If you think the Marvel Cinematic Universe is expansive, it's nothing compared to the Marvel comic world. Infinity War may have given us more superheroes than we thought possible in one film, but even still, the options for new characters we could see on screen are almost endless. Bringing these comics to life is no small feat, and the MCU has created an entire art form of it.
When translating a beloved comic book character to the screen, directors and writers have to make some serious decisions. Should the character look and act identical to their comic counterpart, or should the MCU put its own twist on the original? With as many Marvel comics that have been adapted, both scenarios are bound to happen.
Sometimes character changes happen to make the films more watchable and realistic, and other times things are changed because the comics don't always age well. Certain classic heroes, however, need no changes - and the MCU is able to portray them spot on.
It can be difficult to find the perfect match for a character, which is why Marvel sometimes searches through hundreds of actors before finding the best fit. Could anyone play Tony Stark as perfectly as Robert Downey Jr. does? Can we picture anyone else as Loki now that Tom Hiddleston made the character his own? The Marvel Cinematic Universe is so expansive that there's bound to be some flubs, but plenty of the characters hit the mark right on the nose.
Here are 10 MCU Actors Who Look Nothing Like Their Characters (And 11 Who Are Spot On)
21 Spot On - Chris Hemsworth as Thor
If the Marvel writers could have carved Thor out of stone they still wouldn't get someone as perfect as Chris Hemsworth. Besides Thor's signature winged helmet, Hemsworth has every characteristic that the original comic rendering does. Casting any tall, muscular blond and putting him in costume wouldn't have been difficult, but the resemblance here is uncanny.
Not only do their facial features almost match perfectly, but Hemsworth's deep voice and accent help complete the godly package.
Marvel Studios go through incredibly long processes to cast its heroes. In the case of Thor, they found a diamond in the ruff.
Sadly Hemsworth's contract with Marvel ends after Avengers 4, but he has already talked about the possibility of reprising the role after as well.
20 Looks Nothing Like - Winston Duke as M'Baku
This is probably one of those "for the better" moments. Sometimes comics from years ago don't age well, and M'Baku's original depiction as "Ape Man" was quickly tossed for the Black Panther movie. Marvel Studios cast Winston Duke as M'Baku, giving us a complex character instead of the more outlandish original version.
M'Baku ends up being one of the most genuinely interesting characters in Black Panther. Although he is an opponent of T'Challa's M'Baku sees the bigger picture. The animalistic, comic version of M'Baku tried destroying T'Challa at any cost, and would not have made for a good ally. In the film, M'Baku sets aside his problems with T'Challa to defeat the greater threat - Eric Killmonger.
Ultimately the choice of character change, in both looks and behavior, strengthened the film.
19 Spot On - Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange
When it comes to getting a character down perfectly, costumes, hair, and make-up can do a lot - but not everything. Thankfully Benedict Cumberbatch not only looks the part of Doctor Strange, but he can act it too.
Doctor Strange has an undeniable look in the comics that fans are happy the MCU didn't ignore. From his hairstyle, to his beard, and of course, to his signature mystical cloak, the MCU didn't miss a beat.
Director Scott Derrickson actually convinced Marvel Studios to change the filming start date because he wanted to cast Cumberbatch so badly.
He told Vanity Fair, "I thought Benedict was perfect as Doctor Strange, because [he] has the combination of high education and high intelligence." He plays both a convincing neurosurgeon and superhero.
18 Looks Nothing Like - Jeff Goldblum as Grandmaster
The major difference between the Grandmaster in Marvel comic's and Thor: Ragnarok is the infamously blue skin. In the original comics, Grandmaster is depicted as a blue, alien humanoid with white hair. In the MCU, the Grandmaster is basically Jeff Goldblum with some fancy hair and make-up.
The creepily blue, all-powerful Grandmaster of Marvel comics simply wouldn't have worked in Thor: Ragnarok. It's an incredibly playful movie that Goldblum completely shone in as the Grandmaster. There were simple nods to the original Grandmaster in his wardrobe, like his hair and a blue line of paint on his face.
Casting Goldblum and straying from the source material made for an modern and entertaining new Grandmaster.
17 Spot On - Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark
Even if Robert Downey Jr. wasn't a perfect incarnation of Iron Man, would it matter? He is literally the Godfather of the MCU!
A big part of his appeal has to do with how accurately he portrays one of Marvel's most popular heroes.
Just like in the original comics, MCU's Iron Man maintains the red and gold suit. Even more importantly, they cast an actor who not only resembles Tony Stark, but convincingly plays an ingenious millionaire playboy. It's unclear whether another actor could have made the role so iconic. Imagine if Iron Man had been a flop - it may have never paved the way for other Marvel movies.
Sticking to the source material helped Downey solidify his place in Marvel history.
16 Looks Nothing Like - Tessa Thompson as Valkyrie
Drastically changing the character Valkyrie for Thor: Ragnarok ended up paying off big time. One of the breakout stars of the film, Tessa Thompson, brings something new to Valkyrie that we can all appreciate.
