Captain America: Why Casting Steve Rogers Wasn’t So Easy for Marvel

It's hard to imagine anyone but Chris Evans as the MCU's Steve Rogers, but Sebastian Stan was initially a frontrunner for the Captain America role.

Chris Evans as Steve Rogers and Sebastian Stan as Bucky in Captain America
Photo: Marvel Studios

It’s hard to underplay just how instrumental Marvel casting director Sarah Halley Finn has been in crafting the MCU and, for the most part, it’s hard to imagine actors other than the ones who have been cast in the MCU bringing these superheroes to life. This is perhaps especially true for the earliest actors to be cast in the fictional universe; at this point, Robert Downey Jr. has been Tony Stark for more than a decade—even if he isn’t actively playing the character anymore, he will always be Tony. The same is true for Chris Evans, who will always be Steve Rogers in our hearts. As many diehard MCU fans know, however, Evans initially turned down the offer to take on the role of Captain America. The Story of Marvel Studios: The Making of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a new book that details the making of the MCU, gives more detail on how Marvel convinced the actor to step into the iconic role.

It was producer Joel Silver who had his eye on Evans for the role. Kevin Feige and Stephen Broussard wanted to cast Sebastian Stan in the part, but Silver, who’d worked with Evans on Losers, made his pitch. In the meantime, he had already called Evans to tell him to go out for the role, as had Downey Jr. Still, Evans hesitated.

“It’s a big commitment to do these Marvel movies,” Evans recounts in the book (via CBR). “Initially, the offer was nine pictures, then it went to six. But six movies can last a really long time. My concern was the fact that this will be a life-changing experience and the following commitment would be more than I could handle. But that did not turn out to be the case. It was the best decision I ever made.”

Finn has previously spoken about casting Captain America, telling Rotten Tomatoes in 2019: “After Chris Evans turned us down, I think it was the creatives who made that happen. It’s Kevin Feige, it’s Joe [Johnston]. It was really about helping him understand that there is an exciting character to play. It was not just an idea. He might have had a thought of what this means in the comic book universe but not what ideas it was about. But I know he also considered what this represented for his life and all those kinds of considerations — you’re aware of that and what he was weighing at the time. But it was really the creative engagement detailing about how he was the perfect person to bring this character to life, how no one else could play Steve Rogers except him and why, and what qualities he had that were perfect for it. And then they got creatively engaged to the point where it’s harder to say no.”

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Of course, with Evans in, that means Stan was out—at least for the role of Steve Rogers. As we now know, Stan would go onto to play Bucky Barnes instead, Steve’s best friend and the eventual Winter Soldier. In convincing Stan to consider the role, Feige explained Bucky’s comic book history to the actor, including the Winter Soldier arc. At this point, Stan had already screen-tested for the role of Captain America.

“I was completely taken with [Bucky Barnes],” says Stan in the book (via CBR), even if it meant losing out on the Captain America part. “I definitely want to be clear about this,” continues Stan, “I am extremely grateful I got this role and not the Captain America role. I looked at it like it was meant to be.”

Can you imagine Sebastian Stan as Steve Rogers/Captain America? Let us know in the comments below!