10 Roles You’ll Be Amazed Marvel Cinematic Universe Stars Had Before Marvel

Becca Mahoney
5 min readSep 22, 2020


Boasting 23 main characters and spanning twelve years of filmmaking (so far), the Marvel Cinematic Universe is bound to have some funny casting mix-ups, stars doing double-duty, or interesting earlier roles the stars held. Here are 10 Funny Roles MCU Stars Had Before The MCU.

Evangeline Lilly Was A Middle Earth Elf

Evangeline Lilly, before she played Hope Van Dyne/The Wasp and Ant Man’s butt-kicking partner, played Tauriel in The Hobbit movies. The role was invented for the movies, not a part of Tolkien’s original text, and caused a bit of controversy amongst die-hard fans of the book. She also had an uncredited role as a police officer in 2003’s The Lizzie McGuire Movie.

Chris Evans Was A Different Marvel Character

Before the MCU was born, Chris Evans (better known as Captain America, aka Steve Rogers) was Johnny Storm/The Human Torch in 20th Century Fox’s 2005 and 2007 Fantastic Four films. Let’s hope the Steve Rogers who is traveling around in the past (after Endgame) doesn‘t bump into a 2000s era Johnny Storm, because there may be some Back to the Future-esque repercussions to the space-time continuum.

J. Jonah Jameson Was J. Jonah Jameson

As soon as J.K. Simmons stepped onscreen as J. Jonah Jameson in Sam Raimi’s 2002–2007 Spider-Man trilogy, fans couldn’t imagine anyone else in the role. When Columbia Pictures rebooted the franchise for an Andrew Garfield-fronted reiteration, there were even talks of Simmons playing Jameson in that series. It never came to fruition, but in 2019, at the end of Spider-Man: Far From Home (the second Spider-Man film in the MCU), Simmons made a welcome appearance as the J. Jonah Jameson once again. Simmons also voiced Jameson in the animated series Ultimate Spider-Man and Avengers: Assemble.

There’s pretty much no way around it: J.K. Simmons is J. Jonah Jameson.

Iron Man/Tony Stark Was Mr. Willoughby

For readers of the childhood classic Mr. Willoughby’s Christmas Tree, Tony Stark isn‘t exactly the Mr. Willoughby we pictured. He is, however, ever the eccentric rich dude. In a Nabisco Holiday Classic also starring The Muppets, Robert Downey Jr. sings, dances, and orders Leslie Nielsen to cut the top off of the perfect Christmas tree. The entire special is viewable on YouTube, complete with those charming taped VHS teases of the nightly news beforehand.

Elizabeth Olsen Was In Full House…Once

Up until Elizabeth Olsen starred in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Mary-Kate and Ashley were considered the more widely known of the Olsen sisters. Everyone knows the twins starred in Full House, but sitcoms actually commonly use cast family members as extras and walk-on characters. Elizabeth played “Girl With Flowers” in a last-season episode of Full House. She was also a “Girl in Car” in How the West Was Fun, and had walk-on parts in Mary-Kate & Ashley’s straight-to-VHS videos.

Jane Foster Was A Skywalker

It’s funny to think that the co-star of both of the first two Thor movies, as well as the upcoming Thor: Love & Thunder, was also a prominent Star Wars character. She was Padmé Naberrie, aka Queen (and later Senator) Amidala, Anakin Skywalker’s wife, and Luke and Leia‘s mother.

Happy Hogan Is John Favreau

Happy Hogan is John Favreau IRL — the director of the first two Iron Man movies, as well as the 2019 Lion King, the movie Chef, and the holiday classic Elf, among others. Favreau frequently acts in his own movies — remember the annoyance of the pediatrician in Elf while Buddy ate cotton balls? Favreau was also in the 2003 version of Daredevil, yet another occasion of pre-MCU stars ending up doing double duty.

Hawkeye’s Wife Was A Psychopath

Long before we found out about Hawkeye’s secret family, and his wife (portrayed by Linda Cardellini, perhaps best known as Velma in the Scooby-Doo movies), there was a movie called Goodburger. It had no plot, other than Nickelodeon stars Kenan & Kel stopping fast food giant Mondo Burger from their evil plan to put Goodburger out of business. Linda Cardellini played a psychopath who broke into the zoo and freed all the baby kangaroos. How they ended up in the asylum…well, for that it’s just best to watch the movie.

Doctor Strange Was Sherlock Holmes …and Smaug the Dragon

Evangeline Lilly isn’t the only MCU star who was also in The Hobbit films. Martin Freeman, who played Everett K. Ross in Civil War and Black Panther, was Bilbo Baggins. And Dr. Strange, aka Benedict Cumberbatch, was Smaug the dragon. (And that’s not even mentioning all the Lord of the Rings stars who have made appearances in the MCU.) Interestingly, Cumberbatch and Freeman also played Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson in the BBC’s modern take on Sherlock.



Becca Mahoney

Hi there! I am a writer for Crown of Beauty Magazine; also published in Screenrant & Tirzah Magazine. I blog about food & writing at www.SugarSaltGrace.com.