Everyone loves Marvel super heroes. They excite us, spark our imaginations, and teach us important lessons about life. Check out the big difference between these Marvel characters and their alter egos (we mean, the actors that played them) in real life.
You don’t want to mess with Elektra. A highly experienced assassin and mercenary, she’s quick on her feet and not afraid to use what she’s got. Her trademark weapon is the Japanese piercing trident blades known as “sai.”
Real Life: Elodie Yung
It would be tough for a lot of actresses to adjust to the major physical demands of playing a super hero like Elektra. But Elodie had some great background for the role as an agile warrior – she had taken karate classes since childhood, and earned a black belt in her teens! She’s got beauty and brains, as she graduated from the University of Paris’s law school with honors, before having a change of heart and deciding to pursue acting.
The mutant Mystique is one of the most unforgettable X-Men, or should we say, X-Women. Her ability to shape shift is truly remarkable – she can take on the physical appearance of any person, even perfectly mimicking their voice. She also has amazing regenerative properties, so if she’s injured, even severely, she can heal super quickly. This also keeps her looking young, as she’s over 100 years old! One lesser known fact about Mystique is she’s great at learning and speaking languages.
Real Life: Jennifer Lawrence
Jennifer Lawrence is one of the hottest actresses in Hollywood. She’s the star of the box office smash hit The Hunger Games and was the highest paid actress in the world in 2015 and 2016. Her films have made, worldwide, more than $5.5 billion! But Jennifer’s not just a talented actress – she’s also an accomplished singer, and her song “The Hanging Tree” (from The Hunger Games’ score) hit the top of the charts in multiple countries all over the globe.
Unlike other Marvel characters, scientist Iron Man doesn’t have any supernatural powers. What he has instead is money, and plenty of it. A ladies’ man and successful businessman, his party-filled lifestyle comes to an abrupt end when he suffers a severe injury, which is inflicted on him after he refuses to build a weapon of mass destruction for bad guys. In order to free himself, he builds a super powered armored suit, which he later uses to protect the world.
Real Life: Robert Downey Jr.
In real life, Robert Downey Jr. isn’t just a box office star and Academy Award Nominee for Best Supporting Actor. He’s had his ups and downs. After some run ins with the law, he ended up spending around a year in a California State treatment center in lieu of a prison sentence. However, he’s managed to turn his life around and is now considered one of the most bankable stars in Hollywood – his movies have grossed, worldwide, more than $9.6 billion!
Black Widow is the definition of a classic femme fatale – beautiful, she uses her womanly charms to lure men into a false sense of security before using her advanced training as an assassin, to their complete surprise! She was trained since childhood in a Russian black ops program, which made her into the perfect spy and mercenary. She defects from the Soviet Union and moves to the USA, eventually settling in Los Angeles where she forms her own superhero team.
Real Life: Scarlett Johansson
Blonde bombshell Scarlett Johansson is one of the highest paid actresses in Hollywood – her movies have totaled over $7 billion worldwide at the box office! She won a Tony Award for her work on stage in the play “A View From The Bridge.” She won a Golden Globe for her breakthrough role in Lost In Translation and has made several films with legendary director Woody Allen. In her personal life, she is the mother to one daughter, named Rose Dorothy Dauriac.
The daughter of a Kenyan tribal princess and an American photojournalist, young Storm is orphaned at the tender age of six after her parents are killed in an air strike in Egypt. Coming from a long line of supernatural African mutant priestesses, it’s only a matter of time until her powers develop – she is able to control the weather and has some other magical abilities. She eventually marries the Black Panther king T’Challa and becomes queen of Wakanda.
Real Life: Halle Berry
Halle Berry survived a tough childhood to become one of the best known actresses in Hollywood. She won an Academy Award for Best Actress in 2002. But Storm wasn’t her only time playing a super hero – but let’s say it was the best received by critics. She had a great sense of humor about her widely panned role in the superhero flick Catwoman – she went in person to collect her Worst Actress Golden Raspberry award! Talk about a class act.
Psylocke began her life as a normal girl growing up in a posh British family, but things quickly took a turn for the strange. She had undeniable mental abilities, which meant that she could read anyone’s thoughts, and even send them a blast of energy directly to their heads, which could injure or kill them. Psylocke also had access to Kaptain Briton’s special suit (enhanced by the Mastermind computer) which enabled her to fly and granted her super strength.
