With 22 films under the massive Disney banner, it’s no surprise that dozens of Hollywood megastars have appeared in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Evans, and Robert Downey Junior have been crowding box office posters for 11 years now. And while some huge stars have made clever cameos, such as Matt Damon (Thor: Ragnarok) and Nathan Fillion (Guardians of the Galaxy 2), there are a few marquee names that you may have forgotten played significant roles in the MCU.
Ten Actors You May Have Forgotten Appeared in the MCU
Disclaimer: Some people are more attentive than others. Recently, I was binging the most recent season of Supernatural, and I got to the episode where Sam and Dean investigated a haunted gaming shop. In the background of one scene, there was a replica of the Red Hood costume, and I marked out a little. Why? Because Jensen Ackles (Dean Winchester) voiced the Redhood in the Batman animated movie of the same name.
Nobody else I was watching with got it. So if you were totally conscious of all these appearances and didn’t need me to remind me, we’re kindred spirits and feel free the gloat in the comments.
10. Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World, Thor: Ragnarok)
I remember the first time I spotted Zachary Levi as Fandral in Thor: The Dark World. I turned to my buddy and said, “Dude, it’s Chuck!” like anyone but me cared about NBC’s short-lived but beloved comedy about an IT guy that becomes a spy. Fast forward six years and Levi’s gained a little bit of notoriety, albeit as a member of the other team as D.C.’s Shazam.
The writers of the Thor movies seemed to get bored with Fandral and Thor’s other buddies on Asgard, killing them off pretty effortlessly early in Thor’s third movie. That doesn’t change the fact that Levi was a member of the MCU at one point.
9. Sylvester Stallone (Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2)
Sly Stallone’s portrayal of Stakar Ogord wasn’t exactly a blink-and-you-miss-it cameo, but it certainly wasn’t the kind of role you expect an actor like him to get. However, when you consider that Kurt Russell, David Hasselhoff, and PAC-Man also made appearances in this movie, Rocky didn’t exactly own the 1980’s nostalgia that he might’ve in other movies.
8. Jeff Bridges (Iron Man)
Jeff Bridges was the very first villain the MCU. Before Josh Brolin started collecting jewelry and Tom Hiddelston stole our hearts, it was Evil Robot Jeff Bridges trying to squash the first (second) Avenger. It’s been 11 years, and it’s not like everyone brings Bridges’ Obadiah Stone up anywhere near as frequently as any of the villains from Iron Man 3, so I wouldn’t blame if you if you forget that the dude was in the MCU.
7. Benicio Del Toro (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Infinity War)
What is it with Disney casing Benicio Del Toro in weird, underwhelming roles? First, his appearance as the collector was overshadowed by Howard the Duck, and then whatever his character was supposed to be in Star Wars; The Last Jedi… that’s a totally different article.
But yeah, in case you forgot, the Oscar-winning Benicio Del Toro has made not one, but two appearances in the MCU, for about ten minutes of combined screen time. That’s less than Kirk from Gilmore Girls.
6. Mads Mikkelsen (Doctor Strange)
Known for his work as Hannibal Lecter on NBC’s Hannibal, Le Chiffre in 2009’s Quantum of Solace, and, arguably most importantly, as the Accountant in Rihanna’s “Bitch better have my money” video, MIkkelsen was stuck in the unenviable position of being the red herring villain in Doctor Strange.
5. John C. Reilly (Guardians of the Galaxy)
It can be a bit jarring to watch a movie with John C. Reilly without Will Ferrell by his side, but that’s exactly what happened in 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. John C. Reilly, alongside Glenn Close (don’t worry, there’s a version of this list for the women of the MCU coming), were the defenders of Xandar. He was still pretty amusing, but at no point did he tell anyone to call him dragon.
4. Stanley Tucci (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Stanley Tucci, of Tucci Gang fame, invented the super-serum that transformed Steve Rogers from lanky Brooklynite to Nazi-fighting super soldier, and gives him a version the classic Uncle Ben “Great power = great responsibility speech. But does Steve ever reflect on him? Nope, just the super pretty girl that agreed to go on a date with him once.
3. Andy Serkis (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther)
While everyone else complained about how Civil War should’ve taken place after the Infinity Saga, I was upset that Andy Serkis, the king of motion capture, was cast in a movie with a mo-cap villain… and he didn’t get the role. Sure, he did a good job as Ulysses Klau in AoU and Black Panther, but he was overshadowed by
Robert California James Spader’s performance as Ultron and Michael B. Jordan’s iconic portrayal of Killmonger.
2. Sam Rockwell (Iron Man 2)
I’ll confess, Sam Rockwell is probably my favorite actor. His ability to play a lovable lunatic bleeds through into just about any performance. He was in a movie not too long ago with Anna Kendrick called “Mr. Right” that is just dreadful. I mean, it’s just horrible. But he and Kendrick are so wildly charismatic that it becomes an enjoyable viewing. I only bring that up because that’s what he did for this disastrous Iron Man movie about Mickey Rourke and his bird.
1. Tommy Lee Jones (Captain America: The First Avenger)
I actually totally forgot about this one until recently when I was watching the Fugitive of all movies. The go-to guy for no-nonsense sullen protagonists from the 90’s falls somewhere between Hugo Weaving and Natalie Portman on the “I don’t really care about this movie universe” nonsense scale as Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America’s debut. For me, this casting makes playing six degrees of Kevin Bacon almost impossibly easy.