Last month it was announced that Harrison Ford might be joining the Marvel Cinematic Universe as a replacement for William Hurt’s Thunderbolt Ross, due to the passing of Hurt. It’s exciting to think that we might get to see Harrison Ford take on a role in the MCU, especially if a Thunderbolts movie is in the works, but he would be far from the first actor to tackle a role in both universes. Ever since the MCU came into existence, it’s been pulling actors from the Star Wars franchise.
The very first instance of an actor from Star Wars making an appearance in an MCU movie happened all the way back in 2008 in the very first MCU movie Iron Man. While everybody now knows that you’re supposed to sit through the credits of a marvel movie to get that extra scene at the end, back at the beginning, that wasn’t widely known. But, for those audience members who did sit through the credits of Iron Man, they were treated to the first appearance of Nick Fury played by Samuel Jackson. This was just three years after Jackson’s final performance as Jedi Master Mace Windu in Revenge of the Sith, as Jackson was the first actor in mind for the role.
Marvel’s casting of Star Wars actors would continue a few movies later in 2011 when Natilie Portman was cast as Jane Foster in Thor. Portman would appear in the second Thor movie, but passed on reprising the role in Thor: Ragnarok. However, she returned to the franchise earlier this year in Thor: Love and Thunder. Ironically, the director of the movie, Taika Watitti apparently forgot about Portman’s role in the Star Wars prequels, asking her if she would be interested in appearing in the Star Wars film that he’s currently working on as a new character.
Of course actors from the sequel trilogy have also gotten roles in the MCU after their adventures in a galaxy far far away. One of the biggest names to come out of the sequel trilogy was Oscar Issac, the actor behind hotshot pilot Poe Dameron. Issac’s career exploded after his work on Star Wars and it was only a matter of time before the actor eventually took a role in the MCU. Issac was picked to star as Moon Knight in the series by the same name. Other actors who appeared in the MCU after playing a role in Disney era Star Wars include Lupita Nyong’o who played Maz Katana in Star Wars and then later appeared as Nakita in Black Panther, Ben Mendelson who played Krennic in Rogue One and then a Skrull in Captain Marvel, and Richard E. Grant who played General Pryde in The Rise of Skywalker before playing one of the many Loki varients in the Loki series.
Admittedly, sometimes it works the other way. An actor might find success in the MCU which causes them to end up getting an opportunity to play a role in a Star Wars project. Benicio del Toro appeared in The Last Jedi after his appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014. Behind the scenes, director Jon Favreau who is the creator of the series The Mandalorian was also the director of the very first MCU movie, Iron Man. While Favreau is best known for his work behind the camera in both franchises, he has acted for both Star Wars and the MCU as well. Favreau appeared in multiple MCU movies as Happy Hogan, the friend of Tony Stark. As for Star Wars, he voiced the character of Rio Durant in Solo: A Star Wars Story. This also isn’t exclusive to the Star Wars films. Ming-Na Wen who plays the character of Fennec Shad in The Mandalorian and The Book of Boba Fett had previously starred in the series Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Another actor that joined the Star Wars universe after spending years in the MCU is Paul Bettany. Bettany’s voice has been with the MCU since the beginning with him voicing JARVIS, the program that would help Tony Stark pilot the Iron Man Suit. Bettany eventually entered the MCU fully in 2015 when he played the character of Vision in Avengers: Age of Ultron. A few years later he would also land a role in Solo: A Star Wars Story making him another actor to appear in both franchises. His part in Solo actually came about in an odd way. The role of Dryden Vos was initially meant to be played by actor Michael K. Williams. The character was also meant to be an alien that would have required Williams to wear a motion capture suit for the performance. However, when the original directors left the project, the scheduling of the production had to change drastically, and Williams was not able to take part in the extended reshoots that were going to be necessary for the character. The new director, Ron Howard, had to recast the role entirely which resulted in Paul Bettany getting cast and making his Star Wars debut.
Mads Mikkelsen managed to check off both franchises in the same year within a few months from each other. In 2016, the MCU released Doctor Strange in October where Mikkelsen played the film’s villain Kaecillus. A few months later in December Rouge One was released where Mikkelsen would play the father of Jyn Erso, and the reason that the Death Star was designed with a hidden flaw. Andy Serkis did the same thing a year earlier, appearing as the character Klaue in Avengers: Age of Ultron in 2015, and then appearing in The Force Awakens as Supreme Leader Snoke later that year. Serkis would go on to have at least one more performance of both characters, and is now a part of the cast of Andor on Disney+.
The most recent addition to the list is Stellan Skarsgard. He played Professor Erik Selvig in the first two Thor movies as well as returning for a few other Marvel movies including The Avengers. He became the latest actor to appear in both Star Wars and the MCU when he showed up in Andor as Luthan Rael.
This is of course a list that will extend on into the future. Even though Harrison Ford is probably the biggest Star Wars name that’s scheduled to take a role in the MCU in the future, he’s not the only one. Emilia Clarke who played Qi’ra in Solo, is scheduled to have a role in the upcoming series Secret Invasion. Some reports are suggesting that Clarke will be playing Abigail Brand, the head of S.W.O.R.D. though that has not yet been confirmed by Marvel.
While we’ve looked at several examples of this is just a part of the list of actors who have appeared in both franchises. And as both series began to grow with more movies and more series, you can expect this list to get even bigger over the coming years.