Angel Salvadore looking smug

There are some actors from the "X-Men" movies who will forever be associated with the franchise. Hugh Jackman as Wolverine is an obvious example, as are Ryan Reynolds as Deadpool and Patrick Stewart as Professor Charles Xavier. These stars are intrinsically tied to their mutant characters thanks to how long they played them and because they embodied the roles so well. Their enduring association with these parts is reflected in how the Marvel Cinematic Universe brought Stewart back to play Professor X in "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," and in the fact that Reynolds is returning for another "Deadpool" film. In short, some actors are impossible to divorce from their history with "X-Men."

But that doesn’t mean the same is true for every performer who’s walked into the franchise. Over nearly 20 years and 14 movies, there’ve been numerous actors who’ve popped into the "X-Men" films only to be quickly forgotten by the general public. The reasons for this vary. Sometimes it’s because these actors didn’t get enough screentime to leave a lasting impression. Other times, it’s because other actors have played the same character more memorably. Whatever the reason, this collection of famous faces is nowhere near as deeply associated with the "X-Men" timeline as the likes of Michael Fassbender or Ian McKellen.

Brian Cox as William Stryker

William Stryker staring intently

While Ian McKellen’s Magneto is the most notable baddie from the "X-Men" movies, he’s far from the only foe the mutants face on the big screen. One of the first bad guys pitted against the X-Men comes in the 2003 installment "X2: X-Men United" in the form of Bryan Cox’s William Stryker. A pivotal figure from Wolverine’s past responsible for giving him his adamantium claws, Stryker is a worthy and cold-hearted foe for the "X-Men" heroes to face off against. However, he’s largely been forgotten in the history of comic book movie baddies, partially because of how many versions of Stryker ended up appearing in the later "X-Men" movies.

Starting with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine," younger versions of Stryker began to feature in the "X-Men" franchise, with Danny Huston and Josh Helman both getting to portray the character. As a result, Cox’s interpretation of the villain kept getting overshadowed. Where some actors like Terrence Stamp and Josh Brolin have gained particular fame for their comic book movie roles, Cox is much better known for playing characters like Logan Roy in "Succession" and Ward Abbott in the "Bourne" films. He delivers a great performance as Stryker, contributing to the film’s warm reception, but it’s a role that’s largely been forgotten in the years since.

Ben Foster as Angel

Angel breaking free

Unlike many leading men of his generation or even his regular co-star Chris Pine, Ben Foster has largely avoided tying himself to big franchise movies. Instead, he’s taken on roles in thought-provoking dramas like "Leave No Trace" and "Hell or High Water." Over time, he’s cultivated a reputation for daring performances that stick around in one’s mind without the aid of lots of CGI or post-credits scenes. But in the 21st century, it’s nearly impossible to build a major American acting career without at least one superhero movie credit to your name. For Foster, that exception came in 2006 with "X-Men: The Last Stand."

Though he came into the franchise in its third installment, Foster got to play a pivotal "X-Men" character from the comics — Warren Worthington III, AKA Angel. One of the original X-Men, Angel is depicted in the film as the tormented son of the man leading the movement for a "cure" for mutation. Foster never got to reprise the role again, even when Angel reappeared in "X-Men: Apocalypse." That alone is a big reason why his presence in "X-Men: The Last Stand" hasn’t stuck around in people’s minds, and it also doesn’t help that this version of Angel isn’t especially interesting or memorable.

Bill Duke as Secretary Trask

Secretary Trask sitting in a meeting

If you’re a fan of genre fare from the 1980s, it’s hard not to know Bill Duke. Thanks to his work in movies like "Commando" and "Predator," Duke has become a legendary silver screen presence for film fans of a certain age. His appearances in acclaimed modern-day titles like "Mandy" and "High Flying Bird" have only increased his reputation as a welcome sight in cinema. Part of his filmography includes a brief appearance in "X-Men: The Last Stand" as Secretary Trask, a government official working against Magneto. In the comics, Trask is the creator of the Sentinels, but in "The Last Stand" he’s depicted merely as the head of Homeland Security and an ally to the mutant Beast.

