In Captain America: Winter Soldier, Steve looks at a list of pop culture items to catch up on. Two of the items on the list are Star Trek and Star Wars. Let's say he and Thor would sit down together and binge-watch all the ST and SW movies. They would both be confused and surprised to see Mace Windu who looks and sounds uncannily like Nick Fury. Thor would find it a little disturbing to see Queen Amidala/Padme, and would also be troubled to see Idris Elba's character in Star Trek:Beyond (and would find it most distressing of all to see himself playing George Kirk in Star Trek!). And, depending on when they do this, they would both be shocked to see Doctor Strange as the villain of Star Trek:Into Darkness.

One could suggest that the in-universe explanation is that they live in a more ideal world where the Prequels never happened. Or perhaps the movies exist, but with different actors. What other possibilities are there, and has Marvel or Disney ever addressed this and given an official in-universe explanation?

  • 8
    It's called celebrity paradox, and it happens enough to be ignored.
    – Radhil
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:30
  • 12
    All of the parts in those movies were actually played by Mystique. They just can't talk about it because they don't own the rights. Aug 29, 2016 at 15:31
  • 25
    Cap: "Hey, Fury, that guy in Star Wars looks just like you!". Fury: "I don't see the resemblance. Are you saying all black people look alike?" Cap: "Forget I said anything"
    – Valorum
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:34
  • 4
    The Marvel Universe is it's own separate universe from ours. Although it closely resembles ours it's not the same. After all, I haven't seen any superheroes crashing flying aircraft carriers recently. So it's likely that in the MCU, those "actors" don't exist or look completely different..or have different names..
    – Paulie_D
    Aug 29, 2016 at 15:59
  • 7
    @Redhill Except for Ocean's 12, where an Julia Roberts plays a character pretending to be Julia Roberts.
    – CBredlow
    Aug 29, 2016 at 16:08

2 Answers 2


Fundamentally, we don't know, because they've never outright said or referenced those actors by name. They've gotten close and made a few references to characters who were played by people who appear in the Marvel Universe... for example, they reference The Dude from The Big Lebowski in an episode of Agents of SHIELD, and he was played by Jeff Bridges, who was also Obediah Stane. But I don't believe they've ever referenced any actors playing MCU characters by name, so it could be like in The Last Action Hero, where, within the context of the MCU, other actors played the role.

It's not (yet) part of the MCU, but Deadpool has referenced the existence of Ryan Reynolds... of course he's a 4th-wall breaking character anyway.

And even if an actor was mentioned by name, it could simply be that they look different in the MCU. Because certainly we haven't seen it go the other way, so far, where major characters are mistaken for the famous actors they're played by. For example, in Jessica Jones Kilgrave is pretty obviously David Tennant, who would be pretty recognizable as the Tenth Doctor in Doctor Who (and in Agents of SHIELD, Fitz has Doctor Who merchandise, so it can be assumed the show does exist). He not only looks but sounds much like him... one would imagine he'd be swarmed by fans and have to constantly use his power to keep people away. Really, looking like David Tennant Kilgrave'd hardly need to use his power to get into clubs and such.

In the comics, some characters have discussed who would play them in a movie, and HAVE specifically mentioned actors... including ones who've played them on TV and movies. Most notably, this scene:

enter image description here

But that's comics, not the movies.

There's one more point that needs to be brought up. Some characters change actors. Bruce Banner was played by Edward Norton and Mark Ruffalo. James Rhodes was played by Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard. These actors don't look very similar to each other, and yet nobody is surprised by the change in appearance, has trouble recognizing the person when they return with a new face, or even comments on it.

If a character played by Don Cheadle and Terrence Howard looks exactly the same to everyone else, and yet Kilgrave and David Tennant are never mistaken for each other, the most logical conclusion is not that David Tennant doesn't exist in the MCU, it's either a) most of the Marvel Universe suffers from a strange variety of prospoagnosia and their facial features shift, b) characters in the MCU recognize each other not by physical appearance, but rather some kind of aura invisible to us (but that is captured on video/photographs and yet potentially hidden by disguises), and as such what anyone actually looks like is irrelevant to them... and also, their faces change, or c) what we see on screen doesn't actually represent what the characters in the MCU look like, but rather it's just a "close approximation" that the viewers are generally not supposed to question too deeply.

  • 2
    That panel seems completely conclusive. They'd pick actors who looked superficially like them.
    – Valorum
    Aug 30, 2016 at 0:14
  • 4
    I love how your last paragraph strolls down some outrageous byways before arriving at the reasonable conclusion.
    – recognizer
    Aug 30, 2016 at 17:27

There is a possibility you haven't considered, which is that the MCU character don't actually look like their actors. We are witnessing a representation of that universe, translated by the camera lens; but there's no reason to assume that, in-universe, Nick Fury is actually Jackson's double.

It's the same reason we can hear non-diegetic incidental music, but the characters can't!

It's also the reason that actor changes go unnoticed by other characters in-universe (Banner, Rhodes). It's all just a translation for our out-of-universe eyes.

With this in mind, there is no in-universe problem to resolve.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.