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The Iconic MCU Role Emily Blunt Regrets Turning Down

Casting "what-ifs" are a dime a dozen in Hollywood. Plenty of iconic film characters have nearly been played by different actors, some of whom you likely think could have either brought the roles to life in more interesting ways or would have been totally wrong for the parts in question. Either way, there are countless stories of well-known actors turning down significant roles in order to take on other characters, like when Tom Hanks turned down the chance to play Andy Dufresne in "The Shawshank Redemption" so that he could play Forrest Gump (via Vanity Fair).

Similarly, Tom Selleck once recounted in an interview with Yahoo Entertainment's BUILD Series how he turned down Indiana Jones to star in Magnum "P.I." Meanwhile, one of the more famous of these incidents involved Will Smith turning down the role of Neo in "The Matrix" (via Wired). 

For her part, Emily Blunt once turned down the chance to play a truly iconic role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Emily Blunt was offered a major MCU role

In 2010, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was in its relative infancy. "Iron Man 2" wasn't a guaranteed success coming off of just "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk," the latter of which received a largely lukewarm critical response upon its release (via Rotten Tomatoes). "Iron Man 2" did have "Iron Man" director Jon Favreau back at the helm of it, and Robert Downey Jr. was also returning to reprise his role as Tony Stark, so it definitely had a strong chance of being a success. That said, there were three major hurdles that the film had to overcome. 

For starters, "Iron Man 2" had to, like most sequels, improve and build upon the success of its predecessor. Salary conflicts with original "Iron Man" star Terrence Howard (via "Watch What Happens Live!") also meant Marvel had to introduce viewers to Don Cheadle as James "Rhodey" Rhoades for the first time in the sequel. Additionally, the "Iron Man 2" creative team also had to cast one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Natasha Romanoff AKA Black Widow

Marvel ultimately cast Scarlett Johansson in the role and she went on to play the character for over a decade, but fans may be surprised to learn that the studio initially offered the part to none other than Emily Blunt.

One movie kept Emily Blunt from playing Black Widow

While some of Hollywood's most famous casting close calls can be attributed to actors simply making bad decisions, that's not the reason why Emily Blunt didn't play Natasha Romanoff in the MCU.

During an interview on "The Howard Stern Show," Blunt was asked about why she ultimately had to turn down the role of Black Widow. "I was contracted to do 'Gulliver's Travels.' I didn't want to do 'Gulliver's Travels,'" Blunt revealed. "It was a bit of a heartbreaker for me because I take such pride in the decisions that I make, and they mean so much to me, the films that I do." 

To be fair to Blunt, a family-friendly movie like "Gulliver's Travels" is usually a pretty safe bet for an actor, and there was no way she could have known that playing a supporting character in "Iron Man 2" would go on to reap such huge rewards for whoever portrayed Natasha Romanoff in it. Of course, Marvel fans know how that all turned out in the end.

As a result, it's easy to see why Blunt might still feel some regret about having to do "Gulliver's Travels" instead of "Iron Man 2." After all, she turned down what would eventually be a career-defining role for Scarlett Johansson to star in a Jack Black-led critical flop (via Rotten Tomatoes).