16 actors you forgot were in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU)
Sylvester Stallone (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Yo, Guardians, we did it! In perhaps the MCU’s best cameo, the star of Rocky, Rambo, and countless other classic movies, appears in the Guardians sequel as one of the leaders of the Ravagers, Yondu’s old crew. Unfortunately, the gang – which also includes another member on this list – haven’t appeared again after reuniting in Guardians of the Galaxy 2, but you can never keep Stallone down for the count.
David Bradley (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Perhaps best known for his turn as the cantankerous, backstabbing Walder Frey in Game of Thrones, the instigator of the Red Wedding also has a minor role to play in Captain America: The First Avenger as guardian of the Tesseract.
Unfortunately for Bradley’s character, Red Skull eventually tracks down the mystical container, which houses the Space Stone, and kills him. Not content with ticking off the MCU and Game of Thrones on his heaving franchise checklist, the English actor also appeared in Harry Potter as Argus Filch and Doctor Who as the First Doctor in the Peter Capaldi’s final episode in 2017.
Natalie Dormer (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Serving as Captain America’s canonical first kiss in the MCU (how’s that for an extremely specific quiz question?), Natalie Dormer’s Lorraine only had a bit-part to play in The First Avenger, in which she tried to seduce an uncomfortable Steve Rogers. Peggy – of course – eventually saves the embarrassed Cap. Dormer, meanwhile, would go on to bigger and better things, as the scheming queen Margaery Tyrell in Game of Thrones.
Community cast (Various)
The Russos never forget their friends. Having seen great success as directors of Community, the directing duo managed to squeeze in a few cameos from the show in their MCU movies.
Danny Pudi (Abed) has a walk-on role as a helpful SHIELD worker in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Greendale’s very own Dean, Jim Rash, appears in Captain America: Civil War as a MIT staff member. Avengers: Endgame rounds out some more of the cast, with Ken Jeong playing the security attendant who lets Scott Lang out of the lockup, and Yvette Nicole Brown (Shirley) plays a SHIELD agent back in the 1970s causing trouble for a snooping Cap. Community’s most favourite son, meanwhile, can be seen later on in this list…
Chris O'Dowd (Thor: The Dark World)
A part so miniscule, even Chris O’Dowd himself pulled a Gwyneth Paltrow and forgot he was in the movie. He plays Richard in Thor: The Dark World, who has a seriously awkward date with Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster. He’d go on to appear in This is 40 (having made his name in both the IT Crowd and Bridesmaids).
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Shazam himself is part of the MCU. Well, not quite, but the actor who plays Billy Batson, Zachary Levi, appears as Fandral in Thor: The Dark World. Confusingly, the star (who is perhaps best known for his breakout role in Chuck) was originally cast in the first Thor, but had to drop out due to scheduling conflicts. His replacement, Joshua Dallas, couldn’t do the sequel due to, you guessed it, scheduling conflicts. Levi made one final appearance in Thor: Ragnarok, being killed off by Cate Blanchett’s Hela. What a way to go.
Kate Mara (Iron Man 2)
Kate Mara, who would later go on to appear as Sue Richards in the 2015 Fantastic Four reboot, dipped her toe into the superhero waters with Iron Man 2. In the superhero sequel, she plays a U.S. Marshal who hands a subpoena to a distracted Tony Stark and… that’s it. A far cry from her later starmaking performance as Zoe Barnes in House of Cards.
Michelle Yeoh (Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
Michelle Yeoh has been killing it on screens for decades now, from Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, all the way up to Star Trek Discovery. She doesn’t look like she suffers fools gladly in her brief MCU appearance, either. Yeoh plays an ex-Ravager (and wife of Sylvester Stallone’s character) and finds herself teaming up with her old comrades for a spin-off in the stars that we’ll probably never get to see.
Nathan Fillion (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Another Guardians cameo appearance from someone who knows their way around a spaceship. Nathan Fillion made his name in Firefly, though even the most dedicated fans of the Serenity would be hard-pressed to recognise Fillion. He voices the blue-skinned inmate who gets forcibly picked up by the nose during the prison sequence.
Ty Burrell (The Incredible Hulk)
Yes, that’s the dad from Modern Family. Ty Burrell has made his name as the loveable goofball Phil Dunphy in the ABC comedy, but he also has a small part to play in one of the MCU’s most forgotten movies. In 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Burrell plays Leonard, Betty Ross’ short-term partner in Bruce’s absence but, like much of the cast from the Jade Giant’s solo film, wouldn’t return in future Marvel outings.
Olivia Munn (Iron Man 2)
To put Olivia Munn in such a sparse role in the MCU feels like a disservice – but that was the case for Iron Man 2. She was originally cast as a prominent fling of Tony Stark’s, and that got downgraded further to the role of newscaster during the movie’s opening at the Stark Expo. Munn caught the superhero bug, however, and went on to play Psylocke in X-Men Apocalypse.
Harry Dean Stanton (The Avengers)
A bonafide movie legend, the late Harry Dean Stanton starred in everything from Alien, to The Godfather Part II, to the Green Mile. In 2012’s The Avengers, Stanton plays a security guard who befriends Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner after he falls through an abandoned warehouse. The pair briefly chat in one of the movie’s quieter scenes, with Stanton’s character nudging Banner into meeting up with Tony Stark.
Donald Glover (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
It’s not often you can forget Donald Glover, aka Childish Gambino, aka Troy in Community, yet his bit-part in Spider-Man: Homecoming (playing Miles Morales’ uncle, Aaron Davis, no less) swung on by without much consequence. Whether this loose thread will get picked up again in future Spidey sequels remains to be seen, though it would be a shame to see such the talented singer-turned-actor consigned to just a handful of lines.
Martin Starr (various)
Remember the geeky bespectacled kid in Judd Apatow’s cult comedy series, Freaks and Geeks? He went on to play, uhh, a geeky college student in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. In a fantastic retcon, that character becomes the teacher that escorts Peter Parker’s class around Europe in Spider-Man: Far From Home.
Jenna Coleman (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Doctor Who fans will instantly recognise Jenna Coleman from her turn as the Time Lord’s assistant Clara Oswald. She’s a little harder to pick out in the first Captain America, though, as she’s gone in a flash and only has a few lines. Coleman plays Bucky Barnes’ date, Connie, and appears very briefly during a scene at the Stark Expo.
Seth Green (Guardians of the Galaxy)
Another actor who you can’t recognise behind all the CGI and, in this case, feathers. Howard the Duck pops up during the Guardians of the Galaxy post-credits scene and chastises the Collector for letting Cosmo the Spacedog lick his face. He later appears in both the Guardians sequel and very briefly in Avengers: Endgame. Green, the master of many voices, has also played the likes of Peter Griffin in Family Guy and Joker in the Mass Effect series.
Game of Thrones, Doctor Who, and The Walking Dead alumni all appeared first in the MCU