Avengers on stage: Marvel superheroes' theatre credits
Many Marvel superheroes, sidekicks, and enemies got their starts on stage.
Sure, they have superpowers and can battle bad guys with the best of them, but did you know that most of the Marvel Avengers also have theatre chops? Well, the actors that play them, that is.
From Broadway to the West End, many of the comic book franchise’s biggest stars are also headliners onstage. And whether they’re tackling Shakespeare or battling Thanos onscreen, these actors prove that it takes super talent on all levels.
While we’re still waiting for some Avengers to make their stage debuts — we’re looking at you Thor and Iron Man! — discover some of the stage credits from the Avengers and their friends and foes in our list below.
Avengers on stage
Paul Bettany / Vision
We’d like to use some of Vision’s epic powers to see when Paul Bettany is going to make a return to the stage. Before he was playing the robot turned infinity-stone bearing android, he was starting his career onstage. He made his West End debut in the revival of An Inspector Calls, directed by Stephen Daldry, and he also tried his hand at Shakespeare, appearing in Richard III, Romeo and Juliet, and Julius Caesar with the Royal Shakespeare Company. He also starred as Andy Warhol in The Collaboration in London in 2022, and now, he's making his Broadway debut with the show in the fall.
Chadwick Boseman / Black Panther
The late actor made history as the first Black superhero in the Marvel hit Black Panther, playing the titular character, and his final acting project showcased his theatre roots. Boseman starred as the talented trumpeter Levee in the film adaptation of August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom, appearing alongside Viola Davis as Ma Rainey. Unfortunately, we’ll never get to see Boseman onstage, but this cinematic and theatrical gift will live with us forever.
Don Cheadle / War Machine
It’s been two decades since Don Cheadle was last onstage, and with his new Marvel/Disney+ TV series coming out, it will probably be a while longer! Cheadle’s last stage credit was in Suzan-Lori Parks’s Pulitzer Prize-winning play Topdog/Underdog off Broadway in 2001, and before that, he starred off Broadway in Cymbeline in 1989.
Benedict Cumberbatch / Dr. Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch’s career onstage is almost as storied and iconic as his film and TV roles. Before he was playing Sherlock or practicing the mystic arts as Dr. Strange, Cumberbatch made his West End debut in 2005 in Hedda Gabler. He also starred in Frankenstein at the National Theatre, swapping the role of the doctor and the creature with Johnny Lee Miller, and Hamlet in the West End in 2015.
Chris Evans / Captain America
The OG Avenger can do it all — and so can his portrayer Chis Evans. Evans retired his vibranium shield and super strength to take an outing on Broadway in Kenneth Lonergan’s Lobby Hero, alongside Michael Cera. Evans played the pompous police officer Bill in the Second Stage revival and could often be spotted at Sardi’s next door to the theatre after the performance. We’re happy to welcome him back to the theatre community any time!
Scarlett Johansson / Black Widow
Scarlett Johansson seems to have a penchant for classic theatre, a far departure from her martial arts wielding onscreen persona Natasha Romanova aka Black Widow. Johansson was last on Broadway starring as Maggie the Cat in Tennessee Williams Cat on a Hot Tin Roof in 2012, and before that, she played Catherine in the 2010 revival of Arthur Miller’s A View from the Bridge. Maybe a Russian drama is next to go along with her Avenger alter ego?
Brie Larson / Captain Marvel
Brie Larson hasn’t made very many stage entrances yet, as we’re sure her Captain Marvel is very busy protecting all the planets in the galaxy, but that doesn’t mean she hasn’t taken the opportunities when they come. While she hasn’t been on Broadway or in the West End (yet), she did star as Emily in Thornton Wilder’s classic Our Town at the Williamstown Theatre Festival in 2010.
Elizabeth Olsen / Scarlet Witch
Olsen cut her chops in theatre training before she broke out as a movie star and earned the role of the ultimate witch Wanda Maximoff in the Marvel cinematic universe. But Olsen has still found some time to return to the stage, and she was last seen in New York starring as one of Shakespeare’s most famous heroines in Romeo and Juliet at Classic Stage Company in 2013.
Anthony Mackie / Falcon
Anthony Mackie’s theatre resume is jam-packed with off-Broadway productions as well as two high-profile Broadway outings. He made his Broadway debut in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 2003, and he starred in Martin McDonagh’s A Behanding in Spokane on Broadway in 2010. We hope the Falcon can fly back to Broadway soon!
Paul Rudd / Ant Man
Paul Rudd loves a Broadway outing and has appeared on the Great White Way five times! He was last seen onstage in Grace, opposite Michael Shannon, Kate Arrington, and Ed Asner, in 2012, and before that, he was starring in Three Days of Rain with Julia Roberts and Bradley Cooper in 2006. All we’re saying is this is the longest Rudd has gone without being on Broadway so we really hope he comes back soon.
