Every Marvel movie balances the need to bring people out to the theater with the need to give those customers who do buy tickets at least a few big moments that will make them feel like they got their money’s worth. So there are inevitably moments and characters who are heavily advertised for their films, and other scenes and stars who are kept completely secret until they appear onscreen.

This dance began with the studio’s very first movie and continues to this day. You can’t expect a surprise cameo in everything Marvel makes, because if you expected it, that wouldn’t be much of a surprise. Now it’s become something of a Marvel trademark; a perpetual facet of not only the company’s movies, but its TV shows as well. At this point, some of the biggest names in Hollywood have joined Marvel this way. A few of those big names went on to become mainstays in the MCU, but others literally showed up for one cameo, never to be seen again.

READ MORE: Every Marvel Cinematic Universe Movie, Ranked

After 30+ movies and a whole wave of Disney+ television series, you might think the Marvel Cinematic Universe would start to run out of surprises it could unleash on unsuspecting audiences. But at least so far, Marvel keep finding new ways to startle viewers with unexpected actors — like the dozen names on the list below. (Note that our list does not assign value judgements like “best” or “worst” to these cameos. These surprises range from satisfying or distracting — but they were all unexpected.)

The Most Shocking Marvel Cameos

The biggest surprise appearances by Marvel characters (and A-list stars) in the MCU.
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These actors commemorated their time playing a Marvel superhero or villain by taking home a piece of the production with them.

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