The Marvel Cinematic Universe is the biggest movie franchise in history and most actors would likely gladly give up an arm and a leg to be part of it. But despite all the buzz and money that comes with being part of such a franchise, there are sacrifices to be made as well. Many of the actors in the MCU have paid a price for their fame and a big paycheck - some small, some big. Whether it's Jeremy Renner performing his role of Hawkeye despite his injuries or Chris Evans accepting an insulting paycheck for his first appearance as Captain America, here are 45 instances of Marvel actors sacrificing their likes and preferences to be part of the MCU.
Not All Laser-Beams and Rainbows: What it's Really Like to be a Marvel Cinematic Universe StarPublished 10 months ago
In MCU’s Black Panther, Chadwick Boseman’s perfect form-fitting costume for his role as Black Panther does look impressive. This is a signature style of the MCU superheroes as you’d be hard-pressed to find any superhero costume that doesn’t fit the actors well. But not everyone finds them comfortable to wear, which includes since-passed Chadwick Boseman who starred as T’Challa in the movie.
In fact, the actor found the experience to be very unpleasant, which he voiced out in more than one interview. Boseman found the costume suffocating which exhausted him constantly. One would think with all the budget Marvel had they would provide something more comfortable to the actor knowing his condition.
One of the few MCU heroes who have a fairly comfortable costume, Chris Pratt’s struggle wasn’t with his costume’s fit but rather getting in shape to wear it. Before being Star-Lord, Pratt was loved by viewers for his role in the hit TV show Parks and Recreation where he plays an adorable out-of-shape goofball.
Unfortunately for Pratt, joining the MCU as Star-Lord meant cutting down his favorite foods and working with a personal trainer to lose weight: 60 pounds to be precise. He had to cut down on his favorite snacks, cut down on beer, and sweat like hell to get ripped to fit inside his character's signature jacket.
Some actors like to improvise while others like to memorize their script and play the scene precisely according to how the writers envisiioned it. Jeff Bridges definitely belongs to the latter group, but this caused him some trouble in his appearance in Iron Man 1 as the villain Obadiah Stane.
Back in those days, Marvel wasn’t as big or as organized as it is today, and when the veteran actor arrived on John Favreau’s set, there was no script to be found. This frustrated the Big Lebowski star to no end who admitted in an interview that it freaked him out. Despite being put in an awkward position, Bridges managed to pull off his role with panache.
After her first appearance in Thor as the hero’s lover and guide in the human world, Natalie Portman decided to call quits to her acting career for a few years to raise her baby. We probably wouldn’t have seen her return if it wasn’t for Patty Jenkins being chosen for directing Thor: The Dark World.
The fact that it was the first movie that was directed by a female director convinced Portman to get back in the game despite being a mother. But Marvel reneged on the deal and took Jenkins off the movie. Natalie Portman would have left too, but by then she was already locked under contract.
Today Chris Evans is one of the most in-demand and highest-paid actors in Hollywood, averaging around $15 million dollars per movie. But once upon a time, this was not the case. Before Captain America became the MCU’s second main mascot after Iron Man, Chris Evans received a paltry $300,000 dollars for his first appearance as the patriotic hero.
Though Evans took a big hit in his first appearance as Captain America (considering the fact that he was an already established star), it paid off in the long run as he made $15M each in Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and Avengers: Endgame.
Dave Bautista probably wished he was really invisible when he played the role of Drax in MCU’s Guardians of the Galaxy. If you thought that Drax’s appearance was CGI, you’d be wrong. It’s all good old-fashioned makeup piled in with a lot of patience.
The Guardians of the Galaxy star had to endure six hours of makeup every day to play the role of the iconic blue-skinned alien warrior.
Did you know that Scarlett Johansson was pregnant while she was shooting for Avengers: Age of Ultron? The actress was a few months into her pregnancy when shooting the film, which is why you don’t see Black Widow pull off too many acrobatic moves in that Avengers entry. When you have a baby on the way, saving the world might become a bit of a chore!
Kudos to the CGI team who did a terrific job covering up Scarlet Johansson’s pregnancy in the final cut of the film. We don’t even want to imagine the stress the actress had to put up with to fulfill her contract when she should have been relaxing.
Idris Elba has been a household name for almost two decades and has been loved by his fans for many roles. In recent years he has been in the spotlight thanks to his role as Heimdall in the MCU films. However, Idris Elba is a man who values his privacy and private time.
