31 Big-Name Actors You May Have Forgotten Are Part of the MCU
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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is arguably the biggest franchise in the world right now, and it’s really no surprise: Easily binge-able action movies with likable characters, meaningful relationships and enough source material easter eggs to keep even the most die-hard comic book fans happy along the way. The MCU’s draw is not just limited to audiences, however, but to an incredible breadth of A-List stars and big-name actors who have been attracted to MCU cameos and supporting roles.
And with more than 20 films comprising the MCU as of now (a number that is growing exponentially), it’s easy to forget about some of the MCU cameos we’ve been treated to.
We’ve rounded up some of our favorite big-name MCU cameos and supporting roles you may have forgotten about:
1. Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2 (2010)
Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer, a weapons manufacturer who ends up coming to main antagonist Mickey Rourke’s aid. Hammer has been called the most underrated villain in the MCU— not nearly as cool or as charming as Tony Stark, but a formidable rival with a very real, very dark edge.
2. Kate Mara in Iron Man 2 (2010)
Before she went on to star in a different, non-MCU film version of Fantastic Four, Kate Mara had a small MCU cameo as a U.S. marshal.
3. Olivia Munn in Iron Man 2 (2010)
In a film apparently packed with MCU cameos, Munn (who also went on to star in a non-MCU Marvel film, Psylocke in X-Men: Apocalypse) was television reporter Chess Roberts.
4. Idris Elba in Thor (2011)
Idris Elba circa-2011 might not have been the household name he is now, but fans of The Wire and Luther were thrilled to see him in such a mainstream franchise. Heimdall, the all-seeing and all-hearing protector of the Asgardian Bifrost, is easily one of the most important (and coolest) characters in the MCU.
5. Stanley Tucci in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
What is it about Stanley Tucci? Even in this minor role as Erskine — creator of the Super Soldier Serum which magically heals Steve Rogers of all of his ailments and turns him into Captain America — he steals every scene he’s in.
6. Tommy Lee Jones in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Tommy Lee Jones has a face for gruff, cold men, and his role as Colonel Chester Phillips in this first Cap movie is no different.
7. Christopher Eccleston in Thor: The Dark World (2013)
We often forget about Thor: The Dark World as a whole because — while near and dear to my heart, personally — it isn’t a very good movie. However, the Ninth Doctor demands our respect, and Eccleston’s portrayal of Malekith suffers from lack of backstory, not acting chops.
8. Robert Redford in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
If I were to do a definitive ranking of the gayest Marvel movies ever, this would be at the top of the list, so it’s easy to forget that the legendary and somewhat under-utilized Robert Redford is in this. Still, he makes a good (spoiler) surprise villain, and fits in perfectly with the ‘war thriller’ vibe of the film.
9. Garry Shandling in Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
The late Garry Shandling plays skeevy senator and covert HYDRA member in both Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
10. Glenn Close in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
More often known as a “serious” actor, Glenn Close’s role as commander of the Nova Corps was a fun departure from her more recent gigs, and one of our all-time favorite MCU cameos. While Close was originally supposed to have a cameo in Vol. 2, her scene sadly didn’t make the final cut.
11. John C. Reilly in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
John C. Reilly is one of the greatest actors of our time, and I will die on this hill. It’s really no surprise that someone with his range for comedy, drama and everything in between would eventually be tapped for an MCU cameo. As a member of the Nova Corps, Rhomann Dey is a loyal and honorable man.
12. Seth Green in Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
Seth Green had MCU cameos in both Guardians films, actually, as the voice of Howard the Duck.
13. Linda Cardellini in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
It is a true shame that Linda Cardellini’s role in the franchise is so small. As Hawkeye’s wife, she only gets a handful of minutes on-screen, both in this and Avengers: Endgame.
14. Andy Serkis in The Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
In a rare moment for Andy Serkis fans, we get to see his actual face in his role as the black-market arms dealer Ulysses Klaue. And we were thrilled to see him return for Black Panther.
