To this point, Paul Bettany has had a rather small overall role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Though he has been a part of the massive franchise since its beginning back in 2008, his part has long been limited to delivering exposition as the voice of Iron Man’s digital butler, Jarvis. Of course, that will all be changing in Joss Whedon’s The Avengers: Age of Ultron, as the British star will be taking on the role of the android Vision, but what you may not know is that Bettany actually almost had a live-action role in Jon Favreau’s Iron Man 2.
This cool bit of trivia was revealed to us while we were on the set of The Avengers: Age of Ultron last summer and talking with Marvel Studios producer Jeremy Latcham. Discussing Paul Bettany’s role in this summer’s movie, the filmmaker explained that it was always the studio’s intention to eventually evolve the actor’s role in the company’s comic book movies, but that they didn’t exactly always know how they would go about doing that. Thanks to their eventual collaboration with Joss Whedon, it was eventually determined that he would be transformed into Vision, but before that they were playing around with the idea of giving Bettany a cameo in the first Iron Man sequel. Latcham explained,
We actually had written a part for him in Iron Man 2 back in the day that we took out - like in a flashback - so there's always been this notion that we wanted to play with Paul Bettany, the actor, being more than just the voice of Jarvis… There was a flashback notion that related back to Tony’s past and kind of where the idea of Jarvis came from out of-- out of Tony’s past and his father, and that kind of thing.
Going from these vague hints, it sounds like the idea was that Paul Bettany would make a cameo as a human Jarvis who would actually be the butler of Howard Stark (portrayed by John Slattery in Iron Man 2). Knowing what we do about the 2010 film, we can therefore guess that the idea was to have him appear in the film reel that Tony Stark watches while going through his father’s old research. One can definitely see how this would have worked, but with the way things worked out with Bettany as Vision, it’s probably for the best.
It’s also worth noting that this interview with Jeremy Latcham was back in June of last year, and since then Marvel Studios actually has executed the idea of Howard Stark having a real life butler named Jarvis. I am referring to the limited series Agent Carter, which was set in post-World War II and starred James D’Arcy as the Jarvis to Dominic Cooper’s Howard Stark. Had Bettany cameoed as a human Jarvis in Iron Man 2 (presumably without old age makeup), this would have completely ruined the idea for Agent Carter, so it’s once again potentially for the best that the first idea for Bettany’s live-action appearance didn’t come together.
Do you wish that this cameo had actually been filmed, or are you just happy that things worked out as well as they did? Hit the comments below with your thoughts, and check out The Avengers: Age of Ultron in theaters on May 1st.