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Marvel makes Emily Blunt an offer for 'Captain America,' but British actress probably will say no - UPDATED

April 2, 2010 | 11:36 am

Emi
EXCLUSIVE: With Chris Evans now locked and loaded as Captain America, momentum is building to cast the property's female lead.

Marvel has been heavily courting Emily Blunt to play the main character's girlfriend, reported previously as Peggy Carter. The studio, sources say, has made an offer to Blunt and wants her for the part -- but expect someone else to wind up in the role in the end.

Blunt, the Golden Globe winner and star of this award season's "The Young Victoria," brings with her a British and European following -- key if you're trying to convince global audiences to see a patriotic hero named Captain America (if only Marion Cotillard was available). She's also seen as someone who can give the franchise a prestige gloss. Casting her would be a move not unlike Marvel's coup in setting Robert Downey Jr. in "Iron Man," lending some serious acting cachet to a superhero franchise (and lord knows Chris Evans isn't going to achieve that here).

But according to sources, Blunt is close to signing on to other projects and will turn down Marvel's offer. That leaves the studio to decide between several other people on its short list, including Keira Knightley and Alice Eve -- both of whom, not coincidentally given the film's global designs, also come with British bona fides. [UPDATED, 1:24 PM -- Sources now confirm that Blunt has officially passed. There will be no Victorian charm amid the dueling WWII-era superheroes.]

Casting a female lead in most superhero films is in many ways harder than nabbing the male one. You have the luxury (or necessity) of using the part to expand the prospective audience. But you also have the tough job of convincing the person who can provide the expansion that playing the girlfriend in an effects-heavy blockbuster is something that's worth their time.

It might be wiser to go the Bond Girl route and cast, say, a lesser-known but still rising star (Gemma Arterton, also British, comes to mind) and create a buzz that way, instead of going with a widely known quantity ... although we have to admit that watching an award-winning prestige actress play the part would  be interesting, to say the least.

-- Steven Zeitchik

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Photo: Emily Blunt in "The Young Victoria." Credit: Apparition

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