In the comics, Valkyrie is a tall blonde - as are most Asgardians- but casting Thompson in the role ultimately paid off. She brought a rough-around-the-edges, often comedic vibe to a character that didn't exist before. Not only did fans love her in the movie, but she's now getting her own very own comic book rendering.
By casting Thompson in the role, a fresh Valkyrie has been created. Of course, this time her comic book counter part looks exactly like her.
15 Spot On - Tom Hiddleston as Loki
When it comes to supervillains, Loki is without a doubt MCU's most popular. The mischievous god is brought to life on screen by Tom Hiddleston, who not only looks but acts the part.
The dark-haired, long-featured Hiddleston is already reminiscent of the comic version even without the wardrobe.
It certainly helps that the MCU left no stone unturned when it came to Loki's costume. He almost always wears his signature green and gold - although they are toned down in the films. His head pieces are incredibly spot-on as well.
Hiddleston may still have been a fan favorite had MCU strayed from the material, but we're glad they stuck to the book for this one.
14 Spot On - Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury
It's actually a pretty cool story of how Samuel L. Jackson came to play Nick Fury. Before the MCU was an established movie universe, comic book write Mark Millar redrew Nick Fury as Jackson.
Nick Fury was always Caucasian in the previous comments, but Millar decided that since he's supposed to be the "coolest man alive" he would redraw him in the likeness of Jackson. At the time, in 2001, Millar had no idea the comics would become movies. He said the idea was "preposterous" at the time, since Marvel was just recovering from bankruptcy.
When Millar met Jackson he apologized for using his likeness without permissions, to which Jackson said, "thanks for the nine picture deal!" While Jackson may not look like the original Fury, he's it now!
13 Looks Nothing Like - Kurt Russel as Ego
In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 we got to see a lot of the character Ego as a human incarnation, played by Kurt Russell. We even got to spend most of the end of the film inside Ego's nervous system. Ego the Living Planet wasn't shown as it was in the comics.
In the Marvel comics, Ego appears in more than one instance. In fact, he interacts with Thor in the Thor comics more than once.
Ego is known for being a massive, purple, sentient planet - but in Guardians Vol. 2 we don't get to see Ego in all of his big purple glory.
For the films purposes Ego worked, but it would have been cool to see how CGI would handle his planet form.
12 Spot On - Chris Evans as Captain America
There may be some minor differences in Chris Evan's portrayal of the famous Captain America, but the MCU did an incredible job at recreating the comic original. The timeline of Captain America's story allows Marvel to show us the evolution of Cap's uniform.
One thing Captain America has been able to do in the MCU that other superheroes haven't is span across many years of time. When we meet him in Captain America: The First Avenger, we get the classic Captain America outfit, wings on the head and all. As he evolves, we also get to see his costumes change with him.
Now we have a Captain America that resembles the more recent comics. How could Marvel forget the signature shield? Thankfully, it completes the package of Evans as Cap.
11 Looks Nothing Like - Marisa Tomei as Aunt May
If you're familiar with the Spiderman comics, you'll know that Aunt May has always been an older, white haired woman who takes care of her nephew Peter Parker - aka Spider-Man. As the movie adaptations have come out over the years, we've seen a shift in Aunt May's age. This was most apparent in Marvel's most recent Spider-Man movie adaptation, Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Played my Marisa Tomei, Aunt May is nowhere near a fragile gray-haired woman.
In fact, she's so beautiful that it's the topic of a few jokes in the movie. Tony Stark, to Peter's horror, even jokingly hits on her a few times.
Tomei brings a new dynamic to Aunt May, who is more on top of her nephew's antics.
10 Spot On - Angela Bassett as Ramonda
From the facial features, to the hairstyles, to the costume choices - Angela Bassett completely embodies Ramonda. For a relatively minor character, they paid a lot of attention to detail when it came to Bassett.
In fact, one of the biggest appeals of Black Panther in general is all of the detail when it comes to the costumes and the set.
Ramonda in the comics is an incredibly strong mother figure to T'Challa, much like what we see in the film. Although their exact relationship differs, the sentiment is the same. Honestly, tere's no character Bassett couldn't play perfectly. She was a great addition to the cast, and stayed true to the comics in the process.
9 Looks Nothing Like - Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye
Jeremy Renner is yet another example of missed opportunity in the costume department. To be fair, Hawkeye isn't exactly the most important Avenger - but a better match to the original comic could have upped his game.
In the comics, Hawkeye actually looks like a superhero and not just some guy who enjoys archery on the weekends. His purple costume complete with a mask almost makes him resemble Batman. Along with being a skilled archer, he has other physical abilities like acrobatics and freakish strength. In the MCU, Hawkeye neither looks or acts the part.
Sadly, there's an opinion that Hawkeye is the worst part of the Avengers in the MCU. Even Renner himself agrees, and has said he's open to being eliminated in the next Avengers film. Ironically, though, Hawkeye was not in Infinity War.
8 Spot On - Don Cheadle as War Machine
Another excellent casting choice in the MCU is Don Cheadle as War Machine. They spared no detail when creating Cheadle's look, and it definitely paid off.
