Marvel actors you didn't know were also in DC movies

Marvel and DC are fierce rivals for the superhero box office, with each studio putting out bigger and badder films to win over audiences. However, with the fickle nature of Hollywood, there's going to be a bit of overlap when it comes to the talent. DC's current Batman, Ben Affleck, got his superhero start in Marvel's 2003 Daredevil movie, while Ryan Reynolds made fun of his Green Lantern appearance in 2016's Deadpool. But while everyone knows about the double appearances of stars like Michael Keaton (who played Tim Burton's Batman and Spider-Man: Homecoming's Vulture) and James Marsden (who was Cyclops in the X-Men films and also appeared in Superman Returns), there are a surprising number of actors who've popped up in both cinematic universes. So let's delve into the dark and gritty world of DC and find out what Captain America and Thanos were doing so far away from home.

Chris Evans, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana

Before moving over to Marvel, three of today's biggest stars all appeared in a little known DC movie called The Losers. Mostly derided by critics, The Losers is a quirky action-comedy based on Andy Diggle's graphic novel for DC's Vertigo imprint. Jeffrey Dean Morgan—a steadfast DC presence who appeared in Watchmen, Jonah Hex, and Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice—stars as Lt. Col. Franklin Clay, the leader of an elite black ops team tricked into setting up an air attack that kills innocent civilians. In response, these super soldiers fake their deaths and seek revenge because that's what movie mercenaries do.

Backing Morgan up are Chris Evans, Idris Elba, and Zoe Saldana, all three who went on to become big stars in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). Evans, who started out with Marvel in 2005's Fantastic Four but later landed the part of Captain America, plays the team's adorkable hacker, Jensen. Elba would join the Thor universe as the Asgardian sentry Heimdall after playing Roque, the Losers's explosives expert. And of course, before painting her skin green and picking up a sword as Gamora, Saldana played Aisha, a mysterious badass who certainly knows a thing or two about firearms. True, they're not quite The Avengers, but these guys might give the Guardians of the Galaxy a run for their money.

Jon Favreau

Long before he was a successful director, Jon Favreau was just another actor struggling to make it in Hollywood. During that time, he had a barely-there role as an extra in 1995's Batman Forever, playing an assistant to Val Kilmer's Bruce Wayne in Batman Forever. Look hard, and you'll see him in the background, escorting his boss before they bump into the Riddler. So yeah, not exactly the biggest role in the movie. But hey, you've got to start somewhere.

Favreau has since gone on to star in a number of Marvel movies, starting with 2003's Daredevil, where he played Foggy Nelson. More notably, the man was cast as Tony Stark's driver, Happy Hogan, in the MCU, appearing in all three Iron Man movies and Spider-Man: Homecoming. Of course, Favreau has been even more influential behind the camera, directing Iron Man and Iron Man 2 and producing films like The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron. In other words, in just two decades, Favreau has gone from a forgettable extra to the man pulling the strings.

Doug Jones

You probably don't recognize Doug Jones, but you have almost definitely seen one of his movies. With over 150 credits to his name, Jones is a multi-talented character actor who often shows up in small or unrecognizable roles. One of his most memorable characters was Abe Sapien, the telepathic fish-man from Dark Horse Comics's Hellboy and Hellboy II: The Golden Army. (It should be noted that David Hyde Pierce provided Abe's voice in the first film, but it's all Jones in the sequel.)

But in addition to his Hellboy performance, Jones has popped up in a number of Marvel and DC properties. In 1992, he appeared as an evil clown in Batman Returns, and he also showed up in the DC TV universe, playing Deathbolt in both Arrow and The Flash. However, his Marvel role was a little more prominent, as he played the titular skyrider of the spaceways in Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Unfortunately for Jones, he was once again dubbed over, this time by Laurence Fishburne. But then again, he was probably cool with it, as everybody wants to sound like Morpheus.

Michael Clarke Duncan

Michael Clarke Duncan had the bad luck of appearing in Marvel and DC movies that many fans would probably like to forget. The Oscar-nominated actor (probably best known for his turn in The Green Mile) won the role of Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in 2003's Daredevil, squaring off against Ben Affleck's Caped Crusader, er, we mean Matt Murdock. Duncan also provided the voice for Kilowog in 2011's The Green Lantern, and while that movie has largely been forgotten by fans, at least Duncan's co-star, Ryan Reynolds, discovered superhero glory by donning the Deadpool mask.

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje

Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje has had two very important but unrecognizable roles in the Marvel and DC franchises. The Lost actor first popped up in Thor: The Dark World as Algrim, an evil elf with icy blue eyes and blond hair. Of course, we didn't get to see his face for long, as the actor quickly morphed into Kurse, a tusked monster who goes toe-to-toe with the god of thunder. Similarly, Akinnuoye-Agbaje was unrecognizable in DC's Suicide Squad, in which he played Killer Croc. While the film was savaged by critics, Suicide Squad did pick up an Oscar for its make-up, so it makes sense that his scaly look is incredibly convincing. However, some fans might not know that Akinnuoye-Agbaje reportedly came close to playing another very important role in the MCU. The actor told MTV News at Comic-Con in 2009 that he was in talks with Marvel about Black Panther, a role that eventually went to Chadwick Boseman.

Tim Robbins

Before breaking out of Shawshank Prison, Tim Robbins appeared in a role that diehard Marvel fans (and people who love bad movies) will definitely remember. Believe it or not, Robbins actually had a part in what's widely considered one of the worst Marvel films to date: 1986's Howard the Duck, a box-office bomb which has since become a cult hit. Robbins played the fake scientist Phil in a performance that earned him a Razzie nomination for worst supporting actor. (The film received seven nominations in total.)

