Join us as we count down the 20 best crossovers of Doctor Who actors into the Marvel Cinematic Universe!
Doctor Who has been hurtling across time and space, and our television screens, for just shy of 60 years. Meanwhile, the Marvel Cinematic Universe exploded into life in 2008 with Iron Man. Since then, that world has been the setting for 27 films and countless episodes of different television series. And with many of the Marvel films being filmed in the UK, and attracting the best of British talent across the Atlantic, it’s inevitable that the familiar faces of many Doctor Who actors have popped up in the MCU too.
According to IMDb, there are almost sixty actors who have appeared in both multiverses. So to help narrow it down, we’ve begun by discounting those who’ve simply been extras or had walk-on parts in both. So sorry, Kieran O’Connor: you may have been brilliant as both a waiter in ‘Voyage of the Damned’ and as ‘Loud Jerk’ in Captain America: The First Avenger, but you’re not on our list.
Several Doctor Who actors featured in substantial guest roles on Who before before brief Marvel appearances
For those that remain we’ve used a highly scientific system, combining the size of their role as Doctor Who actors with their significance to the MCU. So, before we move on to our Top 20, let’s look at some of the best of the rest, all of whom have scored five points or less. Some of these Doctor Who actors had a more significant part to play in Doctor Who but much smaller roles in the world of Marvel.
For instance, Colin Stinton has a small but memorable role in ‘The Sound of Drums’ as the US President killed by the Master, but if you blink you might miss him as the cab driver in Captain America as the newly transformed Steve chases down Richard Armitage’s Hydra agent. Similarly, we have Danny Sapani as “Colonel Runaway” in ‘A Good Man Goes to War’ who became one of the Tribal Elders in Black Panther.
Christopher Fairbank, meanwhile, is the odious community service supervisor Fenton in ‘Flatline,’ and appears in Guardians of the Galaxy as a broker to whom Quill attempts to sell an Infinity Stone. And Tallulah Riley was a major part of the supporting cast in ‘Silence of the Library’ / ‘Forest of the Dead’ as Miss Evangelista, but in Thor: The Dark World was the unnamed Asgardian medic attending Natalie Portman’s Jane.
For good measure, we can also include other Doctor Who actors such as Ben Browder (the sheriff in ‘A Town Called Mercy’ and an alien admiral in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2), Meera Syal (Nasreen in ‘The Hungry Earth’ / ‘Cold Blood’ and Dr. Patel in Doctor Strange), Claire Rushbrook (Ida in ‘The Impossible Planet’ / ‘The Satan Pit’ and a member of Mysterio’s gang in Spider-Man: Far from Home), and Riann Steele (Queen Nefertiti in ‘Dinosaurs on a Spaceship,’ and Ghost’s mother in Ant-Man and the Wasp.)
Other Doctor Who actors, like Peter Serafinowicz, just miss out on our Top 20
It’s the opposite with other Doctor Who actors like Josh Dallas, who had a middle-sized role in Thor as Fandral (one of the Thunder God’s best friends) but barely showed his face, literally, in Doctor Who as one of the nodes in ‘Silence in the Library.’
Then there are the Doctor Who actors who had fairly substantial roles on both sides of our equation like Mark Anthony Brighton, who fought evil as Colonel Almero of the Papal Mainframe in ‘Time of the Doctor’ and played one of the heroic Mystics in Doctor Strange. Then there’s Michael Brandon who coincidentally played American generals in both ‘The Stolen Earth’ and Captain America: The First Avenger.
Meanwhile, other Doctor Who actors like John Pirkis voiced the Toclafane in ‘The Sound of Drums’ / ‘Last of the Time Lords’ and went on to a recurring role in Daredevil’s second season as the lawyer Stan Gibson – doomed as soon as he started working for the Yakuza!
And comedian Peter Serafinowicz is the biggest of our Doctor Who actors to just miss a place in the Top 20, after voicing the Fisher King in ‘Before the Flood’ and playing a member of the Nova Corps who arrests the Guardians of the Galaxy (as well as getting the trailer’s best line).
