12 Celebrities That Didn’t Need an MCU Role Because They Played Themselves

While the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) has undoubtedly attracted an array of notable talents, a select few stars effortlessly captivate audiences by simply being themselves. These 12 notable public figures are so etched into the public consciousness that they were able to play themselves in the MCU.

1. Kevin Bacon – Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special (2022)

Kevin Bacon The Guardians of The Galaxy Holiday Special Marvel
Image Credit: Marvel.

Kevin Bacon is a versatile American actor known for his extensive filmography spanning various genres. He gained prominence for his roles in films like Footloose, Apollo 13, and A Few Good Men. With his charismatic presence and ability to embody diverse characters, Bacon has become a respected figure in the entertainment industry.

After repeatedly being referenced in The Guardians of the Galaxy, he played himself in The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special. In it, he performed “Here It Is Christmastime.”

2. Method Man – Luke Cage (2016)

Luke Cage
Image Credit: Netflix.

Method Man, whose real name is Clifford Smith, is a renowned American rapper, actor, and member of the legendary hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. Known for his distinctive voice, lyrical skills, and charismatic stage presence, Method Man has solidified his status as an influential figure in hip-hop.

In the Netflix series Luke Cage, Method Man has a memorable guest appearance where he plays himself. In the episode titled “Soliloquy of Chaos,” Method Man encounters Luke Cage, the bulletproof hero of Harlem, during a convenience store robbery.

Inspired by Luke Cage's unwavering dedication to protecting the community, Method Man records a rap song titled “Bulletproof Love,” in which he praises the hero's resilience and uses his music as a medium to convey the impact of Luke Cage's actions.

3. David Hasselhoff – Guardians of The Galaxy Vol. 2 (2017)

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2
Image Credit: Walt Disney Motion Pictures.

David Hasselhoff is an American actor, singer, and producer who rose to fame in the 1980s for his iconic role as Michael Knight in the TV series Knight Rider and as lifeguard Mitch Buchannon in Baywatch. He has also had a successful music career, releasing several albums and achieving international chart success.

In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Hasselhoff makes a cameo appearance as himself in a comedic and nostalgic moment. In the film, one of the main characters, Peter Quill (also known as Star-Lord), idolizes Hasselhoff and envisions him as his imaginary father figure. During a pivotal moment, Hasselhoff appears in a dream-like sequence, providing words of encouragement to Quill and reinforcing his self-worth.

4. Anderson Cooper – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)

Anderson Cooper SS MSN
Image Credit: Shutterstock.

Anderson Cooper is a prominent American journalist and television personality. He is best known for his work as the CNN news program Anderson Cooper 360°. In Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Cooper repeatedly pops up through CNN news broadcasts, helping to advance the plot. A viewer points out that Cooper is the only character who canonically exists in both the MCU and DCEU. He also played himself in DC's Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice.

5. Elon Musk – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

One of the most famous cameos in the MCU is the infamous Elon Musk, or as detractors have called him, “Phony Stark.” Musk is a billionaire entrepreneur and CEO of companies like Tesla and SpaceX. He made a cameo appearance as himself in the film Iron Man 2 during a scene where Tony Stark (Iron Man) attends a party at his mansion.

Given Musk's real-life entrepreneurial ventures in the world of science and technology, people have made a lot of comparisons between Musk and Iron Man over the years. This is likely the sole reason he was offered a cameo in the Iron Man franchise, but others claim that Musk paid a lot of money to work himself into the franchise for PR reasons. More cynical viewers think his cameo was a “self-own” and that the writers were taking jabs at his ego. 

6. Stan Lee – Iron Man 1 & 2 (2008, 2010), Captain Marvel (2019)

Iron Man
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

The legendary Stan Lee, who passed away in 2018, was a legendary comic book writer, editor, and publisher. Lee significantly shaped Marvel comics and, by extension, Marvel Studios into the mega entertainment entity it is today by co-creating iconic superheroes like Spider-Man, Iron Man, the X-Men, and the Hulk. As each iconic character received its own film adaptation, Lee made numerous cameo appearances in each of them.

