The Marvel Cinematic Universe has become quite adept at building up the stardom of those who play its most famous superheroes, elevating the likes of Chris Evans and Chris Pratt to action hero superstardom. However, many superheroes of the MCU are also portrayed by actors and actresses with lengthy and prestigious resumes.
This includes several who have actually managed to obtain the holy grail of film awards: an Oscar. This being the case, it’s no surprise that the characters they play end up being some of the most fascinating in this shared universe.
Tilda Swinton has earned a reputation as one of her generation’s finest living actresses, playing a wide variety of characters, from evil sorceresses to gender-bending time travelers. She earned an Oscar for her role of Karen Crowder in Michael Clayton, and in the MCU she is famous for playing the Ancient One in Doctor Strange.
The Ancient One is a being of immense power and mystery. Swinton brings her signature strangeness to this part, somehow making the Ancient One both compelling and more than a little frightening.
Like Swinton, Natalie Portman has earned herself quite a reputation as an actress, appearing in a wide range of cinematic genres, including science-fiction, space opera, drama, and biopic. Unsurprisingly, she has also been nominated for numerous awards for her acting ability.
She ultimately took home the statuette for best actress for her astonishing performance in Darren Aronovsky’s Black Swan. In the MCU, she has made the most out of the character Jane Foster, and she is slated to take on more importance as the Mighty Thor in next year’s Thor: Love and Thunder.
There are few actresses who have achieved quite the level of superstardom as Angelia Jolie. She has repeatedly proven her versatility as a star, and she has been in numerous types of roles, earning an Academy Award for Girl, Interrupted.
Her role as Lara Croft in Tomb Raider, however, may be the role that has most defined her stardom, and it helps to explain why she was chosen to play the character Thena in the upcoming Eternals. Fans will once again get to see Jolie step in front of the camera as an action star.
The various movies centered on Thor tend to have a bit of a lighter touch than the other parts of the MCU, but there is also a bit of a sinister strain underneath the humor. For instance, Matt Damon is slated to reprise his role as an actor portraying Loki in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
It’s a bit of a stretch – he’s only an actor playing Loki, who is more of an anti-hero than a hero – but he is a well-respected actor and has many nominations and awards under his belt, including an Oscar for screenwriting for Good Will Hunting.
Gwyneth Paltrow is a bit of Hollywood royalty, being the daughter of director Bruce Paltrow and actress Blythe Danner. However, she is also a formidable acting talent in her own right, as evidenced by her lengthy resume and the critical praise that her performances often receive.
Among her many accolades, she won an Academy Award for best actress for Shakespeare in Love. Fans of the MCU, however, know her best as Pepper Potts, the longtime love interest of Iron Man.
Despite her relative youth, Lupita Nyong’o has still managed to build up quite a list of acting credits, and she often receives critical acclaim for the powerful intensity that she brings to almost every role that she creates.
She received the Academy Award for Best Actress for her performance in 12 Years a Slave, and she has become similarly acclaimed for her role as Nakia in Black Panther, one of that film’s most popular characters.
Brie Larson has a well-deserved reputation for bringing out the humanity and empathy of her often-troubled characters, as can be seen in her role in Room, the film for which she won an Academy Award for Best Actress.
She brought that considerable talent to her role as Captain Marvel, one of the later additions to the MCU and one that proved to be crucial to the Avengers as they sought to defeat Thanos and restore the lives of half of the universe.
There are few actors who have quite the reputation and resume of Michael Douglas who, like Gwyneth Paltrow, is a bit of Hollywood royalty (his father was the famous screen legend Kirk Douglas).
In the MCU, he is most famous for playing the character of Hank Pym, the man who invented the Ant-Man suit and would eventually become a mentor to the man who succeeded him as the wearer of the suit, Paul Rudd’s Scott Lang.
Taika Waititi has established himself as a versatile person in Hollywood, earning him acclaim for his roles both behind and in front of the camera and in both film and television.
He won an Academy Award for his screenplay for Jojo Rabbit, and he has received several other nominations for both his work. In the MCU, he’s best known for portraying the character Korg, who joins the Avengers as they attempt to defeat Thanos.
Daniel Kaluuya has earned quite a lot of respect as an actor, both for his haunting performance in the horror film Get Out, as well as his more recent role as Fred Hampton in Judas and the Black Messiah, becoming one of the youngest people to win the prestigious acting award.
Among fans of the MCU, he has earned a lot of popularity for playing the character of W’Kabi, one of the movie’s more interesting characters. Though he initially supports T’Challa, he betrays him before finally surrendering during the final battle.
Russell Crowe has a formidable reputation in Hollywood, having acted in several high-budget blockbuster epics. In one of those, Gladiator, he played the title character Maximus, the man who rebels against an emperor before perishing in the arena.
It was the role that earned him an Oscar, and he has gone on to perform in several more high-profile epic films, and he is slated to portray the character of Zeus in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.