Long ago were the days when starring in an adaptation of a comic book was considered a risky career move. Now, many of Hollywood’s most celebrated stars have headlined superhero flicks. Take Scarlett Johansson, for example! She’s starred as Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff in the Marvel Cinematic Universe since 2010’s “Iron Man 2.” Nearly a decade later, she scored two Academy Award nominations in the same year for her work in “Jojo Rabbit” and “Marriage Story.” Now she’s returning to the MCU in a standalone film centered around her on-screen alter ego. Wonderwall.com is celebrating the long-awaited debut of “Black Widow” on July 9, 2021, by taking a look back at all the Oscar-nominated actors who’ve appeared in Marvel movies over the years, starting with Scarlett’s new co-stars…
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Florence Pugh — who scored her first Oscar nomination in 2020 for her work in Greta Gerwig’s adaptation of “Little Women” — joins Scarlett Johansson in “Black Widow” as Natasha’s “sister” and fellow Widow, Yelena.
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Rachel Weisz stars in “Black Widow” as Melina Vostokoff. In the Marvel comics, she’s a former Soviet agent… and that’s all we’ll say about her for now! In 2006, Rachel took home the Oscar for best supporting actress for her work in “The Constant Gardener.” She scored her second Academy Award nomination in 2019 for her performance in “The Favourite.”
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William Hurt returns to role of Thaddeus Ross in “Black Widow.” He first portrayed the character in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” and has popped up in a handful of subsequent installments in the MCU. William took home an Academy Award in 1986 for his performance in “Kiss of the Spider Woman.” He’s earned three more Oscar nominations since then for his work in “Children of a Lesser God,” “Broadcast News” and “A History of Violence.”
Robert Downey Jr., who’s arguably responsible for the MCU, is a two-time Oscar nominee for his work in “Chaplin” and “Tropic Thunder.” He made his debut as Tony Stark in 2008’s “Iron Man”… and launched the uber-popular film franchise in the process.
Long live the king! Chadwick Boseman posthumously earned an Oscar nomination in 2021 for his work in “Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom.” The widely beloved actor made his MCU debut as T’Challa in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” He then headlined 2018’s “Black Panther” before appearing in two “Avengers” movies. His “Black Panther” co-stars are equally accomplished…
Lupita Nyong’o starred as T’Challa’s love and fellow warrior Nakia in 2018’s “Black Panther.” Five years earlier, she won an Oscar for her work in “12 Years a Slave,” which marked her feature film debut.
Daniel Kaluuya made his debut as T’Challa’s friend W’Kabi in “Black Panther” in 2018 — the same year he scored his first Oscar nomination for his work in “Get Out.” Three years later, he won an Academy Award for his performance as real-life Black Panther Chairman Fred Hampton in “Judas and the Black Messiah.”
Forest Whitaker — who starred as T’Challa’s trusted advisor Zuri in 2018’s “Black Panther” — won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Ugandan dictator Idi Amin in 2006’s “The Last King of Scotland.”
And finally, Angela Bassett — who starred as T’Challa’s mother, Queen Ramonda, in 2018’s “Black Panther” — scored an Oscar nomination in 1994 for her performance as Tina Turner in “What’s Love Got to Do with It.”
Laurence Fishburne also scored an Oscar nomination for his work in 1993’s “What’s Love Got to Do with It.” (He starred as Ike Turner opposite Angela Bassett as Tina Turner.) The “Matrix” alum joined the MCU as biochemist Bill Foster in 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.” (Long before the MCU took shape, Laurence had a major role in another Marvel movie: He voiced the titular alien being in 2007’s “Fantastic 4: Rise of the Silver Surfer.”)
Samuel L. Jackson, who made his debut as Nick Fury in 2008’s “Iron Man,” scored an Oscar nomination in 1995 for his work in “Pulp Fiction.” In 2022, he’s set to receive an honorary Academy Award recognizing his contributions to the film industry.
Brie Larson won the Academy Award for best actress for her performance in 2015’s “Room.” Four years later, she joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Carol Danvers in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” She wasn’t the only Academy Award-nominated member of the cast…
Annette Bening portrayed Carol’s mentor, Dr. Wendy Lawson, in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” Annette is a four-time Oscar nominee for her work in “The Grifters,” “American Beauty,” “Being Julia” and “The Kids Are All Right.”
Jude Law played Starforce leader Yon-Rogg in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.” He has two Oscar nominations under his belt for his work in “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Cold Mountain.”
Djimon Hounsou first portrayed Kree warrior Korath the Pursuer in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.” He then returned to the role in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which is set decades earlier. Djimon has earned two Oscar nominations for his work in “Blood Diamond” and “In America.”
