Marvel fans think Shogun star is “most wasted actor” in the MCU

Christopher Baggett
Hiroyuki Sanada in Shogun as Lord Yoshi Toranaga

Thanks to his role in Shogun, Hiroyuki Sanada has an entirely new fanbase, but fans are pointing out how much the MCU wasted the vaunted Japanese actor.

Sanada has been a recognizable actor since his debut in The Last Samurai. Since then, he’s gone on to star in big hits like John Wick: Chapter 4, Westworld, and Mortal Kombat. He also appeared in 2013’s The Wolverine as long-time Wolverine adversary Shingen.

His latest role, the FX original Shogun, has earned him critical praise and may have made him a household name for many, but die-hard MCU fans are pointing out that the MCU wasted him.

If you’ve forgotten that Sanada was in an MCU movie, it’s pretty understandable. He has little more than a cameo appearance in Avengers: Endgame. He plays Akihiko, a Yakuza boss who is slain by Clint Barton while he’s operating as Ronin.

Users on the MarvelStudios subreddit brought up Sanada’s Endgame role, debating if the actor was one with the most wasted potential in the MCU.

“After seeing Shōgun, he really could’ve played a cool character instead of a throwaway gangster in another ‘white guy does samurai better’ storyline (which he kinda already did in The Wolverine),” MVHutch said in a Reddit post. “I always knew he was a good actor but I feel they missed a good opportunity.”

Other Reddit users showed up to agree, with one saying, “I didn’t even remember Sanada was in the MCU. He had like 10 seconds of screen time.”

“He shines in every movie he’s in.” One user added. “It’s just sad he’s never the main character.”

But as many others are pointing out, it may not be the end of the road for Sanada in the MCU. As Marvel’s ever-expanding cinematic universe has grown, we’ve seen more and more actors who previously had smaller parts return for larger roles.

Ralph Ineson, for example, played a Ravager pilot in Guardians of the Galaxy and will return as Galactus in Fantastic Four. We’ve also already seen Michelle Yeoh taking on a notable role in Shang-Chi after a cameo in Guardians Vol. 2, while Gemma Chan playing Sersi in Eternals after featuring as Minn-Erva in Captain Marvel.

That’s not even to rule out his role in the Fox X-Men universe. Though he died at the end of The Wolverine, the multiversal and time-travel nature of recent stories (plus whatever hijinks Deadpool and Wolverine has in store for the timeline) could always see Sanada return as Shingen.

The MCU has been more than willing to recast the right actor for the right role. With the success of Shogun, it’s arguable that Sanada’s star has never been higher. Plus, with the X-Men incoming, there’s an entire array of Japanese heroes and villains tied to Marvel’s merry mutants the actor could play.

All episodes of Shogun are now available to stream on Hulu, and you can read all about the current Shogun Season 2 plans or what the ending of Shogun meant. Or read up about all the potential Deadpool & Wolverine cameos that could be coming.

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