His DC role didn't fare any better with the critics, as he appeared in 2011's critical and box-office flop The Green Lantern. Robbins played Senator Robert Hammond, the father of Peter Sarsgaard's villain Dr. Hector Hammond. But despite his failed forays into the superhero genre, Robbins has had a pretty successful career, even winning an Academy Award for best supporting actor for 2003's Mystic River. That probably takes the sting out of the Razzie nomination.

Tilda Swinton

Tilda Swinton's introduction into the MCU drew quite a bit of criticism, with the white actress signing on to play the traditionally Asian character of the Ancient One in Doctor Strange. Marvel, Swinton, and others involved with the film all responded to the controversy at various points, arguing the title of the Ancient One was passed down to different characters over time, allowing for this iteration to be Celtic. However, there were still many who were upset over Swinton's inclusion, putting a shadow over the film.

Her role in the DC universe, on the other hand, was less controversial…but also seen by way fewer people. The actress appeared in 2005's Constantine as the angel Gabriel. The film, while it made its money back, never had a sequel, and the property eventually made its way to TV. Unfortunately, the short-lived 2015 series quickly got the ax, damning any future Constantine projects to an eternity in development hell.

Natalie Portman and Hugo Weaving

Natalie Portman's first notable post-Star Wars role was in V for Vendetta, the dystopian drama that many people might not realize is based on a DC series by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. (In fairness, we should probably mention that Moore was not a fan of the film and even asked that his name not appear in the closing credits.) The actress famously shaved her head to play the revolutionary Evey Hammond, a role which helped to launch her career even further and cemented Portman as an A-list actress. She would eventually parlay that status into an appearance as Thor's love interest Jane in Thor and Thor: The Dark World, although she announced in 2016 that she was "done" with the character.

However, Portman wasn't the only future Marvel star who got their start fighting the Norsefire Party. Hugo Weaving, who played the revolutionary leader V, played the villainous Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. Even though he's wearing a mask for most of both movies, Weaving's intimidating presence is hard to miss.

Terence Stamp

While he had a small role as Jor-El in The CW's Smallville, Terence Stamp is best known in the DC universe for his portrayal of General Zod in the Christopher Reeve Superman films, famously uttering the line, "Kneel before Zod." It's an unforgettable role, setting a standard by which all Superman villains (and all superhero villains) would later be judged. However, while Stamp's DC appearance is a classic, even comics fans may have blocked out his Marvel appearance.

In the Marvel universe, Stamp went majorly under the radar, appearing as Stick—Jennifer Garner's mentor—in 2005's oft-forgotten Elektra. The movie, which earned only a ten percent on Rotten Tomatoes, has been largely written off in favor of Netflix's Daredevil, where Elektra was played by Elodie Yung and Stick was played by Scott Glenn. And no offense to Terrence Stamp, but if he were to throw down with Glenn, well, our money is on Stick 2.0.

Laurence Fishburne

Do you want to take the Marvel pill or the DC pill? Well, Laurence Fishburne took them both. As previously mentioned, the actor provided the voice for Doug Jones's Silver Surfer in 2007's Fantastic Four sequel. In fact, Fishburne might've become a permanent part of the Marvel brand as studio executives considered funding a Silver Surfer spin-off. Unfortunately for Fishburne, the idea was scrapped in favor of rebooting the franchise. But if it's any consolation to the actor, Josh Trank's 2015 update famously suffered low box-office returns and negative critical reviews.

However, Fishburne still landed on his feet, winning the role of Daily Planet editor-in-chief Perry White in Man of Steel. He would later reprise the role in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice, and while the sequel took a critical drumming, we're sure the actor didn't care all that much as he probably went home with a nice big paycheck.

Michael Fassbender and Josh Brolin

While they're forever separated by copyright ownership, Michael Fassbender and Josh Brolin play key roles in the complicated universe of Marvel movies. Working for Fox, Fassbender was widely praised for his performance as a young Magneto in X-Men: First Class, a role which he has since reprised in X-Men: Days of Future Past and X-Men: Apocalypse. Brolin, meanwhile, is a big deal at Disney, playing Thanos in Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Age of Ultron, and the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.

But before either actor joined forces with Marvel, they both played roles in a little DC film called Jonah Hex, a bizarre western starring Brolin in the title role and Fassbender as one of the villain's henchmen. (Oddly enough, the movie would also feature Will Arnett, who voiced an animated Batman in The Lego Movie and The Lego Batman Movie.) The movie failed at the box office, making only $10 million on a $47 million budget, and it didn't fare well with critics either, earning a measly 12 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Looks like Jonah really was hexed after all.

Will Smith

Hear us out on this one. Men in Black is actually, in retrospect, a Marvel movie. The action comedy is based on the comic book series The Men in Black from Lowell Cunningham, which was published by Aircel Comics in 1990. Four years later, Aircel was bought up by Marvel, three years before the first Men in Black movie was released. Marvel even published three one-shot comics in 1997 as promotion for the film. True, Marvel Studios wasn't involved in the film adaptation, but since it was actually based on a Marvel comic, we're going to count that as Smith's first (and very successful) entry into the Marvel universe.

His entry into the DCEU hasn't been quite so smooth. The actor took on the role of Deadshot in David Ayer's Suicide Squad, but the film was panned by critics after its summer 2016 release. But hey, we'll always have MIB.