Some are calling Captain America: Civil War the best Marvel film ever! Marvel thinks that by the time Infinity War comes around there could be up to 40 Avengers flying, jumping, and Hulk-Smashing their way around our screens. We all know how an overpopulated film can kill a franchise *cough* Sam Raimi *cough*, but something tells us that the Russo brothers have everything under control. However, with an ever-growing MCU, we have to get the actors from somewhere. Hollywood has no shortage of budding young actors, but with the likes of Sam Jackson and Anthony Hopkins picking up roles (as well as Willem Defoe), there are some pretty famous faces filling the casts. Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr. and Scarlett Johansson had to start somewhere, so just when did the cast of Civil War first step into the limelight?
Chris Evans - Biodiversity: Wild About Life! (1997)
The original model for "Tyler" in Hasbro's game Dream Date, Chris Evans's first screen role was at the tender age of 16 as Rick in Biodiversity: Wild About Life! Since then, the Cap himself has starred in critically acclaimed films like Danny Boyle's Sunshine and Bong Joon-ho's English-language film Snowpiercer. However, Evans has ventured into the world of comic books before Captain America. He was the Human Torch in 2005's Fantastic Four and sequel Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, as well as starring in Scott Pilgrim vs. the World as Lucas Lee, one of Ramona Flowers's seven evil exes. Evans first picked up the First Avenger mantle in 2011 and has appeared as Mr. Stars and Stripes ever since.
Robert Downey Jr. - Pound (1970)
With a rather sketchy cinematic history, Robert Downey Jr. has turned his life around to become the highest-paid member of the Civil War cast. The titular Iron Man made his name as Calista Flockhart's love interest in Ally McBeal before being written out for drug arrests in 2000. This was a long way from the start of his acting career — he started as a fresh-faced five-year-old in his father's film Pound. Downey Jr. became a member of the titled "Brat Pack" and now tops the Forbes list of Hollywood's highest-paid actors. He made an estimated $80 million between June 2014 and June 2015 - not quite as much as his Iron Man counterpart, but still enough to buy a Tony Stark Malibu beach house.
Scarlett Johansson - North (1994)
The only woman to be chosen twice for Esquire's "Sexiest Woman Alive" (2006 and 2013), Johansson certainly brings the sex-factor to Civil War as Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff. Starting acting at age nine in North — the tale of a boy who travels the world looking for perfect parents, Johansson went on to be an actress, singer, and model. She won a BAFTA award for Best Actress thanks to Sofia Coppola's Lost in Translation, then took on the role as Black Widow in Iron Man 2 (2010). She currently finds herself embroiled in a whitewashing row following her casting as Major Motoko Kusanagi in a live action version of Manga series The Ghost in the Shell, but we're sure this won't phase the sexiest woman alive too much!
Jeremy Renner - Senior Trip (1995)
Looking more like an extra from Dawson's Creek, a long-haired Renner played an underachieving student in the cult comedy National Lampoon's Senior Trip. He wasn't always an actor though — when hard on his luck, Renner turned his hand to being a makeup artist to make ends meet. Leaving comedy behind, he took on more serious acting in 2002 to play serial-killer Jeffrey Dahmer in the film Dahmer and then his most noted performance in 2008's The Hurt Locker, which focused on bomb disposal during the Iraq War. From then on, his roles remained serious but retained a comedic edge. He picked up the Hawkeye bow in Thor (2011), then brought more dark humor to roles in The Bourne Legacy and Mission: Impossible — Rogue Nation.
Sebastian Stan - Law & Order (2003)
Does anyone remember when Bucky Barnes was that kidnapped/brainwashed teenager on Law & Order? In 2009 Sebastian Stan landed the lead role in NBC's Kings, a show which loosely followed the biblical story of King David set in modern day New York. Funnily enough, the show wasn't a huge success, and despite critical acclaim, was cancelled after just one series. Stan had more luck playing the recurring role of Jefferson/The Mad Hatter in Once Upon a Time, particularly his performance in the first season episode "Hat Trick." On the big screen he has had bit parts in Black Swan as well as being the main antagonist in Hot Tub Time Machine, but it is Stan's casting as Bucky Barnes in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger that thrust him into the spotlight. Expect a lot more of Bucky in Civil War, so Buck-le up!