In 2012 — a year after he scored his first Oscar nomination for his performance in “The Kids Are All Right” — Mark Ruffalo took over the role of Bruce Banner from Edward Norton. After starring in “The Avengers,” Mark scored two more Academy Award nominations for his work in “Foxcatcher” and “Spotlight.” Speaking of Ed…
Edward Norton, who portrayed Bruce Banner in 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk,” earned Academy Award nominations for his work in “Primal Fear,” “American History X” and “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).”
Benedict Cumberbatch, who made his debut as Dr. Stephen Strange in 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” scored his first Oscar nomination in 2015 for his work in “The Imitation Game.”
In 2016, Rachel McAdams earned her first Academy Award nomination for her performance as journalist Sacha Pfeiffer in “Spotlight.” The same year, she portrayed Dr. Strange’s former love Christine Palmer in “Doctor Strange.”
Bradley Cooper — who’s served as the voice of Rocket since 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” — has eight Oscar nominations to his name for his work as an actor, writer and producer. The multi-hyphenate earned recognition for his performances in “Silver Linings Playbook,” “American Hustle,” “American Sniper” and “A Star Is Born.”
Gwyneth Paltrow, who won an Oscar for her work in “Shakespeare in Love” in 1999, has portrayed Tony Stark’s business assoicate-turned-longtime love Pepper Potts since 2008’s “Iron Man.”
Don Cheadle — who took over the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes from Terrence Howard in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” — scored an Oscar nomination in 2005 for his work in “Hotel Rwanda.”
The original Rhodey also has one Oscar nomination to his name: Terrence Howard was recognized for his work in “Hustle & Flow” in 2006.
Jeremy Renner earned his first Academy Award nomination in 2010 for his work in “The Hurt Locker.” The following year, he made his debut as Clint “Hawkeye” Barton in “Thor” and scored his second Oscar nomination for his performance in “The Town.”
Anthony Hopkins portrayed Odin — the king of Asgard and Thor’s father — in “Thor,” “Thor: The Dark World” and “Thor: Ragnarok.” The Welsh actor won his first Oscar in 1992 for his portrayal of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in “The Silence of the Lambs.” He then scored Academy Award nominations for his work in “The Remains of the Day,” “Nixon,” “Amistad” and “The Two Popes.” In 2021, he became the oldest performer to win an Oscar for acting when he took home top honors for his work in “The Father.”
Natalie Portman — who starred as Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, in “Thor” and “Thor: Dark World” — won an Oscar in 2011 for her performance as a twisted ballerina in “Black Swan.” She also scored Academy Award nominations for her work in “Closer” and “Jackie.” She’s set to return to the role of Jane Foster after nearly a decade away from the MCU in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which is due in 2022.
In 1993, Marisa Tomei won the Academy Award for best supporting actress for her performance in “My Cousin Vinny.” She’s since scored Academy Award nominations for her work in “The Wrestler” and “In the Bedroom.” She joined the MCU as Peter Parker’s Aunt May in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” and has returned the role several times since then.
Jake Gyllenhaal scored an Academy Award nomination in 2006 for his performance in “Brokeback Mountain.” He joined the MCU as villain Quentin “Mysterio” Beck in 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far from Home.”
Cate Blanchett earned her first Oscar nomination for her performance as Queen Elizabeth I in 1998’s “Elizabeth.” She then received Academy Award nominations for her work in “The Aviator,” “Notes on a Scandal,” “Elizabeth: The Golden Age,” “I’m Not There,” “Blue Jasmine” and “Carol” — and won for “The Aviator” and “Blue Jasmine.” Never one to put herself in a box, Cate switched gears in 2017 and starred as supervillain Hela in “Thor: Ragnarok.”
Chiwetel Ejiofor was nominated for an Academy Award in 2014 for his performance as Solomon Northup in “12 Years a Slave.” Two years later, he made his MCU debut as Karl Mordo in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” He’s set to return to the role in the upcoming sequel “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
Michelle Pfeiffer has three Oscar nominations to her name for her work in “Dangerous Liaisons,” “The Fabulous Baker Boys” and “Love Field.” She joined the Marvel Cinematic Universe as the original Wasp — Janet Van Dyne — in 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”
Michelle Pfeiffer’s on-screen husband, Michael Douglas, won an Oscar in 1976 for producing “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” More than a decade later, he won his second Academy Award for his performance as Gordon Gekko in 1987’s “Wall Street.” He joined the MCU as Dr. Hank Pym in 2015’s “Ant-Man.”
Tilda Swinton won the Academy Award for best supporting actress in 2008 for her work in “Michael Clayton.” Eight years later, she starred as the Ancient One in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” She briefly returned to the role in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.”
