Marvel Studios released a star-studded “class photo” to celebrate its 10th anniversary and the list of talent gathered is truly incredible. There’s billions of dollars in salaries on that stage!
But while the photo was inclusive, it wasn’t all-inclusive. While many of the actresses and actors that brought our favorite Marvel heroes, villains and supporting characters to life are in that picture, there were many that weren’t there. This post is going to try and list all the missing people and try to give a possible reason why they weren’t there.
To start, we need to know who was there. Here are all the on-screen talent who were in attendance:
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Paul Rudd, Benedict Cumberbatch, Chris Pratt, Chadwick Boseman, Brie Larson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Holland, Sean Gunn, Hannah John-Kamen, Zoe Saldana, Angela Bassett, Jon Favreau, Gwyneth Paltrow, Kurt Russell, Danai Gurira, William Hurt, Karen Gillan, Emily VanCamp, Tessa Thompson, Don Cheadle, Dave Bautista, Michael Peña, Anthony Mackie, Evangeline Lilly, Elizabeth Olsen, Paul Bettany, Frank Grillo, Letitia Wright, Laurence Fishburne, Linda Cardellini, Sebastian Stan, Ty Simpkins, Michael Douglas, Michelle Pfeiffer, Hayley Atwell, Pom Klementieff, Benedict Wong, Michael Rooker, Vin Diesel, Cobie Smulders, Samuel L. Jackson, and Jeff Goldblum.
And here’s the filmmakers and executives:
Kevin Feige, Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Stan Lee, Scott Derrickson, Trinh Tran, Alan Taylor, Brad Winderbaum, Louis Letterier, Jon Watts, Sarah Finn, James Gunn, Joe Russo, Anthony Russo, Joss Whedon, David Grant, Mitchell Bell, Anna Boden, Ryan Fleck, Jeffrey Ford, Peyton Reed, Jonathan Schwartz, Stephen Broussard, Ryan Coogler, Jeremy Latcham, Nate Moore, Christopher Markus, Stephen McFeely, Taika Waititi, Erik Carroll, Ryan Meinerding, and Craig Kyle.
For sanity’s sake, I’m going to keep my “investigation” to just the actors and directors. Now, we know that the picture was taken on Saturday, October 7, 2017. It was most likely taken at Pinewood Atlanta Studios in Fayette County, Georgia where Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers 4 were being shot. That makes sense because a large number of the players were already there.
Here are some caveats. Some of these “reasons’ for missing the photo we be from research. Some will be educated guesses. So don’t expect a perfect list. If you have different information, let me know. I tried to focus on all the stars and major supporting characters in all the films. If your favorite is not on the list, it probably means that I didn’t think they should have made the cut. And I covered all films up to Black Panther as I have not seen that film yet and do not know which actors had major roles.
Knowing that, let’s go through film by film to see who was missing and why.
Iron Man (2008)
The one that started it all. The first film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe had some notable omissions. Here they are:
Marvel’s first villain was not in the photo for a very good reason: he was busy promoting Only the Brave. He appeared on Jimmy Kimmel Live! on Thursday, October 5th, and the film had its Los Angeles premiere on Sunday, October 8th. Travelling from L.A. to Atlanta and back again the same day just for a picture doesn’t make sense. This will also explain why Thanos himself and Bridges’ costar in Only the Brave Josh Brolin wasn’t in the picture either.
Howard’s break with Marvel Studios was acrimonious, as he was replaced by Don Cheadle in the role of Tony Stark’s best friend James “Rhodey” Rhodes. So it would have been unlikely that he would have went if he was invited, but if he was, he already had a conflict. He was the guest speaker at The University of Science and Philosophy’s 2017 Homecoming Conference in Waynesboro, Virginia that weekend
One of the most important pieces of the connective tissue of the early days of the MCU was Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson. But after The Avengers, he was consigned to the world of television on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. And that is the reason why Gregg wasn’t at the photo shoot. Not because there is some shadowy conspiracy at play keeping the film and television worlds separate, but rather that he was is New York City promoting the fifth season of that show at the New York Comic Con.