Real Life: Olivia Munn
Olivia Munn has had quite the international life. She was born in Oklahoma but spent most of her formative years growing up on a US Air Force Base outside of Tokyo, Japan, where her step-father was stationed. She had small roles in films as varied as Iron Man 2 to Deliver Us From Evil, but her biggest role to date has been in X-Men. Olivia has a black belt in taekwando and is a passionate activist for animal rights.
Wolverine has long been a major fan favorite among superhero fanatics, and for good reason – his dark and brooding nature are in start contrast to wholesome heroes like Captain America. Wolverine isn’t afraid to use deadly force after his experiences as a mercenary during World War 2, carrying out missions for both Canada (his home country) and the USA (via CIA black ops.) His most distinctive feature is his mutation which causes him to have retractable claws from his knuckles.
Real Life: Hugh Jackman
Continuing the trend of this list, Hugh Jackman was born and raised in Australia. He came to Hollywood from Sydney because of his breakthrough role in X-Men. You might be surprised to learn his wife discouraged him from taking the part, because she thought the character was ridiculous. But don’t think of Hugh as just some action movie star; he’s a very well respected thespian, whose earned a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a Tony, and been nominated for an Academy Award!
Captain America is widely considered one of the most loved – and most popular – superheroes of all time. He is a super soldier designed by the US government in order to fight enemies of the country, and is the alter ego of the previously weak and feeble Steve Rogers. His costume – replete with a full American flag motif and shield – and patriotic appeal made him well received, especially during World War 2, but the Captain’s appeal still lasts to this day.
Real Life: Chris Evans
Chris Evans was born into a family with a natural affinity for acting – his mother was an artistic director for a local theater, and his brother, Scott Evans, has appeared on the ABC soap opera One Life To Live. Chis was formally trained in acting at the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theatre and Film Institute. While so far Captain America has been his biggest role, he’s also starred in the comedy Not Another Teen Movie and in The Fantastic Four.
The character of Thor isn’t an original one – he is strongly based on an ancient Norse deity also named Thor, who was worshipped as the Asgardian thunder god. The creators of Thor added a new element to him, though – that Thor possesses Mjolnir, a magical hammer which enables him to soar above the ground and change the weather. When Thor is in human form, he shares the body and mind of a partially disabled medical student named Donald Blake.
Real Life: Chris Hemsworth
Chris Hemsworth is quickly making his name in Hollywood as one of the most successful actors from Down Under – Chris is originally Australian, hailing from Melbourne. Chris has starred in the horror film The Cabin in the Woods and as George Kirk in Star Trek. He was named “Sexiest Man Alive 2014” by People Magazine. His brothers, Luke and Liam, are also in show business and both have made a name for themselves, starring in films and TV shows.
Deadpool is definitely not your typical superhero – brash, sarcastic, and sometimes just nasty, he doesn’t have the same wholesome attitude as most of the others on this list. But what he lacks in graciousness he makes up for in a strong sense of right and wrong. He is basically immortal, as he has the supernatural ability to heal himself despite serious injuries that would kill others. He’s an expert swordsman, highly trained martial arts master, and experienced assassin and mercenary.
Real Life: Ryan Reynolds
Unlike some of the other leading men on this list, Ryan Reynolds didn’t have to cross an ocean to become a movie star – he’s from Vancouver, so it’s just a short hop over the border to the USA. However, Ryan is the only member of the family to make a name for himself in Hollywood. His brothers are both Canadian police officers with no interest in show business. He is married to actress Blake Lively, with whom he shares two daughters.
An orphan named Peter Parker is raised by his aunt and uncle in New York City, after his parents are tragically killed in a plane crash. That’s a lot for one teenager to deal with, but things get even more complicated for Peter after he’s bitten by a radioactive spider. The bite causes him to mutate a bit, and gain unusual traits like the ability to shoot webs, stick to slippery surfaces, and sense and react to danger quickly.
Real Life: Tom Holland
It may surprise you since Tom Holland is best known for playing the all-American Spiderman, but Tom is actually from across the pond! Born and raised in London, England, a young Tom was a well respected dancer back in his homeland, who starred in the West End production of Billy Elliot The Musical. After his performance as Spiderman in both The Avengers and Spiderman: Homecoming earned more than $2 billion worldwide, Tom is a little worried about being typecast as a superhero.
Rogue is one of X-Men’s most distinctive super heroes – with her trademark white streak in her hair, she was born and raised in a hippie commune in the South and ended up becoming a teenage runaway, adopted by the Brotherhood of Evil Mutants. Rogue’s most memorable power is that she absorbs the thoughts and life energy of others when she shares skin to skin contact with them – hence her full body covering costume, which she wears to prevent accidentally injuring others.
