Home Celebrities

Who is the oldest actor in the MCU? (And no, it’s not Stan Lee)

We know the MCU has superheroes, but what about supercentenarians?

Photo via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

The MCU has its fair share of super-seniors, the most famous of which is Marvel figurehead Stan Lee, who appears in nearly every project. Lee died in 2018 at age 95, but he filmed his final cameos just months before. Despite finishing his career as a near-centenarian, Lee is not the oldest actor in the franchise. That distinction belongs to a woman who made her debut in Black Panther and will posthumously reprise her role in the sequel. Here’s who she is and how old she was when she worked on Wakanda Forever.

The oldest actor in the MCU

Dorothy Steel
Photo via Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

Although She-Hulk‘s Leon Lamar made headlines — and heads explode — for being a 104-year-old MCU actor, government and familial evidence suggests that he’s not that age. In fact, he’s likely close to 20 years younger. Lamar thus disqualified, Dorothy Steel reigns as the oldest actor in the MCU.

Steel speaks at 0:20

Steel was born on Feb. 23, 1926, and didn’t start acting professionally until she was in her late 80s. Her first major project was the soap opera Saints & Sinners, on which she played “Mother Harris.” In 2018, Steel, then a nonagenarian, appeared in Black Panther as “Merchant Tribe Elder.” Getting even older but no less active, she scored roles in the BET series The Oval, the Dwayne Johnson comedy Jumanji: The Next Level, and the biopic Emperor before returning to the MCU with Wakanda Forever. When it premieres on Nov. 11, Steel will be forever enshrined as a multi-film MCU actor. Not bad for a retired IRS officer whose showbiz career kicked off at a senior center.

How old is Dorothy Steel in Wakanda Forever?

Steel’s Wakanda Forever scenes were filmed in the latter half of 2021. She was 95 at that time. Lee was also 95 when he shot his last cameo, but Steel was nearer to 96.

Steel is on the left at 00:15

When did she pass away?

Steel passed away on Oct. 15, 2021. She was in the middle of filming Wakanda Forever when her health took a negative turn. Marvel flew her to Detroit to wrap up her life at home. Lupita Nyong’o paid tribute to her MCU co-star:

RIP Steel Panther.

Correction (09/23): The article previously stated that Lee was either 94 or 95 when he filmed his final MCU cameo, but we’ve updated it with new evidence that indicates he was 95.

About the author

Shane Fraser