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The Jennifer Garner Rom-Com You Likely Forgot Starred Four Huge MCU Stars

Nostalgia is a strong emotion, the fond memories of a time long ago when you were younger, extremely happy, and enjoying life. Movies are particularly good at evoking that emotion: Films from our childhoods have a way of transporting us back to the moment we first saw them, the people from our past who first experienced it with us, and the old theater (or house) we saw it in.

The 2004 Jennifer Garner vehicle "13 Going on 30" is a coming-of-age story released at a time when an entire generation came of age. Jenna Rink (Christa B. Allen) hates being a teenager. After making a wish to be a grown-up, she wakes up the next day a 30-year-old executive with everything 13-year-old her wanted. Adult Jenna has a great job, an enviable wardrobe, and an athletic boyfriend ... but she soon finds all she needs is the boy from her past, Matt (Mark Ruffalo).

The film also has an interesting connection to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. When it was released in 2004, the MCU was a full four years away from its debut, but the cast contained a surprising amount of future MCU actors. The Marvel connections don't end there, either, as two of the stars starred in Marvel films that weren't part of the MCU — those being Garner herself, who played Elektra in the 2003 "Daredevil," as well as Lynn Collins, who would portray Kayla Silverfox five years later in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." 

Here are the MCU actors who appeared in "13 Going on 30."

Judy Greer was the confused best friend

Judy Greer has a career reaching all the way back to the mid-1990s, with appearances in films like the noir comedy "Jawbreaker" and the George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg thriller "Three Kings," as well as perhaps her best role in M. Night Shyamalan's "The Village." She has built a solid resume, including TV roles in sitcoms like "How I Met Your Mother" and "Two and a Half Men." 

The type of character she is most prominently recognized, though, is as the best friend and confidant to whatever leading lady a film elects to employ. This was a part she embodied in "27 Dresses", "The Wedding Planner," and, of course, alongside Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30," where she plays Lucy Wyman. In that film, she spends the majority of her time on-screen being extremely confused at the implied altered behavior of her friend. She holds the frustrating role of attempting to keep Jenna on task, as the newly awakened child inside of her friend seems amazed at things around every corner.

Greer's connection to the MCU is, again, a supporting role. She appears in the "Ant-Man" movies, where she is Maggie, the ex-wife of protagonist Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) and mother to their daughter, Cassie.

Mark Ruffalo before he turned green

Mark Ruffalo has been working since the late 80s. Throughout his first decade in the business, he spent his time doing bit parts in movies such as the oral-horror flick "The Dentist," starring Corbin Burnes, and "54," where he and his fantastic mustache got lost among stars like Ryan Phillipe, Mike Myers, Neve Campbell, and Salma Hayek. In the 2000s, his career started picking up steam when he landed a more significant role alongside legends Robert Redford and James Gandolfini in "The Last Castle." Once he proved he could hold his own in those moments, he began landing more roles alongside big industry names like Nicolas Cage in "Windtalkers," Jim Carrey in "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and a co-starring role with Jake Gyllenhaal (and future MCU co-star Robert Downey Jr.) in "Zodiac."

In 2012, he gained worldwide attention when he took over for Edward Norton and appeared in "The Avengers" as Bruce Banner, aka the Hulk. He brought a charmingly awkward presence to the role of Dr. Banner, mixing well with the rest of the ensemble cast. He was well received by the fans and has continued portraying Banner and his green alterego ever since, bringing a new take to the character when he portrayed the "merged" Hulk in "Avengers: Endgame." He will next appear in the Disney+ series "She-Hulk."

Before Ruffalo's meteoric rise to Hulk-ian levels, though, he appeared opposite Jennifer Garner in "13 Going on 30." He played the adult version of her best friend, Matt (the young version being played by Sean Marquette). His character was the usual Ruffalo performance — the soft-spoken, nice guy. However, he shows unexpected layers to the character when he cuts it up on the dance floor in the "Thriller" scene.

Andy Serkis played Richard

Andy Serkis is the undisputed king of motion capture. When audiences first got their glimpse into the brilliance the actor could bring to CGI characters with Gollum, it was a revolutionary performance. By the time he accomplished the same feat as Caesar in "Rise of the Planet of the Apes" and again as Supreme Leader Snoke in "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," Serkis was well-known as the master of bringing these characters to life.

However, before he changed the world with motion capture, Andy Serkis was a regular actor with credits reaching all the way back to 1989's "Streetwise." In "13 Going on 30," Serkis appeared as the grown-up Jenna's boss, Richard Kneeland, who worries way too much about what rival publication Sparkle is up to.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Serkis appeared in "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Black Panther" as the villainous Ulysses Klaue. He is an arms dealer with knowledge of finding and entering Wakanda, allowing him to steal and barter Vibranium. Serkis' comic book connections don't end there, either: he recently directed the sequel "Venom: Let There Be Carnage, and he will next be seen on-screen in Matt Reeves' "The Batman," where he will play Alfred Pennyworth.

Brie Larson was a 'mean girl'

Brie Larson got her start as a child actor in the late 90s, appearing on a few TV series, including "Touched by an Angel" in 1999. She eventually landed a co-starring role in the family sitcom "Raising Dad" alongside the late Bob Saget and future MCU alum Kat Dennings. Eventually, she made a name for herself in "Scott Pilgrim vs. the World," "Kong: Skull Island," and "21 Jump Street" as a major up-and-comer in Hollywood.

Before that, though, she appeared in "13 Going on 30." Larson appears as one of young Jenna's squad of overly judgmental and mean pre-teen girls. She can be seen eagerly agreeing with the leader. You can be forgiven if you missed her presence on a recent rewatch: Mark Ruffalo didn't even know until a reporter presented the fact to him at the premiere of "Avengers: Endgame" (per Insider).

Speaking of the Avengers, Brie Larson became a household name — no longer an up-and-comer, but a bona fide star — when she landed the role of Carol Danvers aka Captain Marvel in the 2019 film of the same name, as the first female lead in the MCU. According to Larson, she loves being part of the MCU, stating that being on the Marvel set "feels like I get to go to my own private Disneyland every day," and it looks like Captain Marvel will continue having a huge presence going forward: She will don the star again as Carol Danvers in the follow-up "The Marvels," in 2023.