Real Life: Anna Paquin
Anna Paquin, continuing the apparent “foreign” theme of the list, was born in Maintoba, Canada and raised in Wellington, New Zealand. She’s well-respected, with Golden Globe, Emmy and Screen Actors Guild award nominations to her name. The X-Men isn’t Anna’s only supernatural role – she starred in the HBO vampire series True Blood. She married her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, with whom she shares fraternal twins. She is also the step-mom to Stephen’s two kids from a previous relationship.
The “Black Panther” is actually a title given to the chief of the Wakanda tribe, and in the comic book series and movie, T’Challa earns the right to the title. The Black Panther is honored by being allowed to eat a magical herb (which contains traces of an unknown material from an asteroid) which gives him, after consumption, superhuman speed, heightened senses, strength, and regenerative powers which effectively render him indestructible. He is wealthy because he controls Wakanda’s resources.
Real Life: Chadwick Boseman
Chadwick Boseman has starred in a string of major films, playing James Brown in the biopic Get On Up and the film 42 about baseball legend Jackie Robinson. But you’ll probably be surprised to learn that Chadwick has plenty of experience both in front of and behind the camera. In 2000, he graduated from Howard University with a degree in Fine Arts Directing, and directed several off-Broadway plays before pursuing acting full time. He considers directing his “first love.”
Magneto is a natural mutant, born different than other humans – his powers are not the result of exposure to radioactive material or an accident, which is the case with many super heroes. He doesn’t believe that humans and mutants can co-exist peacefully, and instead wants to instate a system in which mutants rule the world with humans as their inferiors. He has the power to manipulate all magnetic fields, which greatly enables him to control the environment around him.
Real Life: Michael Fassbender
Like many of the other leading men on this list, Michael Fassbender hails from an international background. He was born in Germany to a German father and Irish mother and raised in his mother’s home country of Ireland. His fluency in German proved useful when he had a major part in Inglorious Basterds. His first major role, however, was in another role that was developed from a graphic novel – he played Spartan warrior Helios in the movie adaptation of Frank Miller’s 300.
Drax The Destroyer
Drax The Destroyer is one super hero that you definitely don’t want to mess with! He was originally born as a normal human named Arthur Douglass. His entire family was killed by Thanos, and in order to avenge their deaths, the being Kronos took Arthur’s spirit and put it in a powerful new body – hence, Drax the Destroyer came into the world. As you’d probably guess by looking at him, Drax has super strength, stamina, and resistance to physical attacks.
Real Life: Dave Bautista
Dave Bautista is a former bouncer, mixed martial artist, and professional WWE wrestler, which explains his impressive physique. Raised in a rough part of Washington D.C., he was estranged from his parents and living on his own by the age of 17. Despite these troubles, Dave still managed to build an awesome career for himself. He is the father of two daughters, Keilani and Athena, and the grandfather of two little boys named Jacob and Aiden. Talk about a tough grandpa!
Mantis is a very unique Marvel character, with a superhero pedigree to boot. She’s the daughter of Libra and born in Vietnam. Raised by the alien Priests of Pama, she trains and excels in martial arts from a young age. After meeting the Swordsman in a bar in Vietnam, she becomes a close ally of the Avengers. She is deeply affected by the death of her true love, the Swordsman, as she never realized she loved him until he died.
Real Life: Pom Klementieff
Pom Klementieff was born in Quebec, Canada, but raised almost exclusively in Paris, France. She was sadly orphaned at a very young age so her paternal aunt and uncle looked after her. Her big Hollywood debut came in the movie Oldboy, a remake of a Korean classic film. In the role, she played the bodyguard of the antagonist. In her personal life, Pom is an avid martial artist and recently earned a purple belt in Taekwondoe.
Loki is widely considered one of the best comic book villains of all time. He grew bitter after a childhood spent in the shadow of his stronger and more athletic brother, Thor. Due to his teenage shenanigans and sorcery, he was given the nickname “God of Lies and Mischief”. He was frequently exiled from Asgard, as he tried (and failed) many times to seize control of the kingdom and instate himself as ruler. He is extremely intelligent and cunning.
Real Life: Tom Hiddleston
Like many of the other actors on this list, Tom Hiddleston originally hails from across the pond. Tom was born and raised in London, England. He was classically trained in acting at the prestigious Cambridge Royal Academy of Dramatic Art. He played country music singer Hank Williams in the biopic film I Saw The Light. In his personal life, he is a passionate humanitarian and recently traveled to Guinea to raise awareness about global poverty and lack of food.
