It is hard to believe that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been dominating the silver screen for 10 years now. Boy, does time fly by when you’re having fun watching these movies. Marvel Studios took a risk in bringing Iron Man to the big screen in 2008 as he was a character that mass audiences were not familiar with at all. The film turned out to be a smash hit at the box office and 10 years later, the MCU has expanded to exponential proportions. Marvel Studios have managed to consistently produce one hit film after another. The success of every single one of their movies has allowed them to acquire some of Hollywood’s biggest actors to attach themselves to the latest Marvel movies.
Everyone wants to be apart of the MCU nowadays. It helps that the MCU happens to be a family oriented product and viewers do not have to worry about sitting through uncomfortable scenes. For stuff like that, one can look no further to other movies featuring members of the MCU cast. Just about every actor in the MCU has had a difficult film role that put them in the position to feature in a few disturbing scenes and here are some unsettling examples of that notion.
15. ROBERT DOWNEY JR. – LESS THAN ZERO
Robert Downey Jr.’s prior drug abuse has been well documented. In many ways, getting cast as Iron Man both saved his career and his life. In a disturbing piece of art imitating life, Downey starred in the 1987 adaptation of the Bret Easton Ellis novel, Less Than Zero. He plays Julian, a man who becomes a drug addict after his record company plummet.
All of Downey’s scenes draw some uncomfortable parallels to his real life.
When he needs to pay a $50,000 debt to his drug dealer (played by James Spader, who plays Downey’s MCU foe, Ultron, 30 years later), Julian becomes a prostitute. He also suffers from withdrawal when he tries to sober up. Eventually, shortly after a relapse, he dies from heart failure. Thankfully, Downey’s story does not end as tragically as Julian’s.
14. CHRIS EVANS – NOT ANOTHER TEEN MOVIE
Chris Evans first superhero role came in playing The Human Torch for FOX’s mid-2000’s Fantastic Four movies, but his career rose to prominence when he joined the MCU years later and donned Captain America’s superhero costume. Neither role was Evans’s first claim to fame as he first found himself exposed to mass audiences in 2001 starring in Not Another Teen Movie. It was a film that parodied the tropes of teen movies released around that time, such as Varsity Blues.
Speaking of, Not Another Teen Movie most infamously parodied a scene from the film by having Chris Evans spray whip cream on his chest and crotch. He even put a banana up his butt to truly be a human banana split. Evans has certainly come a long way from what was only his second film credit.
13. ELIZABETH OLSEN – MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE
Elizabeth Olsen first kicked down the doors into Hollywood by snagging the role of Scarlet Witch for the MCU, but her first breakout performance that put eyes on her was when she starred in the independent film Martha Marcy May Marlene.
In the film, she plays a woman struggling to adjust to real life after spending years in a cult.
We get to see flashbacks of life in the cult. One of the more uncomfortable scenes comes in her initiation scene. After being christened into the cult by Patrick (John Hawkes), Martha later falls asleep and wakes up to Patrick assaulting her while she was unconscious. Initially horrified, Patrick convinces Martha that she needs to be more open with herself and share her body with the rest of the cult.
12. JEREMY RENNER – DAHMER
As Hawkeye, Jeremy Renner is often the overlooked hidden gem of the MCU. This isn’t that much different from Renner’s career as an actor himself. Often overlooked (still) until starring in The Hurt Locker, he’s been giving exuberant performances for ages now. One of which was as the title character in Dahmer. As Jeffrey Dahmer, Renner is cold and petrifying. His most bone chilling scene comes when Dahmer commits his first kill.
As a young man, he meets Khamtay, who he drugs and brings to his house where he strangles him to death. Dahmer doesn’t stop there. As with most of his victims in real life, Dahmer strips Khamtay naked, massages him, and then dissects him by drilling a hole into his head. We don’t see the actual drilling on camera, but our imagination is enough to unsettle us.