Anthony Mackie - 8 Mile (2002)
With a penchant for starring in Academy Award Winning films, you will recognize Anthony "Falcon" Mackie from 8 Mile, Million Dollar Baby, and (previously mentioned) Renner-fest The Hurt Locker. Mackie first came to our attention as Eminem's rapping nemesis, Papa Doc, in debut film 8 Mile. His portrayals of real-life people include Tupac Shakur in 2009's Notorious and Martin Luther King, Jr., alongside Bryan Cranston in HBO's All the Way next month. All work and no play makes a Mack a dull boy, so luckily Falcon has been spreading his wings as the mechanical bird since Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
Don Cheadle - Moving Violations (1985)
One of our more veteran members of the cast, Don Cheadle first earned his Screen Actors Guild (SAG) card as a burger joint employee in 1985's comedy Moving Violations. From then on he had some minor roles, even appearing in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air episode "Homeboy, Sweet Homeboy" as Hilary's love interest Ice Tray. Cheadle has turned to humanitarian work several times, co-authoring the book Not On Our Watch: The Mission to End Genocide in Darfur and Beyond, as well as setting up the Not On Our Watch Project with George Clooney, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, David Pressman, and Jerry Weintraub. Then in 2007 Cheadle was awarded the BET Humanitarian award of the year and in 2010 was named U.N. Environment Program Goodwill Ambassador. As for his entrance into the MCU? After a tumultuous relationship between Marvel and Terrence Howard, Cheadle replaced Howard as Col. James Rhodes in Iron Man 2, putting on the War Machine suit. All trailers for Civil War point to an injured Rhodes inside the suit, so could this spell the end of Cheadle's Marvel days?
Chadwick Boseman - Third Watch (2003)
Looking good in the black skintight suit, Boseman's appearance in Civil War has everyone purring with excitement for the first time that T'Challa makes it out of the Wakanda Tribe and onto our screens. He comes from humble beginnings though, Boseman had a minor part in one episode of Third Watch and briefly played Reggie Porter Montgomery #1 in family-drama All My Children, before being replaced by Michael B. Jordan. Not just a one-trick pony, his play Deep Azure was performed at the Congo Square Theatre Company in Chicago and was nominated for a 2006 Joseph Jefferson Award for New Work. He had considered becoming a full-time director and giving up acting altogether when he landed the starring role as Jackie Robinson in 42. Thankfully he has remained in acting and Boseman's own outing as T'Challa / Black Panther is expected in Ryan Coogler's Black Panther standalone for 2018.
Elizabeth Olsen - How the West Was Fun (1994)
The lesser-known Olsen (sorry Liz), a young Elizabeth Olsen starred as herself in a couple of Olsen family films; her first real role was "girl in car" during How the West Was Fun, when Suzy and Jessica (Mary-Kate and Ashley) visit granny Natty's dude ranch in the Wild West. Olsen nearly quit acting after the media frenzy surrounding her sister's eating disorder, but persevered to star in roles like the American remakes of Oldboy and Godzilla. Her breakout was in 2011's Martha Marcy May Marlene — Olsen won critical praise for her portrayal of the titular character who flees her life in a cult to return to her family. Her debut as Scarlet Witch came during a mid-credits scene from Captain America: The Winter Soldier alongside her brother, Quicksilver. While Quicksilver bit the dust during the finale of Avengers: Age of Ultron, you can expect Wanda Maximoff to be front and center during Civil War!
Paul Bettany - Wycliffe (1994)
Before he was the robotic incarnation of Tony Stark's computer, Paul Bettany popped up in a single episode of British murder mystery Wycliffe. His first film role was a small part in Holocaust drama, Bent, which also featured Clive Owen, Jude Law, and Ian McKellen. He was later nominated for British Newcomer of the Year for his part in the screen adaptation of play Gangster No. 1. Thanks to playing the Stark computer J.A.R.V.I.S., Bettany is nowadays more noticed for his voice, but let's not forget that he also starred alongside Heath Ledger in 2001's A Knight's Tale. His role in A Knight's Tale was so well received by director Brian Helgeland, he insisted on showing Bettany's audition tape to his director friends — including Ron Howard. Bettany was offered the part of Francis Dolarhyde in Hannibal's Red Dragon, but turned it down to star in Lars von Trier's Dogville. The role eventually went to Ralph Fiennes, but we are sure Bettany would have gone down just as well with a glass of Chianti and some fava beans.
Tom Holland - The Impossible (2012)
Finally, the newest member of the team: 19-year-old Tom Holland's spidey-senses are tingling as he takes to the skies as Peter Parker. Starting as Michael in 2008's Billy Elliot The Musical, he took on the title role later that year. Holland provided the voice of principle character Sho in the Studio Ghibli's British version of Arrietty, but his first live-action role was alongside Naomi Watts and Ewan McGregor in 2011's The Impossible. Holland featured in Screen International's "UK Stars of Tomorrow" and was chosen for the inaugural BAFTA Breakthrough Brit Awards in 2013. To nab the role of Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Holland impressed directors with a series of home videos of him performing stunts in his back garden. Despite being in the mix for a while, Holland pushed out the likes of Hugo's Asa Butterfield and Boardwalk Empire's Charlie Plummer to become everyone's friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.
It is true what they say: From tiny acorns mighty oak trees grow, and there are some pretty big trees in the MCU at the moment. With the Marvel slate now full and Phase Four taking us until 2028, chances are that this isn't the last we will see of the Hollywood glitterati above. Who else will join remains to be seen, but in the mean time — sit back, relax, and enjoy the carnage.