6. Chris Evans as The Human Torch/Chris Evans as Captain America
Fantastic Four, 2005; Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer, 2007; Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011; The Avengers, 2012
Evans surprised many with his turn as Captain America -- he always seemed like too much of a goofy pretty-boy to play the stalwart Sentinel of Liberty. Yet he landed it beautifully. It's all the more surprising when he seemed so note-perfect in his previous Marvel role, as the Fantastic Four's goofy pretty-boy, and even that was a surprise, because who knew Evans could be so damn charming? At this point we're prepared to believe Evans could play all the superheroes
10. Hayley Atwell as Peggy Carter
Captain America: The First Avenger, 2011
Captain America's World War II paramour was an American Resistance fighter in the comics and a British agent on the screen, but in both incarnation she was a tough, take-no-bull fighting woman. Hayley Atwell matched grit with glamor and left us wanting to see so much more of her character. (We're keeping our fingers crossed for that Agent Carter TV show.)
9. Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner
The Avengers, 2012
Ed Norton was too cold, Eric Bana was too hot; the third movie Banner was just right. Mark Ruffalo brought pathos to one of the toughest superhero characters to put on the screen. Bruce Banner isn't super; he's cursed. Being Bruce is a tense and wearying experience, and Ruffalo's performance brings that across without having to shout about it.
4. Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man
Iron Man, 2008; Iron Man 2, 2010; The Avengers, 2012; Iron Man 3, 2013
If any one man can be called the foundationstone of Marvel's cinematic universe, it's Robert Downey, Jr. Before him, Marvel had nothing; its two best-known brands, X-Men and Spider-Man, were off at other studios, and they didn't have a Superman or a Batman. Downey brought credibility to a superhero most of the audience had never heard of and propelled him into the premier league. Downey's performance has even echoed back into the comics to help push the Avengers to new prominence.
3. Idris Elba, Jaimie Alexander, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth as Asgardians
Thor, 2011; The Avengers, 2012; Thor: The Dark World, 2013
If we counted them separately, these Thor castmates would dominate this list, so we've counted them all together. Idris Elba brought depth and gravitas to the role of Heimdall; Jaimie Alexander set the standard for tough and vibrant movie superheroines as Sif; Tom Hiddleston turned a thin pantomime villain into one of the most memorable screen characters of the past ten years. And then there's the main dude. Chris Hemsworth's performance doesn't get the credit it deserves. It's not easy to make Thor seem approachable and real, and any actor cast in the role would be cast for his looks before his talent. Hemsworth, it turns out, has both. He found the humanity in the buffoonish alpha male thunder god, and turned people into Thor fans who hadn't given the character a second look since Walt Simonson left the comics.
REST AT THE SOURCE
ALSO A FRIENDLY REMINDER THAT AVENGERS 2 COMES OUT NEXT YEAR