A franchise that is unlike any other in history, not only is the Marvel Cinematic Universe a powerhouse at the box office but it has also taken television by storm. For that reason, with very few exceptions, once an actor appears in an MCU project it quickly becomes one of their calling cards.
Undeniably the most-talked about entertainment franchise in the world today, whenever a new project related to the MCU is announced, fans tend to obsess over every detail, casting including. As such, landing a notable role in an MCU project is such a gigantic boon to the career of any actor that it is hard to imagine anyone wanting to leave the series behind. However, all good things must come to an end, especially since established characters need to leave in order for new ones to take their place. With that in mind, it is time to look at 10 actors who are leaving the MCU, and 10 you can still expect to see.
In order for an actor to be in the running for possible inclusion in this list, they first and foremost need to be coming to or going from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Of course, when it comes to the actors joining the MCU, that is easy to predict given that certain actors have already been announced to be a part of the series. On the other hand, figuring out who will be departing is more difficult but making educated guesses based on contract status and how their character has been portrayed is a welcome challenge.
20 Expect to See: Keith David
An actor with an incredible voice and a face that many people recognize, Keith David has never been a huge star but he has consistently landed roles in acclaimed and popular films over the years. Best known for his parts in movies like The Thing, They Live, Pitch Black, Platoon, Armageddon, and Requiem for a Dream, he also has found TV success in shows like Community and Greenleaf. Set to have a recurring role in another anticipated television show, David has been tapped to play a part in the MCU series New Warriors. While it is uncertain which channel that show will air on as of yet, David must be looking forward to its premiere.
19 Leaving: Iain De Caestecker
A show that deserves a much larger fan base, the problem with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is that early on it was just another subpar villain of the week series. However, since then it has become one of the most interesting superhero shows ever created as it has tackled some concepts like time travel and what it is to be alive. On top of that, it also features a stellar cast of characters including Leo Fitz, a brilliant scientist that also is one half of a truly lovable couple. Played by Iain De Caestecker, a Scottish actor that prior to this show wasn’t well-known in North America, it will be a shame to see him leave the MCU since his show is coming to an end soon.
18 Expect to See: Calum Worthy
One of a long list of former Disney Channel stars that continue to make their mark on pop culture today, Calum Worthy played the character Dez from Austin & Ally over several seasons. Since then able to make a living out of taking on minor roles in several well-known TV shows, the last couple of years have been good for his career as he starred in the Netflix show American Vandal. On top of that, he is set to play one of the main characters in the upcoming MCU series New Warriors. Cast as arguably the best known New Warriors character from the comic books, Speedball, it will be really interesting to see how they visualize his bouncing abilities on the small screen.
17 Leaving: Elizabeth Henstridge
In a previous entry, we touched on the fact that Iain De Caestecker’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. character Leo Fitz is part of an amazing couple. Now it is time to look at the person that plays his significant other on that show, Elizabeth Henstridge who brings Jemma Simmons to life. About to have her swan song since they’ve already announced that Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. will end after its upcoming sixth season, it truly is imperative that things turn out well for Fitz and Simmons. After all, they are such a lovely couple that it is hard to imagine any viewer accepting anything other than a happy ending for the two of them.
16 Expect to See: Matthew Moy
An actor that has made starring in TV shows his bread and butter, there are many people that would recognize the face and vocal skills of Matthew Moy. Currently providing the voice for Lars Barriga from Steven Universe, he also landed the role of Han Lee, the boss of the titular characters from the recently canceled sitcom 2 Broke Girls. Now that his time on that show has come to an end, Moy is free to play one of the main characters from the upcoming MCU series, New Warriors. Cast as Microbe, a character that can communicate with micro-organisms, that allows him to make people sick and learn about the people around him.
15 Leaving: Tom Hiddleston
It may be hard to remember now that we get to see characters like The Vulture, Thanos, and Killmonger but at one time, the MCU had a pretty big villain problem. However, once Tom Hiddleston made his debut as the character Loki he lit up the screen. For that reason, he has appeared in 5 MCU films to date. However, this is a major spoiler but the character seemed to be permanently dispatched by Thanos in the opening moments of Avengers: Infinity War. Of course, since Loki has a history of faking his own demise there are still those that hold out hope that Loki will be resurrected on screen but it certainly seems his time in the MCU is over.