So sad I couldn’t make this shoot. Honored to be part of MCU. I was proudly repping #agentsofSHIELD at #MadisonSquareGarden for @NY_Comic_Con @Marvel pic.twitter.com/1TtNtyRbIC
— Clark Gregg (@clarkgregg) February 8, 2018
Bibb might not be the most obvious inclusion in the cast photo, but her Christine Everhart was one of the few character to appear in more than one MCU film (she also appeared in Iron Man 2 as well). If she was invited, she also had a conflict–she was supporting her boyfriend Sam Rockwell at the Hamptons International Film Festival at the US premiere of his film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri the day the picture was taken. That also explains why Rockwell wasn’t in the class photo either.
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
The second film in the MCU might seem like the red-headed stepchild of the bunch, considering the lack of people from the film in the photo. But director Louis Letterier was included, so it was fair game for the cast to be included as well.
Norton, like Howard, was unceremoniously replaced as Bruce Banner, supposedly for wanting a bigger input into the creative process. Unlike Howard, he doesn’t have any notable conflicts that could have kept him from the photo shoot, other than his not being invited or him not wanting to honor his invitation. He is providing a voice for Wes Anderson’s next stop motion animation project, Isle of Dogs, but that shouldn’t have kept him away, although location scouting for his next directorial effort, Motherless Brooklyn, might have.
Liv Tyler, who played Betty Ross in the film, was in London promoting her TV series, Gunpowder, on The Jonathan Ross Show.
Don't miss #KitHarington, @LivTyler, @robbeckettcomic, @sueperkins, @maryjblige & music from @DUALIPA! #JRShow pic.twitter.com/0DnjG36Jkw
— Jonathan Ross Show (@JRossShow) October 7, 2017
Tim Roth, who played bad guy Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. The Abomination, in the film, is an incredibly busy man. It is hard to nail down where exactly he was, but the most likely options are on the publicity tour for his series Tin Star, which debut on Amazon the week before the photo shoot, or shooting the film The Padre, which wrapped production in Columbia about a week after it.
Tim Blake Nelson
Nelson played Dr. Samuel Sterns in the film, an ally of Bruce Banner that comic book fans know would have turned into one of the Hulk’s greatest foes, The Leader. Nelson was cast as the titular character in the Coen Brothers’ Netflix anthology, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, which was filming in New Mexico at the time the above photo was taken.
Iron Man 2 (2010)
Rourke played the main bad guy of the film, Ivan Vanko, in the sequel. He has been vocal about his disdain about his role in the film, notably about how the studio didn’t let him add layers to his character. He might not have even been invited to the shoot, but he wouldn’t have gone anyway as he was prepping for a nose job.
Rockwell plays rival arms manufacturer Justin Hammer in the film. As we mentioned above, he was at the Hamptons International Film Festival at the US premiere of his film, Three Billboards Outside Ebbings, Missouri the day the picture was taken.
Slattery made his debut as Howard Stark in this film, a role he reprised in Ant-Man, Captain America: Civil War, and various cameos in photographs in other MCU films. Slattery is another actor who did not seem to have an obvious conflict with the scheduled photo suit. He has been cast in Matthew Weiner’s new Amazon show, The Romanoffs, but doesn’t appear to have started shooting yet. He seems to have a good relation with Marvel Studios, so the reason why he’s not in the pic is a mystery.
This film seems to have the most cast members missing from the photo, including some of the biggest names in the MCU. Some absences are explained, some are not.
The absence of Tom Hiddleston, the actor who plays the best bad guy in the MCU, is completely puzzling. He is in Avengers: Infinity War. He should have been there. But he’s not! I can’t see any other conflict for him on the Internet, and there shouldn’t be because he was filming the Avengers film. Maybe he was in the bathroom when the picture was taken.
Odin himself, Anthony Hopkins was in England, most likely rehearsing for a production of play centered on another monarch, King Lear, that he would film with Emma Thompson in November of 2017. The teleplay is set to air on BBC this year.
Natalie Portman, who played Thor’s love interest, Jane Foster, was in Los Angeles attending the LA Dance Project Gala that night, a benefit held for the LA Dance Project, a company founded by her husband, Benjamin Millepied.
