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The MCU Actors You Likely Didn't Realize Appeared On Parks & Recreation

"Parks and Recreation" is one of the most memorable sitcoms from the last decade, which is no surprise considering it was spearheaded by "The Office" helmers Greg Daniels and Michael Schur. The series was slow in finding its footing but eventually landed on solid ground, leading to an impressive 93% on Rotten Tomatoes. It ran for seven seasons and brought in over 4 million viewers when it aired its finale in 2015 (via The Hollywood Reporter).

The comedy follows Leslie Knope (Amy Poehler), who begins the show as deputy director of the Parks and Recreation Department in Pawnee, a fictional city in Indiana. Throughout the series, Knope deals with bureaucracy and various issues that plague the city. As the show progresses, she succeeds in her role and surrounds herself with a colorful cast of eccentric coworkers and friends.

"Parks and Recreation" also served as a launchpad for several actors like Aziz Ansari and Aubrey Plaza, who went on to headline larger projects after the series wrapped up. Chris Pratt notably ended up taking on the role of Star-Lord in the "Guardians of the Galaxy" films. But as "Parks and Recreation" came to a close in 2015, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was ramping up into another phase with hits like "Avengers: Age of Ultron" and "Ant-Man." Fans may be surprised to know that a variety of "Parks and Recreation" actors — besides Chris Pratt — were scooped up by the MCU as the franchise expanded.

J.K. Simmons played a bitter mayor on Parks & Rec

In Season 5, Episode 17, titled "Partridge," Leslie (Amy Poehler) and Ben (Adam Scott) visit the latter's hometown: Partridge, Minnesota. Ben famously ran for mayor at the age of 18 and won, only to bankrupt the town and get impeached rather quickly. He left, but returned after the city's new leader, Mayor Stice (J.K. Simmons), invited him back to give him a key to the city. Stice's plans to award Ben with the key to the city are later revealed to be a ploy to humiliate the former mayor. Leslie and Ben eventually steal the real key from Stice and decide to throw it in the lake.

Simmons only appeared as Mayor Stice for one "Parks and Recreation" episode, and it certainly was memorable. It not only afforded viewers the opportunity to see Ben's hometown, which he desperately escaped from — but it also gave audiences a look at Simmons in another intense role similar to the past (and future) parts he's played in Marvel movies.

Perhaps J.K. Simmons' most famous role in superherodom is the disgruntled and angry Daily Bugle editor J. Jonah Jameson in the "Spider-Man" films. Simmons first appeared as the character in Sam Raimi's "Spider-Man" trilogy. The character was later folded into the MCU at the end of "Spider-Man: Far From Home," where he revealed the identity of Spider-Man (Tom Holland) to the world. Simmons most recently returned as the web-head hater in "No Way Home."

Paul Rudd was Leslie Knope's rival

Directed by Peyton Reed, "Ant-Man" hit cinemas in 2015 and received mostly positive reviews thanks to its action and comedy, earning it an 83% to date on Rotten Tomatoes. The Marvel film starred Paul Rudd as Scott Lang, a thief who joins forces with Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) for a daring heist. To aid in the caper, Pym gives Lang an experimental suit that allows him to shrink to the size of an ant or grow as big as a giant. "Ant-Man" launched a successful franchise, and the character continues to return throughout the MCU, including a prominent role in "Avengers: Endgame," where he helps the Avengers reverse Thanos' snap.

But before he was saving the day with the Avengers, Rudd played a recurring character on "Parks and Recreation." The actor starred as Bobby Newport, a member of Pawnee's historical Newport family. Bobby is stubborn and spoiled, eventually trying his hand at politics to pass the time and give his family more power. Rudd's character runs for the city council, only to lose to Leslie Knope.

Newport continued to appear throughout the NBC series, finding peace with his easy-going lifestyle, immense family fortune, and a costly trip to space. But Rudd's appearance as the Newport heir is also responsible for bringing another character to the show — one whose actor also ended up in the MCU.

Kathryn Hahn played a big-shot campaign manager

Kathryn Hahn appeared on "Parks and Recreation" as Jennifer Barkley, the head of the Barkley Group — a Washington D.C.-based consulting firm that aids political candidates. Barkley first came onto the scene in Season 4, Episode 17, titled "Campaign Shake-Up." In a bid to win the city council election, Bobby Newport (Paul Rudd) and his father, Nick Newport Sr. (Christopher Murray), bring in Barkley to help them win the seat against Leslie Knope. Leslie eventually wins the city council election, much to Barkley's dismay. Barkley continued to pop up throughout the series, notably recruiting Leslie's husband, Ben, to run for Congress.

Hahn appeared in a number of noteworthy projects after "Parks and Recreation," but perhaps her most popular role to date is her stint as an evil witch in "WandaVision," the first of the MCU's Disney+ series. In "WandaVision," Hahn plays Agatha Harkness, a witch who wants Wanda's (Elizabeth Olsen) powers. Hahn was widely praised for her performance as the nefarious witch, receiving an Emmy nomination for the role.

After Agatha became a fan favorite, Marvel Studios commissioned a spin-off series focusing on the character, "Agatha: House of Harkness," which will air on Disney+.

Peter Serafinowicz joined Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy

One of the strangest guest characters on "Parks and Recreation" was Lord Edgar Covington (Peter Serafinowicz), 14th Earl of Cornwall-Upon-Thames and 29th Baron of Hertfordshire — aka Eddie. Ben (Adam Scott) and Andy (Chris Pratt) seek out Lord Edgar due to his fat pockets, which can help fund the Sweetums Foundation's after-school music program. Andy and Edgar soon hit it off and become reasonably good friends, and the nobleman eventually knights both Andy and Ben, though it remains unclear if the act was sanctioned by the Queen.

Serafinowicz teamed up with Pratt once again in "Guardians of the Galaxy," which served as the MCU debut for both actors. The British star appeared as Denarian Garthan Saal, a high-ranking member of the galactic Nova Corps police force. The character eventually faces off against Ronan (Lee Pace) and dies an honorable death, alongside several other Nova Corps fighters. Saal's appearance was brief, though fans might remember him as one of the officers who helped arrest the Guardians of the Galaxy.

Patton Oswalt was a Star Wars fan before he became a troll

One of the most recent additions to the MCU's ever-expanding roster, Patton Oswalt appeared as Pip the Troll in 2021's "Eternals." Oswalt has also voiced the Marvel villain MODOK, though the series is unaffiliated with the MCU. Directed by Chloe Zhao, "Eternals" is the first (and as of this writing, the only) MCU project to have a rotten rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Despite such negative reception, the film boasts an impressive cast that includes Salma Hayek, Angelina Jolie, Gemma Chan, Brian Tyree Henry, Kumail Nanjiani, and Richard Madden.

Oswalt only appears in the film's mid-credits scene as the CGI Pip the Troll, the assistant to Thanos' brother Eros (Harry Styles). Pip's future, alongside the rest of the Eternals, seems uncertain, which is disappointing, considering the film served as Oswalt's MCU debut.

"Parks and Recreation" fans might remember Oswalt as the superfan of another popular Disney franchise. The actor and comedian appeared in the NBC series as Garth Blundin, a Pawnee resident with a love for history and all things "Star Wars." The character appears in Season 5, Episode 19, titled "Article Two," which sees Leslie trying to change the town's character. Blundin voices his concerns and eventually ends up ranting about the then-upcoming "Star Wars Episode VII." In a hilarious twist of fate, Oswalt's character predicts a key plot point in Disney+'s "The Book of Boba Fett," cementing the bumbling character as one of the show's most iconic.