The shady side of the Avengers: Endgame cast
The cast of Avengers: Endgame is largely scandal-free, and the beloved on-screen superheroes do great things off screen, too. Chris Hemsworth picks up hitchhikers and gives them helicopter rides. Chris Evans has feuded with real-life super villain David Duke. Danai Gurira puts her activism money where her mouth is. Mark Ruffalo is an outspoken proponent of LGBTQ and women’s rights. Chadwick Boseman makes kids’ dreams come true on the regular. Brie Larson supports sexual assault survivors. And the cast does a lot of charitable deeds together.
That said, they’re not all perfect. Like the often-flawed superheroes they play in blockbusters, some of the stars of the 2019 blockbuster have made mistakes. Some of those missteps were widely publicized, while other incidents flew under the radar. In other words, these celebs may not necessarily be worthy of, say, wielding Mjolnir at all times, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re likely to become members of the Black Order anytime soon. This is the shady side of the Avengers: Endgame cast.
When Black Widow bites back
Scarlett Johansson — known as Black Widow to Avengers fans — came under fire in the summer of 2018 when it was reported that she would star as Dante Tex Gill, who lived as a trans man, in Rub and Tug. Johansson received backlash from some LGBTQ activists who felt the part should have gone to an actual trans man, and her initial statement about it reportedly rubbed a lot of people the wrong way because it seemed frosted in sarcasm: “Tell them that they can be directed to Jeffrey Tambor, Jared Leto, and Felicity Huffman’s reps for comment.” (Tambor, Leto and Huffman have played trans women in the past.) She later apologized and stepped down from the movie.
Johannson previously drew criticism for starring in 2017’s Ghost in the Shell as a character that was Japanese in the source manga. She addressed the alleged whitewashing controversy, telling Marie Claire: “I certainly would never presume to play another race of a person. Diversity is important in Hollywood, and I would never want to feel like I was playing a character that was offensive.”
Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner slut-shamed Black Widow
Chris Evans and Jeremy Renner faced backlash in April 2015 after mocking Black Widow’s alleged promiscuity in a way that would certainly make Captain America scowl and cry “Language!” Evans issued a seemingly sincere apology afterward, telling BuzzFeed, “Yesterday we were asked about the rumors that Black Widow wanted to be in a relationship with both Hawkeye and Captain America. We answered in a very juvenile and offensive way that rightfully angered some fans. I regret it and sincerely apologize.”
Renner issued a statement of his own: “I am sorry that this tasteless joke about a fictional character offended anyone. It was not meant to be serious in any way. Just poking fun during an exhausting and tedious press tour.” Renner told Conan O’Brien he stands by his remark, quipping, “I’m unapologetic for a lot of things … I got in a lot of internet trouble.” However, that wasn’t Renner’s only off-color remark about a woman. When presenting at the Golden Globes with Jennifer Lopez in January 2015, she volunteered to open the envelope, noting, “I have the nails.” Renner’s reply? “You’ve got the globes, too.”
Chris Hemsworth threw a racially insensitive party
Chris Hemsworth and his wife, actress Elsa Pataky, had a cowboys and Indians-themed New Year’s Eve party in 2015, and the on-screen God of Thunder allegedly had no idea it would be considered hurtful and offensive to Native American and First Nation people. Thankfully, the Aussie hunk apologized for the transgression (albeit about 10 months later).
Hemsworth posed with Thor: Ragnarok director Taika Waititi holding a sign that read: “We stand with Standing Rock.” He shared the photo on Facebook in October 2016 with the caption: ” I was stupidly unaware of the offense this may have caused and the sensitivity around this issue. I sincerely and unreservedly apologize to all First Nations people for this thoughtless action … I now appreciate that there is a great need for a deeper understanding of the complex and extensive issues facing indigenous communities … I hope that in highlighting my own ignorance I can help in some small way.”
Anthony Mackie’s drunk driving arrest
Anthony Mackie was arrested in November 2013 for allegedly driving while intoxicated in New York City’s Harlem neighborhood, E! News reported. Initially pulled over for tinted windows, police reportedly noticed Mackie had bloodshot eyes and smelled alcohol on his breath. The actor reportedly refused a Breathalyzer and failed field sobriety tests.
In February 2015, the Avengers’ Falcon was convicted of operating a motor vehicle while impaired, according to the New York Daily News. Mackie reportedly shook his head as the verdict was read. His defense attorney slammed the police work on the case, and the judge actually admonished an officer for disposing of copies of summonses that were to be issued to Mackie and that reportedly contained evidence allegedly obtained during the star’s arrest. A judge sentenced the actor to a $300 fine, a $255 surcharge, a 90-day suspension of his driver’s license, and participation in a drunk driving education program. After the verdict was read, Mackie addressed the judge: “Thank you, your honor, for the opportunity. Thank you for listening to the case and coming up with a fair conclusion. I wish everyone else had done the same.”
