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For most of us, the world of superheroes and the world of the Toronto International Film Festival seem diametrically opposed, but that perception isn’t entirely accurate. For one, the festival occasionally includes superhero movies—this year’s most anticipated film is Joker—and the actors who appear in this subgenre tend to use their comic book clout to make smaller movies that bring them to TIFF.
For evidence of this, look no further than these seven MCU veterans, who are visiting this year’s festival with their latest deviations from the superhero norm.
Captain America himself visited the festival five years ago with his directorial debut Before We Go, and he’s back this year with Knives Out, the latest from writer-director Rian Johnson (The Last Jedi). In fact, this star-studded murder mystery should give genre fans plenty of reason to leave the house, as Toni Collette, Daniel Craig, Jamie Lee Curtis, Don Johnson, Christopher Plummer, Michael Shannon, and Lakeith Stanfield will all be present to support the film at TIFF.
While he may not have enjoyed the riches and glory of Marvel’s headline performers, Anthony Mackie has no less than six MCU movies under his belt as Sam Wilson/Falcon. This has also opened the door for the actor to land intriguing roles in films like Synchronic, another surprising horror oddity—about paramedics and a mysterious designer drug—from acclaimed filmmaking duo, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (Resolution, Spring, The Endless).
Although he voiced Korg in Avengers: Endgame and Thor: Ragnarok, Taika Waititi is best known as the director of the latter. He visits TIFF this year to unveil his latest directing effort, Jojo Rabbit, an adaptation of Christine Leunens’ eccentric novel Caging Skies that also gives Waititi a chance to inhabit (and ridicule) one of the most unsympathetic characters of all-time: Adolf Hitler.
Scarlet Johansson has at least two good reasons to attend this year’s festival: Jojo Rabbit and Noah Baumbach’s Marriage Story. The latter brings her together with Star Wars vet Adam Driver (also a festival guest) for a messy, if occasionally amusing divorce. Based on the rapturous reviews coming out of the Venice Film Festival, both stars already appear to be locks for Oscar nominations.
Now best known as the title character in Captain Marvel, Brie Larson might never have got there if not for her acclaimed performance in Destin Daniel Cretton’s Short Term 12. That may explain why Larson chose to reunite with Cretton on his two subsequent films, including TIFF 2019 selection Just Mercy, which tells the story of a lawyer fighting to free a man on death row.
Black Panther’s Michael B. Jordan plays the aforementioned attorney in Just Mercy, making this prestige drama (also starring Jamie Foxx) 2019’s ideal—if also unexpected—TIFF recommendation for MCU fans. According to the festival, “Jordan adds new layers to the intensity and commanding presence he brought to the Creed movies and Black Panther.”
After two Thor appearances, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster was conspicuously absent from Thor: Ragnarok, but that’s okay, she found a new use for her character’s grasp of astrophysics: Lucy in the Sky. The directorial debut of TV showrunner Noah Hawley (Fargo, Legion), this film follows an astronaut who has far more trouble with romance than science.
The 2019 Toronto International Film Festival runs from September 5 to 15.