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These Are The Only MCU Actors That Have Won An Oscar

The Marvel Cinematic Universe features a massive collection of some of the best actors working today. Many of these actors have achieved great success both before and after they joined the sprawling franchise, with some even being awarded that coveted golden statuette, the Academy Award, in various categories. 

Across 27 films and several different television shows on different streaming services, many of the biggest names in the MCU started out making relatively minor cameos in other films before becoming major characters on their own. With more MCU movies coming this year, including "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness" and "Thor: Love and Thunder," the cast is only going to get bigger.

Here are the MCU actors who have won an Oscar recently or in the past, along with which characters they play, when they first appeared in the series and if they are still present in the franchise today.

Jeff Bridges (Obadiah Stane)

It's easy to forget that before 2008's "Iron Man" came out, the idea of a cinematic universe filled with Marvel characters interacting with each other across several films was as far-fetched as some Marvel storylines. But Robert Downey Jr.'s debut as billionaire Tony Stark established the character as the anchor of what would become known as the "Infinity Saga" and introduced audiences to the very first MCU supervillain: businessman Obadiah Stane, who would later adopt his own suit of armor and become the Iron Monger.

Stane was played by Jeff Bridges, who many people know from films like "The Big Lebowski" and the "Tron" film series. After Bridges' role in "Iron Man," he would go on to win the Academy Award for Best Actor for his role as washed-up country music singer Otis "Bad" Blake in the film "Crazy Heart." Bridges was nominated four times prior to his first win, and would receive two more nominations for his performances in the Westerns "True Grit" and "Hell or High Water."

Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts)

Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane may have been a one-and-done villain, but Gwyneth Paltrow stuck with the franchise for over a decade playing Tony Stark's assistant and love interest, Pepper Potts. Paltrow played the character in all three entries in the "Iron Man" films and three out of the four "Avengers" films, along with making a brief appearance in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Her final appearance to date in the MCU was in 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," where she fought alongside several other female superheroes in the film's climactic battle.

Nearly 10 years prior to Paltrow joining the MCU, she won the Academy Award for Best Actress for playing Viola de Lesseps in "Shakespeare in Love," which would also win Best Picture and several other Oscars. Paltrow hasn't been nominated for the award since, but she has still been actively working in films and television while promoting and expanding her lifestyle brand, Goop.

Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

Another long-running character that was introduced in the first "Iron Man" movie was Nick Fury, the leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. and the man who brought the Avengers together, played by Samuel L. Jackson. The first appearance of Nick Fury would come in the form of a post-credits scene, which he would follow up with major appearances in "Iron Man 2," "The Avengers," "Captain Marvel," and others. Jackson's Nick Fury has been a staple of the MCU for years now, and Jackson's performance has made him synonymous with the character.

As acclaimed as Jackson is, especially considering how many films the man has starred in, he has never won an Academy Award yet in one of the acting categories. He was nominated for his performance as Jules Winnfield in Quentin Tarantino's "Pulp Fiction," but lost to Martin Landau in "Ed Wood." Jackson did finally receive an honorary lifetime achievement Academy Award for his entire body of work and contributions to film at the most recent Oscars.

Sam Rockwell (Justin Hammer)

2010's "Iron Man 2" might not be the most well-received film in the MCU, but it did introduce audiences to Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansen), while rebooting James Rhodes/War Machine (Don Cheadle, replacing Terrence Howard from the first film), two characters and actors who would become key players in future MCU films. In this installment of the "Iron Man" series, Tony Stark faces off against two supervillains. The first is Whiplash/Ivan Vanko, played by Mickey Rourke, while the second is weapons manufacturer Justin Hammer, played by Sam Rockwell.

Rockwell has received acclaim for several of his roles, but he received his first Academy Award in 2018, for Best Supporting Actor for his role as Jason Dixon in "Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri." Rockwell would later earn another Academy Award nomination the next year for his portrayal of George W. Bush in "Vice." The actor has also said he'd be willing to return to the MCU, where Hammer currently sits in prison. 

