The 2021 Academy Awards have come and gone. And while this year’s event was notable for a number of reasons, for Marvel fans it was an opportunity to see past and future MCU actors receive top honors. Eternals director Chloe Zhao is now the first Oscar-winning director to direct a Marvel movie. Hollywood legend Anthony Hopkins also landed another Best Actor award, a fitting addition to Odin’s trophy room.
For a full breakdown of all the MCU actors who have won an Oscar, check out the image gallery below or check out the note. Keep in mind that we are only focusing on the MCU movies, not the various spinoffs on television.
By the way, be sure to check out the full list of 2021 Oscar winners at this link.
Won: Best Actor for Crazy Heart (2010)
Jeff Bridges had been nominated multiple times for Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor before signing for Iron Man in 2008. However, he didn’t actually take home the award until his lead performance in Crazy Heart in 2010. At least Obadiah Stane you can rest assured that you have an honor that Tony Stark (or rather, Robert Downey Jr.) does not have.
Won: Best Actress for Room (2015)
Brie Larson was already an Oscar winner when she made her MCU debut in 2019’s Captain Marvel. Larson’s career really took off with her emotionally devastating portrayal of a captive mother in 2015’s Room.
Won: Best Actress for Shakespeare in Love (1998)
Shakespeare in Love was the big winner during the 1999 Academy Awards, bringing home no fewer than seven Oscars. Paltrow was one of the people honored for her work on the film, making her a certified Oscar winner a decade before appearing in 2008’s Iron Man.
Won: Best Actor for Gandhi (1982)
Ben Kingsley became an Oscar winner even before several MCU stars were born. Kingsley took home the Best Actor award for his lead role in 1982’s Gandhi, a performance that made him a household name. Kingsley has been nominated for several more Academy Awards since then, though that didn’t do much to upset MCU fans for his wacky take on the Mandarin in 2013’s Iron Man 3.
Tommy Lee Jones
Won: Best Supporting Actor for The Fugitive (1993)
Tommy Lee Jones enjoyed a successful acting career long before playing Colonel Chester Phillips in Captain America: The First Avenger of 2010. It is almost surprising to remember that Jones has only taken home one Oscar (so far), which he won for her supporting role in 1993’s The Fugitive.
Won: Best Director for Ordinary People (1980), Honorary Academy Award 2002
Robert Redford is an unusual case among MCU actors, as he is the only one to win an Oscar for directing rather than acting. Redford claimed his first Oscar with 1980’s Ordinary People, and later received an honorary award at the 2002 Academy Awards.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for Michael Clayton (2007)
Michael Clayton was nominated for various categories at the 2008 Academy Awards, but Tilda Swinton was the only person to take home an award for her role in this legal thriller. That honor was certainly a draw point when Swinton signed on to play Ancient One in 2016’s Doctor Strange.
Won: Mejor actor por Silence of the Lambs (1991) y The Father (2020)
Anthony Hopkins took home an Oscar for possibly his most iconic role, as Hannibal Lecter in The Silence of the Innocents. Having played Odin in all three Thor movies, Hopkins took home his second Best Actor trophy for The Father, defeating the late Chadwick Boseman in an MCU All-Star Battle.
Won: Mejor Actor por Kiss of the Spider Woman (1985)
William Hurt’s General Thunderbolt Ross has been an antagonist in two MCU movies thus far (plus, he appeared in Endgame), and we doubt we’ve seen the last of his character. We certainly hope not, as Hurt is another star who brings some Oscar-winning class to the MCU. Interestingly, Hurt won for his performance in 1985’s Kiss of the Spider Woman, although that movie has nothing to do with the Marvel heroine of the same name. The actor also received an Oscar nomination for his supporting role in 2005’s A History of Violence, a rare comic book adaptation that strikes a chord with the Academy.
Won: Best Film for One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (1976) and Best Actor for Wall Street (1988)
Michael Douglas was a multiple Oscar winner long before signing to play Dr. Henry Pym in the Ant-Man movies. Douglas was a producer on One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest, which won the Best Picture award, and later took home the Best Actor award for his iconic endlessly cited role on 1988’s Wall Street.
Benicio, the bull
Won: Best Supporting Actor for Traffic (2000)
Benicio del Toro struck a chord with American audiences thanks to his starring role in Traffic in 2000, which ended up winning an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor. But that was just a gateway for Del Toro to become The Collector in movies like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Infinity War!
