Chris Evans has been a cornerstone of the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger. Although Evans will supposedly retire from the MCU after Avengers: Endgame, it is hard to imagine Marvel’s movies without him. According to Evans, though, he almost skipped out on the chance to wield Cap’s shield. In fact, he tried bailing on the role two different times.

In a new profile in The Hollywood Reporter, Evans — who’d already made two middling-to-bad Fantastic Four movies as the Human Torch by this point in his career — reveals that he repeatedly turned down the chance to play Captain America:

Evans passed on Marvel's first offer, a nine-film deal. The studio came back with a six-film contract, and Evans passed again. He accepted an invitation to visit Marvel Studios — back when the company, newly purchased by Disney, was still based out of Raleigh Studios' Manhattan Beach complex — but made it clear that he wasn't planning to change his mind.

Finally, after more pestering, consultation with friends and “an encouraging call from Robert Downey Jr., Evans took the part.”

Talk about a Marvel What If? — what if Evans had never changed his mind? Who plays Captain America? Does he mesh with Downey and the rest of the Avengers? Does the franchise resonate the same way? It’s a fascinating question that I’m glad we’ll never know the answer to.

Avengers: Endgame opens in theaters on April 26.

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