Underrated Movies MCU Stars Made Before Joining The Franchise
The MCU has introduced many amazing actors to mainstream audiences. However, these performers have appeared in many lesser-known or forgotten films prior to joining the MCU, ranging from indies to Oscar bait.
Some of these films are more known than others. However, all of them contain a memorable performance from an MCU actor that comic book buffs will have to check out if they haven't done so already.
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Jeremy Renner has really grown as the character Hawkeye, first seen in a cameo in the first Thor film and now headlining his own show titled Hawkeye, but the talented actor has appeared in several other notable roles prior to joining the MCU. Among Renner's earliest roles, his turn as a rooftop sniper in the modern zombie sequel 28 Weeks Later, is one of the most memorable and different from other performances the actor has given later on in his career.
28 Weeks Later, which is the sequel to Danny Boyle's 28 Days Later, tells the story of a post-apocalyptic future where a now-contained zombie virus breaks out again after two siblings begin a search to find their mother. This sequel is usually held in higher regard than its predecessor by horror fans and provides a rare occasion for seeing Renner in a horror film, as well as other actors like Rose Byrne and Imogen Poots in early roles. Renner delivers as an exciting hero in this film, foreshadowing the roles he would take in the future.
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Tom Holland has taken the reins over from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, and he and Zendaya became quite a power couple, but some fans don't realize the young star was also a child actor back in the day. Holland played the title role in Billy Elliot the Musical in London before making his feature film debut opposite Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in the true-life disaster drama, The Impossible.
The Impossible is inspired by the real-life experiences of María Belón and her family during the tragic Indian Ocean tsunami that occurred in December of 2004. The film is harrowing but rewarding, and Holland packs a huge punch in his performance as a young boy searching for the rest of his family while tending to his injured mother and another little boy they found along the way. Watching The Impossible back when it was first released in 2012 would probably make most audience members assume Holland was going to be a huge star in the future - and for good reason.
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Chris Pratt may now be an action star known for his six-pack abs and starring as Star-Lord in the MCU, but he started out as a comedic actor who portrayed lazy, out-of-shape characters and had a similar schtick to Seth Rogen. However, this change in his career didn't happen overnight, and it seems that 2011's sports drama Moneyball was a sort of middle ground between new and old Chris Pratt.
Moneyball stars Brad Pitt as Oakland A's general manager Billy Beane and tells the story of how Beane computer-generated analysis to enlist new players for the team. Pitt and Jonah Hill may have gotten a lot of buzz for their performances, but Pratt's layered approach to playing baseball player Scott Hatteberg may be the reason the actor is enjoying the career he has today.
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Paul Rudd was a popular comedic actor long before his turn as Ant-Man in the MCU, but some of his movies are more underrated than others. The hilarious I Love You, Man, which was well-received at the time of its initial release in 2009 but seems to be starting to fall into obscurity, is a movie that showcases Rudd's natural talent that led him to start portraying Ant-Man.
I Love You, Man tells the clever story of an engaged man named Peter who realizes he has no male friends to be his best man at his upcoming wedding. After going on several “man dates," Peter meets the intriguing Sydney (Jason Segel), and a true bromance is born. I Love You, Man is a deconstruction of the romantic comedy, and is brought to life by Rudd and Segel's undeniable chemistry. I Love You, Man may not even be one of Rudd's earliest roles, but it's a movie that demands to be seen if you haven't already.
- Photo: Fox Searchlight Pictures
Elizabeth Olsen currently stars in the MCU as Scarlet Witch. However, few people realize she began her career with a 2011 festival darling, Martha Marcy May Marlene. In the film, which also stars Sarah Paulson and John Hawkes, Olsen plays a paranoid young woman who just escaped from a dangerous cult.
The film explores weighty themes such as brainwashing and shows a glimpse of a damaged psyche as Olsen's character's paranoid thoughts about being found by the cult increase. The audience is also presented with flashbacks that reveal exactly what the lead character of the film went through. Olsen's career was catapulted after this film, for which she received rave reviews and nominations for several prestigious awards including Best Female Lead at the Film Independent Spirit Awards and Breakthrough Actor at the Gotham Awards.
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Robert Downey Jr. is an iconic actor who had a long career way before he stepped into the role of Iron Man in the MCU starting in 2008. After his career suffered due to substance abuse problems in the '90s, Downey Jr. had a resurgence in the mid-2000s with films like Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang and Zodiac, but his turn as an alcoholic high school principal in the 2007 teen dramedy Charlie Bartlett is one of his most underrated performances to date.
Charlie Bartlett stars the late, great Anton Yelchin as a teenager beyond his years who starts serving as a psychiatrist to his fellow students, listening to their problems and then selling them prescription drugs he obtained after being diagnosed with ADHD. Downey Jr. deals with harsh subject matter in this film that echoes his real-life struggles, resulting in a very authentic and touching supporting performance that came just a year before he became a legend in the comic book fandom.