Trask’s meager screentime in "The Last Stand" makes it immediately clear why Bill Duke isn’t widely associated with the "X-Men" franchise. However, it doesn’t help matters that Duke only played the role for this one small appearance. When Trask returns in "X-Men: Days of Future Past," he’s portrayed by Peter Dinklage. There aren’t even any hints that the two Trasks are the same person, further ensuring the erasure of Duke’s time in the "X-Men" franchise. Luckily for Duke, he has enough unforgettable genre movie roles that he doesn’t need Trask to be iconic.

will.i.am as John Wraith

Wolverine standing with John Wraith

The world was different in 2009. The iPad hadn’t yet been released, Netflix was still known for delivering DVDs to your home by mail, and the Black Eyed Peas were on top of the world. Perhaps nothing embodies just how ubiquitous they were at the time than how one of the band’s members, rapper will.i.am, secured a prominent role in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." In his first appearance in a live-action movie, will.i.am portrays the mutant John Wraith, a confidante to Wolverine who can teleport. He’s eventually killed by the villain Sabretooth (Liev Schreiber), with his demise leaving little ripple effect on the feature’s plot.

Wraith’s quick demise in "Wolverine" isn’t the only reason it’s easy to forget that will.i.am was in the movie. This specific installment in the "X-Men" franchise has become a constant punchline, particularly for its treatment of Deadpool. Little else in the film even registers as worthy of mention in later "X-Men" titles, further ensuring that the John Wraith character would fade from memory. Compounding all these issues is that will.i.am never made much of a go at further acting opportunities. "X-Men Origins: Wolverine" is, to date, the only time he’s appeared in a live-action movie as somebody other than himself. Without any major follow-up acting gigs to jog people’s memory of his time as a mutant, will.i.am’s stint as John Wraith has largely vanished from the "X-Men" mythos.

Dominic Monaghan as Bradley

Bradley running his business

Dominic Monaghan is probably most famous for his work as the Hobbit Merry in the original "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, as well as for his performance in "Lost." But the actor also got to play the mutant Bradley, AKA Bolt, in "X-Men Origins: Wolverine." A comrade of Wolverine’s in his days of working for William Stryker, Bradley finds work at a carnival once the group disbands. He’s eventually tracked down by Sabretooth, who slaughters the mutant as part of Stryker’s broader evil plan in the movie.

Monaghan doesn’t get a lot to do in "Wolverine." Even in the early sequences of him working missions for Stryker, most of the screen time leans on Wolverine and Wade Wilson (Ryan Reynolds). This leaves Bradley as just a background figure whose eventual demise doesn’t warrant much of a response from the audience. There also isn’t much of a connection between Bradley and Wolverine, meaning that the former’s death doesn’t even make much of an impact on Logan. There’s just no getting around the fact that Bradley isn’t a very interesting character. With such a forgettable role, it’s no wonder that Monaghan’s days as a mutant are nowhere near as discussed or remembered as, say, his time in Middle-earth.

Zoe Kravitz as Angel Salvadore

Angel Salvadore flying

More than a decade before playing Catwoman in "The Batman," Zoe Kravitz played the winged mutant Angel Salvadore in "X-Men: First Class." One of Charles Xavier (James McAvoy) and Erik Lehnsherr’s (Michael Fassbender) first recruits in their new mutant training operation, Salvadore eventually joins Sebastian Shaw (Kevin Bacon) and fights against her former friends in the "First Class" finale. She’s never seen again in the franchise, save for a photo of her corpse in "X-Men: Days of Future Past" and a separate shot showing one of her wings on display next to other artifacts connected to the X-Men.

Salvadore’s brief time in the franchise makes it apparent why Zoe Kravitz’s time in the "X-Men" universe has largely been forgotten. It also doesn’t help that since "First Class," she’s appeared in multiple other franchise titles that have overshadowed her "X-Men" role. These include playing the character of Christina in both "Divergent" sequels, Leta Lestrange in the first two "Fantastic Beasts" films, and of course, Catwoman in "The Batman." It’s doubtful that Angel Salvadore would’ve been particularly memorable under any circumstances, but Kravitz’s multiple other blockbuster roles in the years since "First Class" have helped to further erase the character from the minds of the general public.