Natalie Portman (Jane Foster)

2011's "Thor" expanded the MCU into the realm of Asgard and introduced the God of Thunder to audiences, even teasing Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye in the process. Thor's main love interest in the movie is Jane Foster, an astrophysicist who helps Thor become worthy of wielding his powers again. Natalie Portman played Foster for both the original film and the 2013 sequel "Thor: The Dark World." Her character would not be seen in the films again until 2019's "Avengers: Endgame," thanks to archival footage, and later in the Disney+ series "What If...?," but Portman will return to the film franchise in "Thor: Love and Thunder" later this year.

Portman has been nominated for an Academy Award three times: Best Supporting Actress for "Closer" and Best Actress twice for "Black Swan" and "Jackie." She won the award for "Black Swan" for her portrayal as perfectionist ballerina Nina, who slowly starts to lose her sanity in her pursuit of the lead role in a production of "Swan Lake."

Anthony Hopkins (Odin)

The main reason that Thor comes to Earth and meets Jane in "Thor" is because Thor's father Odin banishes him and strips him of his powers after he almost starts a war between two different realms. Odin, the ruler of Asgard for all three entries in the original "Thor" trilogy, was played by Anthony Hopkins. Hopkins has been acting since the 1960s, and across that long career has won two Academy Awards and received six nominations.

His first win came for his iconic performance as Hannibal Lecter in the horror movie "The Silence of the Lambs." His second win came for his performance as a man suffering from dementia in "The Father." The latter win was a controversial one, due to the fact that the Best Actor category was announced at the end of the ceremony because the producers were allegedly banking that the late Chadwick Boseman would win. Hopkins actually winning the award instead denied the show the emotional finale that the producers were hoping for.

Tommy Lee Jones (Chester Phillips)

The last of the original MCU Avengers to get a proper film introduction was Steve Rogers, aka Captain America, in his debut film "Captain America: The First Avenger." Taking place during World War II, the film follows Steve as he joins the army and becomes the figurehead for a super soldier program that would transform him into the superhero we all know today. One of the military leaders of the program is Colonel Chester Phillips, played by Tommy Lee Jones.

Tommy Lee Jones has been nominated for an Academy Award four times, winning Best Supporting Actor for his role as Deputy U.S. Marshal Sam Gerard in the Harrison Ford-starring 1993 action film "The Fugitive." His other nominations include his performances as Clay Shaw in "JFK," Hank Deerfield in "In The Valley of Elah" (the only time he was nominated in the Best Actor category) and Thaddeus Stevens in "Lincoln," his most recent nomination.

Ben Kingsley (Trevor Slattery)

The final installment in the "Iron Man" trilogy, "Iron Man 3," featured a very controversial twist to what many people initially perceived to be the film's main villain. In the opening moments of the film, the Mandarin is set up to be the most intense villain that Tony Stark has ever faced. Instead, the man turns out to be Trevor Slattery, an actor hired to play the Mandarin to distract from the real villain. It wouldn't be until 2021's "Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings" that MCU fans would finally get to see another alternate version of the Mandarin character, played by Tony Leung.

Regardless of whether or not you think that the Mandarin twist worked, Ben Kingsley's performance was still a highlight of "Iron Man 3." Kingsley's acting career includes four Academy Award nominations, winning Best Actor for playing Mahatma Gandhi in the biopic of the same name. He would later get nominated for "Bugsy," "Sexy Beast," and "House of Sand and Fog."

Benicio Del Toro (Taneleer Tivan/The Collector)

A mid-credits scene in 2013's "Thor: The Dark World" saw the first appearance of Taneleer Tivan, who goes by the name The Collector. After this cameo, the character would play a major role in 2014's "Guardians of the Galaxy," portrayed as a man obsessed with collecting some of the rarest artifacts in the galaxy. After these two films, The Collector would make another brief appearance as a hallucination in "Avengers: Infinity War" and in an episode of "What if...?"

