There should be a Hall of Fame for these MCU Legends
Disney has often recognized the many people who have contributed towards their films from actors, to animators, to composers. They are honored with the distinction of 'Disney Legend' for their important work, whether it be many numerous contributions or one particularly important or noteworthy contribution.
With this in mind I felt that considering the success that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has enjoyed, that the many people who have contributed a vital piece of this project should get a shoutout. This is a much much shorter list compared to the 'Disney Legends' which numbers hundreds both famous and not; still it highlights a handfull of the most influential and creative people who have worked beyond an individual movie and brought their skills to the greater MCU.
NOTE: I excluded Kevin Feige who, as head of Marvel Studios, has already received much recognition for his efforts.
15: Paul Bettany
So good they cast him twice
-- To start my list I selected actor Paul Bettany who you may not recognize because he hasn't appeared in the MCU in person until recently. He is the only actor to portray two major characters, first as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man and Avengers movies and than as the android Vision (above) in Avengers: Age of Ultron. While playing two characters for Marvel is an achievement in itself, Paul Bettany gives amazing performances that help to humanize two characters that are essentially computers and thats no easy feat, especially when all you have is your voice and a script.
14: Rosario Dawson
"Hey! I am nobody's sidekick." -Claire
-- Similar to how Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury helped assemble and connect our heroes in the movies, Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple is doing the same for the Netflix shows. Appearing as a main character in Daredevil and having a guest appearance in Jessica Jones, Rosario has also signed on to appear in Daredevil's second season and Luke Cage. Rosario earns her spot on this list for her willingness to bring her character to multiple Marvel properties; here's hoping she will be the Defenders crossover and than the films.
13: Alexandra Byrne
-- Nothing helps a superhero stand out more than their costume, and no one has helped bring the costumes from the comics to the movies moreso than designer Alexandra Byrne. Having worked on multiple marvel movies from Thor to Gaurdians of the Galaxy and both Avengers movies, she will also return to work on the Doctor Strange film. It's safe to say that Alexandra has helped bring many of our heroes iconic looks to the mainstream and for that she deserves a spot on this list.
-Shoutout to Timothy A. Wonsik, another prolific costume designer who has worked as a designer for several of Marvel's one shots and assisted on numerous other films including Winter Soldier and Ant-Man.
12: Dan Sudick
-- Of course one of the most noteworthy aspects of the Marvel movies are their amazing visual effects. Dan Sudick is just one of the many visual effects artists that has worked on the films of the MCU. Sudick earns his spot for his prolific work with Marvel, having served as supervisor for multiple films including Thor, Avengers, Iron Man 3, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Ant-Man. Together with various other visual effects artists such as Janek Sirrs, Ben Snow, and Guy Williams, Dan has earned several oscar nominations for his work on the Marvel films includin The Avengers, Iron Man 3, and The Winter Soldier.
11: Tom Hiddleston
Come on. You know Loki's the best.
-- Marvels biggest criticism has often been its lackluster and one-off villains (i disagree but anyway); in this area Tom Hiddleston has been Marvel's saving grace. It's no secret that Loki is the best villain in the MCU films and that is because of Hiddleston's acting and enthusiasm for the role which he reprised for The Avengers. Without Hiddleston leading our marvel villains, the MCU would be a lot less interesting for our heroes and for that he gets a spot on this list.
10: Jon Favreau
-- You probably recognize him as Tony Stark's bodygaurd, Happy Hogan in the Iron Man trilogy. However, Jon Favreau also directed the first two Iron Man films and was instrumental in creating the MCU. While working on the first Iron Man, Jon was one of the first, along with Kevin Feige, to come up with the idea for a shared universe, and he was instrumental in helping to lay the foundation for it during Iron Man 2. One of his biggest contributions, however, was insisting on casting Robert Downey Jr as Tony Stark which Marvel at the time wasnt so sure about; that genius decision in itself is worthy of a shoutout on this list.
9: Scarlett Johansson
-- The Avengers leading lady, Scarlett Johansson has been a part of the MCU almost since the beginning. Black Widow is probably the biggest character that hasn't gotten her own movie and it is because of that I put Scarlett on this list. Her willingness to appear as a co-lead in other Marvel movies has only helped her already huge popularity. And after playing Black Widow for so long, Scarlett Johansson has really helped shape and create The MCU's first major female character into the icon she is today and the franchise is all the better for it. Wether or not she gets a film of her own anytime soon, Scarlett Johansson has already recieved the recognition from the audience for her role in the MCU and thus it's a no-brainer that she is on this list.