Stellan Skarsgård, who played Doctor Eric Selvig in a number of MCU films, was in Croatia to film Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again!
This is another mystery. The only possible conflict she could have had was doing voice work on You Tube Red’s upcoming sci-fi animated comedy Dallas & Robo, which even if it was in production doesn’t seem to be the kind of work that would have kept her from participating.
Idris Elba, who plays Heimdall in the MCU, was making the promotional rounds for The Mountain Between Us, which opened that week, The night before the photo shoot, he and costar Kate Winslet were promoting that film on BBC ONe’s The Graham Norton Show. A transatlantic flight just for a photo op was pretty much out of the question.
Ray Stevenson, Tadanobu Asano and Josh Dallas
The original Warriors Three (Josh Dallas left the cast after the first film) do not appear to have had any outstanding conflicts that should have kept them from being in the picture. Stevenson was even in the states three days later for the World Premiere of Thor: Ragnarok, and could have very easily came over a couple days earlier to shoot the photo. Why they aren’t there is anybody’s guess.
Like Clark Gregg, Thor‘s Lady Sif was at New York Comic Con, promoting her NBC show, Blindspot.
Russo, who played Thor and Loki’s mom, Friga, should have finished shooting Just Getting Started by the time the photo shoot came around, and the film was released after it. There appears to be no other conflict stopping her from attending.
Director Branagh was probably in post-production, putting the finishing touches on Murder on the Orient Express, which was to be released just over a month after the picture was taken.
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
Tommy Lee Jones
Tommy Lee Jones was shooting the upcoming sci-fi epic Ad Astra at the time of the photoshoot.
Hugo Weaving has mixed emotions about playing the Red Skull in the MCU. In 2012, he was down on it:
I [signed a multi-picture deal] for Captain America. I think the tendency, with those films, would be to probably not bring a villain back. They might for The Avengers, but I didn’t think I’d be in Captain America 2 or 3. I don’t think Red Skull will be there. And it’s not something I would want to do again. I’m glad I did it. I did sign up for a number of pictures and I suppose, contractually, I would be obliged to, if they forced me to, but they wouldn’t want to force someone to do it, if they didn’t want to. I think I’ve done my dash with that sort of film. It was good to do it and try it out, but to be honest, it’s not the sort of film I seek out and really am excited by. As an actor, to do all sorts of different films is great. It stretches you in different ways. But, I increasingly like to go back to what I used to always do, which is to get involved with projects that I really have a personal affiliation with.
But in 2014, he had a better outlook on working with Marvel:
I thought it would be a lot of fun to play a classic über-Nazi, someone who thought Hitler was a pussy! It was fun to play; I enjoyed the outrageousness of the German accent that I employed and I enjoyed the extraordinary mask and costume, even though it was unbelievably hot inside it. I enjoy mask work; I enjoy trying to animate masks and reveal certain things that the mask itself might not reveal. V for Vendetta was another example of that, but there was less animation within that mask versus the Red Skull. With Marvel, it’s pretty basic stuff: accept the deal and enjoy the ride. It’s not a major stretch for an actor, but on the other hand the difficulty with the Marvel universe is maintaining a link to a human dimension within such an extraordinary, technological CGI universe. In terms of me going back and doing another one, I don’t know. I’m not sure what they’re up to with the Red Skull.
Weaving was most likely shooting the TV miniseries, Patrick Melrose, in Scotland at the time the photo was taken, so we may never know if Marvel Studios held a grudge about his waffling over being part of the Marvel Family.
The MCU’s other Howard Stark is also in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again! so most likely he was in Croatia with Stellan Skarsgård to begin filming the movie.
The actor, who played Dr. Abraham Erskine in the film, was in the process of promoting his latest writing and directing effort, Final Portrait, which had just opened in Australia.
Toby Jones, who played Arnim Zola in two MCU films, was doing a series of readings at a tribute to writer John Berger in his native England on the day the picture was taken.
Howling Commandos leader Dum Dum Dugan was probably busy working for the other side in Vancouver, filming his role as Damian Darhk for season three of DC’s Legends of Tomorrow.
Luke, who played Howling Commando Gabe Jones, was filming the second season of 13 Reasons Why in California at the time the picture was taken.