Mark Ruffalo / The Hulk
Even as the big, green terrifying-yet-lovable Hulk, Mark Ruffalo proves that he’s a consummate actor and performer, and he’s returned to the stage to showcase his chops several times over the course of his career. He starred in the original off-Broadway cast of Kenneth Lonergan’s This Is Our Youth in 1996 and made his Broadway debut in Clifford Odets’s Awake and Sing! In 2006. He was last on Broadway fairly recently in the Roundabout Theatre Company revival of Arthur Miller’s The Price in 2017 and received a Tony Award nomination for his performance.
Avengers friends, family, and lovers on stage
Hayley Atwell / Agent Carter
Hayley Atwell is practically a household for West End fans, and she regularly returns to the stage. She made her theatrical debut in 2005 in Prometheus Bound with David Oyelowo, and she has appeared in productions at the Royal Shakespeare Company, National Theatre, and the Donmar Warehouse.
Angela Bassett / Queen Ramonda
There’s no question: Angela Bassett is a queen onstage and onscreen. She made her Broadway debut in August Wilson’s Ma Rainey’s Black Bottom in 1984 and then starred in the same playwright’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone in 1988. Most recently, she starred in The Mountaintop alongside Samuel L. Jackson, aka Nick Fury, in 2012.
Bradley Cooper / Rocket
Bradley Cooper is all about making the unexpected, exciting choice. Whether it’s voicing the thieving racoon Rocket in Guardians of the Galaxy or appearing on Broadway as the malfigured title character in The Elephant Man, Cooper knows how to keep audiences guessing. Cooper earned a Tony Award nomination for his performance in the classic play in 2015, and he also starred alongside Paul Rudd and Julia Roberts in Three Days of Rain in 2006.
Michael Douglas / Hank Pym
It’s been a little while since Michael Douglas has been onstage, but the Oscar winner and film icon, who plays scientist Hank Pym in Ant Man, started his career in the theatre. He received a Theatre World Award for his performance off Broadway in Pinkville in 1970, and he’s also an alumni of the Eugene O’Neill theatre Center in Connecticut and received the organization’s prestigious Monte Carlo Award in 2019.
Idris Elba / Heimdall
Just like Idris Elba’s powers as Heimdall can open the Bifrost between planets, Elba has worked in theatre on both sides of the pond. He starred off Broadway in Troilus and Cressida in 2001, and a play based on his album, Tree, premiered at The Old Vic in 2019.
Daniel Kaluuya / W’Kabi
Before he was a cinematic darling starring in Get Out and then as the title’s character’s conflicted best friend in Black Panther, Kaluuya was a regular on the London stage. He most recently starred in Blue/Orange at the Young Vic in 2016, and he has also been seen onstage at the Donmar Warehouse and the Royal Court Theatre.
Martin Freeman / Everett Ross
Martin Freeman is great at scoring iconic roles. Bilbo Baggins? Check. Watson? Check. Avengers? Check. He also has a huge theatrical resume and returns to the stage frequently between film and TV roles. Some notable outings include playing the title role in Richard III in 2014 and starring alongside Tamsin Grieg James Graham’s Labour of Love in 2017.
Karen Gillan / Nebula
The Scottish actress is known to Marvel fans as the part-cyborg daughter of Thanos Nebula, and she’s also starred in other major franchises like Doctor Who. While she hasn’t made many stage outings, she was last seen in London onstage in Inadmissible Evidence at the Donmar Warehouse in 2011.
Danai Gurira / Okoye
When she’s not playing one of the best warriors in Wakanda, Danai Gurira is a playwright and performer. Her Broadway playwriting debut Eclipsed (which earned a Best Play Tony nomination) starred her Black Panther co-star Lupita Nyong’o, and she also made her Broadway acting debut in 2009 in August Wilson’s Joe Turner’s Come and Gone. In There’s nothing this actual superhero can’t do on stage, off stage, or on screen.
Tom Hiddleston / Loki
While Tom Hiddleston might play the god of mischief and Thor’s adopted brother Loki in the Marvel cinematic universe, in real life, he’s a dedicated thespian. Hiddleston recently headlined Jamie Lloyd’s revival of Harold Pinter’s Betrayal in the West End, came with the production to Broadway, and earned a Tony award nomination for his work. While the Tony Awards are still postponed due to the Covid-19 pandemic, we can’t wait to see Hiddleston at the awards!
Samuel L. Jackson / Nick Fury
Very few roles are worthy of Samuel L. Jackson’s iconic stature. Nick Fury, the founder of the Avengers, is one of them. Martin Luther King Jr. is another. Jackson starred as the civil rights leader in Katori Hall’s The Mountaintop in 2012 alongside Black Panther star Angela Bassett.
Lupita Nyong’o / Nakia
The women of Black Panther like to stick together onscreen and onstage. Nyongo’o made her Off-Broadway and then Broadway debut in her fellow Wakandan Danai Gurira’s Eclipsed. The play presents a vastly different portrait of Africa, centering on the second Liberian civil war, and Nyong’o earned a Tony Award nomination for her performance.
