For over a decade now, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has dominated the box office and turned dozens of actors into household names known across the world. Some stars—like Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson and Chris Evans—had successful careers before they saved the world from the likes of Loki, Ultron and Thanos, but there's no denying that the MCU took their fame and popularity to a whole new level.
Our favorite Marvel stars do such a good job portraying beloved comic book superheroes and villains that it can be easy to forget that they're just regular people void of any special abilities or high-tech gadgets. Most MCU cast members had fairly normal childhoods, and even though they're all ridiculously good-looking now, they had their share of bad hair days, poor style choices and embarrassing yearbook photos just like the rest of us before they got rich and famous. Check out these rare images of some of Marvel's greatest actors and actresses, long before they suited up to fight with or against Earth's Mightiest Heroes.
20 CHRIS EVANS
Anyone who grew up in the 90's recognizes this cheesy laser background used in elementary school yearbook pictures. But not everyone might recognize the young boy in this picture, because he barely even resembles the MCU's Captain America!
That's right, it's Chris Evans, decades before he put on a ton of muscle and became the leader of the Avengers. Thankfully as he got older, Chris also figured out how to properly style his hair and bought a better wardrobe.
19 TOM HOLLAND
Tom Holland is one of the most adorable members of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and this picture of a very young Tom proves that he's always been cute. Tom is a lifelong Spider-Man fan, and his wide, toothy smile here likely resembles the one he had on his face when he found out he was cast as the MCU's friendly neighborhood web-slinger.
18 SEBASTIAN STAN
Some celebrities don't become exceptionally attractive until they become famous enough to be able to afford expensive trainers, surgery and pricey diet plans, but that certainly wasn't the case with Sebastian Stan.
Long before he became one of the Avengers' most rugged and handsome members, Bucky was apparently an incredibly attractive teenager with a good sense of style and a perfect smile.
17 TOM HIDDLESTON
Even though Loki started out as a MCU villain who wanted to take over Earth and eliminate his heroic brother Thor, the god of mischief somehow became a fan-favorite. Loki's love for mischief always keeps him—and audiences—entertained, and this picture of a young and extremely happy Tom Hiddleston has us wondering if he was the same way growing up.
16 GWYNETH PALTROW
Marvel Cinematic Universe fans might think that Gwyneth Paltrow shares Pepper Potts' auburn hair, but this old picture from her high school days shows that she's naturally a brunette.
Teenage Gwyneth's hair style and hoop earrings were both very 90's, and while she still looks great here, it's hard not to prefer Pepper's more professional, business-oriented look.
15 ELIZABETH OLSEN
Full House fans likely think that this is a young Michelle Tanner, but that's because when she was a baby, Elizabeth Olsen looked just like her sisters Mary-Kate and Ashley!
Scarlet Witch was an absolutely adorable baby, and while she grew up in the Olsen twins' shadow, she is now her family's biggest star.
14 CHRIS PRATT
From the look of Chris Pratt's mischievous smile in this old yearbook picture, he's always been as much of a rebellious trouble-maker as his MCU character Peter Quill. But he probably never would have guessed that he'd grow up to be the "hero" who let Thanos get away with the Infinity Gauntlet all so he could get revenge on the Mad Titan for throwing his girlfriend off a cliff! No matter how cute he looks here, we'll never forgive Star-Lord for that.
13 CHRIS HEMSWORTH
Long before Chris Hemsworth became one of the MCU's most muscular superheroes, he was just a scrawny kid who was forced to take pictures with his younger brother on his lap. Chris definitely seems like he was a better brother to future Hunger Games star Liam than Thor was to Loki, and he definitely deserves credit for allowing his parents to dress the two of them in identical outfits.
12 ZOE SALDANA
As the Guardians of the Galaxy's Gamora, Zoe Saldana is one of the most fierce fighters in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. There's no way anyone could have predicted that this innocent and adorable little girl would grow up to become such a formidable and serious warrior.
It's no wonder even the villainous Thanos grew to love his daughter with a cute smile like that.
