6 years ago today, Marvel’s The Avengers was released in cinema’s worldwide and ended Phase 1 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. 6 years later, it’s all coming together in the coming weeks with Avengers: Infinity War as we see the mad Titan Thanos complete the Infinity Gauntlet and destroy half the universe. The MCU has shown us everything from Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Black Panther to Thor: Ragnarok and The Guardians of the Galaxy. In this post, I will be looking at what the cast of The Avengers have been doing over this time and how they started their careers.
Robert Downey Jr.
Robert Downey Jr. is the cornerstone of the MCU and arguably the best-cast Avenger. Without him, there would likely not be an MCU as we know it today. Kicking it all off with Iron Man in 2008, RDJ has starred in 9 MCU films including Avengers: Age of Ultron, Spider-man: Homecoming, and the Iron Man trilogy.
Downey’s career came to light with the biographical drama Chaplin (1992), in which he starred alongside Anthony Hopkins and Milla Jovovich. He has continued to star in the incomplete Sherlock Holmes trilogy and films such as Shane Black’s Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005), The Judge (2014), and, reuniting with Jon Favreau and Scarlett Johansson, Chef (2013). Next year he will star in The Voyage Of Doctor Dolittle alongside an all-star cast including Tom Holland, John Cena, Marion Cotillard, Ralph Fiennes, Antonio Banderas, Emma Thompson, and more.
Chris Evans (above) has starred in almost 15 movies based on comics. From Edgar Wright’s Scott Pilgrim vs The World (2010) to Joon-ho Bong’s Snowpiercer (2013). ‘The first avenger’ has appeared in MCU instalments such as Thor: The Dark World, the Avengers trilogy, and, of course, the Captain America trilogy.
The Fantastic Four started Evans’s career and, since then, he has not varied much from Captain America-type roles other than his recent directorial debut (which he also starred in), Gifted (2017). Aside from the coming MCU films, Evans has been cast as Tom Jackman in Jekyll, a continuation of the legend of Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde following his only remaining descendant (who, of course, must struggle with his own dark side).
Scarlett Johansson basically single-handedly held up the expectation for female superheroes for the first two phases of the MCU. Though a Black Widow solo film has only just been announced, we have seen the introduction of Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlett Witch and Emily VanCamp’s Agent 13, with Captain Marvel premiering march of next year. As the only character on this list that is confirmed for Infinity War and without her own solo flick, Natasha Romanov debuted in Iron Man 2 and has since starred in Captain America: The Winter Soldier and the Avengers trilogy.
Johansson’s career started gaining traction with Lost in Translation and The Girl With The Pearl Earring (both 2003), in which she starred alongside the likes of Bill Murray and Colin Firth. Since The Avengers, Johansson has starred in Her (2013), Chef (2014), Hail, Caesar! (2016), and most recently, Isle of Dogs (for which you can find my review here). She will also star alongside Adam Driver, Laura Dern, and Gretta Gerwig in the still-untitled Noah Baumbach project.
Ruffalo was late to the party as Edward Norton was recast following The Incredible Hulk and saw his MCU debut in The Avengers. He had previously only starred in minor roles in Collateral and Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind (both 2004) but struck gold with his role as Bruce Banner. Since The Avengers, Ruffalo has starred alongside Keira Knightly, Woody Harrelson, and Michael Keaton in Begin Again, Now You See Me, and Spotlight. He became more prominent, of course, in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Age of Ultron.
Thor has seen many changes throughout the MCU – most recently with Taika Waititi putting a more comedic spin on the character in Thor: Ragnarok. Hemsworth has appeared as Thor in Doctor Strange, the Avengers trilogy, and, of course, the Thor trilogy. Hemsworth had not done much big work before The Avengers other than a minor role in J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek reboot (2009) as George Kirk and horror spoof Cabin in the Woods (2012).
Since 2012, he has become much more prominent in the movie business, starring in great films such as Rush (2013), mediocre films such as In The Heart Of The Sea (2015), and disappointing films such as the Vacation sequel (2015) and the Ghostbusters remake (2016). His career, however, does seem to be looking up as he will star in an untitled Men In Black spin-off in 2019.
Hiddleston has probably had the most successful non-MCU related film of the group since 2012 and though Loki has only appeared in 4 of the 18 released MCU films, he is a fan favourite and one of the few recurring villains of the franchise.
Hiddleston had not been particularly prominent before his debut as Loki in Thor and the following appearance in The Avengers other than appearing in War Horse, and Midnight in Paris (both 2011). Since 2012, however, Hiddleston has starred in High Rise and Guillermo del Toro’s Crimson Peak (both 2015) as well as Kong: Skull Island (2017) and the BBC miniseries The Night Manager.
Paul Bettany started his MCU career as JARVIS, Tony Stark’s AI assistant in the Iron Man Trilogy and The Avengers before debuting as Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. As one of the smaller stars of the MCU (only having starred in Master and Commander and A Knight’s Tale prior to joining the Avengers cast), Bettany has not appeared in many non-MCU films over the past six years other than Mortdecai (2015) and Journey’s End (2017) and, though Infinity War looks to be the end of him MCU career, Bettany is set to star as Dryden Vos in the upcoming Solo: A Star Wars Story.