Phase 5 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now underway, bringing a number of new movies and Disney+ exclusive television shows to audiences. The ongoing superhero saga has ebbed and flowed in some fascinating ways over the years, weaving a number of actors into its orbit along the way. Amid the franchise mainstays and new additions, there have been some performers whose roles in the MCU are small — even if the rest of their careers might not be.
Let's break down some of the most surprising MCU casting decisions that you might have, in one way or another, forgotten about.
Olivia Munn is no stranger to the superhero space, portraying Psylocke in 2016's X-Men: Apocalypse and voicing Akiko in Marvel's Hit-Monkey animated series. Over half a decade prior, Munn stepped into a different, and much smaller, Marvel role in 2010's Iron Man 2.
Munn ended up appearing in Iron Man 2 as Chess Roberts, a news reporter who had only appeared in a single 1997 issue of Iron Man prior to (and since) the film's debut. This was not the original role Munn was cast in, as she was originally set to play a woman who hooks up with Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) following his birthday party, only for those scenes to get cut.prevnext
Another unexpected actor who cameos in Phase 1 is Richard Armitage, who very briefly portrays HYDRA assassin Heinz Kruger in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. After a short sequence — and a chase scene with a newly-superpowered Steve Rogers / Captain America — Kruger ultimately bites the bullet.
With a filmography that would later include The Hobbit movies, Castlevania, and Hannibal, Armitage's career has become much more than that brief MCU appearance.prevnext
From The IT Crowd to Bridesmaids, Chris O'Dowd has made a memorable appearance in a number of projects. In 2013, that included a short appearance in the second Thor movie, Thor: The Dark World.
In the film, O'Dowd portrays Richard, a man who tries — and fails — to woo Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Don't worry, even O'Dowd has since forgotten that he appeared in the movie.prevnext
Logan Marshall-Green has become a pretty popular fancast over the years, with fans hoping to see him play everyone from Wolverine to Gambit to DC's Mister Miracle. If any of those roles came to fruition, it would be the second superhero role that Marshall-Green has portrayed.
The Upgrade and The Invitation actor played Jackson Brice, a proto version of Shocker who works for the criminal gang run by Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton), in 2017's Spider-Man: Homecoming.prevnext
For a wide swath of fans, Ashley Johnson is an icon, thanks to her work on Critical Role and on video game franchises like The Last of Us. But prior to that, Johnson was a notable face in the early days of the MCU, portraying a waitress named Beth in 2012's The Avengers.
Johnson's character made a memorable appearance in the film, leading to early speculation that she was secretly playing everyone from Captain Marvel to Sharon Carter. Neither proved to be the case, but her cameo has only surprised more and more fans as the years have gone on.prevnext
While Garrett Morris might not be the biggest name on this list, his cameo in 2015's Ant-Man was something special. Morris, whose filmography includes 2 Broke Girls and The Jeffersons, was also one of the original cast members of Saturday Night Live. His roster of characters on SNL included Ant-Man, technically making him the first actor to portray the hero in live-action.
Decades later, Morris portrayed a cab driver in the MCU's Ant-Man, providing a blink-and-you'll-miss-it full-circle moment for the character.prevnext
Long before playing Clara Oswald on Doctor Who, and playing Joanna Constantine, a gender-bent version of the DC character John Constantine, in Netflix's The Sandman series, Jenna Coleman made her way into the MCU.
Coleman makes an appearance in Captain America: The First Avenger, as a girl who goes on a date with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan) in the film's first act.prevnext
Years after being a Disney staple on Hannah Montana, Miley Cyrus made her way into the MCU — albeit, for a very brief amount of time. Cyrus lent her voice to Mainframe, a robot head that's part of the original Ravagers crew, in the post-credits scene of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
Cyrus did not end up returning to her role in 2023's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3, with Miss Minutes actress Tara Strong voicing Mainframe instead.prevnext
It's hard to deny that Jenna Ortega is a household name, thanks to her roles in Wednesday and the Scream franchise. But years prior, Ortega made a short appearance in 2013's Iron Man 3, portraying the daughter of the Vice President.prevnext
For years, one "Wait, they're in the MCU?" cameo has remained uniquely notorious — Natalie Dormer's role in Captain America: The First Avenger.
Dormer appears in the Phase 1 film as Private Lorraine, a woman who kisses Steve Rogers and then disappears from the film entirely.prev