One of the biggest strengths of the Marvel Cinematic Universe would be the variety of casting decisions made by Marvel Studios, as the performers embody their on-screen personas so wholly that they become intrinsically linked to those characters, though one character, Howard Stark, has already been portrayed by three different actors since his debut. In the original Iron Man, Howard appeared only in a photographic montage, with actor Gerald Sanders posing as Tony’s father, only for Iron Man 2 to introduce Mad Men star John Slattery as the character, who reprised the role in Avengers: Endgame, while Dominic Cooper brought the character to life for Captain America: The First Avenger and in Marvel’s Agent Carter.
Cooper is set to reprise the role for the upcoming animated Marvel’s What If…? series coming to Disney+. With more than 15 years separating Cooper and Slattery, it would seem that the reason for multiple actors is that, in Iron Man 2, Slattery was in his late 40s, while in Captain America, Cooper was in his mid-30s. Given the age and timing of the various stories, it made more sense for Slattery to play Howard in Endgame, with Cooper being oblivious to his former character’s appearance in the film.
“I’m not sure why I wasn’t in it,” Cooper told MTV’s Josh Horowitz this past summer. “This is the first I’ve heard of it. Why am I not in it?! When was the first one set? ’59?”
Following the end of Agent Carter, Cooper joined another comic book TV show, starring as Jesse Custer in Preacher. With that AMC series having come to an end and with Robert Downey Jr. having left the role of Tony Stark behind, Cooper admitted he was open to taking over the role for a future project.
“Lots and lots, any please,” Cooper replied to ComicBook.com when asked about other MCU characters he’d like to play. “I loved that character. I felt very honored to have been given that character, and I didn’t realize quite what I was entering at the time, I just loved playing him. And we got the spinoff TV show with him as well, and I hope there is a way that he exists again sometime in the future. He’s fun. His son would be quite an interesting character to take on.”
Similarly, Spider-Man has been played by three different actors in recent years, though this includes three different franchises focusing on the character, with only Tom Holland having played him in the MCU.
Stay tuned for details on the future of Howard Stark in the MCU.
Who was your favorite actor to take on the role? Let us know in the comments below!