15. T.I. in Ant-Man (2015)
Ant-Man seemed to be the film that took MCU fans (and non-fans alike) by surprise with its charm and entertainment factor. It also features some huge names in MCU cameos — including rapper, producer and actor T.I. As a part of Lang’s crew, T.I.’s character Dave brings the comedic relief along with Michael Peña. He reportedly won’t be back to the franchise, though, following some disturbing allegations regarding him and his wife.
16. & 17. Judy Greer and Bobby Cannavale in Ant-Man (2015)
Judy Greer is one of our favorite co-stars, having been involved in so many major films that it just makes sense for her to show up in the MCU as well. It’s also completely believable that she would somehow be Paul Rudd’s estranged ex-wife. We love Bobby Cannavale, too, who plays Judy Greer’s new beau, Jim.
18. Sylvester Stallone in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
I’ll be honest — of all these MCU cameos, here’s one that even I forgot about. As Stakar Ogord, Sylvester Stallone has a tough but ultimately rewarding father/son relationship with Michael Rooker’s Yondu Udonta in a film that is so much about father/son relationships.
19. Miley Cyrus in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)
If you didn’t see Miley in this film packed with MCU cameos, you’re not alone. That’s because she was only a voice, portraying Mainframe, the AI captain of the Ravagers.
20. Marisa Tomei in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Initially called “too hot” to play Peter Parker’s Aunt May, Marisa Tomei actually turned out to be the perfect choice for this role. Because Marisa Tomei is always the perfect choice, you guys.
21. Donald Glover in Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
One of the most exciting MCU cameos, Glover portrays Aaron Davis, the uncle of Miles Morales. Will Glover portray Spidey villain The Prowler in a future MCU film? We can only hope!
22. Karl Urban in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
As the man who played both Eomer in the Lord of the Rings trilogy and Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the Star Trek reboot, Karl Urban is no stranger to nerd culture. As Skurge in the third Thor installment, he offers a bit of comedy with a heroic last-minute moment of redemption.
23. & 24. & 25. Luke Hemsworth and Matt Damon and Sam Neill in Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
In a truly delightful moment when Loki-disguised-as-Odin is putting on plays about his importance, Luke Hemsworth (yes, Chris’s brother) is cast as Thor, Matt Damon is cast as Loki, and Sam Neill is cast as Odin.
26. Angela Bassett in Black Panther (2018)
It’s really not difficult to see why Angela Bassett was cast as the Queen of Wakanda. Ramonda isn’t just a symbol of power, however; she also acts as an advisor to her son T’Challa and has an active role in ruling the nation.
27. Daniel Kaluuya in Black Panther (2018)
Oscar-nominated Daniel Kaluuya acts as T’Challa’s best friend and husband to head of the Dora Milaje Okoye. W’Kabi is chief of the Border Tribe, and even in this relatively minor role he takes us on an emotional and fully developed character journey.
28. Brad Pitt in Deadpool 2 (2018)
The smallest of all the MCU cameos, as it’s literally a split-second long, the A-lister of all A-listers, Brad Pitt, is indeed a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He portrays the invisible mutant The Vanisher who joins Deadpool’s short-lived (then brought back to life) X-Force team, and we only see his face when he’s electrocuted to death. Poor guy.
29. Laurence Fishburne in Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
Fishburne plays Bill Foster, a frenemy / former colleague of Hank Pym. The two worked together on Project Goliath.
30. Michelle Pfeiffer in Ant-Man and The Wasp (2018)
She’s the original Wasp, Janet Van Dyne, lost in the quantum realm. Here’s hoping we get to see more of Pfeiffer in future MCU films.
31. Ben Mendelsohn in Captain Marvel (2019)
Perhaps one of the most delightful characters we’ve seen from the MCU, Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos is loyal, kind and the perfect unlikely hero. And we can’t wait to see even more of him!
Which of these MCU cameos and supporting roles did YOU forget were a part of the franchise? And who did we miss?
This article was originally published on Decemver 29, 2020. It has since been updated.