Benicio Del Toro, who played The Collector in all of his appearances, has been nominated for an Academy Award twice, both for Best Actor in a Supporting Role. He won his first time out for his performance as Javier Rodriguez in the Steven Soderbergh crime film "Traffic," and would get nominated again for his role as ex-convict Jack Jordan in Alejandro Gonzalez Iñárritu's drama film "21 Grams."

Robert Redford (Alexander Pierce)

2014's "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" was one of the biggest films of the MCU's Phase 2 lineup. It was the first MCU film directed by the Russo brothers, who would go on to direct "Captain America: Civil War" and the next two "Avengers" films. It was also the first film to introduce the Winter Soldier and the Falcon, who would become fan favorite characters within the franchise and the stars of their own Disney+ show. The film saw S.H.I.E.L.D. being infiltrated by the enemy organization Hydra, led by the double agent Alexander Pierce.

Pierce was played by Robert Redford, who has been nominated for the Academy Award four times in his career. He was nominated for Best Actor for "The Sting" and won Best Director for his drama "Ordinary People," which also won Best Picture. He would later get nominated twice again in the Best Director and Best Picture categories for "Quiz Show" and received an Honorary Oscar in 2002 for his career achievements.

Michael Douglas (Dr. Hank Pym)

Actor Michael Douglas has had a long and storied career on the big screen. You can find him in some of the biggest films of the '80s and '90s, including "Basic Instinct," "Wall Street," "Fatal Attraction," "The War of the Roses," "Traffic," and "The Game." Douglas has won two Academy Awards. The first was as a producer for "One Flew Over The Cuckoo's Nest," which won all of the "Big Five" awards during that year's ceremony. Douglas' second win came when he won Best Actor for playing Gordon Gekko in "Wall Street," a role he would reprise in the sequel, "Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps."

Nowadays, Douglas is known for playing Dr. Hank Pym in the "Ant-Man" film series. As an aging scientist who develops technology that can shrink people and objects, Pym serves as a mentor for criminal-turned-superhero Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), while also occasionally donning the Ant-Man suit himself.

Marisa Tomei (Aunt May Parker)

In 1992, a comedy called "My Cousin Vinny" was released. It follows two New Yorkers who get arrested and put on trial in Alabama, and the only lawyer that the two can rely on is one of the New Yorker's cousins, who only recently passed the bar and has no experience working on a trial. Marisa Tomei plays the fiancée of the lawyer helping the friends, Mona Lisa Vito. Her performance is a standout in the film, even winning her the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress. Two more nominations, for her roles in "In The Bedroom" and "The Wrestler," followed.

Several years later, Tomei would play Aunt May in the MCU's "Spider-Man" series starring Tom Holland, making her first appearance in "Captain America: Civil War" when Iron Man recruits Spider-Man for his fight against Captain America. Tomei is the third person to play Aunt May in live action, after Rosemary Harris in the Tobey Maguire trilogy and Sally Field in the Andrew Garfield duology.

Tilda Swinton (The Ancient One)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe features many altered versions of classic characters. The Ancient One, a powerful sorcerer who serves as a mentor to Doctor Strange, was depicted as a male in many of the comics. 2016's "Doctor Strange" introduced a different version of the character, an androgynous being portrayed by Tilda Swinton. Swinton's version of The Ancient One serves the same purpose as they do in the comics, instructing Doctor Strange on the ways of the mystic arts before his battle with the treacherous Kaecilius. The character made return appearances in both "Avengers: Endgame" and "What If...?"

Swinton has only been nominated for the Academy Award once, but once was all that was needed for her to win Best Supporting Actress for her performance as Karen Crowder in the 2007 legal drama "Michael Clayton." It is unclear if The Ancient One will return, as they are not set to show up in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness."

Jennifer Connolly (Karen the A.I.)

