MCU: Which Original Avengers Actor Will Be Most Successful Following ‘Avengers: Endgame’?

The OG six Avengers — as the group so aptly defined themselves while discussing their sometimes lewd text chain and promoting Avengers: Endgame — includes MCU stars Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Chris Evans, and Chris Hemsworth. 

MCU Avengers
The Avengers actors Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and Jeremy Renner | Photo by MTV/MTV1415/Getty Images for MTV

Each actor either faced a resurgence in fame or a career catalyzation following their turns in the MCU. However, Endgame has come and gone, taking the actors’ prolonged presences as their heroic counterparts with it.  While Scarlett Johansson and Chris Hemsworth are set to appear in standalone installments moving forward, they are no longer completely absorbed by the cinematic universe and are exploring opportunities outside Marvel. 

With six actors — all quite talented and all well-known for playing their superhero alternates — who is destined to be the most successful moving forward? In an attempt to determine such, we will analyze three factors: past works and accomplishments, role variety, and projects on the horizon. 

1. Past awards: do any of the Avengers have an Oscar? 

When it comes to awards, we will focus on the cream of the crop for film actors: the Oscars, the Golden Globes, and the Screen Actors Guild. And, when considering our Avengers, the category can only go to one of two actors: Mark Ruffalo or Robert Downey Jr. Back in the day, Robert Downey Jr. snagged an Oscar nomination for his spot-on interpretation of Charlie Chaplin in 1992’s Chaplin. He earned a second nomination for Tropic Thunder in 2009. 

Downey is also the winner of three Golden Globes — one for Sherlock Homles, another for Ally McBeal, and a special award shared with the cast of 1993’s Short Cuts. He also won the Screen Actors Guild for Ally McBeal. 

Mark Ruffalo has been nominated for three Oscars in his career, yet, similar to Downey, has yet to win. Ruffalo earned nominations in 2011, 2015, and 2016 for The Kids Are Alright, Foxcatcher, and Spotlight respectively — each time in the supporting role category. Ruffalo has been nominated for two Golden Globes — The Normal Heart and Infinitely Polar Bear. Ruffalo has earned two Screen Actors Guild awards (The Normal Heart and Spotlight). 

As for the other OG Avengers, they have been recognized at the MTV Awards, People’s Choice Awards, the Saturn awards, and more; however, they simply cannot rival the two above in this category. Based on the fact that Robert Downey Jr. received a nomination for lead actor in Chaplin and won more Golden Globes than Ruffalo, we will give the category to Downey.

Past Accomplishments: Robert Downey Jr.

Which Avenger has the most diverse portfolio?

When it comes to role variety, several of our Avengers have yet to be well-versed in genres outside the action-comedy space and, unfortunately, some who are well-versed, failed to impress critics and audiences; Chris Evans had a bit of a bumpy start on his way to Steve Rogers. 

While Robert Downey Jr has seen his fair share of roles, he has spent much of his life playing fast-talking wise guys with a quick mind; Sherlock Holmes and Tony Stark are virtually variations of the same underlying disposition. Chris Hemsworth mostly starred in soap operas and appeared on Australia’s Dancing with the Stars prior to Thor. Jeremy Renner has been in a large sum of action and war movies. 

Mark Ruffalo and Scarlett Johansson have jumped around quite a bit. Scarlett Johansson has appeared in animated musicals and dramas, as well as action movies and family-themed tales like We Bought a Zoo. Ruffalo though, however, has got her beat in this area. From a journalist trying to bring down the corrupt Catholic church and a detective trying to find the Zodiac killer to a man who becomes his partner’s caretaker when he contracts HIV, Ruffalo has stretched himself several times and received more accolades (than Johansson) for doing such.

Role Variety: Mark Ruffalo 

Which Avenger has got the best projects on the horizon? 

When scrolling through the OG 6 Avengers’ IMDb profiles, a few trends emerge. One: Chris Evans is putting every ounce of energy into breaking his superhero mold. Evans is set to star as a descendant of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde in Jekyll, a snotty and arrogant rich boy in Knives Out, and a detective who must grapple with the possibility that his son is a murderer in Defending Jacob.

Renner is still staying within a similar sphere, set to appear in the Disney+ series Hawkeye, as well as the supernatural horror Spawn. Hemsworth will continue playing Thor, and take on another massive man — Hulk Hogan — in a Netflix biopic. Johansson recently appeared in the drama Marriage Story, and she is set to star in Sing 2 and Black Widow. 

Robert Downey Jr comes quite close to Evans in terms of promising upcoming roles, as he is set to play Dr. Dolittle and the scam doctor John Brinkley, who fooled the world into thinking transplanting goat testicles into humans could cure male impotence. 

Mark Ruffalo also has some diverse upcoming roles, as he will star in the TV series I Know This Much Is True, as well as Newsflash and Dark Waters. I Know This Much Is True traces the relationship between a man and his twin brother suffering from paranoid schizophrenia. In Newsflash, he will portray the real-life Don Hewitt. Dark Waters follows a defense attorney who takes on a lawsuit against a chemical company with a history of pollution. 

In terms of upcoming promising roles, Ruffalo, Downey, and Evans all seem quite close. However, Downey’s Dolittle and scam doctor will likely wind up being comedic and sly quick-talkers. Ruffalo has got some impressive variation but has done the journalist looking for answers in the past. Evans, based on the highly-anticipated Jekyll alone, deserves to win this category. 

Best future projects: Chris Evans

Overall Winner 

When taking all thee categories into account, we are left determining who will be the most successful between Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, and Mark Ruffalo. Given that Chris Evans did not come close to the other two in past accomplishments and successful role variety, the competition comes down to Ruffalo and Downey. With more awards snagged for his work in leading roles, let’s give it to Downey. Ruffalo may have more variation, but when Downey steps out of his comfort zone, he proves himself to a greater extent. 

Winner: Robert Downey Jr.