Matthew Michael Miller was just a regular working class kid growing up in the rough New York City neighborhood Hell’s Kitchen, until encountering a radioactive substance. Blinded after saving a man from being hit by a truck, the disability actually ends up giving Matthew some supernatural abilities – an intensely heightened radar sense which he uses almost like echolocation and a super strong sense of touch, which means he can read just by passing his fingertips over printed letters on paper.
Real Life: Charlie Cox
Charlie Cox was born far away from Hollywood – he was brought up in East Sussex, England, and studied acting seriously before making his super hero debut. He was trained as an actor at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School in Bristol, then began his career as a stage actor, appearing in the West End productions of The Collection and The Prince Of Homburg. He also had a recurring role on the critically acclaimed HBO drama Boardwalk Empire. He has one daughter.
Jean Grey’s mutant powers emerged at an early age, when her friend was killed in a car accident. Because Jean had super strong telepathic and telekinetic powers, her friend’s accident nearly killed her as well. At first, growing up, she had such trouble controlling her mutant powers that her parents enlisted the help of Charles Xavier to block them until she matured. As she grew older and completed several missions for the X-Men, Xavier decided to remove her blocks.
Real Life: Famke Janssen
Famke Janssen was born into a show business family in Holland, as her sister Antoinette is a prominent Dutch film director, and her other sister Marjolein is a famous actress in their home country. Famke immigrated to the USA in order to study at Columbia University, where she studied literature and creative writing. She was a runway model for Vicotria’s Secret and Chanel, before becoming a Bond girl and then going on to star in FX’s Nip/Tuck TV series.
Nick Fury is a classic hero, though he doesn’t have any traditional mutant or super powers. Due to his role in an elite combat unit during his military service, he is a well experienced and trained combatant, ready for both armed and unarmed situations. He has a black belt in karate and was also a champion heavyweight boxer. He’s also a Green Beret and demolitions expert. We definitely wouldn’t want to go head to head with this highly skilled fighter!
Real Life: Samuel L. Jackson
Samuel L. Jackson has had one of the most successful careers of any actor in Hollywood today. He has had major parts in a number of box office smash hits, such as Jurassic Park, Pulp Fiction, Django Unchained, The Hateful Eight, and Kong: Skull Island. His career has already spanned over several decades and he has a close working relationship with the incomparable director Quentin Tarantino, consistently being cast in Quentin’s films – which are always commercially and critically successful.
Dr. Stephen Strange was your average arrogant physician and surgeon, until a brutal car accident rendered him unable to use his hands without them trembling excessively. In a mad quest to restore his hands to their previous skill level, he ends up spending every last penny seeking the help of a Himalayan dwelling wise man named The Ancient One. After first being turned away, by the sage, he ends up being trained in witchcraft and other magical arts.
Real Life: Benedict Cumberbatch
Like so many other actors on this list, Benedict Cumberbatch was born and raised across the pond in London, England. He was born into a super prominent British family, with a great grandfather who served as Queen Victoria’s consul in Lebanon and Turkey, and a grandfather who was a decorated naval officer and a prominent figure in the London high society scene. Benedict was classically trained in acting from a young age and has had a lot of Hollywood success lately!
The story behind the bad guy Winter Soldier is pretty complicated – he was born an American army brat, orphaned at a young age and basically raised by his dad’s unit. His name was Bucky Buchanan, and is assumed to have been killed in a battle with Sin. But he’s brought back from death with a special injection, then brainwashed into becoming the assassin Winter Soldier. He’s partially robot, as his left arm is a prosthetic with amazing capabilities.
Real Life: Sebastian Stan
Sebastian Stan started his life pretty far away from the glittering lights of Hollywood, California. He was born in Constanța, Romania to parents who divorced when he was just two years old. His mother fled with him to Vienna, Austria, during the Romanian revolution, and at the age of twelve, his family ended up immigrating to New York. From the time he was middle school, he appeared in local productions of plays and eventually, he got his big break.
Heimdall was born into a prominent family – his brother is the warrior Sif. He served as the omnipotent guardian sentry to Asgard, who’s permanently posted on the Bifrost bridge to keep watch over comings and goings towards Asgard. He won the title due to his super eyesight, which he used to warn Asgard of an upcoming attack by giants. He is one of the most trusted and well respected of Odin’s servants and has had his position for ages.