After Tom Holland's version of Peter Parker debuted in "Captain America: Civil War," he got his own solo movie in "Spider-Man: Homecoming." In addition to featuring Academy Award winners like Gwyneth Paltrow and Marisa Tomei, another Oscar-winning actress made it into the film and some might not have even realized it. When Peter experiments with the upgraded technology in his new Spider suit, it comes equipped with an A.I. that Parker names Karen.

Karen is voiced by Jennifer Connelly, who was already in a Marvel movie prior to "Spider-Man: Homecoming." Long before the MCU was even a thing, Connelly played Betty Ross in Ang Lee's "Hulk" movie, a role that was taken over by Liv Tyler in the MCU's "The Incredible Hulk." Outside of her superhero films, Connelly won the Academy Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for playing Alicia Nash in the biopic "A Beautiful Mind."

Cate Blanchett (Hela)

Australian actress Cate Blanchett has been nominated for the Academy Award seven times. The five times she was nominated but did not win include three nominations for Best Actress ("Elizabeth," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age" and "Carol"), plus two nominations for Best Supporting Actress ("I'm Not There" and "Notes on a Scandal"). The first time she won an Oscar was for Best Supporting Actress for her portrayal of Katherine Hepburn in Martin Scorsese's biopic about Howard Hughes, "The Aviator." Her second Oscar and first for Best Actress came from her performance as former socialite Jasmine Francis in the Woody Allen comedy "Blue Jasmine."

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Blanchett played Thor's sister Hela, who is released from prison after the death of Odin during the events of "Thor: Ragnarok." She serves as the main villain of the movie, destroying Thor's hammer, killing the Warriors Three and taking over Asgard before she is finally dispatched.

Taika Waititi (Korg)

Each of the first three "Thor" movies was directed by a different person. The original "Thor" was directed by Kenneth Branagh, known for directing films like "Cinderella" and "Death of the Nile." The sequel, "Thor: The Dark World," was helmed by Alan Taylor, who directed several episodes of "The Sopranos" and "Game of Thrones." Taika Waititi directed "Thor: Ragnarok," as well as voicing the alien Korg, injecting some of his signature humor into the fantasy film series. Waititi returns to the franchise in "Thor: Love and Thunder," both as director and Korg.

After Waititi directed the MCU film, he would write, direct and star in the historical comedy film "Jojo Rabbit," playing an imaginary version of Adolf Hitler who tries to influence a 10-year-old boy after he discovers a Jewish girl hiding in his house from the Nazis. The film was nominated for several Oscars, and Waititi won the Academy Award for Best Adapted Screenplay.

Matt Damon (the Loki actor)

There's a sequence in "Thor: Ragnarok" where a group of Asgardian actors perform a play based on the events of "Thor: The Dark World." Sam Neill, the star of the original "Jurassic Park," plays the man portraying Odin. Luke Hemsworth, the "Westworld" actor and real-life brother to Thor actor Chris Hemsworth, plays the actor portraying the God of Thunder. The actor who portraying Loki is played by Matt Damon, easily the most surprising cameo of the bunch.

Damon has received a lot of praise and nominations for his acting roles, but his Oscar win actually came for his writing. He and his longtime friend Ben Affleck won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay for "Good Will Hunting," a drama where Damon plays a brilliant but troubled math genius who is finally able to open up about his issues when he is ordered to see a therapist. Damon and the rest of his acting troupe will return in "Thor: Love and Thunder."

Lupita Nyong'o (Nakia)

2018's "Black Panther" represented several firsts for the MCU. It was the first film in the series with a predominantly Black cast and the first MCU film to be nominated for Best Picture (it was also the first superhero movie overall to receive a nomination in that category). The film also features several Black actors who have both won Academy Awards prior to the film and after. One of those actors was Lupita Nyong'o, who played Black Panther's partner and spy Nakia.