Starring opposite of Iron Man played perfectly by Robert Downey Jr. is likely no easy task - but Cheadle has the acting chops to hold his own as a superhero.
If you compare the armor of War Machine in the comics to the films, they are almost identical.
In fact, the Iron Man movies in general have done an incredible job at sticking to the source material. There is no mistaking War Machine as soon as he comes on screen. Cheadle and Downey make just as great of a team as the comic duo.
7 Looks Nothing Like - Tilda Swinton as The Ancient One
When it was revealed that Tilda Swinton would be playing The Ancient One in MCU's Doctor Strange, fans were confused to say the least. The confusion came because in the original comics The Ancient One is played by a Tibetan man. Since whitewashing is common in Hollywood, many people immediately criticized the decision.
However, the film's director Scott Derrickson has a different explanation. He admits that he wrote the role for Swinton and that it was never intended to mimic the original.
“The Ancient One in the comics is a very old American stereotype of what Eastern characters and people are like," said Derrickson, "and I felt very strongly that we need to avoid those stereotypes at all costs."
6 Spot On - Paul Rudd as Ant Man
Who better to play Ant-Man than comedic genius Paul Rudd? Playing Ant-Man just naturally comes with comedic territory, and Rudd brought the comics to life in an incredibly entertaining way.
Not only do we love his personality as Ant-Man, but Rudd bears a striking resemblance to his comic counterpart. His signature helmet is almost perfectly on point, although the MCU does manage to make him look just a bit cooler. They kept Ant-Man's original red and silver suit - and of course those red bug eyes.
Besides costuming, Rudd actually looks like the Ant-Man we know from the comics too - facial features and all.
Overall, Rudd was a great choice to play the miniature superhero.
5 Looks Nothing Like - Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger
Michael B. Jordan as Erik Killmonger was a fantastic addition to the Black Panther cast. He may not resemble the comic version of Killmonger, but Jordan managed to be just as terrifying as the original.
In the comics, Erik Killmonger aka N'Jadaka is depicted as an inhumanly massive man who surely can't exist in our world without the help of CGI. This is a dilemma many directors run into when it comes to translating fictional, drawn characters to the screen. Sometimes it pays to tone a character down instead of risking it looking too ridiculous and computer animated.
Jordan was able to show power and strength without being freakishly huge, making for a more interesting movie experience.
4 Spot On - Chadwick Boseman as T'Challa
It's almost uncanny how closely MCU's T'Challa matches the T'Challa of Marvel comics.
No detail was left behind while creating Chadwick Boseman's Black Panther look.
While Boseman bears a close resemblence to T'Challa physically, the more impressive part of his superhero is the actual Black Panther outfit. His Panther suit includes the claws, bone necklace, silver eyes, and pointed cat ears. Black Panther is always incredibly lean and muscular looking in his suit - which Boseman was definitely able to deliver..
Seeing as how Black Panther ended up being one of MCU's biggest hits thus far, it seems like recreating the superhero identical to the comics was the right choice. We can't wait to see how T'Challa and his suit will evolve in the next films.
3 Looks Nothing Like - Elizabeth Olsen as Scarlet Witch
We can appreciate the toned down costume of Elizabeth Olsen's MCU version of Scarlet Witch. That being said, a red leather jacket doesn't exactly do this heroine justice. There are plenty of well thought out costumes in the MCU and it seems like Olsen deserves more.
Olsen herself said she likes the idea of a Scarlet Witch movie, and if she does it's definitely time for a costume upgrade. Imagine what a great team Scarlet Witch and Vision would make if she were in a long red cape! It seems like a missed opportunity not to play up the color red a lot more.
A big appeal of the MCU Scarlet Witch is her humanity, so sadly we may never get that superhero-worthy outfit.
2 Spot On - Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow
Red hair and all - until Infinity War that is - Scarlett Johansson makes for the perfect Black Widow.
While any woman could put on a wig and a black suit, Johansson makes Black Widow her own over the course of her many MCU appearances.
Costume-wise, there wasn't much straying from the source material here. Johansson almost always appears in Black Widow's signature black catsuit and red hair. Most importantly, Johansson acts just as we would expect Black Widow from the comics to act. She is cold and calculating, while still keeping her loyalties as she sees fit.
Johansson's naturally cool demeanor makes us fall in love with Black Widow that much more. In fact, steps toward a solo Black Widow film are underway!
1 Looks Nothing Like - Daneil Bruhl as Zemo
When Zemo appeared in Captain America: Civil War, it was anything but the Zemo we've come to know in the comics. The MCU ditched Zemo's purple, black, and gold faceless uniform for Daniel Bruhl in regular attire.
Not only was Zemo's appearance drastically different in the comics, he also doesn't have the same motivations, and the character timeline is completely off as well. It makes us wonder why they didn't forget the idea of Zemo altogether and create a new villain.
Diverging this much from the original basically makes Zemo unrecognizable.
That being said, the MCU's tendency to humanize their villains adds depth to otherwise outlandish stories. This is another case where changing the source material works.
Which MCU actor do you think looks most like their character? Let us know in the comments!