All the Oscar Winners Who Played Villains in the MCU: Inside the Award-Winning Avengers Antagonists
The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a way of appealing to top-tier actors when it comes to villains. While many great actors have taken on pivotal Avengers — Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson and more — several Oscar winners have signed one for a “one and done” appearance (or a few cameos thereafter), accepting a villainous and/or antagonistic role in the MCU. Below, find the Academy Award-winning actors who, for some reason, chose to step into the shoes of an MCU villain.
1. Cate Blanchett / Hela
Cate Blanchett portrays Hela – Odin’s firstborn daughter who comes to Asgard with intentions to claim the throne that is rightfully hers — no matter who she has to destroy along the way. She sashays across the screen with superiority and sass, murdering with ease as if it’s a simple afternoon exercise.
Prior to playing Hela, Blanchett won two Oscars — one in 2005 and one in 2014 — first for The Aviator and then for Blue Jasmine. However, the actress has been nominated for an Oscar 6 times; between Carol, I’m Not There, and Notes on a Scandal, this actor knows how to climb into character.
2. Benicio del Toro / The Collector
Benicio del Toro portrays The Collector in the MCU, who serves as a minor antagonist in both Thor: The Dark World and Guardians of the Galaxy. Let’s just say his means of collecting valuable relics leaves much to desired in terms of morality.
Del Toro won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Supporting Role back in 2001 for Traffic. The movie follows a conservative judge recruited by the president to spearhead America’s escalating war against drugs, yet things go awry when he realizes his teenage daughter is addicted to crack. Del Toro was nominated again in 2004 for 21 Grams.
3. Jeff Bridges / Obadiah Stane
Jeff Bridges portrays Obadiah Stane in Iron Man, but you may remember him as the Iron Monger, who appears toward the end of the film to oppose Tony in a huge Iron Man-like suit (one more bad-guy-looking in nature as it’s large and less refined than Stark’s suit). Stane is known for studying opponents’ weaknesses to find areas he can exploit, making him one of Marvel’s most amoral and ruthless men.
Bridges won the Oscar for Best Actor in a Leading role for 2010’s Crazy Heart, yet he has been nominated seven times; his first nomination was for 1972’s The Last Picture Show, and his most recent was in 2017 for Hell or High Water.
4. Ben Kingsley (sort of) / The Fake Mandarin
Ben Kingsley played The Fake Mandarin in Iron Man 3, and while he didn’t come to embody villainy toward the end, he did help contribute to a villainous campaign, so he earned his place on this list. And, for much of the movie, he seemed like a really bad guy!
Ben Kingsley won the Oscar for Best Actor in 1983 for his depiction of Gandhi, yet he was nominated three more times in 1992, 2002, and 2004 for Bugsy, Sexy Beast, and House of Sand and Fog, respectively.
5. Sam Rockwell / Justin Hammer
Sam Rockwell plays Justin Hammer — the unscrupulous industrial with warped priorities in Iron Man 2. However, following his turn in the MCU, he won the Oscar for his supporting role in 2018’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing Missouri. He was nominated again in 2019 for Vice.
Upcoming: Christian Bale in ‘Thor: Love and Thunder’
While fans do not yet know who Christian Bale will portray in the MCU, Valkyrie star Tessa Thompson recently revealed that the actor will take on a primary antagonist in the movie. Bale won the Oscar for Best Actor in 2011 for The Fighter. He was nominated three more times for American Hustle, The Big Short, and Vice.