20. Spencer Wilding
Spencer Wilding has a small but memorable role in Guardians of the Galaxy as the alien prison guard who steals Quill’s vintage 80s walkman. Known for playing parts that take full advantage of his massive 6’6″ frame – such as the Mountain in Game of Thrones and Darth Vader in Rogue One – he’s had no less than five Doctor Who appearances, making him one of our most prolific Doctor Who actors. He was the Minotaur in ‘The God Complex,’ the Wooden King in ‘The Doctor, the Widow and the Wardrobe,’ Skaldak the Ice Warrior in ‘Cold War,’ and the lead Dreg in ‘Orphan 55.’ And, to top it all off, he was the Quill Goddess in Doctor Who spin-off Class.
19. Daniel Kaluuya
To Marvel fans, Daniel Kaluuya will be best known for playing T’Challa’s most loyal friend the rhino riding W’Kabi in Black Panther and the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. It’s part of Kaluuya’s meteoric rise to fame over the past decade that’s included winning an Oscar for Judas and the Black Messiah, along with a further nomination for Get Out. But back in 2009 he was Barclay, one of the passengers trapped on an alien world on a double decker bus in ‘Planet of the Dead.’
18. Joseph Long
Anglo-Italian actor Joseph Long ranks slightly higher in our list of Doctor Who actors thanks to his two Doctor Who appearances. He was Rocco Colasanto in ‘Turn Left,’ who lives with Donna’s family in cramped conditions as refugees following the destruction of London and provides the episodes with both its funniest and most heart-breaking moments. He returned a few years later to interrupt Bill’s date as none other than the Pope himself in ‘Extremis’. However, he only has a tiny role in the MCU as an unnamed mob boss in Spider-Man: Far from Home.
17. O-T Fagbenle
O-T Fagbenle arrives slightly higher in our list of Doctor Who actors who’ve been in the MCU due to more substantial supporting roles in both. For Doctor Who he was ‘Other Dave,’ one of River Song’s expedition to the Vashta Nerada infested Library in ‘Silence in the Library’ / ‘Forest of the Dead.’ Over a decade later, he had multiple scenes in Black Widow as Rick Mason, the fixer who helps Scarlett Johansson’s fugitive Avenger go into hiding.
16. Christine Adams
Christine Adams was one of the major guest stars for Series One’s ‘The Long Game.’ As ambitious 200th millennium newswoman Cathica, she ultimately saves the day when the Doctor inspires her to ask more questions about who really runs Satellite Five. And she went on to play the recurring character of Agent Weaver in the first two seasons of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as one of the most senior agents to survive the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier.
15. Tony Curran
Scotland’s Tony Curran took centre stage in 2010 Doctor Who episode ‘Vincent and the Doctor,’ as the great artist Vincent Van Gogh. It’s one of Doctor Who’s most sensitive and heartfelt performances ever but a world away from Curran’s two MCU characters. He appears briefly in Thor: The Dark World’s flashback scenes as Thor’s grandfather Borr in deadly combat against Christopher Eccleston’s Dark Elf Malekith, and he appears in the Daredevil episode ‘Penny and Dime’ as a vicious Irish mobster seeking revenge on the Punisher (which works out as well for him as you’d expect…)
14. Finn Jones
Iron Fist, one of the Marvel shows originally on Netflix and newly moved to Disney+, spent two seasons following the adventures of Danny Rand, long thought dead after the plane crash which killed his parents, who returns to New York as an adult armed with mystical martial arts that he learned in a secret city in the Himalayas. Finn Jones, who played Danny, may have been the star of an entire MCU TV show, but isn’t higher on our list of Doctor Who actors as he never appeared in Doctor Who itself. Instead, he guest starred into two episodes of The Sarah Jane Adventures as Santiago Jones, grandson of the Doctor’s former companion Jo.
