The allure of the MCU is, as the tagline states, “it’s all connected”. And to be fair, Marvel Studios have succeeded wildly in developing the interconnected type of franchise that studios are now desperate to replicate. From Hawkeye’s cameo in Thor, to J.A.R.V.I.S’s development into the Vision, seeds are often planted to be sown in a later movie, or simply to gauge interest. But, despite the myth that surrounds the MCU, not everything is planned meticulously. The Thanos post-credit scene of The Avengers wasn’t in the script, for example. Kevin Feige stressed that Hulk shouldn’t be seen flying into space at the end of Age of Ultron to avoid fostering expectation of a "Planet Hulk" movie.
But now Thanos has grown into the big-bad of the MCU and Hulk is in fact headed to space to team up with Thor in the upcoming Thor: Ragnarok. This improvisational approach to the MCU also affects casting, with actors being cast in bit parts only to be brought back for bigger roles. Which, in a series that fans pick apart for clues and easter eggs, is often more noticeable than the filmmakers anticipate. So grab some popcorn and take a look at 15 times an actor played two roles in the MCU.
15 SEAN GUNN
You might recognize Sean Gunn as Kraglin, a member of the Ravagers in both Guardians of the Galaxy movies. However, his other role is inarguably more important, although he doesn’t always get the credit he should. Sean Gunn is Rocket Raccoon. Yes, Bradley Cooper voices Rocket but, during filming, Sean Gunn gives him physical life. Having an actor physically portray Rocket on set gives him a presence in scenes instead of a stick with a ball on the end.
The rest of the cast can react to his presence in the scene and treat Rocket like a living, breathing character. It’s also a very, and somewhat surprisingly, physical role. Sean Gunn crouches down and actually walks at Rocket’s height, meaning he needs to stay fit and limber. Director James Gunn has talked about the toll this takes, stating that Sean’s physicality is “something most actors aren’t able to do”.
14 CLANCY BROWN
The first half of Daredevil season two is arguably way stronger than the first, with the focus on Frank Castle, the birth of The Punisher, and his subsequent trial. The testimony of Ray Schoonover, Frank Castle’s former commanding officer, during the trial was key to understanding Frank’s backstory. Clancy Brown portrayed Shoonover and lent the role a great deal of depth, emphasizing the tragedy behind it all.
However, Clancy Brown isn’t just a terrific actor. He also has a career as a sought-after voice actor with roles in countless series and video games, most notably Lex Luthor in the DCAU. So you can imagine how hyped we were to learn that Brown provides the voice for Surtur in Thor: Ragnarok. Clancy Brown voicing the demonic nemesis of Asgard? Sign us up. We can’t wait to hear what Brown does with the voice of Surtur. We’re sure it’ll be iconic.
13 ALFRE WOODARD
Some of these entries are subtle, with a performer’s role disguised by CGI or frenetic stunt work. Alfre Woodard is on the other end of the scale; her dual roles are probably the most noticeable of all these entries due to their prominence. Woodard starred in Civil War and Luke Cage in the same year, both being key roles. Obviously, Woodard stood out as Mariah Dillard in Luke Cage.
Woodard shone, albeit briefly, as the impetus of Tony Stark’s superheroic guilt during her scene in Captain America: Civil War. Interestingly, the dual casting was incidental. Woodard was suggested for her role in Civil War by Robert Downey Jr. who had worked with her previously. Marvel Studios had no idea she’d already been cast in Luke Cage and Woodard, being a working actress, snapped up both roles.
12 MARTIN STARR
Martin Starr’s known as Mr. Harrington, head of the Academic Decathlon team in Spider-Man: Homecoming. However, Starr’s other MCU role is more interesting. You might remember him from The Incredible Hulk, in the scene where Bruce Banner tries to sneak in to Culver University. He’s the guy who gives Banner entry in exchange for some pizza. The movie credits Starr as “Computer Nerd”, but the novelization takes it further and gives the role a huge amount of relevance. Namely, it pegs Starr as Amadeus Cho.
Friend and ally to the Hulk, Amadeus is a firm fan favorite. He’s so popular that Marvel made him the definitive Hulk in the comics. But with the inclusion of Helen Cho (Amadeus’ mother) in Age of Ultron, whether Martin Starr really is Amadeus is up in the air. Marvel’s clearly sowing seeds, but Martin Starr’s dual roles and the Incredible Hulk novelization have complicated things.