Mickey Rourke earned an Oscar nomination in 2009 for his portrayal of the titular past-his-prime performer in “The Wrestler.” The following year, he starred as villain Ivan “Whiplash” Vanko in “Iron Man 2.”
Another Oscar-nominated “Iron Man 2” villain? Sam Rockwell, who portrayed military contractor Justin Hammer in the superhero flick. He won the Oscar for best supporting actor in 2018 for his performance as a troubled police deputy in “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri” and scored his second Academy Award nomination the following year for his portrayal of President George W. Bush in “Vice.”
Glenn Close is an eight-time Academy Award nominee for her work in “The World According to Garp,” “The Big Chill,” “The Natural,” “Fatal Attraction,” “Dangerous Liaisons,” “Albert Nobbs,” “The Wife” and “Hillbilly Elegy.” She also portrayed the commander of the Nova Corps in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.”
Tommy Lee Jones — who portrayed Colonel Chester Phillips in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger” — won the Academy Award for best supporting actor in 1994 for his performance in “The Fugitive.” He also scored Oscar nominations for his work in “JFK,” “In the Valley of Elah” and “Lincoln.”
In 1983, Ben Kingsley won the Academy Award for best actor for his performance as the titular activist in “Gandhi.” He scored three more Oscar nominations — for his work in “Bugsy,” “Sexy Beast” and “House of Sand and Fog” — before portraying Trevor Slattery in 2013’s “Iron Man 3.”
Benicio Del Toro won an Oscar in 2001 for his work in “Traffic” and scored a second Academy Award nomination in 2004 for his performance in “21 Grams.” He made his debut as The Collector in a mid-credits scene in 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World” and has returned to the role a few times since then.
Robert Redford won an Oscar in 1981 for directing “Ordinary People.” He also scored Academy Award nominations for acting in 1973’s “The Sting” and for directing and producing 1984’s “Quiz Show.” He went on to play Alexander Pierce in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
In 1977, Sylvester Stallone scored two Academy Awards nominations for “Rocky” — best original screenplay and best lead actor. He earned his third Oscar nomination when he returned to the role of Rocky Balboa in 2015’s “Creed.” Two years later, Sly portrayed Ravager captain Stakar Ogord in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.”
Jennifer Connelly won an Academy Award for her supporting performance as Alicia Nash in 2001’s “A Beautiful Mind.” Fresh off her Oscar win, she starred as Betty Ross opposite Eric Bana’s Bruce Banner in 2003’s “Hulk.”
Michael Keaton scored an Oscar nomination in 2015 for his work in “Birdman or (The Unexpected Virtue of Ignorance).” Two years later, the iconic actor — who’s most famous for portraying DC Comics hero Batman — joined the MCU as supervillain Adrian “Vulture” Toomes in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.”
Stanley Tucci portrayed World War II scientist Abraham Erskine in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” Just one year earlier, the actor was nominated for an Academy Award for his performance as serial killer George Harvey in “The Lovely Bones.”
Jeff Bridges is a seven-time Oscar nominee who’s also starred in a Marvel film: He played villain Obadiah Stane in 2008’s “Iron Man.” He won the Academy Award for best actor in 2010 for his performance as an aging country music star in “Crazy Heart” and also earned Oscar nominations for his work in “The Last Picture Show,” “Thunderbolt and Lightfoot,” “Starman,” “The Contender,” “True Grit” and “Hell or High Water.”
John C. Reilly’s performance in 2002’s “Chicago” earned him an Oscar nomination for best supporting actor. Twelve years later, he starred as intergalactic police officer Rhomann Dey in “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.”
Michelle Williams starred as Eddie Brock’s love interest, Anne Weying, in the 2018 Spider-Man spinoff “Venom,” which isn’t technically part of the MCU. The four-time Oscar nominee — she’s been recognized for her work in “Brokeback Mountain,” “Blue Valentine,” “My Week with Marilyn” and “Manchester by the Sea” but has yet to win — is set to return to the role in the upcoming sequel “Venom: Let There Be Carnage.”
Mr. Venom himself, Tom Hardy, scored his first Oscar nomination in 2016 for his work in “The Revenant.”
Marvel multi-hyphenate Taika Waititi served as an assistant director on 2016’s “Doctor Strange,” directed 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok” and voiced Korg in a handful of MCU movies. He also wrote and directed “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which is due in 2022. He scored his first Oscar nomination in 2005 for the short live-action film “Two Cars, One Night.” In 2020, he won an Academy Award for writing “Jojo Rabbit,” for which he also earned another Oscar nomination in the best picture category for his work as a producer.
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