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Why Strucker From Age Of Ultron Looks So Familiar

It's been a long two years since Marvel's Phase 3 ended with the epic Avengers: Endgame (and the Spider-Man sequel Spider-Man: Far From Home, which serves as a kind of epilogue to the Infinity Saga). However, Marvel is far from being a distant memory, as the comic-based entertainment giant's latest product, WandaVision, is a Disney+ sensation. The show not only places oft-underrated heroes Wanda Maximoff a.k.a. the Scarlet Witch and Vision (Elizabeth Olsen and Paul Bettany) centerstage, but it has also provided a resurgence in visibility and significance for characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe who aren't costumed heroes or villains named Thanos (Josh Brolin).

Among those villains is Wolfgang von Strucker, a Hydra leader who experimented with harnessing the power from Loki's scepter way back in the day. Wanda and her twin brother Pietro (now played by Evan Peters) were Strucker's test subjects, and his experiments gave them their powers. Before he could unleash them as weapons for Hydra, though, Strucker was apprehended by the Avengers and then killed in his cell by Ultron when the rogue A.I. used Strucker's technology to upgrade itself and create an army. 

Strucker's recent reemergence in the MCU came in an odd form: a commercial for "Strucker watches" that plays on Wanda's television in her surreal WandaVision world. It's not clear if that means fans will soon be seeing Strucker's actual face in WandaVision, but if that happens, it won't be an all too unfamiliar visage. That's because even if von Strucker was only on screen for a short time in the larger scope of the MCU universe — and we haven't seen him in half a decade — the man who plays him, Thomas Kretschmann, has popped up in plenty of things outside the MCU. The handsome German actor is one of those performers who may not be easy to place by name recognition alone, but he has been in so many notable projects, you've probably seen his face in at least one of them. 

Here's why Thomas Kretschmann looks so familiar.

Kretschmann played the villain in Resident Evil: Apocalypse

In the 2004 sequel to the franchise-launching video game-based film Resident Evil, Kretschmann played Major Timothy Cain. The franchise follows the efforts of  woman named Alice (Milla Jovovich) who, in the wake of a zombie apocalypse, tries to put the world back together and take down the company who caused the outbreak, the amoral Umbrella Corporation.

In Resident Evil: Apocalypse, Major Cain is introduced as the Umbrella Corporation executive who intentionally released into Raccoon City the undead horde that had been created within the company's main research facility, The Hive. This act decimates the city and effectively unleashes the zombifying T-Virus into the world. 

Cain tries to pit Alice against another altered human called Nemesis to ... see who will win? The motivations aren't all that clear, but it's obvious that Cain is a pretty bad dude. Though Cain's actions loom large over the entire franchise afterward, the film ends with him receiving karmic justice. That meant Kretschmann did not return to the franchise, but luckily for fans he's had plenty of other roles since then.

Kretschmann has appeared in several other action films with A-listers

In 2005, Kretschmann played someone a bit more on the heroic side than Cain, though his character is yet another man in a position of power ... in a movie with several power-hitting actors. The film was Peter Jackson's King Kong, and it starred Naomi Watts, Jack Black, Adrien Brody, and Andy Serkis. Kretschmann plays Captain Englehorn, the captain of a ship that's meant to sail to Singapore to serve as a movie location. Thanks to the nefarious filmmaker, the ship ends up landing at Skull Island and discovering and capturing the giant ape King Kong.

Kong wasn't Kretschmann's only action-packed blockbuster of the '00s, either. In 2008, he worked with giants of a different sort: superstars Angelina Jolie, James McAvoy, and Morgan Freeman in the action flick Wanted. Kretschmann's role in the film was no small part, either. He again played a villain, this time a man named Cross. Cross kills the father of McAvoy's character, Wesley, and then pursues Wesley himself, instigating the action of the film. 

It's a meaty antagonist role, and one with a pretty unexpected turn at the end that we wouldn't dream of spoiling here.

Kretschmann has also appeared in several dark, intriguing shows

The actor followed in his King Kong character's footsteps in 2012 by playing another "captain" role, this time on the show The River. The show didn't last long, but it was a fresh and exciting premise worth a look. Presented in found-footage format, the show was about a group of people who set out to find and rescue a nature show host and explorer, Dr. Emmet Cole, who disappeared in the Amazon basin along with his crew. Kretschmann played Captain Kurt Brynildson, the bodyguard hired to help the group in their search.

On the heels of The River, Kretschmann landed a significant role on NBC's 2013-14 show Dracula. He plays Abraham Van Helsing, known across many Dracula adaptations as an elite vampire hunter. That show, too, was short-lived, but it added to Kretschmann's expertise in portraying broody, dark men of power. 

More recently, Kretschmann appeared on Showtime's Penny Dreadful: City of Angels, which starred Natalie Dormer of Game of Thrones fame. On the drama, Kretschmann plays Richard Goss, an aristocratic German architect who's determined to build roads in Los Angeles. Goss is far more than that, though, as he harbors secret Nazi sentiments and ties, and isn't afraid to do whatever it takes to get his way.

Whether or not Kretschmann stands to play a substantial role in Marvel Studios' Phase 4, we're sure we haven't seen the last of him.