Won: Best Supporting Actress for 12 Years a Slave (2013)
Lupita Nyong’o became a Hollywood superstar practically overnight thanks to her haunting performance in 2013’s 12 Years a Slave. Nyong’o won the Oscar for Best Supporting Actress for that role, a feat that It certainly didn’t affect his chances of joining the MCU.
Won: Mejor Actor por The Last King of Scotland (2006)
Black Panther is packed with award-winning actors, including Forest Whitaker as Zuri. Whitaker previously took home the Oscar for Best Actor playing Idi Amin in The Last King of Scotland.
Won: Best Actress for Black Swan (2011)
Natalie Portman won the Best Actress Oscar for her performance in 2011’s Black Swan, the same year she also made her MCU debut as Jane Foster in Thor. Looking ahead, we look forward to an equally physically intense performance, as Jane de Portman takes up Thor’s hammer in Thor: Love and Thunder.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for My Cousin Vinny (1992)
All three film incarnations of Aunt May are Oscar-nominated actresses. Marisa Tomei took home the award for her supporting role in My Cousin Vinny, nearly 25 years before making her MCU debut in Captain America: Civil War.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for The Aviator (2005) and Best Actress for Blue Jasmine (2014)
Cate Blanchett is among the most Oscar-nominated actresses to appear in the MCU, and has taken home two awards to date. Let’s hope we haven’t seen the last of Hela de Blanchett.
Won: Mejor Actor de Reparto por Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri (2018)
After playing the villain Justin Hammer in 2010’s Iron Man 2, Sam Rockwell took home the Oscar for Best Supporting Actor for his performance in 2018’s Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri. He clearly knows how to play a good bad boy. , already a good bad boy who might not be so bad.
Won: Best Adapted Screenplay by Jojo Rabbit (2019)
Taika Waititi is known for his eclectic work both in front of and behind the camera. That applies to the MCU as well, with Waititi directing Thor: Ragnarok and the new Thor: Love and Thunder, as well as playing Thor’s rocky friend Korg. Fittingly, Waititi’s first Oscar win came neither for acting nor directing, but for Best Adapted Screenplay with Jojo Rabbit of 2019.
Won: Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (1997)
Matt Damon made his MCU debut in the last place we would have expected, as an actor playing Loki in 2017’s Thor: Ragnarok. Not the most glamorous superhero role, but that cameo nonetheless brought another Oscar winner. into the fold of Marvel. Damon won the Oscar for Best Original Screenplay for Good Will Hunting (alongside co-writer Ben Affleck), and the film also earned him a Best Actor nomination.
Won: Best Actor for Gladiator (2000)
Given that he won an Oscar for playing the hero Maximus Decimus Meridius in 2000’s Gladiator, it’s a bit surprising that Russell hasn’t appeared in an MCU movie yet. That will finally change with 2022’s Thor: Love and Thunder. After a lot of rumors and leaked set photos, we now know that Crowe is playing the Greek god Zeus. The question is how long the Lord of Olympus can survive the wrath of Gorr, the Butcher God.
Won: Best Supporting Actor for The Fighter (2010)
Speaking of Gorr the God Butcher, that’s the role that will introduce Christian Bale to the MCU, after his run as Batman. Bale is known for his intense physical transformations for his roles, a fact that helped him win the Best Supporting Actor award for 2010’s The Fighter.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for A Beautiful Mind (2001)
Jennifer Connelly’s resume in Marvel predates the MCU, as she played Betty Ross in 2003’s Hulk before voicing Spider-Man’s helpful Artificial Intelligence, Karen, in 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming. Prior to either role, Connelly earned an Oscar for her role in 2001’s A Beautiful Mind (starring fellow MCU actor Russell Crowe).
Won: Best Supporting Actress for Girl, Interrupted (1999) and the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award in 2014.
Angelina Jolie may have won an Oscar for starring in the psychological drama Girl, Interrupted, but now Jolie will finally make her MCU debut in 2021’s Eternals, playing the heroic immortal Thena.
Won: Best Supporting Actress for The Constant Gardener (2005)
Rachel Weisz plays Melina Vostokoff in Black Widow, but before that she won the Best Supporting Actress award for her work in 2005’s The Constant Gardener.
Won: Best Supporting Actor for Moonlight (2016) and Green Book (2018)
Mahershala Ali brought a lot of Oscar-winning class to the Netflix series Luke Cage, playing Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes. Marvel fans can argue whether that series qualifies Ali for this list, given the increasingly dubious link between the MCU movies and Netflix’s Marvel series. But the question is moot, as Ali will also star in Marvel Studios’ upcoming Blade movie.