When he was asked to appear for a cameo shoot for Avengers: Age of Ultron, Elba wasn’t particularly happy with the producers. Little known fact - the veteran actor is also an excellent DJ who plays in different music festivals. He was busy playing in a festival called Ibiza Rocks when the call came in, prompting the unhappy actor to leave the fun for work.
In his first appearances as Hawkeye in The Avengers, Jeremy Renner was still not bound by contract by Disney and was shooting for The Bourne Legacy as well. The stunts in Bourne Legacy resulted in the actor suffering from hand fractures which impeded his role as Hawkeye. When the character you’re playing is an archer, fractured hands can be a bit of a problem.
If you thought Drax’s makeup was good, then wait till you realize that everyone’s favorite MCU robot Vision is also not CGI, but the result of hours of similar prosthetic makeup. Though not as extensive as Dave Bautista’s six-hour sessions, Paul Bettany had to go through three and a half-hour sessions every day to play his role.
The veteran actor took it with good humor and played the role in multiple films later on. He even joked in an interview, saying that while putting on the makeup was uncomfortable, getting paid a lot of money for it was not.
There’s no denying that some of the MCU’s villains have ridiculous costume designs that look uncomfortable. This was also true for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki before the trickster god turned over a new leaf as MCU’s most popular anti-hero. Loki’s costume in his initial appearance in the MCU consisted of a heavy helmet with two protruding antlers that prevented the actor from hearing properly.
No wonder Tom Hiddleston gladly ditched the crown in the latter entries in favor of letting his long hair flow down. It definitely helped his image and character to not move around awkwardly with deer-like antlers for sure.
Originally, superhero movies weren’t very family-friendly: the Blade trilogy, the X-Men movies, Spawn, etc, were all R-rated movies that were not meant for kids. Once Marvel took over, things turned PG-13, which took out most of the edginess in Marvel properties coming into the MCU, which include gore, gratuitous violence, and nudity.
As a result of this, Samuel L. Jackson wasn’t allowed to smoke Nick Fury’s signature cigars in the films which the actor wasn’t appreciative of. Also, Samuel ‘M**********r’ Jackson not letting out his signature expletive in a movie is a sight to behold indeed.
Though she’s the butt-end of Captain Marvel jokes on the internet, no one can blame Brie Larson for not trying hard, though it might come off as a bit extra. Disney contracts stipulate that all MCU actors must log in at least two hours into the gym. Brie Larson decided to take things a bit further by trying to push a jeep to buff her muscles.
Maybe listening to her trainer might have been better as pushing Jeeps isn’t exactly the golden ticket to building an impressive physique like Gina Carano or Lucy Lawless.
The problem with being under a contract is that stars have to maintain a clean, positive, picture-perfect image that can come off as a bit fake to some. Actors have strict stipulations regarding their public behavior which means no partying, drinking, or getting involved in public scandals.
Such a degree of control over one’s personal life is definitely not for everyone as the opportunities for having fun are drastically reduced and the whole thing seems a bit authoritarian. But we guess when you’re making millions and are at the center of pop culture gossip, no price is too high.
After Tom Holland’s disastrous spoiler leaks in the mid-years of MCU, Disney has taken every step they possibly can to prevent any leaks from the actors' camp. With smartphones and the internet at everyone’s fingertips, it’s not too difficult to see why the producers suffer from such paranoia.
Ever since Holland’s infamous leak while on a live stream on FaceBook in 2016, MCU producers have forced actors to read their scripts right before shooting in windowless rooms. When shooting Avengers: Infinity War, producers took things a step further and gave everyone’s script after gathering them together like kids before shooting certain scenes.
With the rivalry between DC and Marvel going back decades, it’s a no-brainer that the rivalry would extend to the MCU and DCEU as well. Marvel actors aren’t allowed to star in any DCEU films, and the same is true on the other side of the fence.
The main reason behind this is that these franchises have become brands, and the actors have become the faces of the brands. When it comes to superhero movies, no studio head wants to hear that their most popular actor is starring as a different hero. RDJ is Ironman, and Disney definitely doesn’t want that to change.
Unlike RDJ and a few senior actors of the MCU, as well as a few exceptional cases, most actors who join the MCU aren’t given any creative control. Of course, actors almost never have the say in creative control, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t usually allowed to improvise in a scene or two in movies. In fact, some of the best scenes in movie history (including the MCU) are also improvised!