13. Toby Jones
As the Dream Lord in ‘Amy’s Choice,’ Toby Jones provided the smug, all-knowing villain that the episode needed. He was on similar ground in the Marvel Cinematic Universe as Hydra scientist Armin Zola. After acting as the Red Skull’s stressed out sidekick in Captain America: The First Avenger, he returned in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a self-satisfied AI recreation of Zola who reveals that the original Zola and Hydra had been infiltrating every layer of SHIELD for decades. Add to that his appearances as versions of Zola in the Agent Carter and What If…? shows, and he clearly earns his placement on this list of Doctor Who actors.
12. Richard E Grant
From a certain point of view, Richard E Grant is the first actual Doctor on our list of Doctor Who actors, having played versions of the Time Lord in Comic Relief’s ‘The Curse of Fatal Death‘ and the animated story ‘Scream of the Shalka.‘ But mainly, he’s here for appearing as the Great Intelligence in three stories of the Matt Smith era, the malevolent force who seeks to undo the Doctor’s entire timeline. And in the Marvel multiverse, he stole every scene in his two episodes of Loki as a version of the God of Mischief from an alternate timeline who was gloriously decked out in Loki’s classic 1960s comic book costume.
11. David Bradley
Another supplementary Time Lord lands on our list of Doctor Who actors! David Bradley appeared in Peter Capaldi’s last two episodes as the First Doctor, having previously starred as William Hartnell in 50th anniversary biopic An Adventure in Space and Time. It gives Bradley a secured place of his own in the tapestry of Doctor Who history, but his Marvel appearance is fleeting. He’s in just once scene of Captain America: The First Avenger as the old guardian of the Tesseract whom the Red Skull kills in order to steal the alien artefact to power his new superweapons.
10. Gugu Mbatha-Raw
The first entry in our top 10 of Doctor Who actors in the MCU had a major role in Doctor Who Series Three. Playing Tish Jones (little sister to Freema Agyeman’s Martha) was one of Gugu Mbatha-Raw’s first big breaks, appearing in four episodes. Her high point was undoubtedly ‘The Lazarus Experiment,’ where she teamed up with her sister to help defeat the evil Professor Lazarus after his transformation into a scorpion-like monster. But she also featured in ‘Smith and Jones,’ relying on Martha to help keep the peace in their fractured family, and in ‘The Sound of Drums’ / ‘Last of the Time Lords’ as the Master held the entire Jones family hostage.
For Marvel, she’s been Judge Ravonna Renslayer, the main antagonist in the Disney+ series Loki. Initially, she simply appears to want Loki executed because she suspects his gift for manipulation and deceit make him too dangerous to live. But as the series progresses, it becomes clear that she’s determined to keep the dark secret at the heart of the Time Variance Authority (Marvel’s equivalent to the Time Lords) from getting out, no matter what the cost.
The story ends ends with Renslayer set up to have an even greater role in Season Two, so this is one of our Doctor Who actors who isn’t done with the MCU yet!
9. Gemma Chan
As with Doctor Who itself, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is now so vast and sprawling that inevitably some Doctor Who actors turn up in more than one role. Gemma Chan is a case in point, originally appearing as the blue skinned Kree warrior Minerva in Captain Marvel. Perhaps because of the make-up involved, Marvel were happy to cast her again in the lead role of Sersei, leader of the immortal heroes of Eternals.
But before she was heading up Marvel films, Chan appeared in the Doctor Who special ‘The Waters of Mars.’ As Mia Bennett she was one of the only two members of the doomed Bowie Base One expedition to Mars to survive, thanks to the Doctor deciding that as the ‘Time Lord Victorious’ he had the ultimate authority to alter even fixed points in time, regardless of the consequences.
8. Letitia Wright
Letitia Wright is another of our Doctor Who actors who won themselves a central role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She’s played the Wakandan princess Shuri (younger sister to the heroic King T’Challa) in the films Black Panther, Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. And if they follow the comics, Shuri’s set to don the mantle of the new Black Panther herself in the upcoming Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, following the tragically young death of T’Challa actor Chadwick Boseman. Her sprightly, mischievous performance as Shuri – a young woman even smarter than Tony Stark – was one of the highlights of Black Panther.