11 NATHAN FILLION
Nathan Fillion is a geek treasure. We’re sure that most of us would take a bullet for him. James Gunn feels the same way, with Fillion starring in all of Gunn’s films. Naturally, the Guardians of the Galaxy films are no exception. After all, how could a friendship survive being snubbed for the MCU? Fillion features in a small, but fantastic, role in GOTG as the inmate that has his sinuses picked clean by Groot in the Klyn, but Fillion’s role in GOTG 2 easily tops that.
In a deleted scene set on Earth, Fillion poses on a bunch of posters for a film festival, focused on one actor. The actor is Simon Williams, otherwise known as the Avenger, Wonder Man. James Gunn has come out to say that the scenes can still be considered canon, establishing Nathan Fillion as a bona-fide potential hero in the MCU.
10 DAMION POITIER
Damion Poitier is both an actor and a stuntman, meaning his IMDB page is long. It also means that he’s been in a ton of movies and TV shows in apparent or “hidden roles”. Poitier was a stuntman in both Thor: The Dark World and Captain America: Civil War, but he’s also had some featured roles in the MCU too, playing the prestigious Man #1 in The Avengers and one of Crossbones’ Mercs in Civil War.
But Poitier’s most famous MCU role is one where you can’t tell it’s him. Before Josh Brolin was cast, before we had any clue that we’d see him in the MCU, Damion Poitier played Thanos. It’s probably the most famous post-credit scene in MCU history and, at least for a time, Poitier got to embody the Mad Titan himself.
9 MATT GERALD
Matt Gerald brought a surprisingly nuanced, vulnerable take to Melvin Potter in both seasons of Daredevil. Which makes his trusting relationship with Daredevil even harder for savvy fans to watch. If you’re up on your comic book knowledge, or your IMDB trivia, you’ll know that Melvin Potter is the Gladiator, an enemy and eventual ally to Daredevil. There’s a sense of impending tragedy between Daredevil and Potter, of which Gerald’s sensitive and naive performance is key.
So maybe it’s surprising to know that Gerald was also White Power Dave, an aggressive white supremacist, in the All Hail The King One-Shot. Included on the Thor: The Dark World Blu-ray, All Hail The King shows us what happens to Trevor Slattery after the events of Iron Man 3. For Matt Gerald to play both a white supremacist and the mentally impaired Melvin Potter shows a real range of acting talent.
8 BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
In the post-release hype of Doctor Strange, it was a widely shared (and awesome) “secret” that Benedict Cumberbatch had two roles in the movie. Alongside the titular doctor, Cumberbatch also portrayed Dormammu, the demonic villain of the movie’s climax. It’d be safe to assume to Cumberbatch fell into this extra role due to his experience and skills in voice and facial capture (from his role as Smaug the Dragon in The Hobbit trilogy).
However, taking up the role of Doctor Strange’s nemesis was actually Cumberbatch’s idea. Cumberbatch saw Dormammu as a horrific reflection of Doctor Strange and offered up his considerable services for voice and facial acting. Naturally, being a smart person, director Scott Derrickson jumped on the opportunity, adding an extra layer of subtle depth to the conflict between sorcerer and demon.
7 JONATHAN LIPOW
Voice actors have it good in the MCU. Sure, they don’t get to don a cool costume or physically interact with any of the hero’s. But they can easily take on multiple roles. Their whole career is based around creating distinctive and unique voices, so why not? Prominent voice actor Jonathan Lipow did better than most with his.
Lipow provides the voices for both Hulk and Abomination in the orphan child of the MCU, The Incredible Hulk. Despite The Incredible Hulk’s unfair reputation, those roles could net you a serious amount of free drinks at a convention. Lipow also provided voices for the Sakaarans in Guardians of the Galaxy and, so long as he can keep conjuring new voices, we imagine he’ll voice a whole lot more.
6 TONY CURRAN
While most famous in geek circles for his fantastic portrayal of Van Gogh in the Doctor Who episode “Vincent and the Doctor”, Tony Curran has had some pretty sweet roles in the MCU as well. Most notably, Curran played the sadistic and volatile Irish gangster Finn Cooley in Daredevil season two, giving The Punisher a torturous run for his money before, well, getting punished himself.