Tom Holland can’t keep secrets
Benedict Cumberbatch confessed to BBC Radio 1 that going on press tours with Tom Holland feels a bit like “chaperoning,” and it’s clear why: Much like his on-screen character, Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Holland can’t seem to keep his mouth shut. His fellow Avengers agreed he was the worst at keeping secrets, and Holland himself has admitted it. As a result, Cumberbatch said Holland wasn’t allowed to see Infinity War before its release. But even that idea backfired because during the Infinity War press tour, Holland accidentally gave away a bit of a spoiler for Avengers: Endgame — which was filmed at the same time as Infinity War. (We won’t say what it was, but you can see it here. We warned you!)
Unfortunately, it didn’t end there: In May 2018, Holland spoiled the ending of Avengers: Infinity War for an entire theater audience who hadn’t seen it yet. (To be fair, it was well past the movie’s opening weekend.) Holland’s spoilers don’t end with the Avengers films. He also accidentally revealed the title and one of the villains of 2019’s Spider-Man: Far From Home before Endgame even hit theaters. Oof.
Gwyneth Paltrow could be gooping up your health
Gwyneth Paltrow, aka Pepper Potts, has been accused of peddling potentially harmful pseudoscience through her Goop brand. In October 2015, the Goop blog posted an article claiming that too-tight bras can increase one’s chances of breast cancer. Those claims were shot down by the American Cancer Society, according to CBS News. Earlier that year, she sang the praises of vaginal steaming, a practice gynecologists vehemently opposed. Goop was also blasted for endorsing coffee enemas and cleanses.
However, it was Paltrow and Goop’s endorsement of “jade eggs for your yoni” that got them in the most legal hot water. Gynecologists warned of the dangers of inserting what’s essentially a rock into a woman’s nether regions, and in September 2018, Goop was slapped with a lawsuit for allegedly making unscientific claims about the efficacy of some its “wellness” products, including the eggs. The company had to pay a $145,000 settlement. Goop issued a statement to Bloomberg that did not admit to any actual wrongdoing. It said, in part: “Goop provides a forum for practitioners to present their views and experiences with various products like the Jade Egg. The law, though, sometimes views statement like this as advertising claims, which are subject to various legal requirements.”
Robert Downey, Jr. spent time behind bars
Robert Downey, Jr.’s hard partying got him into a whole mess of trouble long before his Iron Man days. In 1996, People reported that Downey — who once claimed his father got him into drugs — was arrested after cops pulled him over in Los Angeles and discovered he was driving naked and in possession of heroin, cocaine, and a firearm. Three weeks later, he was found passed out in a neighbor’s home (specifically, in the neighbor’s 11-year-old son’s bed). Downey ditched court-ordered rehab twice and was sentenced to three years in prison. He was released less than a year later, but arrested twice more before he got clean in 2002.
Since then, Downey has been candid about his struggles, which may have been caused by a then-untreated battle with bipolar disorder. His son, Indio, has also struggled with substance abuse. “Pick a dysfunction and it’s a family problem,” Downey told Vanity Fair. “[Indio is] his mother’s son and my son, and he’s come up the chasm much quicker than we did … Can you help someone get out of those woods? Yes, you can. By not getting lost looking for them.”
At an Avengers: Endgame screening in April 2019, he hinted at his own history’s link to the Marvel movie franchise. “I want to talk about the past, present, and future,” he said (via People). “The past for me was 30 years of dependency, depravity, and despair … otherwise known as ‘An Actor Prepares!'”
Zoe Saldana was accused of doing blackface
Zoe Saldana, who transforms into Gamora in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, came under fire for portraying Nina Simone in the 2016 biopic Nina. The actress wore a prosthetic nose and may have darkened her skin for the role, and Simone’s brother told the New York Daily News that he considered Saldana’s portrayal “blackface.”
The movie earned just a 2 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, but Saldana defended the project, telling Allure that black women’s stories often go untold altogether and that she was happy the film was at least sparking a conversation. “There’s no one way to be black,” she said. “I’m black the way I know how to be. You have no idea who I am. I am black. I’m raising black men.”
Nina Simone’s daughter, Lisa Simone Kelly, has defended Saldana, telling Time that the movie’s problems started with the script; not the casting. “It’s unfortunate that Zoe Saldana is being attacked so viciously when she is someone who is part of a larger picture,” Kelly said. “It’s clear she brought her best to this project, but unfortunately she’s being attacked when she’s not responsible for any of the writing or the lies.”
