The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with some really incredible actors. There are stars who had been established as good actors before the MCU like Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johannson, Paul Rudd et al. And then there are other actors who found MCU as their breakout chances like Chris Hemsworth, Chadwick Boseman, Tom Hiddleston et al. Unfortunately, the Oscars never considered the performances in MCU movies worth recognising in the Acting categories, not even for a nomination. This, despite the cast filled with some Oscar nominees and winners too.
Recently Brie Larson became the first Oscar winner to get wear the superhero drapes in MCU with Captain Marvel. But she is not the only Academy Award winner to be a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As we prepare ourselves for Avengers: Endgame, that is releasing on April 26, let's look back into this wonderful journey of MCU and look at how they utilised 17 Oscar winners that they had roped in various movies.
So we have ranked them based on the impact their character and the performance left on the film as well as the MCU as a whole! Starting from the lowest:
#17 Forest Whitaker
Won: Best Actor (2006) for The Last King of Scotland
Cast in MCU as: Zuri in Black Panther
Impact: Not much; In fact, Forest Whitaker's strange accent had been quite criticised by many in their reviews. While his role was crucial for the film's plot, the movie didn't make much use of his acting abilities.
#16 Marisa Tomei
Won: Best Supporting Actress (1992) for My Cousin Vinny
Cast As: Aunt May in Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming
Impact: As the younger Aunt May, Marisa Tomei does bring a refreshing change to the character. However, it also led her to be termed as Hot Aunt May, something the movie also played along well. Hope the upcoming Spider-Man sequel, Far From Home, show that this May is much more than just being a hot aunt!
#15 Benicio Del Toro
Won: Best Supporting Actor (2000) for Traffic
Cast As: The Collector in Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War
Impact: The Collector is quite an important character in the MCU, considering he had the Reality stone with him for some time. Also, Benicio's quirky performance did get our notice. That said, knowing his calibre, the impact of the character and his performance is hardly felt. We also don't even if Thanos has killed him or not in Infinity War.
#14 Tommy Lee Jones
Won: Best Supporting Actor (1993) for The Fugitive
Cast As: Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger
Impact: Tommy Lee Jones nailed the act of the snarky, but good-hearted Allied commander. We wish that there was more to him in both the film as well as in the MCU too.
#13 William Hurt
Won: Best Actor (1985) for Kiss of the Spider Woman
Cast As: General Ross in The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War and Avengers: Infinity War
Impact: Ross is depicted as a hardass bureaucrat in the latter two movies. However, it is in The Incredible Hulk, where Ross is explored further as a character, misguided in his determination to catch the Hulk, and Hurt gets to shine as an actor in those moments.
#12 Natalie Portman
Won: Best Actress (2010) for Black Swan
Cast As: Dr Jane Foster in Thor and Thor: The Dark World
Impact: Though she was the female lead in two MCU movies, Natalie was accused of sleepwalking through her performances and not making her character memorable enough. The actress herself was not happy with the way her character was developed and she refused to come onboard Thor: Ragnarok. That movie puts an end to Thor and Jane's relationship with a mere statement about them breaking up.
#11 Lupita Nyong'o
Won: Best Supporting Actress (2013) for 12 Years a Slave
Cast As: Nakia in Black Panther
Impact: Nakia is a brave warrior and a spy, who finally manages to get to her on-off boyfriend T'Challa to open Wakanda for the world. Lupita is fine in the role, but seeing how excellent she is in movies like Us and 12 Years a Slave, Black Panther hardly scratches the surface when it comes to her talent.
#10 Jeff Bridges
Won: Best Actor (2008) for Crazy Heart
Cast As: Obadiah Stane in Iron Man
Impact: Jeff Bridges made for a decent villain in the first MCU film, often powerful than the hero thanks to his viciousness. However, now that we have 21 films in the MCU, Obadiah Stane is not exactly memorable when we had the likes of Thanos, Loki, Hela and Killmonger.
#9 Sam Rockwell
Won: Best Supporting Actor (2017) for Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri
Cast As: Justin Hammer in Iron Man 2
Impact: MCU needed more of Justin Hammer. More of the fantastic Sam Rockwell. As a counterpart to Tony Stark's business mind, Rockwell brings a mean kind of hilarity to his performance. Of course, who can forget his dance during the Stark Expo!
#8 Ben Kingsley
Won: Best Actor (1982) for Gandhi
Cast As: Mandarin/Trevor Slattery in Iron Man 3
Impact: We really don't talk about how terrific Ben Kingsley has been in Iron Man 3, mostly because how Marvel took to the Mandarin twist. When he was the faux Mandarin, Kingsley managed to bring in the needed terror for the act. However, he was at his best (hilarious at that) as the drunk, washed out Trevor Slattery who could stink bathrooms in one go!
#7 Robert Redford
Won: Best Director (1980) for Ordinary People
Cast As: Alexander Pierce in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Impact: Robert Redford's role in The Winter Soldier has one big flaw. We knew he was upto something not good right from the promos. So when the reveal happened, we were hardly shocked. However, as the double-faced SHIELD chief (and secret HYDRA member), Redford brought a steely swagger to his performance that stayed with you for long. Especially in that scene where he kills his help who stumbles upon his truth in cold blood.
#6 Anthony Hopkins
Won: Best Actor (1992) for The Silence of the Lambs
Cast As: Odin in Thor, Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok
Impact: Anthony Hopkins brings a certain gravitas to the role of the powerful All-Father. The issue is in the first two films, we had a feeling that he was sleep-walking through the role, and Marvel did very little to show how powerful this God is. It is only when Loki was masquerading as Odin is when we get to see Hopkins have some fun with the role.
#5 Tilda Swinton
Won: Best Supporting Actress (2007) for Michael Clayton
Cast As: The Ancient One in Doctor Strange
Impact: Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange was quite kick-ass, we must say! She got, perhaps, the best action scene in the film during the opening scene set in London. The revelation that she was also using the Dark Energy to keep herself immortal makes her such a layered character. Tilda, especially, shines in the scene where her soul has a heart-to-heart chat with Doctor Strange, as Time comes to a standstill.
#4 Cate Blanchett
Won: Best Supporting Actress (2004) for The Aviator; Best Actress (2013) for Blue Jasmine
Cast As: Hela in Thor: Ragnarok
Impact: Cate Blanchett delivered a powerful, scenery-chewing performance as the powerful antagonist, Hela. Her character was so powerful that Thor literally needed a 'Ragnarok' to happen - an event that destroys Asgard - to defeat her. The only niggle is that Hela was treated as a one-off villain with a very one-dimensional arc.
#3 Gwyneth Paltrow
Won: Best Actress (1998) for Shakespeare in Love
Cast As: Pepper Potts in Iron Man trilogy, The Avengers, Spider-Man: Homecoming and Avengers: Infinity War
Impact: Pepper Potts is the one non-superhero romantic interest that has survived from Phase 1 and also appeared in most of the films. Paltrow, however, got the best opportunity to impress us in Iron Man 3, where her character was crucial to the plot.
#2 Michael Douglas
Won: Best Actor (1987) for Wall Street
Cast As: Hank Pym in Ant-Man and Ant-Man & The Wasp
Impact: Michael Douglas' wry performance as the former Ant-Man was one of the best things about the delightful Ant-Man series. His determination to find his wife, lost in the Quantum Realm, in the sequel is extremely heart-warming and touching.
#1 Brie Larson
Won: Best Actress (2015) for Room
Cast As: Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel in Captain Marvel
Impact: She got her own freaking superhero film as a lead that earned more than a billion dollars at the global box office. Do you really need more impact than that?