Omar Sy as Bishop

Bishop absorbing energy

It’s no exaggeration to say that Omar Sy is one of the biggest French actors on the planet. Headlining the box office hit "The Intouchables" in 2011, Sy garnered further fame as the lead character in the record-breaking Netflix series "Lupin." It’s no shock that major Hollywood blockbusters have sought Sy out for roles, including one in the 2014 film "X-Men: Days of Future Past." However, Sy didn’t get much to do in the film as the mutant Bishop, who’s one of a handful of mutants who’ve survived in an apocalyptic future.

Because Bishop exists concretely in the future, he doesn’t appear in the film’s primary 1970s timeline. This leaves Sy with hardly any screen time, as the biggest action scenes in the future timeline go to pre-established characters like Storm. These facts alone make it obvious why Sy’s Bishop isn’t widely remembered, though it also doesn’t help that Bishop has never once appeared in another "X-Men" movie. A cameo in "X-Men: Apocalypse" could have helped solidify the character as part of the franchise, but that never happened, and Sy’s role in "X-Men" has largely been forgotten.

Peter Dinklage as Bolivar Trask

Trask attending a government meeting

While the lumbering robotic Sentinels are the main foes for mutants in the apocalyptic future of "X-Men: Days of Future Past," the primary antagonist over the entire story is someone much more ordinary. That role is filled by Bolivar Trask, the human responsible for creating the Sentinels in the first place. Played by Peter Dinklage, Trask eventually becomes the centerpiece of an assassination plot by Mystique (Jennifer Lawrence), which kicks off a string of events leading to the ugliest future imaginable. Even though the time travel shenanigans in "Days of Future Past" all hinge on Trask, it’s easy to forget that Dinklage was ever in the movie.

Part of that is a byproduct of how intentionally normal Trask is. He’s never given a super suit or any other means to make him an equally powerful threat in hand-to-hand combat as Mystique or other mutants. He’s just a regular guy with abnormally high intelligence — a sharp contrast to the other characters in "Days of Future Past" who have features ranging from blue skin to metal claws in their hands. As a result, it’s easy to lose track of Trask amidst all the robots and mutants. Plus, Dinklage doesn’t get much to do in the role, with this version of Trask never calling the actor to really engage his many gifts as a performer. While Dinklage is always a welcome presence on screen, the character of Bolivar Trask is certainly one of his more forgettable roles.

Olivia Munn as Psylocke

Psylocke going into battle

Any story involving the "X-Men" villain Apocalypse will inevitably involve the character recruiting a gaggle of mutants to be his Four Horsemen. In "X-Men: Apocalypse," those roles are filled by Magneto, Storm, Angel, and Psylocke — the last of whom is portrayed by Olivia Munn. Getting a comics-accurate costume but little in the way of dialogue, Psylocke doesn’t have much to do in "X-Men: Apocalypse," with even her decision to join the titular villain’s crew happening without much fanfare. The most notable thing about her character is that she survives the final battle between Xavier’s group and Apocalypse’s forces, presumably to set up a role for her in "Dark Phoenix" that never actually materialized.

Though Psylocke is a fan-favorite character, the incarnation of her seen in "X-Men: Apocalypse" didn’t gain much traction with viewers. There just isn’t much to this version of the character, though Munn has helped shed some light on why that might be. In a 2019 video for GQ, she said she was frustrated with how the "Apocalypse" creative team didn’t know key details about Psylocke — a mutant she’d been obsessed with since childhood. You don’t have to be a lifelong devotee of a certain superhero to make a good film version of them, but a lack of interest in Psylocke’s backstory from the filmmakers would help explain why the live-action version of the character was so forgettable.

Kodi Smit-McPhee as Nightcrawler

Nightcrawler hiding in the shadows

While Alan Cumming got to portray the very first live-action version of Nightcrawler in the "X-Men" movie series, he’s not the only performer to slap on full-body makeup to depict the teleporting mutant. Kodi Smit-McPhee plays a younger version of the same character in "X-Men: Apocalypse" — a role he would reprise in "Dark Phoenix." In both films, but especially the former, Smit-McPhee serves primarily as comic relief, stemming from Nightcrawler’s social awkwardness and uber-sincerity. This was a major role for Smit-McPhee and Nightcrawler’s first "X-Men" appearance in over a decade.

