Actor Morena Baccarin has opened up about how she did not get a key role in 2012’s The Avengers. In a recent interview with the Happy Sad Confused podcast, she told host Josh Horowitz that she had auditioned for the role of SHIELD Agent Maria Hill. She actually had ended up on the shortlist of actors up for the role, along with Scott Pilgrim vs. The World’s Mary Elizabeth Winstead, Gotham’s Jessica Lucas, and How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders.
It would have seemed like Morena Baccarin had an edge on the competition, given that Joss Whedon was directing the epic first Avengers team-up movie and she had already worked with him. Baccarin starred on Whedon’s cult space western TV show Firefly as the interstellar courtesan Inara Serra and then reprised the role in the follow-up movie Serenity. However, as Baccarin puts it, she simply could not get a handle on the role.
A relatively new character in Marvel Comics continuity, SHIELD’s Maria Hill first appeared in The New Avengers in 2005. The Avengers was the first film appearance of the character, who acts as Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury’s aide-de-camp. In all her appearances in the MCU films so far, she is steely, largely emotionless, and utterly dedicated to her job. And as Morena Baccarin puts it, she just could not nail that. The directing style of Joss Whedon has come under much fire in recent years, but according to Baccarin, she herself just could not get a sense of the character as in the screenplay.
Apparently, Whedon told Morena Baccarin that she needed to be like Sigourney Weaver’s character Ellen Ripley from the Alien movies; while that is a pretty apt precedent for Maria Hill’s character, it probably is not the easiest thing to try to compare yourself to one of the most iconic characters in science fiction cinematic history. Baccarin said, “I didn’t get it at all, I didn’t get it at all…I was like ‘I don’t understand.’ “As it is, the role eventually went to Cobie Smulders, who has now played Maria Hill in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015), Avengers: Infinity War (2018), and Avengers: Endgame (2019).
To her credit, Morena Baccarin throws no shade at either Cobie Smulders or Joss Whedon (though she’s pretty alone in the latter). She says that Smulders simply had the character’s intense emotionality and repression locked in. While it probably stings a bit to not play a key character in one of the single biggest movie franchises of all time, Smulders does nail it. She is set to reprise the character of Maria Hill in the upcoming Disney+ show Secret Invasion. Samuel L. Jackson is also going to play his character of Nick Fury once again, and has recently been showing off a number of different looks that may or may not indicate some shape-shifting Skrull action. Hint: it definitely does.
Morena Baccarin also does not have much to worry about, since she eventually did get a part in one of the other enormous superhero movie franchises, as Vanessa in Deadpool. While it has been rumored that Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool might be showing up in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, it is anyone’s guess if that would include Vanessa. Of course, Reynolds has also been dropping word that he’s going to have some news about Deadpool 3 soon, so one way or the other, we will be seeing more of Baccarin soon.