With Avengers: Infinity War already stuffed to bursting with superheroes, you’d be forgiven for assuming directors Joe and Anthony Russo would do anything to avoid adding any extra characters to the line-up.
However, despite its beefy cast of men and women in tights, Infinity War does still work in a few brilliant cameos, some of which were expected (or at least suspected) before the movie was released, and others that caught us completely off guard.
OK, we know, this isn’t exactly a surprise – Stan Lee has been in literally every Marvel, X-Men and Sony Spider-Man superhero movie to date – but we had to warm you up somehow.
This time, the Marvel comics supremo has a small role as a school bus driver for Peter Parker’s (Tom Holland) school, grumbling at his young charges when they get overexcited by Thanos’s invading force.
“What’s the matter with you kids, you never seen a spaceship before?” he says.
You can read more about his cameo, including how the film’s directors chose Lee’s role, right here.
Samuel L Jackson – Nick Fury
Samuel L Jackson as Nick Fury (Marvel)
As the man who gathered the Avengers together in the first place, it would be wrong for Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury to miss out on an appearance in Infinity War – but fans will have to wait until the post-credits scene to see him in action, where he puts in a crucial call to another mysterious hero…
Cobie Smulders – Maria Hill
Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill in the 2012 Avengers film (Marvel)
Fury’s frequent sidekick Maria Hill also pops up in the same scene, before the pair are caught up in Thanos’s deadly final plan. Having played a fairly important role in the first Avengers film and 2015’s Age of Ultron herself, it’s nice to see Hill back in action.
William Hurt – Secretary Ross
One slightly more hissable inclusion in the list of cameos comes from Hurt’s Secretary of State, last seen riling up a different factions of heroes in 2016’s Civil War and now trying to do the same (via hologram) near the beginning of Infinity War.
However, Hurt’s character also goes all the way back to the dawn of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, having appeared in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk as the traditional foe of the Jade Giant (General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross is his full, and very awesome, name).
In other words, his inclusion in this culmination of the MCU is a nice nod to its beginnings – even if it is from the film we all pretend didn’t happen.
Peter Dinklage – Eitri the Dwarf King, King of Nidavellir
Peter Dinklage (Getty)
While we knew Game of Thrones star Dinklage would have a role in the film, we had no idea who he was playing until Infinity War was actually released.
As it turns out, he’s not voicing a member of Thanos’ Black Order as we’d theorised. Instead he portrays master metalworker and Dwarf King Eitri, who helps Thor forge a new hammer to replace Mjolnir.
Eitri is also a great deal larger than one might expect from a fantasy-style dwarf, towering over Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and his companions.
Ross Marquand – The Red Skull
Despite all the other famous faces in the film, this is the cameo that is most likely to take fans’ breath away, featuring the return of Nazi turned twisted super-soldier the Red Skull following his death at the end of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger.
Since trying to claim the power of the Space stone (aka the Tesseract), the Red Skull has been cursed to await travellers on the planet Vormir, guiding them to the mysterious Soul stone without ever being able to possess it himself.
His inclusion in the film is a lovely nod back to the MCU’s origins, as well as a hat tip to the comics, where a personification of Death (who the newly-robed Skull closely resembles) is a main character.
However, it’s not original actor Hugo Weaving back behind the mask – the Walking Dead star (and talented impressionist) Ross Marquand took over the part instead, which makes sense considering Weaving had previously said he wasn’t keen to return to the MCU.
Plus who was missing from Avengers: Infinity War…
Hawkeye and Ant-Man
Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Paul Rudd as Ant-Man (Marvel)
Sadly, not even a cameo appearance was on the cards for two of the MCU’s heroes, with both Jeremy Renner’s archer Hawkeye and Paul Rudd’s shrinking Ant-Man kept out of the action in Infinity War.
In the film, an explanation is given that the pair are under house arrest following their lawbreaking adventures in Captain America: Civil War, though the real reason was probably to keep cast numbers down ahead of next year’s sequel (where both are presumed to appear, as hinted by directors Joe and Anthony Russo).
Ant-Man also has his own film to take care of later this year (Ant-Man and the Wasp, specific title fans) and we can only imagine that the drama of Infinity War would have been slightly undercut if he’d had to “tap out” halfway through to make sure no-one was stealing his ant radio or something.
Valkyrie and Korg
Korg (Taika Waititi) and Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson) in Thor: Ragnarok (Marvel)
Infinity War opens on a scene of utter devastation, with the ship full of Asgardians that we saw at the end of Thor: Ragnarok destroyed by Thanos (Josh Brolin)and his henchmen Thor and Heimdall (Tom Hiddleston and Idris Elba).
However, there were a couple of faces that we didn’t see meet their maker, specifically Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie and Taika Waititi’s Korg, both of whom debuted in Thor: Ragnarok and became firm fan favourites.
So did the pair really go out like punks off screen, without even a moment of screen time devoted to their deaths? Somehow we doubt it – which makes us wonder if they might have survived, ready to return for any Thor sequels as and when they are announced.
While Infinity War certainly suggests the Asgardians all died, Thor mentions at one point that Thanos killed “half his people”, suggesting that some of them may have made their escape. We’d be surprised if Valkyrie, at least, isn’t among them.