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Mugshot Photos: Marvel Actors Who Were On The Wrong Side Of The Law

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Avengers assemble! And, uh, stay out of trouble! Captain America would never stand for his teammates being criminals, would he? Just kidding, he absolutely would (they even made a movie about it), but he's still a stickler for wrongdoers being held accountable for their actions. That doesn't necessarily translate to their off-screen counterparts, however — many Marvel actors have a less than squeaky clean reputation in the eyes of Johnny Law. 

Interestingly, these charges really run the gamut. There are misdemeanors as well as more serious and disturbing federal crimes. Illegal activity that was already well in the rearview mirror by the time the actors took on the mantel of Marvel superheroes, and crimes that were committed at the peak of their fame. At any rate, the one clear takeaway is that the actors of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (and other Marvel films) are no strangers to legal challenges here on Earth-1218. No one's perfect — not even on-screen heroes or their actors. While many celebrities can claim to have been arrested for all sorts of nonsense, the luckiest among them have been somehow able to keep photographic evidence out of the public eye. But several actors who've graced the MCU haven't been quite so fortunate, with mugshots circulating to document some of their lowest moments. Here are some big-name Marvel stars who wound up on the wrong side of the law.

Mickey Rourke

While Mickey Rourke has expressed regrets about his role in the Marvel Universe, his portrayal of Ivan Vanko (aka Whiplash) was an interesting introduction to the popular "Iron Man." As it turns out, Rourke himself is no stranger to encounters with the law. Though his 1994 charge of resisting arrest and allegation of spousal abuse came first (which ultimately resulted in the charges against him being dropped), the arrest associated with this mugshot didn't occur until 2007.

On November 8th, 2007, the actor was arrested for driving under the influence following a traffic stop attributed to an illegal U-turn on his motorized scooter in Miami Beach. The arresting officer noted that Rourke had "bloodshot, watery eyes, slurred speech and a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage," and placed him under arrest (per Reuters). The actor denied the allegations at the time of the arrest.

Though the former boxer's transition into Hollywood life and his history with substance use and personal struggles are known to have taken a toll on him, he claims to have found means of recovery in recent years. He's publicly thanked his agent David A. Unger, his priest Father Peter Colapietro, and weekly sessions with a psychiatrist for aiding him in his recovery and subsequent comeback.

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Robert Downey Jr.

Marvel's favorite leading man Robert Downey Jr. first started portraying Tony Stark in 2008's "Iron Man," the film that marked the official beginning of the MCU. Not entirely unlike his on-screen bad-boy persona, RDJ himself has been arrested on multiple occasions, primarily in association with drug-related charges. His long struggle with addiction and recovery has been covered many times over, and while some of his stories can be told with a more tongue-in-cheek tone these days (such as his arrest for smoking cannabis in Disneyland), the arrests associated with the actor's three most accessible mugshots are more serious.

In 1996, he was arrested for possession of cocaine and heroin, as well as a handgun. Following another arrest two weeks later involving breaking and entering, RDJ entered the beginning of his recovery process, which, per The LA Times, included "two in-custody 'lock-down' programs, two residential programs, and two outpatient rehabilitation programs." Following his failure to submit to three separate drug tests in 1999, the actor was arrested and sentenced to three years in prison, where his first mugshot was captured. The subsequent two mugshots were taken following similar drug-related arrests in 2000 and 2001, respectively.

Downey Jr. has since stated that he's been sober since 2012. "For me, I just happened to be in a situation the very last time and I said, 'You know what? I don't think I can continue doing this,'" he said in an interview with Oprah.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with addiction issues, help is available. Visit the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration website or contact SAMHSA's National Helpline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).

Woody Harrelson

Though it was a bit of a surprise when it was first announced, Woody Harrelson wound up playing the villain Cletus Kasady aka Carnage in 2021's "Venom: Let There Be Carnage." He also has a bit of history when it comes to the law. In 1982, as detailed in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Harrelson was arrested for jaywalking, and things got out of hand. As Harrelson recalled, he and an unnamed friend were the victims of police brutality after being stopped for jaywalking. 

"It was so brutal, the way they were handling me," the actor said. "A bunch of students gathered around and were complaining to the cops, and the cops were vicious to them, too." According to Harrelson, the incident culminated in him being maced to prevent him from fleeing the scene, before he was taken to jail with six separate charges against him. "That was a real eye-opener — and an eye-closer at the same time because it really f***ed my eyes. I had to wear sunglasses for a long time."

