Is the Marvelverse kinda… messy?
When the history books on 21st-century entertainment are written, the Marvel Cinematic Universe will stand out as one of the most successful onscreen franchises ever devised. The Infinity Saga alone was 23 films long, and every one of them was a monetary box office success. As the franchise expands into streaming on Disney+ while continuing to release multiple films a year, the pantheon of actors it includes has escalated quickly. At this point, more Marvel Cinematic Universe actors dated each other IRL than you may realize, and while not all of those relationships have lasted, they were all entertaining.
There is nothing more irresistible than when two stars form a relationship. The compounding of fame, especially when the couple comes from different parts of the celebrity universe, can drive both up the A-list simply by existing together on a red carpet. Ben Affleck and Jennifer Lopez are the gold standards here, but, despite the MCU’s best efforts to rope seemingly every single person in Hollywood into their superhero franchise, neither are part of the Marvelverse. (And considering Affleck left the DC Extended Universe, these two are the rare celebrities who may remain that way.)
But that doesn’t mean there haven’t been some serious A-list hookups between actors, either confirmed or widely rumored. Let’s run down the list.
Gemma Chan & Dominic Cooper
Some hookups start before either actor is a central MCU character and last long enough that both end up on the big screen. Such is the case of Gemma Chan and Dominic Cooper. Cooper has been playing Young Howard Stark since 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger and did a stint reprising the role in Agent Carter, but it wasn’t until Disney+’s What If… that the MCU committed to making him the primary actor playing that part. On the other hand, Gemma Chan has played two roles in the Marvelverse, first as Minn-Erva in 2019’s Captain Marvel and now as Sersi in 2021’s Eternals.
Their relationship predates both of Chan’s appearances. The two were rumored to be seeing each other in 2018 and made their public debut that December. Although they keep their relationship low-key, the two are reportedly going strong; they were most recently spotted out and about together during 2022 Paris Fashion Week.
Emily VanCamp & Chris Pratt
Long before they each became members of the MCU, Emily VanCamp (also known as Sharon Carter) and Chris Pratt (Peter Quill/Star-Lord) were co-stars on the WB drama Everwood. Awkwardly enough, the actors played brother and sister in the series, but that didn’t stop them from falling for each other. “Yeah, we’ve pretty much gotten used to the response of, ‘Ew, that’s weird. That’s creepy,’” Pratt joked during an August 2006 interview with TV Guide. “The people who know us are happy and probably expected it to happen eventually.”
Although Pratt even talked about the possibility of marriage during that TV Guide interview, the couple ended up going their separate ways after just about three years together. It’s unclear whether the two are on good terms, and sadly, fans have yet to see the exes share the big screen.
Lupita Nyong'o & Chiwetel Ejiofor
In 2012, Nyong’o, who plays Black Panther’s Nakia, was not a significant household name. (Her breakthrough came in 2013 when 12 Years A Slave was released.) But the dating rumors were already flying with future Doctor Strange star Chiwetel Ejiofor (who you may know as Baron Mordo). The two were rumored to have gotten together while filming 12 Years a Slave, but the romance reportedly fizzled out by the time production wrapped, according to Page Six. Neither actor ever commented on their apparent fling.
Susie Abromeit & Andrew Garfield
How fast do things change in the MCU? A year ago, neither of these actors would have technically qualified to be on the list. Garfield played Spider-Man from 2011 to 2014, but his Sony-owned Spidey was not considered MCU canon. Meanwhile, Abromeit played Jeri Hogarth’s jilted girlfriend Pam in 2015’s Jessica Jones, part of the MNU, the Marvel Netflix Universe. But then Marvel’s Spider-Man: No Way Home shattered the multiverse, with Garfield reprising his webslinger, while the Netflix franchise was made canon via a Daredevil cameo.
But although their Marvel stints may no longer be in the past, their rumored relationship is. The two were first spotted on a beach date in 2018, but neither actor ever publicly commented on their relationship.
Zoe Saldana & Bradley Cooper
Though you probably won’t ever actually see them on screen together, Bradley Cooper (who voices the animated Rocket Racoon) supposedly dated his fellow Guardian, Zoe Saldana, who plays Gamora. Cooper and Saldana reportedly fell for each other while filming 2012’s The Words and went on to date for just about a year. By December 2012, the duo’s reported split became known. “They both have a lot going on right now,” a source for E! claimed at the time.
It’s unclear whether the rumored exes are on good terms, as neither has spoken publicly about their maybe-relationship. However, during a July 2014 interview with Marie Claire, Saldana made it very clear she doesn’t stay friends with exes. “I have been in relationships where a man has disrespected me, and I don’t need to be friends with that man anymore,” she said, later adding, “There’s a reason why you’re called an ex. I crossed you off my list. Moving on.”
Jenna Coleman & Richard Madden
From Phase 1 to Phase 4, the MCU relationships can sometimes pop out of surprising places. For example, in 2011, Jenna Coleman landed a minor role as Peggy Carter’s best bud, Connie, who dates Bucky Barnes in Captain America: The First Avenger, while starring in the U.K. series Emmerdale alongside newcomer Richard Madden. The ex-colleagues started dating when Madden left to rule Westeros in Game of Thrones.
