Which Avenger Has The Best (Non-MCU) Filmography?
You've seen the Avengers actors in other movies, but who has the most impressive filmography outside of the MCU? It's not an easy choice; after all, success in the Marvel movies has given many of these performers the opportunity to take on smaller, more personal projects on the side. It has additionally afforded a few of them the chance to headline more big-budget blockbusters.
A notable element of the MCU is that some of its stars were already quite well-known before becoming Avengers. Robert Downey, Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson, for instance, were household names who took on the job of portraying superheroes. Others, including Tom Holland and Chris Hemsworth, were introduced to mass audiences primarily through the Marvel films. Regardless, the company has put a lot of care into casting performers who can really embody the beloved characters in a meaningful way.
The following Avengers have impressive non-MCU filmographies across the board. Whose is best? Start voting and let us know.
- 123 VOTESPhoto: Buena Vista Pictures / Universal Pictures / Miramax Films
Notable Movies: Coming to America, Do the Right Thing, Goodfellas, Jungle Fever, Jurassic Park, True Romance, Pulp Fiction, Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Long Kiss Goodnight, Jackie Brown, Star Wars Episodes I-III, Deep Blue Sea, Shaft, Unbreakable, The Incredibles, Snakes on a Plane, Django Unchained, Kingsman: The Secret Service, The Hateful Eight
Movie Accolades: One Oscar nomination (Pulp Fiction); three Golden Globe nominations (Pulp Fiction, A Time to Kill, Jackie Brown); Cannes Film Festival Best Supporting Actor (Jungle Fever)
Samuel L. Jackson's career began with a small role in 1973's Together for Days. He has worked nonstop ever since. His work on multiple Spike Lee movies, including Do the Right Thing and Jungle Fever, cemented his reputation as a powerful, magnetic performer. Quentin Tarantino's Pulp Fiction, meanwhile, made him a household name. He works across a spectrum of genres, typically to great success. Jackson is also the rare actor whose offscreen personality frequently infuses his onscreen characters. In Snakes on a Plane, for example, fans petitioned for him to deliver a line using his trademark profanity - and actually got it added to the movie.
- 219 VOTESPhoto: Paramount Pictures / TriStar Pictures / 20th Century Fox
Notable Movies: Crossroads, Guess Who, Star Trek, Avatar, The Terminal, The Losers, Colombiana, Infinitely Polar Bear, The Book of Life, Live by Night, Missing Link
Movie Accolades: One Academy of Science Fiction, Fantasy & Horror Films award (Avatar); three BET Award nominations (Avatar, Death at a Funeral, The Losers, Colombiana)
Zoe Saldaña saw her career made with the one-two punch of Star Trek and Avatar. Those films, combined with Guardians of the Galaxy, gave her sci-fi cred. Outside of that particular genre, she has proven to be an in-demand voice actress, having worked on the animated features The Book of Life and Missing Link. Action and drama are yet two more genres in which she's worked more than once. Saldaña has a wide range, plus a likable persona that makes it hard to take your eyes off her when she's on the screen.
- 319 VOTES
Notable Movies: Clueless, Romeo + Juliet, The Cider House Rules, Wet Hot American Summer, The Shape of Things, Anchorman, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up, Role Models, I Love You Man, Monsters vs Aliens, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, This Is 40, They Came Together
Movie Accolades: Two Critics Choice Award nominations (This Is 40, Ant-Man)
No one would deny that Paul Rudd is one of today's leading comic actors. He's capable of doing smart, subtle humor or stuff that's more broad and goofy. Whether as the lead or as part of an ensemble, Rudd's ability to make audiences laugh is easily his best trait as an actor. But movies such as The Perks of Being a Wallflower demonstrate that he can be effective in a more serious role, too. His "nice guy" persona always shines through.
- 419 VOTESPhoto: Warner Bros. / Paramount Pictures / TriStar Pictures
Notable Movies: Weird Science, Less Than Zero, Chaplin, Natural Born Killers, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, A Scanner Darkly, Zodiac, Tropic Thunder, Due Date, Sherlock Holmes, Wonder Boys, Bowfinger
Movie Accolades: Two Oscar nominations (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder); one Golden Globe win (Sherlock Holmes); two Golden Globe nominations (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder)
Robert Downey, Jr. is a Hollywood veteran who got his start in teen movies like Weird Science, then successfully graduated to more adult roles. He has shown an ability to thrive in a wide range of genres, having worked in drama, comedy, action, and even horror (Gothika). Both before and after the MCU made him an A-list star, Downey was known as a reliable actor guaranteed to deliver something unpredictable and wonderful in each performance. He has a unique personality that comes across no matter what kind of part he's playing.
- 516 VOTESPhoto: Paramount Pictures / StudioCanal / The Weinstein Company
Notable Movies: Atonement, War Horse, The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, Star Trek Into Darkness, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, 12 Years a Slave, The Imitation Game, Black Mass, Dr. Seuss' The Grinch, 1917
Movie Accolades: One Oscar nomination (The Imitation Game); one Golden Globe nomination (The Imitation Game)
His unusual name may have been hard to remember at first, but everyone knows who Benedict Cumberbatch is now. He specializes in giving sophisticated performances in ambitious films. Even when starring in a popcorn adventure like Star Trek Into Darkness, the actor consistently delivers intense, nuanced work. Cumberbatch has an innate intelligence that always comes across in his work. Also noteworthy is his ability to convincingly play both heroes and villains.
- 620 VOTESPhoto: Netflix / DreamWorks Pictures / Focus Features
Notable Movies: The Horse Whisperer, The Man Who Wasn't There, Ghost World, Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring, Match Point, The Island, The Prestige, Her, Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit
Movie Accolades: Two Oscar nominations (Marriage Story, Jojo Rabbit); one BAFTA win (Lost in Translation); five Golden Globe nominations (Lost in Translation, Girl with a Pearl Earring, A Love Song for Bobby Long, Match Point, Marriage Story)
One of the few actors to get nominated for two Oscars in the same year, Scarlett Johansson is both a major star and a respected actress. Her childhood role in Robert Redford's The Horse Whisperer pointed to her innate talent. Since then, she has established herself as a viable action hero, not just within the MCU but also in movies such as Lucy and Ghost in the Shell. Other films, most notably Marriage Story, reveal that she can thrive just as well in artistic, independent-minded fare. There really isn't much she can't do.