In the early days of the MCU, improvisations were commonplace, but once Disney took over, things got very strict and controlled. As such, many of the Disney MCU movies are much scripted without rare deviations.
Of course, fans love an action star who can pull of their own stunts: Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Daniel Craig, and Matt Damon are just a few that come to mind. It adds an extra layer of tension, knowing the actors on screen are putting their health and safety on the line just to make things more believable. But in the MCU, actors aren’t allowed to do their own stunts, period.
This is very problematic when you view the MCU films from the technical perspective of action movies instead of superhero movies. Much of the tension is lost in the action sequences, as we all know that our favorite heroes in spandex will come out on top despite the odds.
One of the most exhaustive parts of being an actor in the MCU roster is not just the intense shooting schedule but also the numerous press tours that they have to participate in. Disney and the MCU are very ham-handed when it comes to promoting their movies, which is one of the main reasons the movies are so successful.
Many of the MCU actors don’t appreciate the intense pressure, but still, put up with it because that’s what their contracts stipulate. This also means actors have to appear in charity events when they come through official channels.
Movie promotions, press releases, and public events are not just the only things an MCU actor/actress has to consider; they also have to be available for related sponsors and brands. This is especially true for toys and action figures.
Whenever a line of products and merchandise come out for the MCU, actors are required to model for them as they are based on how the actors look in real life. Movie merchandise is worth millions of dollars in sales, so the stars are in no position to refuse whether they like it or not.
In the last year and a half, Disney’s ‘family friendly’ image has suffered a lot as their authoritative control over their cast members has become increasingly public. This is a bit uncommon as stars are usually not held in ironclad contracts to make mandatory public appearances for any other studio, including Disney’s main rival Warner Brothers who helm the DCEU movies.
While Disney has caught a lot of flak for it, most of the current Disney MCU stars are under lock and key at least for the next few years except for the ones whose character arcs ended in Avengers: Endgame. Let’s just hope they make better contract choices in the future.
One of the biggest problems for an actor/actress of being associated with a particular character on the silver screen for extended periods of time, fans tend to stick them in that particular role. This can be a problem for many actors/actresses when looking for new roles after performing for the MCU.
Robert Downey Jr is an exceptionally talented and versatile actor who played a lot of roles other than Tony Stark. But even he had to face a box-office flop in the form of Dr. Dolittle after a decade of playing Ironman.
One of the biggest prices one has to pay for fame is the loss of privacy. When your face is all over the internet and everyone knows your name, it can be a chore to just make a trip to buy groceries without having to sign for an autograph or pose for a selfie.
Most Marvel stars entertain their fans in these situations with good humor, but one has to wonder how much of it is genuine when it’s stated in their contract that they have to maintain a positive public image at all costs. Not being able to react the way you’re feeling because you’re under a contract definitely doesn’t sound nice.
If you Google Karen Gillan, the actress who plays Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy, the image results will show a stunningly beautiful woman with long red hair. That’s exactly why we appreciate her guts to shave her head to play the character. That, combined with the prosthetics, gives the otherwise cute actress a certain mean streak required for the character.
Initially, she wasn’t happy with the prospect of cutting off her beautiful hair. Realizing that this would be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, she decided to go for it anyways.
Gwyneth Paltrow was a popular name in Hollywood in the ‘90s before she decided to quit acting. As a teen star, she definitely had her share of the limelight and wanted to focus on her personal life, which is definitely not uncommon in Hollywood.
That’s exactly why a lot of people were surprised when she decided to come back to play the role of Pepper Potts in the first Ironman movie. The MCU movies have been her only exception ever since as that’s the only role she has played in over a decade.
Despite the best efforts of Disney’s PR department to give Brie Larson a friendly face and try to make her the new face of Marvel’s Phase 4, they failed. When you’re so unpopular that many of your co-stars even don’t like you, it’s hard to believe that they’re just jealous considering most of them were done with their characters.
Disney was quick to take note and has already replaced Carol Danvers with Monica Rambeau as the next Captain Marvel in Marvel’s Phase 4. Just goes on to show that you can never hide who you truly are in the long run.
Mickey Rourke has always been known to be an eccentric personality, but even he has the right to be angry at Marvel for going against conditions he had given them. The actor played the role of the villain Ivan Vanko in Iron Man 2 under very specific conditions: the character had to have depth and not just be a brutish braindead villain.