Times have changed since, as Coleman went on to headline Doctor Who on the BBC and Victoria for ITV before the two called it quits in 2015. Madden, meanwhile, went off to Coleman’s old superhero stomping grounds for his one-movie-wonder turn in Eternals.
Jennifer Connelly & Paul Bettany
Paul Bettany famously stumbled backward into the MCU after he was hired to do an hour’s worth of voiceover work as J.A.R.V.I.S. before eventually becoming Vision. Although the same hasn’t happened to Jennifer Connelly (yet), she is a voice actor in the MCU movies. Connelly voices Peter Parker’s high-tech Spider-Man suit, which Peter hilariously names “Karen” in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
Connelly and Bettany met back on the set of 2001’s A Beautiful Mind, and wildly enough, the couple got engaged before they even started officially dating. As Bettany explained to Larry King during a November 2015 appearance on Larry King Now, he was inspired to pop the question following the tragic events of 9/11. His immediate reaction after the attacks was to reach out to Connelly, which is when he realized he was in love with her. When he did finally get her on the phone, he told her, “I’m coming over; let’s get married.” The two have been together ever since.
Kat Dennings & Tom Hiddleston
Olsen isn’t the only MCU star Hiddleston reportedly dated. The God of Mischief also sparked romance rumors with fellow Thor actor Kat Dennings. (Dennings’ MCU character, Darcy Lewis, was also in WandaVision alongside Olsen.)
Dennings and Hiddleston reportedly hit it off while filming Thor back in 2010 (despite not sharing any scenes). They raised eyebrows when they were spotted looking cozy at Comic-Con in July that year, per Entertainment Tonight. However, little else is known about the actors’ maybe-relationship, and rumors eventually fizzled out. Neither actor has ever commented on the rumored fling.
Scarlett Johansson & Ryan Reynolds
Before meeting their current partners, Scarlett Johansson and Ryan Reynolds (who played Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and soon-to-be-MCU-member Wade Wilson/Deadpool, respectively) were once married. The very private couple reportedly began dating in 2007 and tied the knot a year later, but by December 2010, they decided to divorce.
Although neither has spoken much about their relationship, Johansson did open up about her short-lived marriage (without naming Reynolds) during a November 2019 interview with Vanity Fair. “I didn’t really have an understanding of marriage,” she said, adding, “Maybe I kind of romanticized it, I think, in a way.”
Marisa Tomei & Robert Downey Jr.
Onscreen, Iron Man’s Robert Downey Jr., aka Tony Stark, only shares a connection with Marisa Tomei, who plays Aunt May, through Peter Parker and the Sony/MCU crossover films. But IRL, the two go way back. The pair dated back in the mid-’90s after appearing side-by-side in Chaplin and Only You, and although their relationship didn’t last, their friendship has.
Downey Jr. even helped Tomei land her role in the MCU. As Tomei explained to The Guardian during a June 2017 interview, “He recommended me for the role,” with the two even sharing a scene in the 2016 Captain America sequel film. “Having a familiar face around certainly made me more comfortable.”
Pom Klementieff & Chris Pratt
While it’s still not confirmed that these two ever dated, Pratt did spark dating rumors with his fellow Guardians of the Galaxy cast member Pom Klementieff (who plays Mantis) following his 2017 divorce from Anna Faris. In April 2018, Pratt shared a photo of himself and Klementieff in Brazil on Instagram, and although he claimed he “ran into” his co-star there, fans were suspicious. Neither Pratt nor Klementieff ever commented on the dating speculation, and not long after, Pratt got together with his now-wife, Katherine Schwarzenegger.
Natalie Portman & Jake Gyllenhaal
It’s been a while since Natalie Portman (who is returning as Jane Foster in Thor: Love and Thunder) and Jake Gyllenhaal (who played Spider-Man villain Quentin Beck/Mysterio) have been an item. However, the two MCU actors indeed dated back in the day. The Brothers co-stars were first linked in 2002 and again in 2006, though it’s unclear exactly when or how long they dated.
In 2011, Gyllenhaal joked about his ex while presenting her with the Desert Palm Achievement Award for her role in Black Swan. So it seems like whatever happened between them, these two are cool.
Zendaya & Tom Holland
Dating on the set of Spider-Man is almost a tradition. Tobey MaGuire and Kristen Dunst did it during the Sam Raimi years when he was Peter and she was MJ, aka Mary-Jane Watson. Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone did it while they co-starred in The Amazing Spider-Man film series when he was Peter and she was Gwen. Tom Holland, the MCU’s current Peter Parker, is keeping the streak alive, having gotten together with his co-star Zendaya, whose MJ stands for Michelle Jones.
Holland and Zendaya insisted for the longest time they weren’t an item, but recently, the two ‘fessed up that things were serious between them. That’s because everyone around them warned them not to date since the track record of Spidey co-stars staying together isn’t so hot. Maybe the third time’s the charm.
If you’re interested in seeing these folks in action, all of the MCU streaming TV series and most of the films are available on Disney+. The Spider-Man films and The Incredible Hulk are available at Amazon Prime rentals.
Thanks for always keeping things interesting, MCU stars.
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