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Robert Downey Jr and Michael B. Jordan: The Best Performances in the MCU

HOLLYWOOD HEROES™: We’re only a few days away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe changing forever. The momentous event known as Avengers: Infinity War is practically upon us. With that unique blockbuster screening for critics very shortly, the whole week is more or less going to be about the MCU. Later on in the week we’ll do a specific post on the film, as well as a ranking of all of the MCU entries to date. Today though, I wanted to look at the actors within the Marvel world. As you’ll see below, this is a pretty crazy group to cull from. My only limitation that I put upon it was that it had to be from a single film, and no repeats. So, you won’t see a character’s whole arc, but just one entry. This was fun, as you might expect. Let Marvel week commence!

One thing worth mentioning before we get into it is this is sort of the perfect moment to get into a list of this nature. Avengers: Infinity War really only adds Thanos to the mix, so it’s a moment where all of our previously known characters come together. After this, we’ll be meeting newcomers like Brie Larson’s Captain Marvel, but for now, it could very well be one last ride with our old heroes. In a way, this is a tribute today to how amazingly well Kevin Feige has helped cast these roles. There isn’t one who seems out of place. In a very real way, this is why the MCU has been the success that it has been. From Robert Downey Jr. leading things off to Chadwick Boseman most recently, every casting choice has been a home run. Bravo…

Here now are the ten best performances in the MCU so far, in my humble opinion:

10. Michael Keaton in Spider-Man: Homecoming
9. Chris Pratt in Guardians of the Galaxy
8. Anthony Mackie in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
7. Chris Hemsworth in Thor: Ragnarok
6. Scarlet Johansson in The Avengers
5. Chris Evans in Captain America: Civil War
4. Jeff Goldblum in Thor: Ragnarok
3. Michael Pena in Ant-Man
2. Robert Downey Jr. in Iron Man
1. Michael B. Jordan in Black Panther

As you can see, the recent villain turn by Jordan takes the cake, ever so slightly from Downey Jr. and his iconic initial performance. For what it’s worth, six of the ten would be considered supporting performances, as opposed to the four leads, while 40% of the list is made up of villains. That’s perhaps unexpected, considering Marvel’s supposed villain problem. Throw in how two of them are also largely comedic performances and you have a quite the mix. Mostly, this just goes to show how diverse this sort of list has to be. No matter who makes it up, the ten would be wildly different. That’s part of why the MCU has been so successful. As mentioned above, Feige and company just cast their movies perfectly.

As an extra bonus, here are 20 Honorable Mentions positions, in alphabetical order, showing how vast this universe really is:

Jacob Batalon in Spider-Man: Homecoming
Dave Bautista in Guardians of the Galaxy
Chadwick Boseman in Black Panther
Bradley Cooper in Guardians of the Galaxy
Benedict Cumberbatch in Doctor Strange
Clark Gregg in The Avengers
Tom Hiddleston in Thor: The Dark World
Tom Holland in Captain America: Civil War
Samuel L. Jackson in Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3
Gwyneth Paltrow in Iron Man
Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2
Paul Rudd in Ant-Man
Kurt Russell in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Zoe Saldana in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
James Spader in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Tilda Swinton in Doctor Strange
Tessa Thompson in Thor: Ragnarok
Stanley Tucci in Captain America: The First Avenger
Letitia Wright in Black Panther

Stay tuned for much more on the Marvel Cinematic Universe all week long as Avengers: Infinity War approaches on Thursday!

About Joey Magidson

A graduate of Stony Brook University (where he studied Cinema and Cultural Studies), resides in Brooklyn, New York. He contributes to several other film-related websites and is a member of the Broadcast Film Critics Association.

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