Reeling off the leading lights of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is almost second nature at this point. The likes of Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Hemsworth are ingrained in our cultural consciousness as much as the heroes they portray. Every Hollywood superstar now wants a bite of that Marvel apple, with the likes of Angelina Jolie stepping up for Marvel Phase 4 (opens in new tab) as part of The Eternals.
But what about the forgotten faces of the MCU? The actors who ended up finding fame or fortune elsewhere or had a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo appearance before exiting stage right, never to be seen in a comic book caper again – what about them? Here at GamesRadar, we’ve rounded up 17 actors you forgot were in the MCU, including Doctor Who legends, Game of Thrones villains, and even one of DC’s best and brightest superheroes.
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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab)) while Portman is playing Thor in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
Zachary Levi (Thor: The Dark World)
Shazam (opens in new tab) 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 (opens in new tab), 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 (opens in new tab) 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.
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 (opens in new tab), but you can never keep Stallone down for the count.
Michelle Yeoh (Guardians of the Galaxy 2)
Michelle Yeoh has been kicking ass 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.