From Apocalypse and Mystique to Ronan the Accuser and Thanos, there are numerous villains scattered throughout the Marvel universe wreaking havoc on their respective worlds. While these characters are typically other-worldly, with blue skin, prosthetics, or heavy black eye makeup, in reality, they are nothing more than actors and actresses lying beneath the makeup.
So, what do these villains actually look like in real life? It might not be what you expect. Keep reading to find out!
Rebecca Romijn As Mystique
In the original X-Men trilogy, Rebecca Romijn played the role of the antihero shape-shifter Mystique. Opting to be seen in her natural blue form, getting into the character of Mystique took a bit of time.
During an interview with Looper, Romjin explained the makeup process, saying, “It was no joke! My call time was at midnight to be ready at 9AM. It was a nine-hour makeup process. We did, over the course of three movies, manage to get it down to seven hours, but that was still … It was a big deal.”
Cate Blanchett As Hela
MCU fans saw Cat Blanchett as Thor and Loki’s sister Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. Bent on revenge after Odin locked her away, Hela wanted nothing more than to rule over Asgard and defeat her two brothers. Bringing the character to life, the makeup artists went straight to Jack Kirby’s original comic book design.
This meant a whole lot of black eye makeup, pale skin, and an unkempt black wig to show how she’d spent most of her life in the dark underworld.
Oscar Isaac As Apocalypse
With godlike abilities, the mutant Apocalypse is arguably one, if not the most powerful mutant in the X-Men universe. As seen in the film X-Men: Apocalypse, Oscar Isaac brings the blue mutant to life, something that took a whole lot of time and talent.
In an interview with GQ, Isaac explained the painstaking process of getting in and out of character. HE said, “I couldn’t move my head, and I had to sit on a specially designed saddle…and like, sweating inside the mask and the helmet. And then getting it off was the worst part because they just had to kind of scrape it off for hours and hours.”
Jason Flemyng As Azazel
In X-Men: First Class, actor Jason Flemyng took on the role of the mutant Azazel, a teleporter who looks a bit satanic with his red skin, dark hair, and pointed tail. However, this is the first and last time he is seen in the franchise, something Flemyng wasn’t overly unhappy about due to the makeup process.
According to the actor, “Initially I was gutted, but then, I remembered I had to get up at two in the morning, I had to be painted red and be slightly out of focus and posed a lot, and that was sort of it. Now I don’t have to do that.”
Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje As Algrim/Kurse
Actor Adewale Akinnuoye-Agbaje went from playing the dark elf Algrim into becoming an enhanced soldier and one of the Kursed, all in a show of loyalty to Malekith and the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World. That being said, transforming into both characters was no easy task.
Akinnuoye-Agbaje spoke to Cinemablend, telling the source that both characters took hours of makeup and prep work. “For Algrim, it takes about two and a half hours, possibly three, depending. And for Kurse, it takes about an hour and a half, and sometimes I have to do them both on the same day, so we’re looking about five hours,” he said.
Elizabeth Debicki As Ayesha
Playing the Golden High Priestess of the Sovereign in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Elizabeth Debicki went through quite the process to become the Marvel villainous. Clad in all gold, the actress told Vulture that the makeup was a bit more complex than it looks on screen.
She said she was “completely gold. Down to my fingernails. Gold wig. Gold skin. Gold contacts, even! … A month later, I’d be in an airplane and find gold in my ear. Or even up my nose! It’s so bad.”
Alexis Denisof As The Other
One of Thanos’s lackeys, The Other, was seen in The Avengers, giving Loki his scepter containing the Mind Stone, and again in Guardians of the Galaxy when Ronan kills him. Needless to say, Thanos didn’t care all that much about his ally getting slain in front of him.
To get the horrible-looing Other, sculptor Jose Fernandez constructed numerous prosthetics for actor Alexis Denisof, including some for his arms, chest, and even one to put on his face.
Karen Gillan As Nebula
While Nebula ultimately turns into one of the good guys and joins the Avengers, she starts off as nothing more than one of Thanos’s adoptive daughters, one that would do anything to please him.
And underneath all of that blue makeup and cyborg prosthetics is actress Karen Gillan. According to Special effects makeup artist David White, the process of transforming Gillan into Nebula took a solid four hours and 15 minutes to complete, including a whole puzzle of facial prosthetics.
Chris Sullivan As Taserface
The alien who led a mutiny against Yondu in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Taserface never really got his day in the spotlight. Even so, it is hard to overlook the sheer talent the makeup team did on actor Chris Sullivan to bring the alien to life.
During an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Sullivan explained how long the application process took, saying, “The makeup process started off at about three-and-a-half hours and we whittled it down to about two-and-a-half, as the makeup team got more and more practiced at it. It was quite involved.”
Christian Bale As Gorr The God Butcher
In Thor: Love and Thunder, Christian Bale steps in as Gorr, The God Butcher, an entity bent on killing every gold in the galaxy. Bringing the villain to life on the silver screen was no small task, though, and saw Bale sitting in a makeup chair for hours.