Though this incident was by no means the last of his encounters with the law, the three-time Academy Award nominee, long-time cannabis activist, and vegan lives a less eventful life these days. Hopefully, he manages to stay out of the kind of limelight that leads to more mugshots.

Josh Brolin

Despite the fact that Josh Brolin's first foray into the world of comic book adaptations with "Jonah Hex" was largely unsuccessful, he was clearly not turned off the genre, portraying two major Marvel characters: Cable in "Deadpool 2" and The Avengers' ultimate foe, Thanos. 

Despite earlier encounters with law enforcement, the actor's experience with mugshots didn't begin until 2008, when he was arrested for interfering with an arrest outside a bar in Shreveport, LA along with Marvel co-star Jeffrey Wright. While neither actor has given much insight into the event, Brolin did state in W Magazine that "It was nice to be in jail knowing that I hadn't done anything wrong. And it was maddening to be in jail knowing that I hadn't done anything wrong."

In 2013, the actor had a second encounter with police in Santa Monica just before midnight on New Year's Eve while intoxicated and pole vaulting down the street near his home. According to Santa Monica Police Lt. Darrell Lowe, Brolin was booked and then released approximately 6 hours later once he had sobered up. The actor has since stated that it was a significant moment for him. "I realized that I was on a destructive path. I knew that I had to change and mature" (via The Guardian).

Jeffrey Wright

While Jeffrey Wright is a newer addition to the Marvel canon, his relationship with fellow Marvel veteran Josh Brolin goes back far beyond his time as the Watcher, a cosmic being who serves as the narrator of "What If...?"

As previously mentioned, Brolin and Wright were arrested in Shreveport, LA, outside of Stray Cat bar where the pair had been attending a wrap party for their film "W" back in 2008. Following a report of cast and crew members refusing to leave despite being asked, the police were summoned. When Brolin and Wright stepped in to attempt to diffuse the situation they were restrained on charges of interfering with an officer (via Action News 5).

Witness accounts along with a video of the arrest which was released by the Associated Press suggest possible police misconduct. TMZ reports at the time indicated that Wright was "repeatedly tasered and pepper sprayed as he lay prone on his stomach in the street," and cited witness statements of foul, racially-fueled language being used by police officers. Unfortunately, despite multiple witness reports, the Shreveport Police Department ultimately deemed that their officers had responded with professionalism and stated that none of the fellow officers who had previously attested to witnessing the tirade had officially come forward (via TMZ).

Wesley Snipes

While the star of the original "Blade" series will not be returning for the MCU reboot, Wesley Snipes' place in Marvel history will never be forgotten. Snipes has had several encounters with law enforcement, but it wasn't until 2008 that the "U.S. Marshals" actor had his mugshot taken by none other than the U.S. Marshals Service themselves. After his arrest, the actor faced charges for failing to file tax returns between 1999 and 2004, a period wherein he had accrued nearly $40 million. Though he offered to pay approximately $842,000 of his $23.5 million debt, Snipes was fined $5 million and given a three-year prison sentence (via People). He was released from prison in 2013, after which he quickly resumed his acting career, appearing in films such as "Chi-Raq," "Dolomite Is My Name," and "Coming 2 America," the latter of which would see him reprise his role from the 1980s cult comedy classic "Coming to America" starring Eddie Murphy.

In 2020, Snipes' arrest re-entered the public's focus due to the apparent hypocrisy in the U.S. Government's failure to arrest former President Donald Trump after reports of tax evasion. The actor's arrest and federal prison time were seen in a new light, with many people calling for apologies to be made, including author Sam J. Miller, who pointed out that "Wesley Snipes and Lauryn Hill had their careers destroyed (OH AND THEY WENT TO JAIL) for failing to pay taxes."

Terrence Howard

The original Rhodey to RDJ's Tony Stark, "Iron Man" co-star Terrence Howard has had a tumultuous personal life. The Academy Award-nominated actor had his mugshot captured twice, both times related to an assault on a woman.

In the year 2000, Howard was arrested after a flight attendant accused him of grabbing her during a disagreement surrounding the "fasten seat belt" sign (per ABC News). While charges were not pursued after his 2000 arrest, the details behind his 2001 mugshot are a bit more complex, as cited by The Chicago Tribune and The Smoking Gun.

