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Alternate universe Endgame poster is certainly a sight to see

We all know that there were 14,000,605 universes in which the Avengers took on an Infinity Stone-powered Thanos, and that they lost in all but one of those. Apparently, in at least one of those universes, the team looked ... a bit different.

Graphic artist Apexform recently posted an image on Twitter that will blow your mind if you, like most true believers, are familiar with the history of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It's a poster for Avengers: Endgame in which all of the heroes are portrayed by stars who almost landed the roles but didn't, and it's pretty crazy to see what could have been illustrated so plainly. 

Here we have Tom Cruise as Tony Stark/Iron Man, John Krasinski as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Emily Blunt as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Daniel Craig as Thor, Joaquin Phoenix as Doctor Stephen Strange, Zachary Levi as Peter Quill/Star-Lord, Michael B. Jordan as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Amanda Seyfried as Gamora, and Timothée Chalamet as Peter Parker/Spider-Man. We have no way of knowing if that's Terrence Howard under War Machine's helmet, or if that's a different raccoon portraying Rocket.

Some actors came closer to living this reality than others

At this point, it's tough to imagine any of these roles being cast any other way. It's definitely worth noting, though, that while all of the actors depicted on the poster were under consideration for their respective would-be roles at certain points, some were a lot closer to actually being cast than others.

For example, take the biggest mind-screw of the bunch, Tom Cruise. It's widely known that, before the MCU was even a twinkle in Kevin Feige's eye, Marvel was kicking around the idea of making an Iron Man movie with Cruise as the star. To hear Cruise, himself, tell it, though, it didn't come as close to happening as the ensuing Internet legend around the casting has led us to believe. Speaking with ComicBook.com in 2018, Cruise was asked just how close he came to playing ol' Shellhead. "Not close," he said. "Not close, and I love Robert Downey Jr. I can't imagine anyone else in that role, and I think it's perfect for him."

Blunt, on the other hand, was all lined up to portray Black Widow in Iron Man 2 when 20th Century Fox, with whom she had an outstanding contract, triggered a provision that compelled her to star in the little-remembered Jack Black vehicle Gulliver's Travels, instead. Scarlett Johansson was actually the producers' second choice for the role, although we must say that ended up working out pretty well.

A few other actors almost joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe

The stars seen on this alternate-universe version of the Avengers: Endgame poster aren't the only ones who came close to joining the MCU.

According to Sam Rockwell, Iron Man director Jon Favreau once asked him to test for the role of Tony Stark: "At one point, Jon had called me about possibility screen-testing for the part of Tony Stark in Iron Man. And whatever happened, I think I was out of the running. Robert [Downey Jr.] just killed it, you know, and I never heard anything after that. So in a way, I think Jon was basically saying, 'This is your chance to be Tony Stark. This will be your version of Tony Stark.' We gave him the glasses and kind of sleazed him up a little. But that's exactly right. It was a chance to do Tony Stark" (via The A.V. Club). 

Santa Clarita Diet and Deadwood star Timothy Olyphant also auditioned to play Iron Man, apparently on the exact same day that Downey Jr. did. Controversial comedian Dane Cook auditioned for Captain America, but ended up getting in "so much trouble" because he announced on social media that he had tested for the part, upsetting the casting directors, who wanted to keep the process extremely private.

While everyone knows Chris Hemsworth as the God of Thunder, his little brother, Liam, was a top pick to play Thor. Both Hemsworths auditioned for Thor director Kenneth Branagh, but only Liam got a callback. But when the chatter about Liam possibly portraying Thor died down and he was no longer being mentioned as one of the top five guys in consideration for the gig, Chris' manager called the Thor creative team and put Chris' name in the ring again. From there, things moved quickly, and the rest is comic book movie history.

The alternate Avengers would have snapped a lot of movies out of existence

Almost more intriguing than the idea of a whole alternate squad of Avengers is the thought of how many amazing movies we might not have seen if all of these casting choices had come to pass. Marvel famously requires its actors to sign hefty contracts necessitating appearances in a ton of pictures, and if the folks featured on this poster had actually been cast in these roles, they may have simply been too busy to do what they ended up doing, instead.

Take Krasinski and Blunt, for example. The pair starred in (and Krasinski directed) A Quiet Place in 2018, an excellent fright flick that announced the former Office star as a pretty good director of horror. Considering the frequency with which Cap and Widow appeared throughout the Infinity Saga, it's all but certain that their involvement in the MCU would have taken precedence over Krasinski's directorial aspirations.

What about Phoenix? He was in talks to play Strange for several months back in 2014, and fans were all about it. Had he taken the role, however, it probably would have precluded his involvement in any DC movies, and Joker — which was written for him, and which won him his first Academy Award — never would have happened. 

In addition, Levi likely wouldn't have appeared in Shazam! if he had been a Guardian of the Galaxy, Craig might have had to step away from playing James Bond ... and Jordan wouldn't have played Killmonger, one of the MCU's greatest villains, in Black Panther. It would have been a very strange universe, indeed, and while it's easy to argue that some of these castings would have worked smashingly, it also can't be denied that the actors who did end up being cast have totally owned their roles, and are a huge part of the reason for the MCU's popularity.