14 Expect to See: Milana Vayntrub
First introduced to a lot of people as the star of a series of AT&T television commercials, Milana Vayntrub has gone on to show up in several notable TV shows. For instance, she recently played Sloane Sandburg, the short term girlfriend of Kevin Pearson in the beloved TV show This Is Us. Set to play the lead character in the upcoming MCU series New Warriors, Vayntrub will play one of the most talked about Marvel Comics characters of the last few years, Squirrel Girl. Able to communicate with squirrels, an ability that seems absolutely ridiculous on the face of things, Squirrel Girl’s weird nature is a major part of the reason she has gained so many fans.
13 Leaving: Rosario Dawson
Seemingly an unimportant character when she made her debut, Claire Temple stood out for one major reason, she was played by Rosario Dawson. Since then a major part of all but one of the Marvel Cinematic Universe shows that stream on Netflix, the only one she has failed to appear in is The Punisher. If that isn’t enough of an indicator of how important her character has been to the other MCU Netflix series, then the fact that she entered into a serious relationship with Luke Cage should be. Unfortunately for the long term prospects of the character, those 2 have broken up, she is not set to appear in Iron Fist season 2 and Dawson has said, “I don’t know if I’ll be back”.
12 Expect to See: Ben Mendelsohn
Easily one of the most anticipated 2019 movies, fans around the world can’t wait to see Captain Marvel make its big screen debut. Set to feature a few characters that have already appeared in MCU projects, including Nick Fury, Phil Coulson, Ronan the Accuser, and Korath who will be playing supporting roles in the film. On top of them, audiences will be introduced to a slew of all-new characters, including the one played by Ben Mendelsohn, an actor best known for Rogue One and Ready Player One. While the identity of the character Mendelsohn will be playing has not been confirmed yet, he has been cast as a Skrull general according to reports.
11 Leaving: Chloe Bennet
If you ask most fans which Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. character they want to make their debut in an MCU film, they likely would point to Quake, a.k.a. Daisy Johnson, a.k.a. Skye. Introduced in the first episode of that series and a major part of it ever since, her character has only become more interesting, especially since her status as an Inhuman came to light. On top of that, the father-daughter relationship she has built with Phil Coulson has been a delight and it was compelling to watch her love hate relationship with Grant Ward grow. Unfortunately, she is likely to exit stage left, once Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. ends. It really is too bad that the MCU TV characters aren’t crossing over with the movies.
10 Expect to See: J.B. Smoove
An actor that has found more and more success over the years, J.B. Smoove is so likeable that it is hard to change the channel if he is on. Utterly fantastic in his Curb Your Enthusiasm role, he plays his character Leon to such perfection that fans of that series are likely to smile even when they see a photo of him. Likely to have a banner year in 2019, he has been cast in an undisclosed role in Spider-Man: Far From Home, a movie that seems to be a certain hit. For that reason, no matter how small his role in that film turns out to be, fans of Smoove will be overjoyed to see him appear in a blockbuster film.
9 Leaving: Don Cheadle
The second actor to land the role of James "Rhodey" Rhodes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Don Cheadle may be looking for his exit just like Terrence Howard before him. Already a part of 5 MCU movies to date, Cheadle’s character has suited up as War Machine several times already and has suffered consequences for her superhero persona. Reportedly left with only a single film left on his current contract, Gwyneth Paltrow revealed that he will appear in Avengers 4 which would complete his already-existing agreement. Considering that some of the characters Rhodey is most connected to in the MCU likely are departing, more on that later, it only makes sense that he would too.
8 Expect to See: Jude Law
The alter ego taken on by several Marvel superheroes over the years, Carol Danvers who is the main character in the upcoming Captain Marvel movie is not the first person to go by that name. For instance, in the comic books, there was a Kree warrior that was born with the name Mar-Vell that took on that alter ego and teamed up with the Avengers many times. A character that will be included in the upcoming Captain Marvel film, Mar-Vell will serve as a mentor that helps school the titular hero in her abilities. Cast in that role, if there is any actor that can play a complicated character with authority, it is Jude Law.