Meanwhile, one of Wright’s first roles was in Doctor Who’s ‘Face the Raven.’ There she was Anahson, a member of the two-faced Janus race living in the hidden Trap Street community of aliens living in London. As a female she had the gift of prophecy and was instrumental in helping the Twelfth Doctor uncover the secret of her mother’s faked murder, but too late to save Clara‘s life…
7. Sacha Dhawan
As the Master, Sacha Dhawan’s status as one of the most iconic Doctor Who actors is secured, destined to appear in lists and articles for decades to come. That would be true even if wasn’t tied to not just one of the most jaw-dropping twists in the show’s history (“I did say look for the spymaster…”) but also one of the most seismic upendings of what we thought we knew about the Time Lords. Dhawan’s barely-restrained, giddy excitement at his own scheming – along with the raw nerve of pain beneath – makes for compelling viewing. And with Jodie Whittaker’s Doctor and his Master very much having unfinished business, we might well see him again soon.
Before he was the Master, Dhawan was Danny Rand’s nemesis Davos in the two seasons of Marvel’s Iron Fist. It’s a role with striking parallels to the Master; Danny and Davos grew up together as best friends, studying ancient knowledge in a secret mountaintop citadel sworn not to interfere in the world. Both abandon it to travel, wielding similar abilities beyond those of regular people. But Davos’ jealousy of Danny twists their friendship and he becomes obsessed with destroying this world that Danny holds so dear.
6. Christopher Eccleston
We reach one of our most famous Doctor Who actors with Christopher Eccleston, who played the Ninth Doctor for one glorious series in 2005. Eccleston took on the mammoth task of recreating the Doctor for a brand new audience, and his Time Lord was like none before him – not just because of his battered leather jacket, crew cut and northern accent, but because he brought a fragile veneer of whimsy covering turbulent depths, in the process creating one of the most layered, psychologically complex iterations of the Doctor. Simply put: he was “fantastic!”
On paper, Eccleston’s role as Malekith the Accursed, the main villain of Thor: The Dark World, should make him a major figure in the MCU, especially as his plot to wipe out all life in the universe with an Infinity Stone makes his plans twice as grand as Thanos’. But by his own admission, the actor finds such work unengaging, while the combination of heavy prosthetics and dialogue (mostly delivered in a made-up alien language) didn’t help Eccleston’s trademark fire and charisma shine through. The result is one of the more overlooked performances of Doctor Who actors in one of the most overlooked Marvel movies.
5. Jenna Coleman
At number five in our list of Doctor Who actors we have Jenna Coleman. As the Doctor’s companion in three series of Doctor Who, Clara was one of the central figures of the modern show. We didn’t just see the Doctor’s world through her eyes – as had become commonplace for companions – but rather entire plot arcs orbited around her. She was ‘the Impossible Girl,’ fractured up and down the Doctor’s timeline, and she was part of Missy’s plot to drive the Doctor into dark places before her dwindling instincts for self-preservation finally did just that in ‘Hell Bent.’
In contrast, her pre-Doctor Who cameo in Captain America: The First Avenger is one of the slightest parts anywhere on this list. As Connie she appears briefly as Bucky’s date at the State Fair as they, Steve, and Connie’s friend Bonnie watch Howard Stark’s demonstration of a flying car. She also appears fleetingly in the background as a nurse greeting Bucky on his return after Captain America rescues the 107th, hinting perhaps at a larger romance subplot that was cut somewhere along the line.
4. Andrew Garfield
Andrew Garfield takes fourth place in our list of Doctor Who actors in the MCU. Spider-Man has always been one of Marvel’s most popular and identifiable characters, with audiences flocking to see his adventures long before the MCU even existed. Andrew Garfield played Peter Parker in The Amazing Spider-Man and its sequel before returning once more for Spider-Man: No Way Home alongside Tobey Maguire and Tom Holland in a team up to rival a Doctor Who anniversary. Being a genuine lead superhero starring in his own movie series makes Garfield one of the biggest stars on this list of Doctor Who actors.
