The Marvel Cinematic Universe has never had any problems hoovering up the best and brightest of Hollywood to fill out its franchise, from two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. onward. And yet, at the same time, there have been a few notable major names who have nonetheless failed to make their way into the MCU, despite the studio’s best efforts. And at the top of the list is Daniel Craig.

Yes, the man who’s already got both James Bond and Benoit Blanc under his belt came extremely close to playing an Avenger too in the MCU’s early days. And then, a decade later, he almost got a second chance to enter the fray via a multiversal cameo. Unfortunately, that didn’t come off either, but due to a certain canon-expanding Easter egg in Loki season 2, Craig’s time may finally have come.

Daniel Craig narrowly missed out on appearing in the MCU twiceover

thor avengers endgame
Image via Marvel Studios

One of the most fascinating “what if?” castings in Marvel Studios history has to be the initial top pick to play Thor. Before Marvel realized Chris Hemsworth was the best person to bring the God of Thunder to life, Daniel Craig was offered the part, but ultimately elected to pass on it due to scheduling concerns with his time-consuming role as 007. It’s fair to say that one worked out for the best, but Craig’s second Marvel near-miss could’ve been something to behold.

If you watched Doctor Strange 2‘s Illuminati scene and wondered if it had been cobbled together late-in-the-day, then just know that you were onto something. Multiple reports and rumors indicate Craig was originally involved in Stephen Strange’s trip to Earth-838 somehow. Some claim he might’ve been the first choice to play John Krasinski’s Mr. Fantastic, but generally it’s agreed he was hired to portray Balder the Brave, Thor and Loki’s brother in Norse mythology and Marvel Comics.

Balder — who would allegedly have been talked into killing himself by Scarlet Witch — was ultimately removed from Multiverse of Madness during reshoots, but a new window for Craig has been opened elsewhere in the MCU.

His perfect Marvel character is confirmed to be MCU canon in Loki season 2

In Loki season 2, episode 3, Loki and Mobius visit the Chicago World Fair in 1893 where the God of Mischief is put out to see statues of Odin, Thor, and even Balder, but not of him. Loki snips that “no one’s even heard of Balder,” which has to be a meta-joke at the fact Balder, despite being a key figure in Thor’s mythos, has never been mentioned in the MCU before, thanks to his cut Doctor Strange 2 cameo.

Now that Balder is officially part of Marvel canon, however, the path is laid for the studio to invite Craig back to play the part in some future project — maybe Avengers: Secret Wars or Thor 5, but the most natural place would be Loki season 3. After coming so close to joining the MCU two times across its lifespan, Marvel really owes the Glass Onion actor a chance to don an outlandish Asgardian helmet himself and share the screen with Tom Hiddleston’s trickster.

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