Real Life: Idris Elba
Call it the British invasion – yes, Idris Elba is yet another Brit on our list. You may remember him from his first major role in the American film Obsession, starring opposite the super star Beyonce. He also provided a voice in Finding Dory. In his personal life, Idris has two children and is a staunch supporter of British soccer team Arsenal F.C. He’s also an active kickboxer and mixed martial arts warrior, which explains how he keeps up his impressive physique.
Despite his less than appealing physical appearance, Groot is undoubtedly a good guy. He is a tree-like species of alien from Planet X, whose restricted vocal chords make communication very difficult to completely impossible. Groot is a force to be reckoned with in pop culture, known for his signature catchphrase: “I am Groot.” He feeds by gaining nutrients from wood which he absorbs, in an almost osmosis like fashion, and can regenerate like a lizard after losing limbs or getting killed.
Real Life: Vin Diesel
Vin Diesel has been one of the hottest actors in Hollywood for over a decade now, first rising to fame from his performances in the Fast And The Furious movie franchise. But you may be surprised to learn that Vin actually has serious acting credentials, studying the craft from a young age and making his on stage debut in a play in New York City at the tender age of seven. He’s also done a lot of voice acting besides Guardians.
Jessica Jones is just a high school student (and a classmate of Peter Parker) when she loses her entire family in a horrific car accident. Their family vehicle collided with a truck carrying radioactive chemicals and she’s the sole survivor. When she wakes up from a coma after the incident, she finds that she’s developed superhuman strength, flight, and resistance to even the most cunning mind control. Her costumed alter ego is named Jewel and she works as a journalist.
Real Life: Krysten Ritter
Krysten Ritter started her career in show business not as an actress, but as a model. At the age of 15, she was discovered by a talent scout in a local shopping mall and walked runways in Paris, Milan and Tokyo. Her first acting role came in a Dr. Pepper commercial, and from there she landed small parts in TV shows like Gilmore Girls and Veronica Mars. In her personal life, she is one half of indie music duo Ex Vivian.
The Incredible Hulk
Everyone knows the Incredible Hulk because of his unforgettable appearance – he’s green, mean, and super muscular. His alter ego, in stark contrast, is a mild mannered and feeble scientist named Dr. Bruce Banner. Bruce became the Hulk because of an experiment gone wrong – he was inadvertently exposed to gamma rays after a bomb was set off. The level of Hulk’s strength is directly tied to his anger, meaning that when he is really mad, he gets even more powerful.
Real Life: Edward Norton
Edward Norton is certainly one of the biggest names in Hollywood. Over the span of his nearly 3 decade career in show business, his films have generated more than $2 billion world wide. But Edward is known more for picking quality, memorable roles over ones that will make him money, which is one thing he credits for his longevity in the industry. In his personal life, he’s a passionate conservationist and an amateur pilot with his own small aircraft.
Nebula is a space pirate, but rather than just being a simple brute, she has a brain that rivals anything from Lao Tzu’s The Art of War. She’s memorable for being a woman tough enough to command a bunch of thugs, but also clever enough to implement complicated battle strategies. She is technically a cyborg, with an artificial eye, hip, and shoulder, and additional body parts sheathed in metal (effectively rendering them indestructible.) For a time she also had the Infinity Union.
Real Life: Karen Gillan
Yet another super hero lead who’s originally from across the pond, Karen Gillan was born and raised in Inverness, Scotland. She grew up in an artistically inclined family, as her father was a prominent singer. She studied acting in London at Italia Conti Academy of Theatre Arts. She began her acting career on the stage, appearing in the play Inadmissible Evidence at the Donmar Playhouse. After that, she got a major role on the hit TV show Dr. Who.
Gamora was born and raised to be a super hero. The last of her species, which was wiped out by an enemy tribe, Gamora was trained by Thanos all her life to be a warrior and “the deadliest woman in the whole galaxy.” Gamora is so skilled in martial arts that she can easily defeat enemies who are massively bigger and stronger than her, and she wiped out an elite army unit in a matter of just a few minutes.
Real Life: Zoe Saldana
Zoe Saldana was born in the United States, but after her father died in a car crash when she was a child, her mother relocated the family to her native Dominican Republic. The family returned to New York City when Zoe was in high school, and she began to pursue an acting career. She’s been in box office smashes like Pirates of the Caribbean and Star Trek. In her personal life, she is married to Italian soccer star Marco Perego.