8: James Gunn
-- As popular as the Marvel universe was, when the Gaurdians of the Galaxy film was announced everyone thought it would be a bust. No one but James Gunn saw the potential in a talking raccoon and tree, and boy did he show the world that potential. What could have been Marvel's first major fail was instead one of it's biggest successes thanks in no small part to this man who both scripted and directed the film and will do the same for the sequel. He is also an outspoken supporter of the MCU, defending it and comic book films last year against critics; for that kind of loyalty and dedication, he earns a spot on this list.
7: Samuel L. Jackson
"Its time for some Motherf---ing superheroes"
-- Samuel L Jackson just has to be in every movie doesn't he; well in this case that's a good thing. Who else could play Nick Fury, the one man who could assemble the Avengers. Thanks to Samuel L Jackson's acting and willingness to work with Marvel in bringing the spotlight to other actors, the MCU really came together with The Avengers and continued to excel in the Winter Soldier and Age of Ultron. For helping to connect the marvel movies early on, Samuel L Jackson deserves a spot on this list.
6: Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
Markus (left) and McFeely (right)
-- Sure an actor can be funny, sad, or angry but they still work from a script and when it comes to marvel scriptwriters, these two are perhaps the best. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely appear here together because much of their accomplishments have been done as a team. Together they wrote all three Captain America movies, and Thor: The Dark World. Because of the popularity of Winter Soldier and the effectiveness of these two together, they will write the scripts for Infinity War Parts 1 and 2. Having earned this honor for their skills, I felt they had earned a spot on the list as well.
5: Joe and Anthony Russo
Joe (left) and Anthony (right)
-- Don't you just love it when a team like the Avengers comes together; well behind the Marvel scenes that team is Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely as scripwriters with Joe and Anthony Russo as directors. The Russo brothers have worked with the aforementioned scriptwriters on Winter Soldier and considering that movie is viewed as Marvel's best I would say this is one team that struck gold. I would also say Marvel agrees since the Russo brothers joined Markus and McFeely on Captain America: Civil War and soon after Avengers: Infinity War. The Russo brothers earn their spot for their efforts in helping shape the direction of the MCU heading into Phase Three.
4: Clark Gregg
-- Clark Gregg has the distinction of playing a major character that was not based on the comics but rather completely original. However, thanks to Clark Gregg's great popularity, Phil Coulson is very much a Marvel Comics character now. Clark earns his spot for being the most recurring character within the MCU, having helped to introduce S.H.I.E.L.D. to the audience, helping assemble the Avengers, and leading Marvel's first TV show. Like his character Phil Coulson, Clark Gregg seems to love his job and he does it really well.
3: Joss Whedon
-- As great of an idea as the Avengers movies were, Marvel still needed someone who could bring that idea to life. Joss Whedon will thus always be remembered as the man who made it such a big success. Joss earns his spot for directing and writing both Avengers movies as well as contributing to numerous other Marvel projects. In fact, Joss Whedon has had perhaps the largest behind the scenes influence on the MCU aside from Kevin Feige. While working on Age of Ultron, Joss Whedon had co-creative control in many of the other Phase Two films and was thus in great part responsible for maintaining the continuity and connectivity that the MCU has prided and built itself on.
2: Robert Downey Jr.
"I am Iron Man!!"
-- Some might say Robert Downey Jr deserves the top spot and for good reason, his popular portrayel of Tony Stark has made him the face of the MCU and the success of the Iron Man movies certainly helped build the franchise. It is likely the MCU would have failed without Downey as other actors for Tony Stark, including Nicholas Cage and Tom Cruise, would likely not have been as well recieved. Robert also deserves his spot for his support of the Marvel Universe and willingness to appear in other properties, most notably agreeing to extend his contract to appear in the upcoming Civil War. All told, the MCU might not just be different, it might not exist without Robert Downey Jr.
1: Hayley Atwell
-- I'll admit, placing Hayley at number one is more my opinion however she most certainly deserves to be on this list. Her portrayal of Captain America's love interest Peggy Carter is one of the best recieved characters in the Marvel movies. In fact it is because of Hayley's popular portrayal that Peggy got her own one-shot which than became her own television show which, in my opinion, is perhaps one of Marvel's best properties yet released. Not bad for a character that was rather minor in the comics. Whats more, Hayley turned what should have been a one-time role in the first Captain America film into cameos and supporting roles across the MCU from Winter Soldier and Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D to Age of Ultron and even Ant-Man. It is no secret that Hayley loves playing Peggy Carter and feels really dedicated to Marvel and it is clear that they have returned this dedication.