Gwyneth Paltrow / Pepper Potts
Iron Man’s very own Pepper Potts has tried her hand onstage and behind the scenes, on Broadway and in London. She made her West End debut in a production of David Auburn’s Proof at the Donmar Warehouse in 2002, and she was also a producer on The Go-Go’s musical Head Over Heels on Broadway in 2018.
Natalie Portman / Jane Foster
It’s been a while since Natalie Portman tread the theatre boards, but she did get her start on Broadway, starring in The Diary of Anne Frank in 1997. We can’t wait to see Portman return to the Marvel universe in Thor: Love and Thunder, and we hope she makes her return to the stage again some day!
Cobie Smulders / Maria Hill
Cobie Smulders stars as Nick Fury’s right-hand woman in the Avengers franchise, and she made her Broadway debut in the Present Laughter revival in 2017. She also was in the long-running Off-Broadway show Love, Loss, and What I Wore.
Sebastian Stan / Bucky Barnes
Sebastian Stan is a theatre kid at heart. He attended the theatre summer camp Stagedoor Manor and performed in plenty of shows growing up. Before he was playing Captain America’s conflicted friend Bucky Barnes, he made his Broadway debut in Talk Radio in 2007. He also starred in the revival of William Inge’s Picnic with Roundabout Theatre Company in 2013.
Corey Stoll / Yellowjacket
Corey Stoll must have a thing for playing the villain. He was last onstage off Broadway as Macbeth at Classic Stage Company in 2019, and he’s played other Shakespearean villains like Iago in Othello and Brutus in Julius Caesar as part of Shakespeare in the Park. His stage experience certainly lent itself well to his portrayal of the mad scientist/supervillain Yellowjacket in Ant Man.
Tessa Thompson / Brunnhilde
Tessa Thompson must have a thing for sci-fi drama, as she starred in Thor and the HBO series Westworld. But when it comes to her stage work, Thompson is all about modern drama, and she starred off Broadway in Lydia R. Diamond’s Smart People at Second Stage in 2016.
Letitia Wright / Shuri
Letitia Wright likes to keep it in the Black Panther family! When she’s not starring as the tech wizard/all-around genius in the Marvel franchise, Wright starred in her co-star Danai Gurira’s play The Convert at The Young Vic in London. She also starred in Gurira’s play Eclipsed, which originated in New York with another Black Panther star Lupita Nyong’o, at the Gate Theatre in London in 2017.
Benedict Wong / Wong
In Shang Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, Benedict Wong plays sorcerer and mythical master, Wong. His stage appearances have definitely wowed too, starring in Chimerica at the Almeida Theatre, Hamlet at the Young Vic and The Letter at the Lyric Theatre. He also played the title role in The Arrest of Ai Weiwei at the Hampstead Theatre.
Ben Kingsley / Trevor Slattery
What hasn’t Ben Kingsley done in his career? The multi-hyphenate was knighted in 2002 for services to the British film industry. But before his latest Marvel appearance, in which Kingsley channels his life in the arts as Trevor Slattery, Kingsley starred in Royal Shakespeare Company productions for over 15 years.
Avengers enemies on stage
Cate Blanchett / Hela
Cate Blanchett is a bonafide theatre queen— but not an evil queen like she is in Thor as his banished sister the goddess of death. She served as the artistic director of the Sydney Theatre company and appeared onstage several times in her native Australia. She made her Broadway debut in 2017 in The Present, which was originally produced at Sydney Theatre Company, and she’s also appeared in the West End at the Almeida Theatre, the Old Vic, and most recently in When We Have Sufficiently Tortured Each Other at the National Theatre.
Josh Brolin / Thanos
In real life, Josh Brolin isn’t at all like the balance-seeking bad guy Thanos who wreaks havoc in Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, but he does have a thing for conflicted characters. He’s only been on Broadway once, and that was back in 2000 as a replacement in Sam Shepard’s True West, after Phillip Seymour Hoffman and John C. Reilly left the original cast.
Carrie Coon / Proxima Midnight
Carrie Coon is basically unrecognizable as the evil Thanos aide Proxima Midnight, but that’s just what Coon does: she disappears into her roles. Before she was a movie star, appearing in films like Gone Girl and on TV in Fargo and The Leftovers, Coon was a theatre star, cutting her teeth on the Chicago stage and making her Broadway debut in 2012 in the revival of Edward Albee’s Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? She’s come back to the New York stage between film projects a few times over the years, and we can’t wait to have her back again.
Hugo Weaving / Red Skull
Hugo Weaving regularly treads the boards throughout Australia in classic plays, sometimes along his fellow Avenger enemy Cate Blanchett. When he’s not harnessing the power of tesseract to destroy Captain America as Red Skull, he’s appeared in plays like Hedda Gabbler and Uncle Vanya at Sydney Theatre Company.