Alternate Marvel casting stories are some of our favorite. Tom Cruise almost took the role of Tony Stark before it went to Robert Downey Jr., and John Krasinski lobbied hard for the Captain America part that went to Chris Evans. What might have been, right? This one’s new – or, new to me at least. Matthew McConaughey has been making the press rounds lately to promote his autobiography “Greelights,” and on a podcast, admitted that he went after the role of the Incredible Hulk for Marvel, but was denied.
Matthew McConaughey was having a casual and informative conversation with Josh Horowitz on the Happy Sad Confused podcast. Their talk drifted over to the Hulk television show from the 1970s, of which McConaughey was a huge fan. (As was everyone who grew up in that era.) Unexpectedly, McConaughey made it known that he asked Marvel if he could play Bruce Banner and his angry alter ego. It went like this:
You can’t get them all, though Matthew McConaughey does tend to get his fair share of great ones. The funny thing is that McConaughey’s name has been attached to other Marvel roles, though we don’t know with any certainty whether they were speculation, or whether the Oscar winner was in the mix for these parts. The one we heard most often was for Adam Warlock, a character who was hinted at in the mid-credits of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Josh Horowitz’s conversation with Matthew McConaughey doesn’t touch on when the potential conversation between Marvel Studios and the actor might have happened. If we had to guess (because guessing is all that we have on stuff like this), it might have happened after Ed Norton left the role following The Incredible Hulk, the second movie in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Norton allegedly left because the MCU isn’t as collaborative of a situation as he is used to (though really, what is?) In time, he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, who first played Bruce Banner in The Avengers.
Could that have been Matthew McConaughey in The Avengers? Sounds like it, though Marvel Studios wasn’t interested. And with all due respect to the brilliant McConaughey, I think Marvel made the right call. The actor’s vibe isn’t made for Banner, a science geek whose perpetually agitated state threatens to unleash a beast. Could you believe Matthew McConaughey if he were to tell Captain America, “I’m always angry!”
Both parties turned out fine. McConaughey won an Oscar, and Marvel makes more money than God. But it is fun to hear about things that might have been, and why they didn’t come to pass.
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Sean created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.