Quentin Tarantino recently made headlines with the bold claim that actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe aren’t actual movie stars. Appearing on the 2 Bears, 1 Cave podcast (per Deadline), the Pulp Fiction director said, “Part of the Marvelization of Hollywood is…you have all these actors who rose to fame playing these characters. But they’re not movie stars, are they? Captain America is the star.
That may be true for some Marvel actors who have become inseparable from their superhero alter egos. But the MCU has cast many already renowned screen legends in supporting roles: Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett, Marisa Tomei, Michelle Pfeiffer, Michelle Yeoh, Michael Douglas, Tony Leung, the list is endless. From Paul Rudd to Scarlett Johansson to Vin Diesel, many of the MCU’s Avengers were acclaimed, globally recognizable stars before the MCU even existed.
10/10 Oscar Isaac
Half a decade before making his MCU debut as Moon Knight, Oscar Isaac was named “the best actor of his generation” by Vanity Fair. Isaac was already known to Star Wars fans as Poe Dameron before becoming known to Marvel fans as Moon Knight, and he had worked with filmmakers such as Ridley Scott, Denis Villeneuve and the Coen brothers before. to work with Kevin Feige.
While Isaac was already a big star by the time he played Moon Knight, his dual performance as mild-mannered museum worker Steven Grant and cold-hearted mercenary Marc Spector is arguably the best work of Isaac’s career. ‘Isaac.
9/10 Salma Hayek
Although Eternals ended up becoming the highest-grossing live-action movie of her career (according to The Numbers), Salma Hayek had already been a big-screen icon for decades. She’s shared the screen with legendary co-stars ranging from Antonio Banderas to Chris Rock to Lady Gaga.
Almost two decades before playing Ajak in the MCU, Hayek made history with her well-deserved Oscar nomination for playing painter Frida Kahlo.
Bradley Cooper was catapulted to fame by the runaway success of a movie franchise, but that franchise wasn’t the MCU; it was The Hangover series of bawdy hard-R comedies. Cooper was a world-famous star with two Oscar nominations under his belt when he voiced Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy.
Given that Watchmen was Marvel’s riskiest bet yet, betting on C-level characters and offbeat humor, the studio needed proven talent in the cast, which Cooper’s presence provided.
7/10 Scarlett Johansson
Very few actors have managed to simultaneously balance roles in big-budget blockbusters with roles in high-profile arthouse dramas like Scarlett Johansson. She’s starred in both high-concept action films by Michael Bay and Luc Besson and quieter, character-driven films with directors like Sofia Coppola and Spike Jonze.
Natasha Romanoff is just one of many beloved roles Johansson has played, along with Mary Boleyn, Rosie Betzler and Rebecca Doppelmeyer.
6/10 Benedict Cumberbatch
Thanks to his modern spin as Arthur Conan Doyle’s devilishly shrewd detective in the BBC’s Sherlock, Benedict Cumberbatch was already a well-known and well-loved comedian before he took on the role of Stephen Strange in the MCU.
He had previously appeared in big-budget Hollywood blockbusters like The Hobbit trilogy and Star Trek Into Darkness before being cast as Doctor Strange.
5/10 Paul Rudd
After rising to prominence as the seventh main cast member in the final season of Friends, Paul Rudd has become one of the biggest comedy stars in the world. Through his work with Judd Apatow, Rudd became the face of the bromantic comedy subgenre.
When he brought his goofy charms to the role of Scott Lang in the MCU, Rudd was already a massive movie star. He drew audiences to Ant-Man, not the other way around.
4/10 Hailee Steinfeld
Hailee Steinfeld was recognized as both an actress and a singer before inheriting the role of Hawkeye from Clint Barton as Kate Bishop. Her first dazzling Oscar-nominated performance in the Coen Brothers’ remake of True Grit made her one of the youngest Oscar nominees in history.
Kate wasn’t even Steinfeld’s first high-profile Marvel role; she previously voiced Gwen Stacy in the universally acclaimed Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse.
3/10 Vin Diesel
Groot’s voice actor, Vin Diesel, was headlining franchises and cinematic universes long before Marvel started adapting their own comic books for the screen. Diesel goes against Tarantino’s assertion that the draw of successful franchises is in their characters, not the actors who play them.
Audiences don’t flock to Fast & Furious films for the depth and nuance of Dom Toretto’s character; the USP of the series is the unique action hero charisma that Diesel himself brings to the role.
A year before her MCU debut in Black Widow, Florence Pugh achieved movie star status with back-to-back knockout performances in Fighting with My Family, Midsommar, and Little Women. The latter solidified her pre-Marvel star power with a well-deserved Oscar nomination.
Marvel fans’ reverence for Pugh’s turn as Yelena Belova is matched by horror fans’ reverence for her turn as Dani Ardor. Pugh’s intricate and compelling portrayal of grief made Midsommar’s harrowing runtime pass.
1/10Robert Downey, Jr.
Playing Tony Stark, the central figure in the first MCU saga, gave Robert Downey, Jr. one of the greatest career comebacks in Hollywood history. But he was a movie star long before that, with roles ranging from Earl Rivers to Charlie Chaplin.
Marvel can’t even take full credit for Downey’s return. The same year he made his debut as Iron Man, Downey was nominated for an Oscar for his hilarious turn in Tropic Thunder.
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10 Marvel Stars More Famous Than Their Characters | Pretty Reel