The actor, who played Howling Commando Jim Morita in this film and Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. AND played his own grandson in Spider-Man: Homecoming , was probably busy negotiating joining the cast of Ryan Murphy’s 9-1-1, as his hiring was announced on October 12th.
The film’s director’s schedule appeared to be clear, unless pre-production on The Chronicles of Narnia: The Silver Chair, started for Johnston a year before he was supposed to start to direct it.
The Avengers (2012)
The actor who played the traitorous Agent Sitwell in numerous MCU entries most likely was filming his part of the Electric Dreams when the photo was taken.
Iron Man 3 (2013)
The actor, who played the main villain, Aldrich Killian, was probably working off the aftereffects of his 50th birthday party on the set of Mary, Queen of Scots.
Rebecca Hall, who played Maya Hansen in IM3, was in New York promoting Professor Marsden and the Women at the New York Comic Con the weekend the picture was taken.
The award-winning actor who played the faux Mandarin was in Argentina about to start filming the upcoming Operation Finale.
It was probably post-production on The Predator, which he wrote and directed, that kept the IM3 director away from the photo shoot.
Thor: The Dark World (2013)
While the actor, who played main baddie Malekith, has been vocal about the bad taste the filming experience left in his mouth (basically, he did it for the money, and was lied to on how much make-up the role entailed and considers the film not one of his best moments), he was also part of the King Lear production that Anthony Hopkins was in. If there was a rehearsal period before shooting, then that might have kept him away from (or gave him an excuse not to participate in) the photo shoot.
The replacement Fandral doesn’t appear to have had any obvious conflicts. The Psyche reunion film in which he played a villain did have a panel at the New York Comic Con, but he was not in attendance. He provides the voice of Flynn Rider on The Disney Channel’s Tangled: The Series, but that might not have kept him away. Perhaps he knew that in twenty days time, Marvel’s competition, Warner Brothers, would announce that he would be starring as Captain Marvel in Shazam! and didn’t want to cause a scene.
The British actor, who played Kurse in the film, also does a voice on Tangled: The Series, but was more likely to be busy with filming his directorial debut, Farming, which he also wrote.
Benicio Del Toro
Del Toro’s Collector made his debut in the post-credits scene in this film. Del Toro time was divided between filming the Showtime TV miniseries Escape at Dannemora and travelling back to his native Puerto Rico to bring attention to hurricane relief there.
Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
Redford played Hydra head Alexander Pierce in the film. He doesn’t seem to have any obvious conflicts along the lines of filming, but has a number of businesses and charities to occupy his time. He is also 81, which while appearing spry for his age, probably is an age where he isn’t all that interested in flying into Atlanta for a weekend just to get his picture taken.
The Mixed-Martial Artist who played Batroc in the film had announced the day before in Las Vegas that he was returning to the UFC to challenge middleweight champion Michael Bisping in a match at Madison Square Garden on November 4, 2017. He won, in case you care.
Quicksilver made his MCU debut in a post-credits scene for this film. Taylor-Johnson was filming the upcoming Outlaw King in Scotland at the time the picture was taken.
Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)
This film is known for having very big names in small roles. Many of which did not appear in the photo.
The voice of Rocket Raccoon had no notable scheduling conflicts with shooting films or such like that, but his daughter Lea with Irina Shayk was only 7 months old at the time, and I’d guess he chose to stay home for some quality daddy time.
Pace, who played the bad guy Ronan, didn’t have any active scheduling conflicts as I can tell, but he did join the cast of Angels in America on Broadway on October 24, so maybe he was involved with that process when the picture was taken.
Djimon Hounsou was one of those big names in a small part (he is a two-time Oscar nominee, in case you forgot). He doesn’t seem to have had any shooting conflicts, as he was coming off shooting Serenity in Mauritius at the time. His film, Same Kind of Different As Me, was premiering in Los Angeles on October 12, so maybe he was focused on that.
John C. Reilly
You get the feeling that at one time, Marvel intended the Nova Corps to play a bigger part in the MCU. Our first corpsman only had one film in production at that the time the picture was taken–Ralph Breaks the Internet: Wreck-It Ralph 2. He is voicing the main character, but would that be enough to make him too busy to fly into Atlanta?