Nyong'o was fortunate enough to win the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress in the first theatrical film she starred in: she won for her portrayal of Patsy in the historical drama "12 Years A Slave," which also won Best Picture. Nyong'o hasn't been nominated since, but has also been busy starring as Maz Kanata in the "Star Wars" sequel trilogy and voicing Raksha in the remake of "The Jungle Book."

Forest Whitaker (Zuri)

Forest Whitaker made his film debut in 1982 with both "Tag: The Assassination Game" and "Fast Times at Ridgemont High." Since then, Whitaker has been in a number of acclaimed movies. One of those was the film "The Last King of Scotland," which centered around a fictional doctor, played by James McAvoy, who is assigned to take care of the real-life Ugandan president Idi Amin. Whitaker's performance as President Amin received praise from critics, and he ended up winning the Academy Award for Best Actor.

When Whitaker made his MCU debut in "Black Panther," he played the elderly statesman Zuri, who guided King T'Challa spiritually with the help of a heart-shaped herb that allows people to communicate with those that they have lost. Unfortunately, because the character of Zuri died during the events of the film, Whitaker will not return for "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" later this year.

Daniel Kaluuya (W'Kabi)

Unlike Lupita Nyong'o and Forest Whitaker, British actor Daniel Kaluuya won an Oscar after he made his MCU debut. His performance as Black Panther Party chairman Fred Hampton, the subject of the film "Judas and the Black Messiah," won him the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor. It was the second time Kaluuya was nominated for an Academy Award, after previously being nominated for Best Actor for his performance as Chris Washington in Jordan Peele's debut horror film, "Get Out."

In "Black Panther," Kaluuya plays W'Kabi, the man charged with defending the borders of the fictional kingdom of Wakanda. Despite initially pledging loyalty to T'Challa, and being married to Dora Milaje head Okoye, W'Kabi betrays both of them and joins forces with Killmonger after he takes control of Wakanda. W'Kabi is eventually defeated by the end of the movie, but the character is still set to return in "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever."

Kenneth Branagh (Asgardian distress caller)

British actor Kenneth Branagh has written and directed films in a number of different genres. He's done action movies like "Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit," Shakespeare adaptations like "Much Ado About Nothing" and mystery films like the recently released "Death on the Nile." Across his career, Branagh has been nominated for the Oscar eight times. After several nominations for his work both in front of and behind the camera, Branagh finally won for Best Original Screenplay for the semi-autobiographical film "Belfast" at the 2022 Academy Awards ceremony.

Branagh only directed one film in the MCU, 2011's "Thor," but that wasn't the only time the man was a part of the franchise. Branagh had an uncredited voice role in 2018's "Avengers: Infinity War," playing the voice of an Asgardian distress caller signaling for help as their ship is attacked by Thanos. It's a small role, but it's also nice to see the director who introduced Thor to audiences come back in a different way.

Brie Larson (Captain Marvel)

2019's "Captain Marvel" was the last film before the Avengers team reunited in "Avengers: Endgame." Brie Larson portrayed the titular superhero, aka Carol Danvers, a pilot infused with special powers who uses them to save the alien race known as the Skrulls from the Kree forces that Carol was originally a member of. The film established Captain Marvel as one of the most powerful characters in the MCU, and someone who would play a key role in future Marvel films.

Larson has been a cast member in several acclaimed movies, but her best work comes in the film "Room." The picture tells the story of Ma, a woman who escapes seven years of captivity with her young son and must adjust to life back in the real world. Larson's performance was lauded by critics, and it won her the Academy Award for Best Actress, among several other nominations and wins.

J.K. Simmons (J. Jonah Jameson)

Casting for a comic book adaptation doesn't get any more perfect than J. K. Simmons as Daily Bugle publisher J. Jonah Jameson. Simmons' ability to deliver hilarious, meme-worthy lines made him one of the best aspects of Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy in the 2000s. In what is easily one of the best gags in 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home," Simmons reprised his role as Jameson to once again terrorize Spider-Man in a completely different franchise.