In 2001, Howard admitted to striking his first wife, Lori McCommas, prior to their divorce, claiming that "she was talking to me real strong, and I lost my mind and slapped her in front of the kids" (via Rolling Stone). The Whitemarsh Police Department report details the argument that immediately preceded the event, wherein the actor warned over the phone, "Don't disrespect me by hanging up on me or I'll come over and hurt you" (per The Smoking Gun). McCommas then "hung up and contacted 911 fearing Howard was serious." The attack ended when Howard's brother entered McCommas' home after seeing "Howard storm out of their house to go to the victim's house." In 2002, the actor pleaded guilty to disorderly conduct in relation to the incident (per The Smoking Gun).

If you or someone you know is dealing with domestic abuse, you can call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1−800−799−7233. You can also find more information, resources, and support at their website.

Nick Nolte

In 2003's "Hulk," Nick Nolte portrayed David Banner, the genius who served as both father and origin story for Eric Bana's Bruce Banner. While the film might not be the Hulk's definitive appearance, Nolte's depiction of the doomed researcher remains the only iteration of the character within the modern MCU.

Nolte's first significant run-in with authorities occurred in 1961 when the three-time Academy Award nominee was arrested in Omaha, NE, following a bizarre series of events involving a pack of 1,000 falsified IDs falling out of a nonfunctional hearse. Of the event, Nolte has stated "I don't think it was an intentional criminal act. It was stupidity." While he was convicted and sentenced to a 45-year prison stint, the sentence was ultimately suspended (via Esquire).

In 2002 — almost exactly one decade after being declared People's Sexiest Man Alive – Nolte had his photo snapped following his arrest for driving under the influence. Nolte described the event in his memoir, writing "I was a mess and driving on the Pacific Coast Highway. I'm told six drivers called 911 to report a big sedan weaving on the wrong side of the road." Despite significant evidence to the contrary, Nolte himself has claimed that the photo in question was closer to being a souvenir for one of the officers present at the station.

Nicolas Cage

Hollywood superstar Nicolas Cage was already a well-seasoned actor by the time he revved up audiences with 2007's "Ghost Rider," a role he committed to with the exact amount of hyperactive enthusiasm he has been famous for since his arrival on the Hollywood scene way back in 1981. His self-branded "Nouveau Shamanic" style of acting has earned him one Academy Award, and there's no sign of him slowing down any time soon.

Though there have been some false claims within Cage's legal history, the actor definitely interacted with law enforcement when the mugshot pictured here was taken after the "Leaving Las Vegas" actor was arrested in New Orleans. During what appeared to be a domestic dispute on the street, onlookers flagged down police outside a residence in the French Quarter in 2011. Upon arriving at the scene the responding officer "immediately observed that Cage was heavily intoxicated" and escorted him down to central lock up (via Reuters). The actor was photographed and processed before being bailed out by none other than Duane "Dog the Bounty Hunter" Chapman.

After the case was reviewed by the District Attorney's Office it was deemed that there was insufficient evidence to charge Cage with a criminal offense. "The District Attorney's Office did not give Nic Cage any breaks because of his status. At the same time, we are not going to judge him more harshly, either" (via CNN).

Rip Torn

Alright, alright, so this one might technically stretch the limits of what we might consider part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But for the pedantic among us, we'll just note that the "Men in Black" film franchise got its start back in 1997, three full years after Marvel took over publishing rights to the originating comics. Along with the release of the feature film, Marvel published a series of comics including a prequel, sequel, and full adaptation of the film. So as far as we're concerned, "Men in Black" characters are fair game. 

While Zed might look a little different these days, the character was originally portrayed by none other than six-time Emmy nominee Rip Torn. Torn's career was not one without incident and contained at least one other charge of driving under the influence along with other legal struggles that predate the drunken collision which lead to his 2011 arrest and mugshot pictured above. While thankfully no one was hurt, Torn refused to submit to a sobriety test and was subsequently arrested on a charge of driving while intoxicated (via Sun Journal). 

The star of "The Larry Sanders Show" passed away in 2019 from complications related to Alzheimer's, marking the end of the actor's 63-year-long tenure on the big screen that began all the way back in 1957 and featured roles in such films as "The Man Who Fell to Earth," "Wonder Boys," and "Dodgeball."