7 Leaving: Robert Downey Jr.
The Marvel Cinematic Universe movie that started it all, Iron Man became a gigantic hit and in its final seconds helped lay the groundwork for everything the franchise has since become. Able to succeed in those efforts largely due to the charm and charisma of Robert Downey Jr., even though there hasn’t been an Iron Man movie since 2013 he continues to play a lead role in the series. In fact, he has starred in many of the MCU’s best movies of late, including Captain America: Civil War, Spider-Man: Homecoming, and Avengers: Infinity War. A big enough deal that Disney often has to renegotiate his contract, while talking about the MCU Downey Jr. said, "I just want to hang up my jersey before it's embarrassing.”
6 Expect to See: Annette Benning
One of the aspects of the MCU that has helped it to stand out, actors that typically are known for dramatic films have been cast in supporting roles in the franchise. For instance, acclaimed actors like Glenn Close, Jeff Bridges, Rene Russo, Anthony Hopkins, Tilda Swinton, Robert Redford, and Michael Douglas have all played characters within the series. The latest actor of that ilk to make the leap to the world of superheroes, Annette Benning may just be the last celebrity that MCU fans would have expected to be part of the franchise. Despite that, the 4-time Oscar nominee was announced to be playing a role in the upcoming Marvel Cinematic Universe film Captain Marvel.
5 Leaving: Gwyneth Paltrow
An interesting character all on her own, despite that, pretty much everything Pepper Potts has done has done within the MCU has been about Tony Stark. In fact, even when she took on greater power within Stark’s businesses, that increased authority was never the focus of her character. With that in mind and the fact that Stark no longer stars in movies of his own, even if Iron Man continues to appear in the MCU, it is easy to imagine Potts disappearing. Especially true since the actor that plays her, Gwyneth Paltrow, is a big enough star to demand a sizeable paycheque, they already wrote her character out of the series once to little dismay among fans.
4 Expect to See: Jake Gyllenhaal
A character that has appeared in 7 live-action films to date, for many years Spider-Man was the best known Marvel character in the world. Due to how beloved Spidey has been throughout the years, he has played the main role in a seemingly endless array of comic books since he first debuted all the way back in 1962. This has allowed him to accumulate one of the best rogue’s gallery in comics and many of his best villains have yet to receive the live-action film treatment. For example, Mysterio is one of his most popular villains, yet fans have to wait until 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home, where he will be played by Jake Gyllenhaal, to see him on the big screen.
3 Leaving: Dave Bautista
One of a long list of wrestlers that have tried to make an impact in Hollywood, Dave Bautista has starred in movies like Riddick, Spectre, and Blade Runner 2049 among others. However, there is absolutely no doubt that his greatest claim to fame in the acting world is playing Drax in the MCU. As a result, you’d expect him to love playing the role but ever since Guardians of the Galaxy director and friend of his James Gunn was fired, he has made his disgust for that move obvious. Not at all concerned with upsetting his Disney bosses, if he doesn’t get fired soon, his public statements make it clear he is willing to quit once his contractual obligations come to an end.
2 Expect to See: Brie Larson
Something that should have happened long ago, it frankly is a little bit surprising that there has yet to be a female led Marvel Cinematic Universe movie released. Fortunately, in early 2019, that will change once Captain Marvel hits the big screen and hopefully becomes the latest film that proves the fact that female audiences have been underserved for decades. Also exciting for a number of other reasons, included among them is the fact that it gives MCU fans another character to care about and its star is one of the best actors of her generation. Stellar in movies like 21 Jump Street, Don Jon, Short Term 12, The Spectacular Now, and Room, Brie Larson will be a welcome addition to the MCU.
1 Leaving: Chris Evans
An actor that has had a love-hate relationship with playing Captain America on the big screen right from the start, Chris Evans even turned the role down 3 times before taking it. A real shame since he has been simply magnificent in the role, if only he enjoyed portraying Cap as much as most audiences appreciate his performances. The subject of many headlines that scream about his imminent departure from the MCU, you may think that he will be around forever given that he has been crying wolf for years. However, Evans revealed during an interview that he only agreed to be a part of Avengers 4 “because it made sense. It’s going to wrap everything up”.