But Simmons is much more than just J. Jonah Jameson. He has also been nominated for and won several awards. Simmons was recently nominated for Best Supporting Actor for his portrayal of William Frawley in Aaron Sorkin's "Being The Ricardos," about Lucille Ball's relationship with Desi Arnaz during the height of "I Love Lucy." He won the Oscar previously for playing the verbally abusive music teacher Terence Fletcher in "Whiplash."

Rachel Weisz (Melina Vostokoff)

After she played a supporting role in several different MCU films, 2021's "Black Widow" finally gave Natasha Romanoff the solo movie that she deserved. Not only do we get to learn more about the character's past, but we also get to meet the other members of the "family" that she had before she was trained as an assassin and later joined the Avengers. Natasha's fake "mother," Melina Vostokoff, is played by English actress Rachel Weisz.

Weisz has been nominated for the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actress twice. Her first nomination, which resulted in a win, was for playing Tessa Abbot-Quayle in "The Constant Gardener," whose murder is what main protagonist Justin Quayle (Ralph Fiennes) is trying to solve. Her second nomination was for "The Favourite," playing Queen Anne's advisor and manipulative love Sarah Churchill, who battles Emma Stone's Abigail Masham for the queen's approval and affection.

Angelina Jolie (Thena)

Marvel movies don't get any more epic than Oscar winner Chloe Zhao's 2021 superhero film "Eternals," a film that follows a group of extraterrestrials across thousands of years as they work to defend Earth from other alien invaders. One of the core members of the group is Thena, a warrior Eternal who can create weapons out of cosmic energy. Thena is played by Angelina Jolie, who has been nominated for the Academy Award twice and was even honored with the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award for her work outside of film.

Jolie earned her Academy Award for her work as psychiatric patient Lisa Rowe in the drama "Girl, Interrupted," winning for Best Supporting Actress. The second time Jolie was nominated was for Best Actress, for the Clint Eastwood drama "Changeling," in which she plays a mother whose son gets kidnapped, only to have a different child returned to her.

Mahershala Ali (Blade)

There are two post-credits scenes in "Eternals" that introduce several new characters. The first is the introduction of Harry Styles' Eros, known as Starfox in the comics. The second gives us a hint of Kit Harrington's Black Knight. But before fans are able to see more of the character, a voice from someone offscreen interrupts him before the screen cuts to black. That voice is our first tease of Mahershala Ali's portrayal of Blade, a vampire hunter previously portrayed by Wesley Snipes in the original "Blade" trilogy.

Ali has already been in the MCU before, playing the villain Cottonmouth in the "Luke Cage" series (this is similar to actress Gemma Chan, who played two different characters in "Captain Marvel" and "Eternals"). Outside of his Marvel projects, Ali has been nominated for and won Best Supporting Actor twice. The first was for playing drug dealer Juan in "Moonlight," and the second was for playing Don Shirley in "Green Book." His first win made Ali the first Muslim to ever win an acting Oscar.

Jamie Foxx (Electro)

The MCU has expanded across all of time and space, so it seems only natural that the franchise would start crossing into different universes as well. We got glimpses of this in the Disney+ show "Loki," but 2021's "Spider-Man: No Way Home" took it to the next level when Peter Parker had to face off against supervillains from the past two "Spider-Man" film series. First introduced in "The Amazing Spider-Man 2," Max Dillon was an underappreciated Oscorp employee before an accident transformed him into the supervillain Electro. Jamie Foxx played the character in his original debut before returning to the role in "No Way Home."

Foxx has been nominated twice for Oscars, both in the same year. His Best Supporting Actor nom was for playing cab driver Max Durocher in "Collateral," and his Best Actor nom was for playing Ray Charles in the biopic "Ray." Foxx won the Best Actor award but lost Supporting Actor to Morgan Freeman for the latter's performance in "Million Dollar Baby."