In celebration of Avengers: Age of Ultron finally hitting theaters, let’s take a look back at the cast’s first-ever films…
Robert Downey Jr. has been stealing the show since 1970, when he made his acting debut as a humanized puppy in Pound. Directed by Robert Downey Sr., Pound featured all-animal characters played by an all-human cast, and was based on an off-broadway play written by Sr. himself. RDJ (credited as “Bob Downey” in the film) was only five years old at the time, but already melting hearts with those big brown puppy dog eyes — as perfect a casting as Tony Stark.
Before he was a lovable Asgardian thunder god, Chris Hemsworth was just a lovable Australian TV actor, lovably paying his dues on the soap opera Home and Away and Dancing with the Stars Australia until J.J. Abrams cast him as Captain Kirk’s doomed dad in the 2009 Star Trek reboot. More high-profile film roles followed in quick succession — including eventual Avengers director Joss Whedon’s Cabin in the Woods, which was filmed immediately pre-Thor.
Marvel’s other Chris (okay, one of their other Chrises) has an even humbler origin story. Shortly after modeling for Hasbro’s “Mystery Date” board game, Chris Evans’ movie star career was launched in 2001 with Not Another Teen Movie, a parody of teen movie stereotypes featuring the future Captain America as a high school football jock who at one point strips down to nothing but whipped cream with not one but two cherries on top.
Jeremy Renner’s first film was the long-forgotten 90s stoner comedy National Lampoon’s Senior Trip, which had him playing an underachieving high school student named Mark “Dags” D’Agastino at the tender age of 24. The most impressive thing about it? The fact that it managed a 0% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Mark Ruffalo had less than ten lines in his first movie — unremarkable 1996 horror film The Dentist, which is exactly as self-explanatory as it sounds — but he made enough of an impression to get a talent agent from his portrayal of an angry talent agent, way back when it was still safe to make him angry.
10-year-old Scarlett Johansson was a total unknown when she made her first film cameo in the quirky comedy North, also starring a slightly-less-unknown child actor named Elijah Wood. Unfortunately North went south at the box office and was slammed by Roger Ebert as the worst film of 1994 (in a year that also saw the release of Leprechaun 2 — ouch). Thankfully, Scarlett’s fledgling career didn’t suffer in the slightest… and we’d say Elijah did okay for himself, too.