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Although he’d been acting in Australia for years beforehand, many American moviegoers first became aware of Chris Hemsworth when he debuted as Thor in 2011, and needless to say his time as the God of Thunder has propelled him to worldwide stardom. However, before he was tapped to join the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Hemsworth nearly scored the role of Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
In 2009, Chris Hemsworth made his American film debut with Star Trek, where he played George Kirk, James T. Kirk’s father who sacrificed his life to ensure the survival of his newborn son, his wife and everyone else who made if off the U.S.S. Kelvin. But 2009 could have been a much bigger year for him, as in addition to being up for Gambit, Hemsworth was also being looked at to play the lead role in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.
Alas, neither project worked out for Chris Hemsworth, but a decade later, the actor acknowledges that had he scored either role, he wouldn’t have been able to play the character that’s made him a movie star. As Hemsworth told Variety:
I got very close to Gambit in the Wolverine ‘X-Men’ movies. At the time I was upset. I was running out of money. But if I played either of those characters, I wouldn’t have been able to play Thor.
Friday Night Lights’ Taylor Kitsch ended up playing Gambit in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, while Channing Tatum was tapped to play Duke in G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra. Ironically, Tatum tried for years to succeed Kitsch as Gambit in a standalone X-Men spinoff, but after going through numerous directors and being continually delayed, Disney, which now has 21st Century Fox under its roof, officially shelved Gambit earlier this month.
It also doesn’t hurt that both X-Men Origins: Wolverine and G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra were met with mostly critical negative reception, so if Chris Hemsworth had appeared in either movie, there’s a chance that might have hurt his early movie career. As far as Gambit is concerned, Taylor Kitsch signed a three-picture deal to play the character, but because X-Men Origins: Wolverine wasn’t well received, he never returned to the character, and now the Ragin’ Cajun won’t star in his own movie either.
Now that the X-Men property is resting at home with Marvel Studios, it’s only a matter of time before the franchise is rebooted to fit within the Marvel Cinematic Universe continuity. Perhaps Gambit will get a chance to shine then through an ensemble movie, but until then, the character remains an exile from the realm of comic book movies.
SPOILERS for Avengers: Endgame are ahead!
As for Chris Hemsworth, he made his eighth appearance as Thor last month in Avengers: Endgame, and unlike what happened with Iron Man and Captain America, his story was left open-ended when everything was over. Thor’s time in Endgame concluded with him accompanying the Guardians of the Galaxy when they departed Earth, but it remains to be seen if he’ll be a part of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, if his return will be saved for a different movie (like Thor 4) or if Endgame did indeed mark Hemsworth’s last time playing the God of Thunder.
You can still see Chris Hemsworth playing Thor in Avengers: Endgame in theaters, and the actor will be back on the big screen on June 14 for Men In Black International.