As all Marvel fans know, the MCU is a vast franchise with characters’ journeys overlapping though many films and TV shows. But who is the MCU’s most frequent cast member based on appearances? Join us as we rank the most regular actors from Iron Man to Spider-Man: No Way Home.
Our ranking is based on appearances in the official MCU live action films and series, with shows counting as one appearance regardless of episodes (otherwise this would simply be a list of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. cast members).
1. Stan Lee (Watcher Informant, 2008-2019) - 22
The late, great creator of many beloved characters had made cameos in Marvel adaptations since the 1980s, and appeared in every MCU movie from 2008’s Iron Man to 2019’s Avengers: Endgame – twenty-two in total.
While Lee had various guises, it was revealed in Guardians of The Galaxy Vol 2 (2017) that they were the same man, observing Earth’s events for The Watchers. He also appeared in the non-MCU Spider-Man and X-Men films, as well as many others across a long and glorious career.
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When it comes to Marvel Stan was truly The Man.
2= Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury, 2008-present) - 11
Supporting characters are important to the MCU, none more so than the head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury. Oscar-nominee Jackson was revealed in the post-credits scene of Iron Man, brought the Avengers together, and has been a vital part of their world ever since.
His eleven film and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. appearances should be added to very soon.
2= Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America, 2011-2019) - 11
The moral heart of The Avengers, Evans was the perfect choice as the skinny kid from Brooklyn who fought for what was right.
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Appearing in eleven films before he passed on his shield in Avengers: Endgame, his appearances include a couple of amusing cameos in 2013’s Thor: The Dark World and Spider-Man: Homecoming.
4. Robert Downey Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man, 2008-2019) - 10
Even long-time rival Steve Rogers would struggle to deny the impact Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark has had on the biggest franchise in the world. Deemed a ‘risk’ when he was cast in the first Iron Man film, the role of a cocky billionaire philanthropist determined to protect the world was the spark that led to everything that came after.
Through ten movie appearances, he made Iron Man arguably the most influential superhero in Hollywood history.
5. Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, 2010-2021) - 9
Leaping into action in 2010’s Iron Man 2, Black Widow would be a founding member of the Avengers before sacrificing herself to save the world in Avengers: Endgame. That wouldn’t be the last we saw of her, however, with her ninth appearance coming in 2021’s Black Widow, set after the events of Captain America: Civil War (2016).
6. Chris Hemsworth (Thor Odinson, 2011-present) - 8
The Aussie superstar was a relative unknown when he became The God of Thunder, with 2011’s Thor only being his fourth big screen credit. However, he made the role his own, combining action with a knack for comedy that has endeared him to millions.
Prior to Thor: Love And Thunder, his total stands at eight films and one cameo as “Frog Thor” in the Loki TV show.
7. Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/The Hulk, 2012-present) - 8
Despite replacing original cast member Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo has been present for eight MCU movies, and is making his Marvel TV debut in the forthcoming She Hulk. He’s the highest profile MCU star yet to have his own movie or show, but is often at the centre of the action as his alter ego smashes villains.
8. Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine, 2010-present) - 7
Another successful recasting, Don Cheadle took over the part of Tony Stark’s best friend after the departure of Terence Howard. Since Iron Man 2, he has proven the stoic counter to the impulsive Iron Man, getting the chance to become an Avenger himself during seven films and a cameo in Falcon and The Winter Soldier.
More heroics are to come in future Marvel shows Armor Wars and Secret Invasion.
9. Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier, 2011-present) - 7
Matching Cheadle’s total of seven appearances and one series is Sebastian Stan, who found worldwide fame as Steve Rogers’ buddy, and former HYDRA assassin The Winter Soldier.
With seven films and a co-lead in Falcon and The Winter Soldier, he edges out his TV co-star Anthony Mackie by one appearance.
10. Paul Bettany (J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision, 2008-present) - 7
MCU favourites Tom Hiddleston, Tom Holland and Gwyneth Paltrow were all beaten out (for now) by WandaVision star Paul Bettany.
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First heard as the voice of super computer J.A.R.V.I.S. in Iron Man, over seven films and one series his part evolved to the live action role of Vision, the ill-fated love of Elizabeth Olsen’s Scarlet Witch.
Watch the teaser for Thor: Love and Thunder