Comic book movies, which were once sidelined to the domain of campy filmmaking, have morphed into a mainstream pop-culture juggernaut, especially the MCU. The most well-respected actors are now also eager to feature in these movies and play superheroes, whether male or female. Jessica Chastain is one such critically acclaimed actress who has had a previous brush with the MCU. Writer C. Robert Cargill revealed that Jessica Chastain was offered the love interest in Doctor Strange.
“This is the interesting thing that Hollywood’s starting to find out, is that a lot of the actresses out there want to be superheroes as much as the actors do. I know this happened with Scott [Derrickson]. He went to Jessica Chastain to get her on Doctor Strange, because we were considering her.”
But according to C. Robert Cargill, even though the role of Doctor Christine Palmer was hers for the taking, Chastain passed on the opportunity. Not because she was uninterested in being a part of the MCU, but because she wanted to have a more substantial role in it.
“And 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.’ And that was 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.”
The role of Doctor Palmer eventually went to Rachel McAdams. She played Dr. Strange’s medical colleague and love interest who saves his life after a deathly injury. Even though Doctor Palmer becomes a superhero in the comics later on, that is apparently not the trajectory that her character will take in the MCU, since she is not slated to return in the Dcotor Strange sequel.
Chastain, meanwhile, appeared in X Men: Dark Phoenix as the leader of a group of aliens who manipulate Jean Grey after she becomes one with the Phoenix Force. It was not the meatiest of roles, but since it took place in a separate superhero franchise, the door is still open for Chastain to come to the MCU. She is already a fan favorite for the role of Jean Grey, who, along with a new incarnation of the X-Men, are scheduled to join the MCU soon.
Whether or not Chastain becomes a part of the MCU, the franchise is making a conscious effort to be more inclusive, and not have a roster comprising entirely of male superheroes. To that end, the Black Widow standalone movie, the Captain Marvel sequel, and the show WandaVision all feature female heroes in the lead role. There are also rumors of Riri Williams aka Iron Heart joining the MCU, and Shuri possibly taking over the mantle of Black Panther from her brother. This comes from the Stitcher Podcast Junfood Cinema.