According to the actor, “The practical application…we got it down to three and a half hours each morning,” said Bale of his elaborate transformation. “Myself and three absolutely brilliant makeup artists, creating Gorr each and every day.” This includes white body paint and a whole lot of prosthetics.
Hugo Weaving As Johann Schmidt, Aka, Red Skull
Captain America’s rival and nemesis, Johann Schmidt took a version of the super soldier serum, hoping to turn into someone similar to Steve Rogers (before Rogers even took the serum himself). Instead, his outside turned into his inside — red, mean, and full of hate.
To transform into Red Skull, actor Hugo Weaving went through four hours of makeup, including numerous facial prosthetics to make his face a whole lot more skeletal appearing, such as his cheek bones, nose, and ears.
Mads Mikkelsen As Kaecilius
Actor Mads Mikkelsen took on the role of the evil and jealous Kaecilius in Doctor Strange. Wanting the Dark Dimension brought to Earth, in hopes that everyone would live forever, Dr. Strange sets out to destroy the master of the mystic arts.
While Mikkelsen didn’t have to endure prosthetics or an immense amount of makeup, he still sat in the makeup chair for up to three hours a day! Apparently, applying the black around his eyes was no small task.
Christopher Eccleston As Malekith
In Thor: The Dark World, Christopher Eccleston took on the role of the Dark Elf Malekith, a leader who waged war against the Asgardians. Eccleston’s makeup helped bring the evil mastermind of Malekith to life, wearing pointed ear prosthetics, applying pale makeup to his skin, and even wearing dark contact lenses.
According to the actor, the process took a whopping eight hours to complete. Thankfully, he said, they eventually got the makeup application down to six hours by the end of filming!
Lee Pace As Ronan The Accuser
Actor Lee Pace made his Marvel debut in Guardians of the Galaxy as the Kree baddie Ronan the Accuser. One of Thanos’ minions, Ronan is dispatched to get a mysterious orb from The Collector. Of course, he soon finds out the orb contains one of the legendary Infinity Stones.
To get this look, makeup artist Elizabeth Yianni-Georgiou held nothing back, painting Pace’s face a violet shade and applying black accents around his mouth and eyes. She even added purple contacts to give the actor a more “alien look.”
Tom Vaughan-Lawlor As Ebony Maw
One of Thanos’s lackeys, Ebony Maw, was tasked with retrieving the Time Stone from Dr. Strange in Avengers: Infinity War. Ultimately, he is defeated when Tony Stark, aka Ironman, blows a hole in his ship that has him spiraling out of control into space.
To get this horrifying alien look, actor Tom Vaughan-Lawlor actually didn’t have to go through practical makeup and prosthetics. Instead, he wore a motion-capture suit and CGI took care of the rest.
Josh Brolin As Thanos
One of the most recognizable villains in the MCU is arguably Thanos, the alien who wanted to wipe out half of the universe’s population with the help of the Infinity Stones. Thankfully, his plan eventually gets thwarted.
To get into character, Josh Brolin didn’t actually have to go into hair and makeup. Instead, he wore a high-tech motion-capture suit, sometimes even wearing a cutout of Thanos’s head and shoulders above his own so the other actors had a reference point while talking to him.
Ruth Negga As Raina
Ruth Negga joined the cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D a few episodes into the first season. At first, she was a beautiful woman. Then, she turned inhuman, transforming into something that looked like an evil porcupine with the ability to see the future.
To get this crazy look, which included spikes coming out of not only her head but also her face, Negga sat in the makeup chair for hours before getting called to set.
Gemma Chan As Minn-Erva
Playing a Kree warrior in Captain Marvel, Gemma Chan went under a lot of makeup to bring her character to life. According to the actress, she would regularly be wearing around four layers of airbrush makeup for hours on end.
During an interview with RadioTimes, she said, “My skin was starting to react towards the end of the shoot. Your skin’s just not meant to be under four layers of airbrush paint and the prosthetics.” In total, it took almost four hours for Chan’s makeup to be applied.
Tyler Mane As Victor Creed, Aka, Sabertooth
Tyler Mane plays the role of Victor Creed, aka Sabretooth in X-Men, a villain who is in league with Magneto. Looking very different from his typical person, Mane had a swift change when it came to bringing the character to life on the silver screen.
The actor was outfitted with not only a long blonde wig but also bushy eyebrows and facial hair to give him a more animalistic look. To top it all off, Mane also wore fake fangs.
Ryan Reynolds Is Unrecognizable As Deadpool
Before the very much beloved Deadpool movies where Reynolds played the titular role, he made a cameo as the trash-talking mercenary In X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
Except, this time he couldn’t really…talk and was a bit prickly towards Wolverine. It was a bit of an odd choice but hey, it happened and we can always look back and laugh.