Before he began web-slinging around the streets of New York, Garfield faced pig-men under them in Doctor Who’s ‘Daleks in Manhattan’ / ‘Evolution of the Daleks.’ As Frank, he’s the young but eager resident of Hooverville who aids the Doctor and Martha in their investigations into strange goings on at the Empire State Building in 1930s New York. It’s a supporting role in a story stuffed with Daleks, squid-faced hybrids and the love story between a showgirl an a pig, but Garfield impresses as a likeable actor already showing huge potential.
3. Matt Smith
In third place on our list of Doctor Who actors is Matt Smith. He’s the Eleventh Doctor himself – the man who made bow ties cool, rebooted the universe, married River Song, and even inspired more people to try fish fingers and custard than you’d have thought possible. Playing the role from 2010 to 2013, Smith got to be the Doctor who led the 50th Anniversary celebrations, and brought a unique chaotic energy to his performance of an ancient genius in a youthful body.
It may be a slight cheat to include the non-Marvel Studios Morbius on our list of Doctor Who actors in the MCU, but Spider-Man: No Way Home establishes the Sony films as part of the wider Marvel multiverse – so it sort of counts. Matt Smith stars as the film’s villain Milo Morbius, who takes the cure developed by his brother Michael for the blood disease they both share, even though he knows it will turn him into a vampire. While Morbius opened last week to distinctly mixed reviews, they all seem to agree that Smith’s energetic, no-holds-barred villainy is the highlight of the entire film. He’s a worthy addition to our list of Doctor Who actors.
2. David Tennant
That’s right, David Tennant isn’t Number One on our list of Doctor Who actors! That’s despite appearing as the Doctor in more episodes of Doctor Who in the 21st century than anyone else, and having an enduring popularity over a decade after leaving the role. With his ‘geek chic’ of long coat, skinny suit and converse trainers (and his gift for fast-talking banter and soulful romance) Tennant, along with showrunner Russell T Davies, ushered in a golden age for modern Doctor Who.
Tennant flipped his familiar Tenth Doctor persona on its head to play the evil Kilgrave in the Marvel series Jessica Jones. Kilgrave shared the Tenth Doctor’s accent and much of his charm and manner, making it all the more disturbing that he was a sadistic narcissist who used his mind control powers to take whatever he wanted, whenever he wanted, while forcing his victims to torture themselves for his amusement. The game of cat and mouse between him and Jessica (the super strong private investigator he was obsessed with) dominated the show’s first season, and Kilgrave become one of the MCU’s most memorable monsters.
1. Karen Gillan
Yes, our poll topper isn’t a Doctor but a companion, with Karen Gillan taking the top slot of Doctor Who actors in the MCU. As Amy Pond, she appeared across three series of Doctor Who and played a vital part alongside Matt Smith’s Eleventh Doctor in proving the show could survive and thrive after the popular David Tennant’s departure. Her wry Scottish humour and lively love of adventure made her the ideal companion for Steven Moffat’s mind-bending scripts, and it was always clear she would go on to do great things post-Doctor Who.
And that’s certainly proven true as Gillan has starred both in carefully-crafted indie movies and several of the highest-grossing movies of all time. And as the stoic cyborg Nebula in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, she’s evolved from Thanos’ loyal but underappreciated daughter in Guardians of the Galaxy to being an uneasy ally of the Guardians in Vol.2 and Avengers: Infinity War, and then a trusted member of the Avengers themselves in Endgame. By the end she’s saved half the universe, travelled back in time and paradoxically killed her younger, unreformed, self. Perfect casting for a Doctor Who alumna!
And much of Nebula’s popularity with audiences has come not just from her ability to kick ass and save the world, but the way Gillan gives the sullen, withdrawn Nebula a visible journey as she slowly learns to trust others and accept herself. Gillan has also voiced two other versions of Nebula from alternate realities for the Disney+ series What If…? and is set to play the character on the big screen at least twice more: in the recently filmed Thor: Love and Thunder and the upcoming third and final volume of the Guardians of the Galaxy trilogy. She deserves her place at the top of our list of Doctor Who actors in the MCU.
Which of these Doctor Who actors in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is your favourite? And who would you like to crossover into the MCU next? Let us know in the comments below.
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