The cast of the Marvel Cinematic Universe might be one of the largest and most beloved casts in recent movie history. Almost every actor is so full of charm that it’s hard to root against them, even when they’re playing the villain. It’s one of the main reasons why the films are so popular, because even when the plots start to get repetitive or predictable, or the story doesn’t quite land, it’s all ok — just watching these actors work with each other is worth the price of admission alone. That being said, nobody is perfect and that’s especially true in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
With so many movies coming out, there’s always a group of actors doing press, often for one movie right after another. This means that actors are constantly being interviewed or asked for quotes, and this often leads to somebody sticking their foot in their mouth. Whether it’s a joke that went wrong, or a political discussion that went off the rails, or just a genuine mistake, actors can quickly find themselves on the wrong side of controversy. As much as the fans love them, one wrong comment and they can turn their backs incredibly fast before anyone realized what was happening.
15. SEBASTIAN STAN
In the films, Sebastian Stan’s portrayal of James “Bucky” Barnes starting in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) easily won over the fans. Stan’s performance brought a vulnerability to the character as he went from Cap’s best friend to brainwashed assassin and then back again.
While fans may have been willing to forgive his character’s deeds, Stan struggled in real life to earn forgiveness. Seemingly in response to the recent controversy involving NFL players kneeling during the anthem, Stan shared a meme showing Nancy Kerrigan sitting next to Tonya Harding, with the caption “Back when ‘taking a knee’ meant taking a knee.” Regardless of what side people took on the issue, they all agreed that the joke was in poor taste. Stan apologized and deleted the image, claiming that he was just trying to promote his upcoming film “I, Tonya” and didn’t realize how offensive the joke was.
14. EDWARD NORTON
Early on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s life, Edward Norton helped reboot the Hulk franchise with The Incredible Hulk (2008). He not only starred in it, but he also worked behind the scenes on the story (although, it’s not clear to what extent). Unfortunately, the film was a bit of a dud and when it came to make Avengers (2012), Marvel replaced Norton with Mark Ruffalo. It’s rumored that Norton’s insistence on creative control led to the split.
At first, fans seemed to side with Norton, but Ruffalo’s Hulk was a huge hit and the popular consensus was that it was the best film version of the character yet. In 2014, Norton tried to claim he decided not to return to the role because of the time commitment. Of course, this statement contradicted earlier statements and it seemed like Norton was just trying to save face.
13. IDRIS ELBA
Even an actor as popular and beloved as Idris Elba needs to be careful how he words things. In 2013, the actor starred in both Thor: The Dark World and Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom. During an interview with The Telegraph, Elba discussed going from playing Mandela on one to having to travel to England for reshoots on the Thor film, which required him to wear an elaborate costume and harness. He said “Then there I was, in this stupid harness, with this wig and this sword and these contact lenses. It ripped my heart out.”
Of course, Elba later clarified that the process of going from one type of film and character to a completely different type was difficult, and that he has a great relationship with Marvel. Once he clarified, fans completely understood his meaning. Before that, however, they were calling for his banishment from Asgard.
12. HUGO WEAVING
One of the creepiest villains in the first phase of Marvel’s movies was the Red Skull, who was brought to life by Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger (2011). Since the Red Skull’s fate was left ambiguous, fans had been hopeful that Weaving might return to the MCU to further terrorize the heroes.
In an interview with Collider, the actor stated that he wouldn’t want to return to the role, although Marvel could force him to. This statement followed him describing work on the Transformers movies, where he said he never even saw the script, he just read his lines in a studio, and the tone seemed to suggest that he didn’t appreciate those sorts of roles. He later clarified that he enjoyed playing the Red Skull and was open to returning, although he hasn’t had any discussions about doing so.
11. CHRIS PRATT
It’s hard to imagine people getting mad at lovable Chris Pratt, but it happened. While promoting Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2 (2017), however, the star released a video on social media where he urged fans to “turn up the volume and not just ‘read the subtitles.” While the actor was referring to the practice of social media site automatically muting their videos, he accidentally offended hearing impaired fans who rely on subtitles.
Of course, being the type of guy he is, Pratt went above and beyond with his apology. He released another video which not only clarified his original intention, but also had the actor use sign language throughout the entire clip. He was also adamant that the apology was his idea and not his publicist’s. Considering his sign language skills, this seems pretty believable.
10. TILDA SWINTON
When she was cast as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange (2016), Tilda Swinton had no idea what she was stepping into. Not necessarily because of the film’s production, but because she became the center of one of Hollywood’s “whitewashing” controversies. “Whitewashing” is a term used to describe the industry’s tendency to cast white actors as characters that should be portrayed by an actor of a different ethnicity. In the comics, The Ancient One was portrayed as an elderly Asian man, making Swinton’s casting problematic.
Swinton didn’t help herself when she tried to defend her casting. She claimed that since the film was changing the character’s origin from what appeared in the comics, it wasn’t really whitewashing, and actually called her casting as “positively diverse” in Out magazine. While the film was a success and her performance was praised, fans were still disappointed that Swinton seemed to miss the point.
9. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
When rumors began circulating that Benedict Cumberbatch was a possibility to play the lead in Doctor Strange (2016), fans immediately embraced the perfect casting. Marvel, excited to make this come true, shuffled around the production schedule of the film, even delaying its release date, in order to make it fit Cumberbatch’s busy schedule. They were able to pull it off, and the British actor signed onto the movie. Then, he almost immediately ruined it.
During an interview with PBS‘s Travis Smiley, Cumberbatch referred to black actors as “colored actors.” Granted, he was talking about a lack of diversity in British filmmaking, but the phrasing he used was not well thought out. Cumberbatch quickly released an apology, taking full accountability for his outdated and completely inappropriate phrasing. Luckily, it seems like fans accepted the apology.