Benicio del Toro As The Collector
Actor Benicio del Toro didn’t have to undergo hours upon hours of makeup like some of his Guardians of the Galaxy co-stars. That being said, he did have to add various things to his typical look in order to bring The Collector to life.
For the role, del Toro rocked a bleached wig and eyebrows and added just a touch of lipstick to his lower lip to give The Collector a sort of sinister look.
Dominic Rains As Kasius
The fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D welcomes Dominic Rains into the cast as the Kree leader Kasius. Enslaving humans in a lighthouse floating in space after the Earth is destroyed, there is no love lost between this character and the show’s fanbase.
However, it is hard to overlook the magnificent job the makeup department did on Rain’s character. Matting his hair down in a very straight manner, they painted his entire body blue, with the exception of the white-looking powder dusted across his face.
Jennifer Lawrence As Mystique
Starting with X-Men: Days of Future Past, actress Jennifer Lawrence took up the role of the antihero Mystique. In the pseudo-origin story of how Mystique comes to join Magneto’s team, Lawrence performed magnificently and under a boatload of makeup.
According to the actress, the process of transforming into her head-to-toe blue character took eight hours at the start of production. By the end, her makeup team had designed a process that allowed them to do it in three hours. First, the makeup artists would attach her scales, followed by three layers of airbrushed blue paint!
Dane DeHaan As Harry Osborn, Aka, The Green Goblin
In The Amazing Spiderman 2, Dane DeHaan plays the role of Peter Parker’s former best friend, Harry Osborn. Sadly, Harry has a terminal blood disease and will stop at nothing to find a cure, ultimately transforming into the Green Goblin.
According to the actor, it took some time to get into full makeup. During an interview with amny, he said, “It’s 3½ hours of make-up and an hour to get into the suit, but as an actor, it’s the coolest feeling ever because when it’s done, you’re the Green Goblin! That’s a dream come true.”
Guy Pearce As Aldritch Killian
Guy Pearce takes on the role of mad scientist Aldritch Killian in Ironman 3. His character is a man who wants to go into business with Tony Stark, telling him he has a serum that would biologically change a person’s cells to be more efficient. Killian goes from the above image to someone quite hansom-looking.
While Pearce didn’t have to sit in a makeup chair for hours on end, he was outfitted with a long wig and crooked teeth to make “unattractive Killian.”
Ken Leung As Kid Omega
Taking up the role in X-Men: The Last Stand, actor Ken Leung plays the villain Kid Omega, a mutant who is on Team Magneto, wanting to rid the world of the “cure” the humans have made for the mutants.
When it comes to makeup, Leung’s team did not hold back. Aside from the tattoos marking his chin, neck, and chest, Kid Omega’s power allowed him to sprout quills from his face, something that took some time to apply.
Carrie Coon As Proxima Midnight
Another one of Thanos’s adoptive daughters is the scary-looking Proxima Midnight. Played by Carrie Coon, the actress utilized a high-tech motion-capture suit to bring the villain to life.
The end result is something completely unlike the actress, with dark features, blue skin and hair, and two horns coming out of the corners of her eyes in a mask that screams, “I am definitely not on team hero, and my loyalties lie with the bad guys.”
Florence Faivre As Sinara
Florence Faivre played the role of Sinara in the fifth season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. one of Kasius’ most trusted warriors, Sinara was known for her tight, slicked-back braid and her two hovering balls that seemingly did anything she thought.
Like Kasius, Sinara didn’t need too much makeup to complete her look. All it took was a whole lot of airbrushing, some white powder, and a long wig knotted into a braid. Still, it probably took a long time in the makeup chair to get it just right.
Karl Urban As Skurge The Executioner
Thor: Ragnarok introduced the MCU fanbase to the character of Skurge the Executioner, a submissive warrior who does pretty much anything to stay alive, including teaming up with Hela to destroy Thor and Asgard.
To get into character, actor Karl Urban didn’t have to change too much. All it took was shaving his head! Once that was done, the makeup department went in and included two tattoos on either side of his skull, giving him a more sinister look.
Sebastian Stan As The Winter Soldier
Sadly, Bucky Barnes was kidnapped by the Russians and brainwashed after the events of Captain America: The First Avenger. Fast-forward to Captain America: Winter Soldier and actor Sebastian Stan looks completely different as a villain.
Ditching his short hair, Stan sports a long-haired wig that goes down to his soldiers. His makeup is a bit low-key, though, with dark smudges circling his eyes so everything looks black when he puts on his Winter Soldier mask.
Michael B. Jordan As Erik Killmonger
The cousin of T’Challa, Erik Killmonger had a score to settle in Black Panther, thinking his family forgot about him in America and didn’t want him to know about Wakanda. While this picture doesn’t show the full extent of actor Michael B. Jordan’s makeup, the scars that were applied to his body by the makeup artists were no joke.
According to Jordan, the entire process took up to three hours since the “scars” were added via glue and then blended into his natural skin tone.