For the past year or so, Marvel Studios has gotten really ambitious with its casting. The studio that was once vehemently opposed to hiring Robert Downey Jr. to play Iron Man and turned to decidedly lower key actors like Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans to fill the roles of some of its cornerstone heroes now has the clout to go after really big names, and they’re getting them. Seven years ago, if you told me Robert Redford, Mark Ruffalo, James Spader, Michael Douglas, and Ben Kingsley would be members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe ensemble, I’d have told you you were crazy. And yet here we are, and Marvel’s showing no signs of slowing down.
Even though it eventually didn’t work out, perhaps the big turning point was when the studio entered negotiations with Joaquin Phoenix to lead its Doctor Strange movie. That signaled that not only was Marvel aiming very high in casting from here on out, but esteemed actors of Phoenix’s caliber were entertaining the idea very seriously. Strange didn’t get Phoenix, but it does have Tilda Swinton, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Rachel McAdams, and Benedict Cumberbatch—that’s a formidable cast any way you slice it.
And so it comes as little surprise that Marvel Studios is again aiming high in finding its villain for the sequel Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, although like Phoenix, this is another exciting casting that wasn’t meant to be. Per Variety, Oscar winner Matthew McConaughey was offered the villain role in writer/director James Gunn’s follow-up, but the actor ultimately passed. The search for the part remains ongoing, however, and a decision will likely be made in the coming weeks as we move closer to the film’s February 2016 production start-date.
It’s unclear what character McConaughey was being sought for—the film just added newcomer Pom Klementieff in a key mystery role—but one has to wonder if it’s a character that was already heavily referenced in the first Guardians. Gunn has said that the sequel will answer the question of who Peter Quill’s father is, and it’s impossible to look at an actor like McConaughey and not instantly envision that swagger connecting with Chris Pratt’s portrayal of Quinn. Could the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 villain be Star-Lord’s dad? We have no idea, but the potential casting of McConaughey certainly raises that question.
It’s unclear why McConaughey passed, but the guy can do pretty much whatever he wants right now so it’s hard to blame him. He most recently wrapped Gary Ross’ (The Hunger Games) Civil War drama Free State of Jones and is currently filming Syriana director Stephen Gaghan’s long-awaited follow-up Gold, so it appears he’s keen on tackling difficult adult dramas for the time-being.
Expect more casting announcements for Guardians 2 soon. The film also stars Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Karen Gillan, Benicio Del Toro, and the voices of Bradley Cooper and Vin Diesel. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens in theaters on May 5, 2017.