Being rejected is an unfortunate part of the entertainment business, but it's one that everybody involved with it has come to accept as part of the job. This has often been seen within Marvel Studios before the company's latest Disney+ release in the MCU, She-Hulk: Attorney at Law.
Specifically looking back at the Hulk, longtime Hollywood star Matthew McConaughey revealed that he actually threw his name into the running to play the angry green Avenger, but Marvel instead went with Edward Norton.
The Deadpool franchise even has a couple of interesting stories, with Peacemaker's John Cena getting rejected for the Fox outing before he moved on to the world of DC. Additionally, while Morena Baccarin did wind up in Ryan Reynolds' first two Deadpool movies as Vanessa, she had once auditioned to play Maria Hill in The Avengers before Cobie Smulders took that honor.
And now, thanks to the worldwide press conference for the MCU's latest Disney+ release, fans have learned that rejection goes far beyond the acting side of things for Marvel Studios personnel.
She-Hulk Writer Finally Gets Marvel Call
During the official press conference for Marvel Studios' She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, head writer Jessica Gao looked back on her past experience with the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
When asked about her first reaction to joining the show, she revealed that Marvel had rejected her "three times on previous projects" before finally bringing her on board this time. Actor Ginger Gonzaga joined in the conversation, noting how Gao knew "more about She-Hulk than anyone" and that this was the perfect project for her to do with the MCU:
Gao: “For me, I mean, I was elated, because it was a dream job, but also, I’d been rejected by Marvel three times on previous projects. So I was like, ‘Guess fourth time is the charm. It worked!’”
Gonzaga: “But you are perfect for She-Hulk because… Jessica actually pitched herself as being like, ‘I know more about She-Hulk than anyone,’ which is the facts. And so, the universe waited for the one that was right for you.”
Gao: “It was the right project. I’m glad they rejected me so many times.”
While Gonzaga also celebrated her inclusion in the show, she had to deal with some real-world stuff at the exact same moment, sharing that her puppy had just gone to the bathroom in her living room when the news came in - quite the humbling experience:
“I was very excited, but it was juxtaposed with the fact that my puppy had just relieved herself in my living room… It was a real, ‘Wow! I’m gonna be in the Marvel-verse! One sec. Let me clean up after my puppy I haven’t trained.’ So it was a very humbling instant thing afterwards for me.”
Director Kat Coiro shared her thoughts on Gonzaga's Nikki Ramos, praising the actress for being able to bring so much of herself to the role and use that for the show's "collaborative spirit:"
“You know I felt the same thing though about you, Ginger, when you said that Nikki and Ginger are so similar. I think that has a lot to do with the fact that Nikki is you and so much of yourself is brought to the role. And I think we all had this very collaborative spirit where everybody imbued their parts and their roles with their personal selves.”
She-Hulk star Tatiana Maslany piggy-backed off Coiro's comments, reminiscing on her time working with MCU veteran Mark Ruffalo. Having to portray cousins in this series, Maslany shared how easy it was to bring that kind of dynamic to their performances, putting it simply by saying "it just, was right. It made sense:"
“Yeah, it was the way the script also… I think because it zeroes in on real human dynamics, it is easy then when Mark [Ruffalo] comes to set and… Mark and I are doing these kind of sibling scenes where we’re ripping each other but also love each other very much. It was a very easy dynamic to bring to camera, because it’s sort of like… It just, was right. It made sense, you know what I mean? And I feel like a lot of characters in the show have that ring of truth and it’s very easy to bring to them.”
After the press conference, SlashFilm followed up with Gao regarding her previous Marvel shortcomings, in which she disclosed that she actually pitched a script for 2021's Black Widow that even included She-Hulk herself in the story. But in the end, Gao was told that it seemed she had the idea of "a She-Hulk movie with Black Widow in it" rather than one starring Natasha Romanoff:
"The very first project that I pitched at Marvel was for the 'Black Widow' movie. And I had She-Hulk in my pitch, but so much of She-Hulk in my pitch that somebody actually commented, 'It kind of feels like you're pitching a She-Hulk movie with Black Widow in it.'"
She didn't reveal when she actually pitched this movie, although Black Widow first started filming in 2019 ahead of its originally expected May 2020 release date.
In retrospect, Gao felt that she was meant to be the head writer for She-Hulk, who was the character that she really wanted to write during all of her pitches:
"Clearly there was a reason why I didn't get that job. I really do believe that all of that was for a reason, because ultimately, at the end of the day, the thing that I really wanted was 'She-Hulk' and those other projects weren't 'She-Hulk.'"
Jessica Gao's Long-Awaited MCU Moment
Over the past decade, Jessica Gao has added some big-name projects to her writing resume, although she's known most recently for her work on the animated adult hit program Rick & Morty. But this news puts things even more into perspective for her, having had an opportunity at three different MCU projects before Marvel finally brought her on board this time around.
While she mentioned that Black Widow was her first pitch for Marvel Studios, it's difficult to predict what other MCU projects she swung for. WandaVision is a possibility considering its sitcom nature and Gao's comedic experience, most famously writing Rick & Morty's "Pickle Rick" episode (and winning an Emmy for it).
However, as she and her cast members mentioned, She-Hulk seems to be a perfect fit for Gao thanks to her brand of comedy and knack for featuring exciting female characters. Now, she's fully jumped onboard the MCU train, bringing her expertise to Jennifer Walters' story and helping expand the MCU's lore as the franchise continues.
She-Hulk: Attorney at Law will begin streaming on Disney+ on Thursday, August 18.