11 JAKE GYLLENHAAL
Loki may be the god of mischief, but Spider-Man: Far From Home's Mysterio may have surpassed him as the MCU's greatest trickster. Jake Gyllenhaal looks like he was a bit of a tricky troublemaker himself growing up, and definitely appears to be up to something in this picture. Just look at that cute, yet totally guilty face!
10 BRIE LARSON
Brie Larson started acting when she was still in elementary school, and she appeared as a nameless middle school bully in 2004's 13 Going On 30, which starred her future Avengers teammate Mark Ruffalo. While she's been able to find steady work throughout her life, it wasn't until she became one of the MCU's most powerful superheroes, Captain Marvel, that she truly achieved worldwide fame.
9 BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH
Doctor Strange is one of the most serious and focused members of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, but that doesn't mean Benedict Cumberbatch is incapable of having a little fun. Just check out this childhood photo of the future Sorcerer Supreme, where young Benedict appears to be having a blast at his private school next to his fellow classmates.
8 TESSA THOMPSON
Over a decade before Tessa Thompson joined the MCU in Thor: Ragnarok, she started her career with the poorly received horror film When A Stranger Calls. Teenage Tessa was forced to play victim to an anonymous stalker, but now the leader of New Asgard is a fierce Valkyrie ready to face her enemies—including Avengers: Endgame's army of Outriders and Chitauri—head on.
7 SCARLETT JOHANSSON
Scarlett Johansson has been the world's highest-paid actress since 2018, and has made multiple appearances in the Forbes Celebrity 100. That's definitely an improvement from her career as a child actress, which was filled with roles in obscure movies like My Brother the Pig, The Horse Whisperer and the widely detested Home Alone 3.
We're definitely thankful the MCU threw Scarlett into the spotlight, and can't imagine anyone else bringing Black Widow to life.
6 SAMUEL L. JACKSON
We've become so used to seeing Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury that fans occasionally forget he hasn't always worn an eyepatch or been bald. In fact, he actually used to have a very full head of hair, as shown by this old yearbook photo of the award-winning actor.
Young "Sam" looked absolutely dapper in his dress clothes and fro, a decade before he launched his acting career.
5 ROBERT DOWNEY JR.
While Iron Man revitalized Robert Downey Jr.'s career and turned him into one of the most well-known and beloved actors in Hollywood, he's been starring in popular films and television shows for several decades now. Back when he was in his early 20's and joined the cast of Saturday Night Live, he was even more handsome than he is now. This picture proves just how much of a dreamboat RDJ has always been.
4 MICHAEL B. JORDAN
Michael B. Jordan put on a ton of muscle and drastically changed his hairstyle to portray Erik Killmonger in Black Panther, so MCU fans might not even recognize this old picture of him.
He's all smiles in a football jersey and some tight dreadlocks, and barely resembles the villainous assassin who tried to usurp T'Challa and rule over Wakanda.
3 MARK RUFFALO
When Mark Ruffalo posted this Throwback Thursday picture on Twitter, fans absolutely lost their minds over how studly the Avengers star used to be in his teenage days. While Mark's co-workers like Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth put on a lot of muscle for their MCU roles, he was allowed to stay in fairly average shape to portray Bruce Banner. But this old picture proves that he's definitely capable of bulking up!
2 JOSH BROLIN
Here's another dreamy shirtless picture of a MCU cast member for fans to drool over! Thanos' purple skin and weird rippled chin prevent him from being particularly crush-worthy, but based on this picture of a young Josh Brolin, it's clear that he had his share of admirers back in the day. This rare photo is almost enough to make us reconsider our feelings towards the Mad Titan.
1 JEREMY RENNER
Clint Barton makes sure to keep his hair nice and cropped so it can't get in the way when he's shooting arrows at alien armies, but before he got famous, Jeremy Renner liked having long, surfer-style hair.
Jeremy's look as a young adult was definitely quite different from Hawkeye's, and while fans love the Avengers' leading archer, it's nice to see him look a bit more casual.