He's portrayed different characters, often providing humorous or poignant moments. However, there are three notable times he played himself on screen, such as in Iron Man, when Tony Stark mistook him for Hugh Hefner, or in Iron Man 2 when Stark mistook him for Larry Elder. He also played himself in Captain Marvel and is seen reading the script for Mallrats (another movie he had a cameo playing himself) on a train.

7. Megan Thee Stallion – She-Hulk: Attorney at Law (2022)

She-Hulk: Attorney at Law
Image Credit: Paramount Pictures.

Megan Thee Stallion is a popular American rapper and singer who rose to fame with the hit song “Hot Girl Summer” and has since had countless chart-topping hits. She was featured in episode 3 of She-Hulk: Attorney at Law, which aired in 2022.

The episode and show largely received condemnation from fans and critics alike for its poor writing and ridiculous gaffes like depicting She-Hulk twerking alongside Megan Thee Stallion. The cameo was made fun of, mostly because of the terrible writing and poor premise. 

8. Bill Maher – Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3
Image Credit: Walt Disney Motion Pictures.

Bill Maher is an American comedian, political commentator, and television host. He is best known as the host of the HBO talk show Real Time with Bill Maher, where he provides commentary on current events, politics, and social issues. Maher is known for his sharp wit, satirical humor, and unapologetic approach to controversial topics.

In Iron Man 3, Maher makes a cameo appearance as himself in a comedic scene. He is shown conducting an interview on his talk show, Real Time with Bill Maher, with a character named Thomas Richards (played by Adam Pally). The interview is interrupted by Tony Stark, who hilariously hijacks the segment and tries to gain publicity for himself.

9. Joan Rivers – Iron Man 3 (2013)

Comedy Central Roast of Joan Rivers
Image Credit: Comedy Central.

Joan Rivers, who sadly passed away in 2014, was an iconic American comedian, actress, and television personality. Known for her sharp wit, no-holds-barred humor, and distinctive raspy voice, she had a prolific career spanning several decades. Rivers was a trailblazer for women in comedy, breaking barriers and paving the way for future generations of female comedians.

In Iron Man 3, Rivers makes a cameo appearance as herself appearing on a TV segment of Fashion Police, where she discusses the aesthetics of War Machine's armor.

10. Jim Cramer – Iron Man (2008)

Jim Cramer
Image Credit: PBS.

Jim Cramer is an American television personality, author, and former hedge fund manager. He is best known as the host of the financial show Mad Money on CNBC. Cramer gained prominence for his energetic and passionate approach to analyzing and discussing the stock market, providing investment advice, and offering insights into various business sectors.

Cramer's cameo in Iron Man occurs in a scene where he appears on his show, Mad Money, giving advice to investors about Stark Industries. In the segment, Cramer advises viewers to sell their shares in Stark Industries due to recent events involving Tony Stark and his erratic behavior. Though the segment is short, people familiar with Cramer like to quote his lines “sell sell sell!” and “That's a weapons company that doesn't make weapons.”

11.  Ghostface Killah – Luke Cage (2018)

Ghostface Killah
Image Credit: Showtime.

Ghostface Killah, born Dennis Coles, is an American rapper, songwriter, and member of the influential hip-hop group Wu-Tang Clan. In the Netflix series Luke Cage, Ghostface Killah appears in the second season's fifth episode, “All Souled Out.” The episode features a performance at the fictional Harlem's Paradise nightclub, where Ghostface Killah takes the stage and captivates the audience with his dynamic and commanding presence.

His cameo adds a touch of authenticity to the show's depiction of the vibrant hip-hop culture. It pays homage to Ghostface Killah's status as a prominent figure in the rap industry.

12. Bill O'Reilly – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Bill O'Reilly
Image Credit: PBS.

Bill O'Reilly is an American television host, journalist, and conservative political commentator. He is best known for hosting The O'Reilly Factor, a highly popular and influential news program on Fox News. In the film Iron Man 2, O'Reilly appears as himself in a news segment.

The scene features a montage of various news clips discussing the impact of Iron Man's activities on society. O'Reilly offers his perspective on Iron Man's actions. He rants about Iron Man's failed promise to protect America and questions Pepper Potts' qualifications as appointed C.E.O. of Stark Industries.

This article was produced and syndicated by Wealth of Geeks.