When the movie started, the producers and director accepted the conditions but later reneged on them after cutting many of his scenes in the final cut of the film. Rourke has held a grudge ever since, which is not entirely unjustified. Even as recently as May 2021 when Rourke posted in praise of the actors of Law & Order, he said, "Respect to all of you, the work that you all do is real acting, not like that crap that all on Marvel s***." Ouch.
Though many fans are a fan of the calm and collected gatekeeper of Asgard, Idris Elba himself didn’t like his character. His complaint is very similar to Rourke’s: the character lacked depth. While understandably Heimdall is a secondary part of the MCU roster and not part of the Avengers, lending the character some gravitas after appearing in multiple entries only sounds fair.
Despite being dissatisfied, Idris Elba was a man of his word and fulfilled his contract till the end. Considering his sentiments, it’s easy to understand why he would get angry at leaving for a public appearance in the middle of his private time.
Though the Avengers saga has finally ended, many of the actors and fans weren’t particularly happy about the overall character arcs of many of the characters. This included Jeremy Renner, who wasn’t pleased with the mind-control story arc of his character in the first Avengers film.
Renner was so upset at the character arc of Loki brainwashing Hawkeye to do his bidding that he wanted to cut himself off and requested the character to be killed off. Fortunately, the producers budged in this instance and he was written better in the subsequent films.
Everyone agrees that Iron Man 1 is the movie that kick-started the MCU, but not everyone in the original cast made it to the later films. Tony’s best friend Colonel Rhoades was played by Terrence Howard in the first film but was then replaced by Don Cheadle in the subsequent films.
Howard was very salty about the whole incident afterward and blamed RDJ’s increased salary demand as the reason why he was cut off. While it was a tough pill to swallow, no one can blame execs to make the decision that makes sense: pay more to the guy responsible for making the studio money in the first place.
After Iron Man, Captain America is the second most popular hero in the MCU. Considering that fact, it might come as a shock to you that Chris Evans, who plays the role of the titular hero, wasn’t actually a big fan of the character.
Back in 2014, soon after the MCU had just kicked off and his first solo outing as Captain America was a smash hit, Evans was already considering quitting Marvel, probably his career as well since reneging on such a big studio contract would have blacklisted him in Hollywood. It’s highly likely that the strict conditions of his contract had gotten to him by that point.
As one of Hollywood’s most talented actors, Hugo Weaving is no stranger to playing villains. But even he had a hard time with his makeup when it came to playing the villain Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger. The experience was so harrowing that he later claimed in multiple interviews that he hated putting on the red makeup necessary to play the role.
Fortunately for the veteran actor, his appearance was a one-off, and he moved on to greener pastures more to his liking after being done with the shooting of the film.
One of the biggest surprises in 2018’s Black Panther was the character Okoye, played by Danai Gurira. Her character played a pivotal role in the Infinity saga. She garnered enough popularity to be included in the poster for Avengers: Endgame, but her name wasn’t included on it.
While this might have bruised her ego a bit, it’s understandable her name had to take a backseat to the extensive cast of superstars leading the Avenger’s roster. The MCU did do her character some justice after giving her significant screen time and a prominent role in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier.
Brie Larson often tries to advocate for some good causes and is quite outspoken. But her opinionated and often unpleasant personality, as well as her snobby attitude, rubs off the wrong way to most people except her most hardcore fans.
If only she changed her approach and how she interacted with people, maybe they would be more receptive to her message. The backlash she got since the end of the Infinity saga must have hurt, but there’s a reason she got so much backlash in the first place.
Tom Holland is a bit unfortunate owing to the fact that unlike his predecessors Toby Maguire and Andrew Garfield, he didn’t get to spend much time in the Spiderman costume. Unlike many of his stars, he had to shoot most of his scenes in a CGI suit.
Holland managed to work past his feelings and delivered solid performances as Spiderman ever since he took on the role. Like everyone else, we’re also looking forward to the last and final installment of the MCU Spiderman and hope it’s an epic sendoff to a well-loved version of the web-swinging crime fighter.
While Marvel puts a hard stop when it comes to dangerous stunts, that doesn’t mean they want their actors to be out of shape. Aside from fitting into their costumes and looking good for every film, minor stunts have to be done by the actors themselves which are also one of the reasons MCU contracts stipulate that the stars have to stay fit and exercise regularly.