Nova Prime was busy in New York City. She was interviewed the night before at the Gramercy Theater as part of The New Yorker Festival.
The acerbic Corpsman Saal was also in New York City at the New York Comic Con promoting his Amazon show, The Tick on the day the photo was taken.
While Thanos did appear in the MCU before, this was the first time Brolin played him. As mentioned before, Brolin was in Los Angeles for the premiere of Only the Brave which took place on Sunday, October 8th.
Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)
Nothing is certain, but the man who played Ultron most likely was tied up filming his NBC TV series, The Blacklist.
Serkis made his debut as Ulysses Klaw in this film, a role he’ll reprise in Black Panther. Serkis’ directorial debut, Breathe, was being shown at the Hamptons Film Festival on October 8th, and he was there for its premiere.
The man who played the villainous Darren Cross was between projects when the picture was taken, but his next one, First Man, started filming in Atlanta couple of weeks after on October 2oth. He should have been there.
Bobby Cannavale, Judith Greer, T.I., David Dastmalchian
Technically, all four actors were shooting the sequel, Ant-Man and the Wasp, at the time the photo was taken. If Paul Rudd, Evangeline Lilly, Michael Pena, Michael Douglas and Michelle Pfeiffer were there,, they should have been too, which leads me to believe they weren’t invited.
Captain America: Civil War (2016)
More than likely, the MCU’s Baron Zemo was filming TNT’s The Alienist at the time the picture was taken.
The new, hotter Aunt May made her debut in the film. Tomei was busy filming The First Purge at the time the photo was taken.
Freeman was busy acting in Labour of Love at the Noel Coward Theatre in London’s West End the day the photo was taken.
Doctor Strange (2016)
The Doctor’s friend turned future enemy was busy in pre-production for The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind. The film is Ejiofor’s directorial debut and began filming in Malawi on October 19th.
The Doctor’s paramour turned friend did not appear to be filming anything nor appeared at a social event the day the photo was taken.
The film’s villain was filming Chaos Walking during the photoshoot, However, so was Tom Holland and Holland was in the photo. So, either Mikkelsen was not invited, had a different shooting schedule that Holland, or chose not to participate.
Swinton was in London for the British Film Institute London Film Festival. Her quasi-doppelganger Cate Blanchett was also there as well.
Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2 (2017)
The Italian Stallion was busy filming Escape Plan 3.
Debicki was filming Vita and Virginia in Ireland.
The Ravager known as Taserface was taking time off from filming the hit NBC TV Show, This Is Us to visit Disneyland with his family.
HERE WE GO! @marvel @guardians #Disneyland #Taserface #ColinTheTourGuide pic.twitter.com/z11gjLLqsg
— Chris Sullivan (@SullivanTweet) October 7, 2017
The actor who played Martinex was in Los Angeles prepping episodes of his Inside of You podcast.
Another member of Stallone’s Stakar Ogord’s Ravager crew was resuming shooting Mission Impossible–Fallout after a delay caused by its star, Tom Cruise, breaking his ankle.
Another crew member, Yeoh was busy making a surprise appearance at the Star Trek: Discovery panel at New York Comic Con.
Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
Keaton was in England filming the live-action update of Dumbo.
Zendaya was in New York that week promoting Without a Net on Good Morning America and at the New York Film Festival, caught a Bruno Mars concert…
LenZuno…I can dig it pic.twitter.com/VEUMg4JK6Z
— Zendaya (@Zendaya) October 5, 2017
…and, tragically, left her NYC hotel without makeup on the day the picture was taken. A moment of silence? I guess?
Glover was filming Solo: A Star Wars Story at the time the photo was taken.
The actor who plays Peter Parkers BFF was at the New York Comic Con promoting the Blu-Ray release of Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Woodbine, the second Shocker in the film, was filming Overlord, a.k.a. Cloverfield 4.
Like Tilda Swinton, Blanchett was in London for the British Film Institute London Film Festival. She was even involved in a talk at the festival the night before the photo shoot.
The film’s Skurge was in between roles at the time the picture was taken, so either he wasn’t asked or had another reason to beg off.