Vin Diesel seems to think he made The Rock’s career
Vin Diesel feuded with Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson while filming 2017’s Fate of the Furious. The world first learned of the beefcake beef when Johnson blasted an unnamed male castmate on social media for allegedly lacking professionalism. TMZ claimed the muscle men met up on the set in an attempt to squash their beef, but sources told The Hollywood Reporter they were being kept apart to avoid either star laying the smacketh down on the other.
Diesel’s ego was on full display when asked about the beef in April 2017. Groot appeared to take credit for Johnson’s success as a movie star. “I protected Dwayne more than he’ll ever know,” Diesel told USA Today. “…Dwayne has only got one Vin in his life. Dwayne Johnson only has one big brother in this film world and that’s me … I’m the first multicultural megastar in Hollywood. They didn’t exist. To see another multicultural star come up is something I am very proud of.”
Johnson later addressed the scuttlebutt with Rolling Stone. “Vin and I had a few discussions, including an important face-to-face in my trailer, and what I came to realize is that we have a fundamental difference in philosophies on how we approach moviemaking and collaborating. It took me some time, but I’m grateful for that clarity, whether we work together again or not.”
Mark Ruffalo spoiled Infinity War
In October 2017, Mark Ruffalo accidentally live-streamed a huge chunk of Thor: Ragnarok to the world, and that was just the tip of the iceberg. Even more egregious, Ruffalo spoiled the ending of Avengers: Infinity War during an interview with Good Morning America in 2017, quipping that the film “doesn’t end well for the superheroes.” That’s not too bad, right? But then he added, “Wait until you see this next one! Everybody dies!”
The Hulk poked fun at his spoiler habit on Twitter, where the Russo brothers jokingly fired him from the franchise, but at the time of that Infinity Wars bombshell, co-star Don Cheadle was visibly horrified. In fact, Cheadle (aka War Machine) revealed in January 2019 that he didn’t want to do press for Avengers: Endgame with Ruffalo. “He runs his mouth a lot … Why do I need that hassle, right?” he explained on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon. “I don’t need to be sitting next to him when he blows the whole reveal.” Cheadle added, “Him and Tom Holland … they’re both a little chatty.”
Marvel took special precautions for Avengers: Endgame. Ruffalo told Entertainment Tonight that producers gave him a dummy script just in case he ran his mouth to the press. Ruffalo was also barred from going on a press tour for the film with Holland. Ruffalo said he’d hoped to use Holland as a “human spoiler shield” to keep himself from getting into trouble.
Tilda Swinton made Margaret Cho feel like a ‘house Asian’
Tilda Swinton starred as The Ancient One in Doctor Strange, but she came under a lot of criticism for accepting the role. In the comic books, The Ancient One was originally written as a Tibetan male, but Swinton is a Celtic woman in the film. Some audiences were reportedly disappointed by the lack of Asian representation, to which Swinton initially responded, “I wasn’t asked to play an Asian character, you can be very well assured of that.”
The actress also reached out to Korean American comedian Margaret Cho for insight on the controversy in a series of emails that Cho recounted on a podcast. When Jezebel reported on the podcast, the exchange sounded like a negative one. Cho said she felt like Swinton’s “house Asian … like I’m her servant … I had a weird feeling about the entire exchange, especially the part of, ‘Don’t tell anybody.'” Swinton’s rep then released the full email exchange between the stars to Jezebel – and that complete picture of the conversation seemed respectful and friendly. Cho then said in a statement: “Asian actors should play Asian roles. I believe my emails stand on their own and should be taken for the spirit in which they were intended. I am grateful that the debate has now entered the national discussion and remain a huge fan of Tilda’s.”
Josh Brolin was arrested for domestic battery
Josh Brolin is the big bad Thanos in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he’d prefer to shake that reputation in real life. Brolin was arrested for domestic battery in 2004 after his then-wife, actress Diane Lane, called police and to claim that he’d struck her, according to People. He was released on $20,000 bail. A rep for the couple told the New York Daily News at the time (via People) that Lane didn’t want Brolin arrested for the alleged offense and didn’t want to press charges. She reportedly called it a “misunderstanding at home.” The couple reconciled and remained together for years, divorcing in 2013 divorce.
In June 2018, Brolin addressed that controversial incident with The New York Times. “God, I’ve never been so careful with my words. Ever. Maybe in all 50 years. And there’s no reason for me to be other than there’s no explaining it … The only person who can explain that would be Diane, and she’s chosen not to, so I’m O.K. with that.” He did discuss his mindset at the time of the controversy. “I was more reactive, I was more, ‘People need to know the truth.’ Whatever I say [now] is going to sound like compensation for a perpetrator. I’ve gotten to a place where all that matters is that I have control over my behavior, and at that time, it was a little more chaotic.”