Some actors definitely have it easier than others like Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth, stars are still expected to put a healthy effort into staying fit.
The costumes of some MCU characters are highly intricately put together. Who would have thought that Dr. Strange’s flamboyant costume would have to be drilled together on a regular basis? From the look of the picture, Benedict Cumberbatch looks quite apprehensive about the situation too.
Considering some of the extensive makeup sessions many of the MCU actors have to go through, drilling costumes seems like a walk in the park. Nonetheless, we definitely don’t want any drilling machine near us when cosplaying as Dr. Strange.
Starring as a superhero in a superhero film isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when you have to move around with all the contraptions and CGI suits. If you think Tom Holland had a bad time, wait till you hear about Mark Ruffalo’s struggles, who plays the Hulk in the Avengers.
Ruffalo’s CGI kit included a long pole attached to his back to give the CGI artists the height to place the Hulk’s face in the movie. The actor had to put up with this for the entirety of his time as the Hulk, which was a decade.
Not everyone had to play an older version of themselves in the MCU except for Captain America, who in Avengers: Endgame pulled off a time travel stunt to be with the woman he loved. To play his old version, Chris Evans had to put up with some heavy prosthetic makeup which wasn’t exactly a pleasant experience.
Evans was lucky compared to his many co-stars who had to spend the better part of the decade putting on extensive makeup or walking around in CGI suits with contraptions sticking out. Captain America has arguably one of the more positive character arc endings in the MCU, so the pain was well worth it if we may say so.
We’ve already talked about how Marvel actors are forced to make public appearances, but do you know that they also have to suit up in their superhero costume if the situation requires? MCU actors have to constantly please fans which can turn into unwanted pressure for some.
But in most instances, it’s often for a good cause which is fun and worthwhile. For example, in this picture, Lady Sif is working her wholesome charm for hospitalized children.
One of the more unfair parts of an MCU contract is while they lock the actors under a long-term contract, the actors often don’t know how long their character will stick around. This makes things very uncertain as MCU actors aren’t usually told when they might get let go for plot reasons.
In most instances, the actors happily take on this risk knowing they’re part of a franchise that is probably the biggest in movie history. Most actors ultimately stuck till the end of their character arcs in Avengers: Endgame, but we can’t say any of them weren’t happy after leaving such a lengthy long-term contract.
When you’re part of an ensemble cast as large as the Avengers, tensions can sometimes run high with co-stars back talking about one another both on and offs the et. During the shooting of one of the earlier Avenger films, Jeremy Renner and Chris Evans noted the promiscuous aspect of Black Widows’ character and made fun of it, which they apologized for later in public.
This kind of thing can often make work environments toxic, especially on movie sets. Fortunately enough, Scarlett Johansson was understanding about the whole thing and accepted their apology. Nonetheless, this type of behavior isn’t acceptable in today’s day and age.
While Tom Holland might be the prince of spoilers in the MCU, he isn’t the only one who has a loose mouth in public appearances. Mark Ruffalo also has a similar bad habit of spilling the bean in the media. In fact, he was so careless that he told in an interview everyone would lose their lives in Avengers: Infinity War before the movie even came out.
The Russo brothers had a long talk with the actor after the incident, and fortunately, he didn’t end up getting fired probably due to his vital role in the Infinity saga. Other than that, Mark Ruffalo is a great guy who probably should watch what he says in the future.
Another major disadvantage of being an MCU actor is that not only do you have to maintain a positive image, but also open yourself up to personal scrutiny as well. This includes what you wear, whether it’s your morning PJs or evening wear for a red carpet event.
Most actors probably don’t like this level of scrutiny, but some manage to make it work to their advantage like Vin Diesel in the picture above. His jacket has a raw woodland feel to it akin to the character he plays in Guardians of the Galaxy, Groot.
To end this list on a happy note, here’s a picture of one of the many positive things that happen in the MCU movie sets behind the scenes. In this picture, RDJ takes a selfie with all the female cast members of the Avengers in a dinner outing which was his treat. RDJ has always been known for doing sweet things like these, keeping the morale high.
Making good and fun memories is an important part of life when you don’t know what tomorrow holds. The bond between the cast members is almost family-like, which goes on to show not everything has to be hectic in a high-pressure acting career.