Curran took what could have been a cliched character and gave him a seething menace, making The Punisher’s plight even more believable. If that wasn’t enough, Curran also landed the small but undeniably cool role of Bor, in Thor: The Dark World. That’s right, Tony Curran played the father of Odin. If we were him, we wouldn’t stop bragging. We only hope he stole the helmet to wear around the house.
5 LAURA HADDOCK
While she doesn’t have the most screen time in the Guardians of the Galaxy movies, Laura Haddock plays a key role nevertheless. Haddock portrays Meredith Quill, mother of Star-Lord and one-time paramour of Ego. Her performance as Meredith on her deathbed had us weeping before the title had even hit the screen in GOTG. Haddock was given more screen time in the sequel as we saw snippets of her relationship with Ego, allowing her to flesh out the character even more.
But this whole thing is about performers with dual MCU roles, so let us drop some knowledge. Go back to the scene with Steve Rogers in his USO Cap outfit and a young woman seeking his autograph. That woman is Laura Haddock. Whether it was coincidence or not isn’t confirmed, but we’d bet that her short scene in Captain America: The First Avenger caught Gunn’s eye.
4 SPENCER GARRETT
Alongside a small, uncredited role in Captain America: The First Avenger as a newsreel announcer, Spencer Garrett portrayed the unfortunate Sheriff of Rose Hill in Iron Man 3. He’s in the bar when Ellen Brandt comes to attack Tony Stark and is pretty much killed for being good at his job. So all in all, it was a mixed bag for the Sheriff, but a solid role for Garrett.
However, Marvel actually neglected to credit Garrett for his role in Iron Man 3, only remedying the situation after he’d got in touch with them to question as to why his name wasn’t up there to be ignored by people while they wait for the post-credit scene. Fun trivia: Garrett was also the first pick to play President Ellis, but was passed over for looking too young. Talk about a backhanded compliment.
3 KENNETH CHOI
This one’s interesting in that there is a diehard, in-canon explanation for the dual casting. Kenneth Choi made his MCU debut as Jim Morita, light-hearted member of the Howling Commandos, in Captain America: The First Avenger and further appeared in a WW2 set scene in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. All things considered, Choi was firmly established as Jim Morita. So fans were intrigued when he was announced as part of the cast for Spider-Man: Homecoming as well.
It turned out that Choi was playing the principal of Peter Parker’s high school. We suspect the dual casting was accidental, but the filmmakers embraced it. They added a photograph of Jim Morita (the Howling Commando) to Principal Morita’s office, implying that they’re grandfather and grandson. All in all, it’s a fantastic way to either cover up a casting error or add a sense of history to the MCU.
2 ENVER GJOKAJ
For MCU TV fans, Enver Gjokaj is immediately recognizable as Daniel Sousa, the handicapable SSR agent and, eventually, Peggy Carter’s lover. The pair have become a popular focus for fan fiction, with most praising the pair’s relationship and its development. MCU fans with particularly good memories might have had a serious case of the “oh, it’s that guy’s” when Agent Carter first aired though, as Gjokaj had been in the MCU before.
He’s one of the cops that are commenting on the chaotic state of affairs during the Battle of New York in The Avengers. Namely, he delivers a much-needed moment of levity during a break in the action. When his partner asks, “does anybody know what’s happening here?”, Gjokaj incredulously replies “do we?!”. It’s a great moment and, evidently, the Marvel TV bosses thought so too.
1 ROB ZOMBIE
No, we didn’t copy the wrong name into this article. Rob Zombie features in the MCU. Well, his voice does at least, thanks to James Gunn. You see, Gunn loves to throw little nods to his fan base in his films. In his first film, Slither, Rob Zombie provided the voice of Dr. Karl. In a nod to their steadfast friendship, Gunn has had Zombie in an off-screen voice role in every movie of his since.
In Guardians of the Galaxy, Zombie voiced a Ravager Navigator. Similarly, he lent his dulcet tones to an Unseen Ravager in Guardians of the Galaxy 2. We’d love for Gunn to take this even further in the sequel. Imagine Cosmo the Spacedog with the voice of Rob Zombie. We wouldn’t stop laughing.
Which of these actors did the best job in their roles? Let us know in the comments!