8. MARK RUFFALO
Considering his political views and activism, it might be surprising to find out that Mark Ruffalo once got in trouble for using a slur. Yet, that very thing happened when he visited The Graham Norton Show. While promoting Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015) along with costars Elizabeth Olsen and Jeremy Renner, Ruffalo got himself into a bit of trouble. While talking about her character, Olsen referred to her costume design as “gypsy inspired,” only to have Graham Norton inform her that the term is actually a slur used to refer to Romani people.
Obviously unaware at how offensive the word was, Ruffalo and Renner reportedly began chanting the word. While the segment was apparently edited out of the broadcast, word still got out. Ruffalo quickly took apologized directly to fans who were upset, explaining he hadn’t heard that the word was offensive before and promised never to use it again.
7. TERRENCE HOWARD
It was somewhat shocking when Marvel announced that Don Cheadle would replace Terrence Howard in the role of James Rhodes for Iron Man 2 (2010). Howard had been well received in the first film, which had clearly set up the character’s future as War Machine. Initially, it was unclear why, although plenty of rumors circulated.
While promoting the film Best Man Holiday (2013), Howard let loose on the recasting. According to him, the studio reduced his role and tried to cut his salary so they could pay Robert Downey Jr more money. Howard expressed anger at Downey, who he claimed got the part because he recommended him. For many fans, however, Downey was the heart of the franchise and didn’t agree that he screwed Howard over. Howard seems to have reconciled with Downey, and the two are currently on friendly terms.
6. FINN JONES
Iron Fist (2017) will probably not go down in history as Marvel’s finest hour. When the first season was released to Netflix, it was met with poor reviews. While not outright hated, many complained that the show was somewhat boring and awkward, and lead actor Finn Jones wasn’t right for the part. Some felt that an asian actor should have gotten the role to celebrate the character’s inspirations, while others felt that Jones just wasn’t charismatic enough to carry the series.
In a bizarre move, Jones attempted to blame the show’s poor reviews on Donald Trump’s presidency. In an interview with Radio Times, Jones explained that he was playing a white billionaire character in a time when that white billionaires were “public enemy number one.” This came off as completely tone deaf, and fans seemed to disagree, as the show is considered incredibly unpopular (regardless of Trump).
5. MICKEY ROURKE
While Iron Man 2 (2010) wasn’t Marvel’s most popular movie, but Mickey Rourke was generally praised for his performance as the villain, Ivan Vanko. The son of Howard Stark’s disgraced former partner, Ivan sought revenge against Tony for ruining his father’s legacy. Rourke dug deep for the character, researching Russian gangs, even making sure that the tattoos that he wore were correct for his character’s history.
Since then, however, Rourke has held onto a grudge with Marvel for cutting too much of his performance. He’s brought it up in several interviews, and has insulted the studio multiple times for making “mindless comic book movies.” Since fans appreciated the performance, it’s unclear to many why he’s so angry. His inability to let go of whatever upset him has soured his reputation among the Marvel cinematic faithful.
4. CHRIS EVANS
Chris Evans might be one of the most likable actors, and not just within the Marvel Cinematic Universe. His charm, sense of humor and apparent lack of ego (when the cameras aren’t rolling) making him a fan favorite. All of that being said, even he couldn’t escape controversy after making an inappropriate joke about Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow.
While promoting Age of Ultron (2015), Evans was paired with Jeremy Renner for an interview with Digital Spy. When asked about Black Widow being paired up with Hawkeye, Cap and then Hulk, Renner joking called her a slut, and then Evans chimed in (sarcastically) calling her a whore. The joke didn’t land, and Evans quickly issued an apology, where he called his response “juvenile” and “offensive.” Jeremy Renner, however, took a different approach…
3. JEREMY RENNER
Like Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner came under fire for jokingly slut shaming Black Widow. Initially, he released an apology, where he stated that he was sorry if his joke about a fictional character caused any offense, and blamed it on being tired from an exhausting press tour. If he had left it at that, then it probably would have blown over.
While appearing on Conan, Renner referenced the controversy and, in a baffling move, made another joke about how if anyone had slept with four of the six Avengers, they’d be a slut. The new joke reignited the anger, and also didn’t make much sense, since no character in the movie franchise has slept with more than one of, let alone four of, the Avengers.
2. CLARK GREGG
When it first premiered, Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn’t met with the warmest response. It wasn’t until the plot of the show synced up with the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) that many fans felt the program really found its footing. During the majority of the first season, however, it was met with mediocre reviews, which apparently upset the show’s star, Clark Gregg.
According to reports, he referred to people who abandoned the show as “losers,” and that real comic book geeks understood where everything was headed. He later clarified to multiple outlets that he was joking, and meant that people who abandoned the show were “losing out” on some great stories. Given Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.‘s current popularity, it seems as if he was forgiven.
1. ROBERT DOWNEY JR
It seems like the press tour for Age of Ultron (2015) did not go well for anyone. Robert Downey Jr famously walked out of an interview when the interviewer questioned his politics and seemed to take a needlessly aggressive tone with his questions. While this might have bought the actor some sympathy, he ended up on the wrong side of controversy a few days later when he made what seemed like a racist comment about director Alejandro Gonzalez.
The Birdman (2014) director had referred to superhero films as “cultural genocide,” which prompted Downey Jr to respond in “The Guardian” by praising the Spanish-speaking director for be able to put together a phrase like cultural genocide outside of his native tongue. He was met with accusations of racism, and the actor clarified that he wasn’t being sarcastic and genuinely thinks that Alejandro is very smart.
Can you remember any other times an MCU actor angered the fanbase? Let us know in the comments!
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