However, this version of Nightcrawler has largely been forgotten, which is partially due to him arriving pretty late in the franchise. Coming into the saga in "Apocalypse" and "Dark Phoenix" — films that signaled the critical and financial decline of the "X-Men" franchise — didn’t do Smit-McPhee any favors. However, it also didn’t help that he took on a drastically different career path once his "X-Men" commitments were through. In 2021, Smith-McPhee played one of the lead roles in "The Power of the Dog," a turn that scored him a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nod. That alone has helped him build a career far beyond the world of mutants, and it’s also ensured that his version of Nightcrawler has remained in obscurity.

Lana Condor as Jubilee

Jubilee exploring the X-Mansion

In 2018, Lana Condor managed to become a breakout star thanks to her anchoring the Netflix romantic comedy "To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before." With this turn, Condor was suddenly on everybody’s radar, though it wasn’t her first foray into big-time movies. Two years earlier, she’d snagged the role of Jubilee in "X-Men: Apocalypse." The first major live-action incarnation of the character after a series of cameos in the first three "X-Men" movies, Condor’s Jubilee is depicted as a friend to young versions of Cyclops, Jean Grey, and Nightcrawler. She even goes to hang out with the teen mutants at the mall and sees "Return of the Jedi" with them.

After hanging out at the mall, though, Jubilee and her friends discover that Apocalypse is attacking the X-Mansion. In all the mayhem, Jubilee is rendered unconscious and separated from her friends for the rest of the film, only returning to appear in a silent shot at the very end of "Apocalypse." Jubilee just doesn’t get a lot to do in the movie, and the character fails to return in any capacity for "Dark Phoenix." Though Condor got to make history by playing the first live-action version of Jubilee with more than a handful of lines, it’s still easy to see why this role has been overshadowed by the actor’s subsequent work.

Brian d’Arcy James as the President

The President talking on the phone

Brian d’Arcy James may not be as big of a movie star as Jennifer Lawrence or Hugh Jackman, but he’s still got quite an impressive resume. A three-time Tony nominee, James has also been a prominent player in major movies like "West Side Story" and Best Picture winner "Spotlight." An actor of his caliber appearing in an "X-Men" movie should’ve been a big deal, but tragically, Brian d’Arcy James gets nothing to do in "Dark Phoenix." His role as the unnamed President of the United States is a thankless one that amounts to only a handful of lines.

Part of why James has such a throwaway presence in "Dark Phoenix" is because of the movie’s lengthy reshoots, which trimmed down the importance of his character. Talking to the ReelBlend podcast, "Dark Phoenix" actor Tye Sheridan revealed that the original climax of the film involved the X-Men trying to warn the President about an impending attack by Skrulls. This initial third act sounds like it would’ve had a much bigger role for James — one that could’ve afforded more opportunities for the actor to leave an impression on viewers. Unfortunately, his presence in the final cut of "Dark Phoenix" is thoroughly forgettable. When thinking back on the actor’s most compelling performances, it’s doubtful that anyone would stop to praise his throwaway presence in the "X-Men" franchise.

Jessica Chastain as Vuk

Vuk explaining her plan

It’s easy to see why the general public would forget that Jessica Chastain was in an "X-Men" movie. After all, she serves as the main baddie of "Dark Phoenix" — one of the worst-reviewed entries in the entire franchise. But even more importantly, her character — the alien Vuk — just isn’t very compelling. Part of that may be because of how little Chastain had to work with on the set of "Dark Phoenix." Recounting her experiences to People Magazine in 2021, Chastain recalled that there were all kinds of problems in the "Dark Phoenix" production, the biggest of which was that she never knew her character’s name while principal photography was underway. It wouldn’t be until the premiere that Chastain realized she was playing someone named Vuk.

Chastain being so in the dark on her role speaks volumes to why Vuk is so ill-defined in the final cut of "Dark Phoenix." It also indicates why people have largely forgotten this villain even existed. A memorable line delivery or striking personality won’t turn a run-of-the-mill baddie into the next Darth Vader, but it can keep them around in the minds of audiences long after the credits finish rolling. There were no such details to ensure that Vuk could leave an impact on viewers, and as a result, Chastain’s presence in the "X-Men" movies has been largely forgotten.