in the MCU or DCEU before!
Hawkeye - Mark Wahlberg
Over the course of Mark Wahlberg's extensive career, he has starred in a number of action films, including Planets of the Apes, The Departed, and the Transformers franchise. Wahlberg plays hardened action heroes, and he plays them well. As the DCEU Hawkeye, Wahlberg could be the no-nonsense veteran that anchors the Avengers together - but like his comic book variation, he could also have a dark past as a villain.
Black Widow - Olivia Wilde
Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow has a movie in the early stages of production, but given how the DCEU led with Wonder Woman, the DCEU Black Widow probably would have already had a movie by now. The actress playing Black Widow wouldn't necessarily need Johansson's level of fame - after all, Gal Gadot was a relative unknown before she was cast as Wonder Woman - but the DCEU Black Widow would need an actress with the presence and talent to helm a film. Olivia Wilde is the perfect choice, with a successful career in both television and film, including the action franchise Tron and more recently in the indie drama Meadowland.
Ant-Man - Aaron Eckhart
Instead of jumping straight to Scott Lang, played by Paul Rudd in the MCU, the DCEU would likely opt for the original Ant-Man - Dr. Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, played by Michael Douglas in the Marvel films. The DCEU Ant-Man would be brilliant, but abrasive and aggressive - while his technological prowess would almost certainly save the day, don't expect him to make any new friends. Pym has done some awful things, and the DCEU version of Ant-Man could explore that dark side. Aaron Eckhart could capture that version of the character perfectly.
Not only does Eckhart look the part of Hank Pym, but his conflicted portrayal of Harvey Dent in The Dark Knight illustrates how a great actor can bring a comic book character to life in a realistic and compelling new way.
Wasp - Courteney Cox
Opposite Aaron Eckhart's Hank Pym, Courteney Cox could play Janet van Dyne, the original Wasp. Cox is best known for her work in television, including starring roles in Friends and Cougartown. Eckhart and Cox would be able to offer a different look at Pym and van Dyne's relationship than their MCU counterparts, and their tumultuous relationship could be the center of an interesting new film.
Spider-Man - Timothee Chalamet
The Oscar-nominated breakout star of Call Me By Your Name, Timothee Chalamet actually auditioned for the role of Spider-Man. While the role would eventually go to Tom Holland, Chalamet's quiet intensity and strong cheekbones would perfectly fit a DCEU version of Spider-Man. Of course, if the DCEU Spider-Man was Miles Morales, instead of Peter Parker, they would have plenty of talented actors to choose from.
Black Panther - David Oyelowo
From the crime comedy Gringo to the MLK biopic Selma, David Oyelowo is a chameleon with an incredible range. Oyelowo has also played supporting roles in action films, including Jack Reacher and Rise of the Planet of the Apes, but being the DCEU T'Challa would allow him to step into the spotlight. A few years ago, Oyelowo has said that he is wary of being part of any superhero films, but if he is open to being the next James Bond, perhaps he has changed his tune.
Captain/Ms. Marvel - Priyanka Chopra
Whether playing Captain Marvel/Carol Danvers or Ms. Marvel/Kamala Khan, Priyanka Chopra would make an excellent addition to the MCU. Chopra already voices Ms. Marvel in Marvel Avengers Academy, and she is a fan favorite for Ms. Marvel in an upcoming MCU film, although Disney may opt to cast a teenage actress. But, perhaps the DCEU version of Marvel would lead with Ms. Marvel and Kamala Khan instead of Captain Marvel and Carol Danvers.
Loki - Matt Bomer
While Matt Bomer is usually dreamcast as a number of chiseled superheros, he would also be an incredible choice for Loki, the Asgardian God of mischief. Bomer is perhaps best known for his roles in White Collar and the Magic Mike franchise. Given the opportunity, however, Bomer could play an excellent and chilling villain. It helps, too, that Bomer's piercing eyes and defined cheekbones are a good fit for the high contrast lighting and color of the DCEU universe.
Scarlet Witch - Mila Kunis
Scarlet Witch offers a bridge between the world of X-Men and the MCU, so imagining her DCEU alternative opens up connections between all three film franchises. As a result, it's possible to imagine Scarlet Witch playing a more pivotal role in an alternative version of the Marvel films. If Scarlet Witch were to get her own film, then Mila Kunis would be perfect for the role. Kunis may be better known for her comedic roles, from That 70's Show to the recent The Spy Who Dumped Me, but her physicality and dramatic performance in Black Swan proves her to be a formidable and serious actress.
Killmonger - Omar Sy
Michael B. Jordan's Killmonger is one of the strongest villains in any MCU film, making it difficult to choose someone to replace him. But if anyone could offer an equal performance, it would be French actor Omar Sy. Sy, who has appeared in X-Men: Days of Future Past and Jurassic World, could be the breakout action star of a DCEU Black Panther. Anyone who has seen the French films The Intouchables or Samba knows that it's only a matter of time before Sy becomes a huge star in America.
Thanos - Bryan Cranston
Because Thanos is a CGI character, his voice is the most important element. The actor who plays him should be able to terrify the audience and command sovereignty over the galaxy. Any fan of Breaking Bad will know that Bryan Cranston's Walter White can cut a person down with just a word. Cranston has stated multiple times that he would like to play X-Men villain Mister Sinister, but Thanos would be another option for Cranston to play, as he said, "a big supervillain in some Marvel classic."