Why Jessica Chastain Turned Down The MCU Twice

Oscar-winning actress Jessica Chastain has nearly made her Marvel Cinematic Universe debut twice. The actor was presented with roles in two prominent MCU films: back when the superhero film universe was setting its foundations with the third "Iron Man" movie featuring Robert Downey Jr. in the titular role, and later, in "Doctor Strange" starring Benedict Cumberbatch. Chastain turned down both roles — but not because she didn't want to be a part of the MCU or because she found superhero movies uninteresting. There's a reasonable reason why the "Scenes from a Marriage" star made the decision, and it has something to do with her vision for her big MCU debut, which didn't match the studio's.

Jessica Chastain has always wanted to join the MCU

Marvel Studios first reached out to Jessica Chastain for a role in "Iron Man 3" alongside Robert Downey Jr. The actress was in talks to play Maya Hansen. You might remember her as the geneticist who helped create Tony Stark's Extremis project. Anyway, the actor rejected the role, later explaining (via her Facebook page) that it was because she had a busy work schedule at the time. Ultimately, Hansen was played by Rebecca Hall in the movie.

Chastain's fans were disappointed, and she apologized to them, mentioning her "jammed-packed" schedule and the impossibility of her being able to fit "Iron Man 3" into it:

"Sorry to say that 'Iron Man 3' isn't going to work out. My schedule is jammed packed and I can't fit anything else in. The press announced my possible attachment far too soon. I know many of you wanted me to be involved, and I'm so sorry to disappoint you. Hopefully there'll be another Marvel film in my future. Shane Black and everyone on the 'IM3' team are really wonderful. I'm very excited to see the film when it comes out. Xx"

"Iron Man 3" wasn't the only MCU role she was offered. Several years later, another opportunity came knocking on Chastain's door.

Jessica Chastain was in talks to play Christine Palmer

When Marvel Studios began casting actors for "Doctor Strange," the 2016 film featuring the Master of Mystic Arts, they approached Jessica Chastain to play Doctor Strange's love interest and surgeon Christine Palmer (played by Rachel McAdams). The actress rejected the role once again. Chastain knew she had one chance at joining the MCU, and she wanted to do it on her own terms: as a badass superhero, not an ordinary character or a love interest.

"Doctor Strange" screenwriter C. Robert Cargill revealed on his "Junkfood Cinema" podcast (via The Independent) that Chastain turned down the offer because she had a different dream for her MCU debut. She wanted to make the most of her ballet skills and portray a cape-wearing superhero. Cargill described it as the "coolest rejection ever":

"She's like, 'Hey, look, this project sounds awesome, and I would love to do it. But I'm only going to get one shot at being in a Marvel film and becoming a Marvel character; and I trained in ballet, and I really want to wear a cape.' It's the coolest rejection ever ... She wanted to be in a Marvel movie, but she wanted to be the superhero, not the badass doctor Night Nurse."

She wants to play someone like Black Widow

If you're wondering which superhero Jessica Chastain aims to play in the MCU, the actress conveyed her hopes to play a Black Widow-like character with The Guardian in 2014. The actor isn't interested in being anyone's girlfriend or daughter, and she wants to be a brave superhero who wears both her cape and scars with pride. She told The Guardian:

"I would love to do a superhero movie ... I would have loved to have played Black Widow. A couple of times I've gotten really close. The problem is, if I do a superhero movie, I don't want to be the girlfriend. I don't want to be the daughter. I want to wear a f****** cool costume with a scar on my face, with fight scenes. That's what I'd love."

If there's anything we've learned in the MCU's recent years, it is that the studio is working toward featuring more and more powerful female superheroes to make up for pushing aside their female characters. Female superheroes are fully realized characters and not one-dimensional love interests anymore — and as we all know, Marvel Comics has some fantastic heroes Chastain would be perfect for portraying on the big screen.