Everyone loves a paycheck. I don’t begrudge any actor who looks at the film landscape (and their bank account) and says “Yes, I will show up for two minor scenes in the next Marvel movie. I really need to remodel my kitchen in my house.”

Still, it’s hard sometimes not to get a little frustrated with the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has squandered some of the best performers of this era in nothing roles. While some actors flourished in the MCU — Robert Downey Jr. owes the entire second act of his career to Tony Stark, and Chris Hemsworth became a beefy comic leading man thanks to his hilarious work in Thor and The Avengers — many well-known stars have been brought in for some marquee value, a handful of scenes, and little else.

The list below collects 20 of the most notable and disappointing examples. It does not include anyone introduced in Phase 4 of the MCU, because we’re going to give the company the benefit of the doubt and assume that even if someone made a brief and unsatisfying appearance somewhere recently, they could show up in a much larger and more meaningful way down the line.

The actors below have generally already come and gone from the MCU — although is anyone ever truly dead in comics? There’s always a chance these performers could get a second shot at Marvel stardom. Until then, they remain MCU what-ifs — and not the good kind of MCU What If...?s that star Jeffrey Wright as Uatu the Watcher.

Great Actors Who Were Wasted in Their MCU Roles

These terrific actors and actresses were brought in to play Marvel roles that weren’t worthy of their talents.
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