11. ANTHONY HOPKINS – SILENCE OF THE LAMBS
It was once revealed that during the scene in Thor when Odin roars at Loki while he verbally undressed Thor, Anthony Hopkins improvised the roar and Tom Hiddleston looked visibly shaken. Which comes as no surprise, since Anthony Hopkins always had that effect on people ever since he played Hannibal Lecter in Silence of the Lambs. He makes Hannibal at his most frightening during the scene where he meets Clarice Starling.
The first moment we catch a glimpse of the unflinching unblinking Dr. Lecter, it sends a chill down our spine.
We feel personally attacked as we watch Lecter verbally undress Clarice as if she were a child from behind a glass. All he does is stand and spew subtle diatribes at Clarice Starling. Yet, Anthony Hopkins manages to be the scariest thing we’ve seen on film in decades.
10. MICHAEL ROOKER – HENRY: PORTRAIT OF A SERIAL KILLER
Nowadays, audiences recognize Michael Rooker as Merle Dixon from The Walking Dead or Yondu in the Guardians of the Galaxy flicks, but his very first introduction to the mass entertainment industry was a much more horrifying one. The character actor first introduced himself to audiences in the film Henry: Portrait of a Serial Killer.
He played real life serial killer Henry Lee Lucas, and the film documented his killing spree with Ottis Toole (played by Tom Towles). The film accumulated a heap of controversy at the time of its release, particularly for one scene where Henry and Ottis commit a home invasion. In the scene, they record themselves slaughtering a family of a man, his wife, and child. It’s all the more unflinching when later on, the duo watch their crimes casually at home.
9. CHADWICK BOSEMAN – GET ON UP
When he isn’t playing Black Panther for the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Chadwick Boseman tends to play practically every black historical figure that one can imagine. Whether he is playing Jackie Robinson or Thurgood Marshall, Boseman always delivers an excellent performance that does the real life figure justice.
Perhaps his most memorable historical role came when he played James Brown in the film Get On Up.
The film was brutally honest in portraying James Brown’s personal life, particularly in the scene where Brown smacked his wife for wearing what he deemed to be a revealing outfit for Christmas. Which was uncomfortable to watch because we are forced to watch an actor we admire strike a woman, and we are reminded that musician we loved had done this.
8. CHIWETEL EJIOFOR – FOUR BROTHERS
The version of Baron Mordo — played by Chiwetel Ejiofor — in Doctor Strange is a much more honorable and loyal Mordo than the villain we see in the comics. If Mordo ever does make a full turn to the dark side, we know Ejiofor has the chops to play a bad guy, just like he did in Four Brothers. In the villain’s most diabolical scene, the crime boss Ejiofor is making a speech to his goons and notices that one of them is eating during his speech.
Since he wants to eat so much, Ejiofor throws the man’s plate on the ground and forces him to eat off the ground. A woman tries to speak up for the goon, and Ejiofor forces her to eat with him. Seeing Ejiofor’s cruelty accompanied by our second hand embarrassment for the man and woman makes us cringe while watching.
7. AARON TAYLOR-JOHNSON – NOCTURNAL ANIMALS
Aaron Taylor-Johnson was the show stealer of Age of Ultron in his utterly charming performance as Quicksilver. More recently, he gave a performance that was the opposite of charming; more like of frightening. The performance in question came in the 2016 Tom Ford directed thriller, Nocturnal Animals.
Johnson is introduced in possibly his most unsettling scene.
In it, Johnson and his team of hooligans drive a mild mannered family man (Jake Gyllenhaal) off the road in the middle of nowhere. Johnson insists they report the accident and Gyllenhaal says they need to drive into town to get a signal. Johnson demands that Gyllenhaal, his wife, and children get in their car to drive. Gyllenhaal refuses, so he gets restrained while Johnson abducts his wife and child, who he later kills.
6. JAMES SPADER – CRASH
Long before he contributed the voice of Ultron to the MCU, James Spader often found himself typecast as a weird sleazebag in controversial films. One example of such work starring Spade is David Cronenberg’s Crash. The film focuses on a group of people who find themselves turned on by car crashes. In one scene, James Spader sleeps with Rosanna Arquette, but not just ina vanilla fashion.
In the film, Arquette’s legs are strapped in metal braces. Behind one of these braces is a scar underneath her thigh that. So, naturally, Spader decides to commit very questionable acts with said part. It’s worth noting that Cronenberg has a number of strange body horror features like this under his belt. Pairing him with Spader on a film like this was like putting two peas in a pod.
5. BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH – ATONEMENT
Through several of his recent roles in Hollywood, Benedict Cumberbatch has become something of an internet heartthrob to his fans, especially following his title role in Doctor Strange. However, most of his fans who saw his performance in Atonement would probably be thinking differently of the Sherlock alum.
As Paul Marshall, Benedict Cumberbatch gives a really creepy performance.
When one child named Lola gets assaulted in the woods, the blame is pinned on Robbie Turner (James McAvoy), who is imprisoned and then forced to join the army after his supposed crime. Near the end, there is a scene revealing that it was actually Paul who assaults Lola, then breaks her arm telling her to lie about it. Years later, he marries her when she turns 18.
4. CHRIS PRATT – MOVIE 43
Chris Pratt instantly launched himself into Hollywood superstardom when he slimmed down for the lead role of Peter “Star-Lord” Quill in Guardians of the Galaxy. Years prior, a pudgier Pratt co-starred with his then-wife, Anna Faris, in a segment for the critically lauded Movie 43. Faris and Pratt play a couple who after dating for a year, Faris gets up the nerve to tell her partner about a personal bedroom preference of hers that she hopes he joins in on.
Pratt reluctantly agrees and takes a bunch of laxatives to prepare himself. However, when he’s ready to commit the deed that she requested, Faris cries and runs off. Pratt chases after her running into the street, and gets hit by a car. In the process, he can’t hold it in and lets it all go. Flattered by the gesture, she agrees to marry him.
3. PAUL BETTANY – GANGSTER NO. 1
Paul Bettany is best known for playing dashing gentleman-like roles, so he always had the perfect voice to contribute to both J.A.R.V.I.S. and The Vision. He wasn’t so gentlemanly in playing a younger version of Malcolm McDowell for the 2000 crime drama Gangster No. 1. McDowell is a veteran gangster — simply named The Gangster — and in flashbacks where he’s played by Bettany, we see how he rose to power.
A pivotal moment in the young Gangster’s life comes in the scene where he takes out his gang’s rival gangster, Lennie Taylor.
After arriving to Taylor’s flat and shooting him in the leg, The Gangster plops on “Why” by Frankie Avalon on a record player, strips down to his trousers, and tortures Taylor to death. The sight of Bettany covered in blood is unnerving to say the least.
2. ZOE SALDANA – BURNING PALMS
This entry refers to not one singular scene, but to a segment in the disturbing anthology film Burning Palms. The film was pitched by the producer as, essentially, the “John Waters version of Short Cuts,” which is another ensemble film directed by Robert Altman. The segment in question, called “Maneater” stars Zoe Saldana, who years later would star in the Guardians of the Galaxy films as Gamora, Star-Lord’s love interest.
The segment begins with Saldana being brutally assaulted after an unidentified attacker breaks into her apartment. She manages to find his wallet and manages to find the man, played by Nick Stahl. When she confronts the man, in a strange twist, she begs him to assault her again. He obliges. Unsettled by the encounter, he leaves while she cries out for him to stay and not leave her.
1. VING RHAMES – PULP FICTION
Ving Rhames became one of the latest additions to the MCU after appearing in the post-credit scene of the Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 as one of the new Ravagers. Long before becoming a Marvel character, Ving Rhames became best recognizable as Marcellus Wallace in the surprise indie hit, Pulp Fiction.
Aside from being an intimidating mob boss, Rhames was best remembered for one particular scene in the movie.
In this scene, Rhames and Willis were captured by a couple hicks straight out of Deliverance. Rhames was taken to the back while Willis sat with “The Gimp”. After escaping “The Gimp”‘s clutches, Willis goes to rescue Rhames and finds the two hicks, as Rhames’s character loosely put it, “gets medieval.” After saving Rhames, Rhames warned Willis never to tell anybody about what happened to him that day.
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