The characters of the MCU are numerous and varying. Everything from a talking duck and a green goliath of a monster all the way to a man who controls ants with a helmet and a walking tree who doesn’t have a very large vocabulary exists in this universe. While all of these characters have their own roles to play, some do become more prominent than others.
The top characters of the MCU are the ones who grab our attention and hold onto it without letting go. A kidnapped billionaire who escapes from terrorists with an iron suit, a kid from Brooklyn who just wanted to fight for is country and the team that comes together after a loss that shook these characters to their core. We’ll be delving into the stories of each character, so consider this your SPOILER ALERT FOR VARIOUS MARVEL MOVIES if you aren’t caught up.
15. WAR MACHINE (DON CHEADLE)
Even though Don Cheadle didn’t originate the role, some would argue he emulates Rhodey more than his predecessor Terrance Howard. The character of Col. Rhodes in the MCU hasn’t been through the same things as his comic book counterpart, losing most of his body and becoming more machine than man for instance, but with as long as he’s been in the military he’s more than seen some things.
The best friend of genius billionaire, playboy, philanthropist Tony Stark, and a man with a heart as big as his gun, Rhodey has proven himself more than capable in the War Machine armor against villains such as Whiplash and his army of Hammer Drones. Although following the events of “Captain America: Civil War” Rhodey’s future seems a bit bleak, it would be safe to assume that he’ll be back. Anyone who tries to get on the wrong side of this hero, should prepare for nothing less than war.
14. NICK FURY (SAMUEL L. JACKSON)
David Hasselhoff once claimed “Stan Lee came on set and told me all about Nick, he said ‘You’re the ultimate Nick Fury.’” When this was said, it was obviously long before Samuel L. Jackson came onto the scene. Jackson has become the quintessential Fury for a generation. Everything from his mannerisms and random comedy all the way to his no-nonsense way of dealing with people like Alexander Pierce or the World Security Council force the audience to love him whether they like it or not.
While trust may have been lost between Fury and certain Avengers in “Captain America: Winter Soldier,” he always makes the decision that he feels is best for the world, whether or not anyone likes his decisions is another story completely. The fact is, Jackson made each and every one of us believe that the impossible was possible with 10 little words, “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative.”
13. BLACK WIDOW (SCARLET JOHANSSON)
The MCU isn’t without its lady heroes. As a matter of fact, Black Widow is one of the most highly trained members, if not the most highly trained member of the Avengers. Making her debut in “Iron Man 2,” Johansson proved Black Widow was a force to be reckoned with after taking on an entire team of Justin Hammers security, save the one that Happy was able to take out in the same amount of time.
The red-haired beauty fought her way through an army of Chitauri in “Marvel’s The Avengers” as well as the onslaught of Ultron robots in “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” While having a truly traumatic upbringing as shown in flashback for in “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Natasha Romanoff doesn’t let her past define her, she instead uses it as motivation to keep her to her path. Despite all of her awesome battles and the massive fan outcry, however, there is still no Black Widow movie to be seen. This begs the question: what’s the deal Marvel?
12. STAR-LORD (CHRIS PRATT)
Being abducted by a UFO right after seeing his mother die couldn’t have been easy for Peter Quill as a child. Taken only with the clothes on his back and the Walkman in his hand, no one could have known that this little boy would grow up to be the easy going yet oh so badass Star Lord.
Chris Pratt brought a levity to the role that helped drive the guardians together and challenging the big bad of the movie, Ronan the Accuser, to a dance off was an insane but also very effective way of starting a battle. In tandem with characters Gamora, Groot, Drax and Rocket, these are the most unlikely characters to be able to work together, yet they wind up saving an entire galaxy. With “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” coming to theaters this May, we are all sure to get another music-charged romp through space loaded with laughs.
11. SAM WILSON (ANTHONY MACKIE)
“On your left” is probably Sam Wilson’s least favorite string of words ever. The military vet met Captain America when they were both out for a light jog and, after being thrust together at the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., they’ve been by each other’s side ever since. Sam does everything Cap does and has the same moral code, helping people for the sole reason that it’s the right thing to do, never wanting or expecting anything in return.
Sam uses a high-power jetpack with extendable wings to fly through the air as Falcon. The wings can also be used in battle or be used as shield to protect himself from gunfire. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” Falcons suit and jetpack get a new paint job to have a similar look to his comic book counterpart, as well as an upgrade to include the Redwing drone. There is one major question that racks the minds of fans in regards to Sam, when and if they decide to kill of Cap, will he take the mantle?
10. DOCTOR STRANGE (BENEDICT CUMBERBATCH)
The casting for Sorcerer Supreme was spot on. Benedict brings something different to every role he plays, and with Stephen Strange this was no different. To put it lightly, Strange is a jerk. He doesn’t really care about anyone or anything but himself. It takes a car accident, absolutely ruining his hands and getting to the absolute breaking point for him to finally come out of his vanity.
Strange at first has an exceedingly hard time getting the hang of even the most basic magic, blaming the condition of his hands for not being able to do anything. It takes Master Hamir, a man with no hand, to perform the same magic Strange is trying to learn in order to get him to open up to there being more than what one thinks is possible. With Dr. Strange’s defeat of not only Kaecilious, but Dormammu as well in his first outing, and his upcoming appearance in “Thor: Ragnarok,” it’s safe to say that the doctor will be in for quite some time.
9. HAWKEYE (JEREMY RENNER)
Hawkeye is so much more than the comic relief that he can be made out to be. With a first appearance in “Thor,” where he was pretty much a glorified cameo, all the way to the introduction of his family in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” and then to coming out of retirement early in “Captain America: Civil War,” Hawkeye has proven himself not only a worthy member of the team, but also the soul of it.
While everyone else can be at odds over any particular thing, Hawkeye always seems to have to most down to earth and level head out of any of his teammates. Renner’s diversity as an actor and ability to go effortlessly between the comedy moments to the serious ones, action and family speaks volumes about his own acting ability as well as brings a level of depth to the character that some others lack. Hawkeye is our link in the MCU to the real choices being made and our voice when he talks about something that should be so obvious to the rest of the world.
8. HULK (MARK RUFFALO)
Although another piece of the MCU that didn’t come in until later than some of his cohorts, Ruffalo has become a version of Hulk which pulls up to the surface the little boy in all of us who ever wanted to smash things, as well as a Bruce Banner that makes all of us wish that we could help rid him of the beast inside that causes such grief in his life.
The fact that this man wanted to be rid of the “other guy” so much that he not only considered committing suicide, but also actually attempted it, only to be stopped by the thing he was trying to kill, made us realize the torment that Banner has to go through every day of his life. Although we may not ever get the solo Hulk movie fans have been begging for, “Thor: Ragnarok” seems to be at the very least the first stepping stone. Only time will tell if Hulk will smash his way into solo movie cinema again.
7. AGENT CARTER (HAYLEY ATWELL)
Peggy Carter was never anyone’s damsel in distress. Peggy was one of the most badass characters in the entire MCU. Not only did she help Captain America in World War 2, but also she went on to prove that she was completely capable on her own, as well as became one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Hayley Atwell brought to life a character that made the audience want a happy ending for Steve and Peggy; even die-hard fans wanted to see Steve make it out of everything that they knew would happen just so that they could be together. Although her movie and television career was short lived, Peggy was able to make her presence known throughout the MCU. With multiple references, cameos and being a character who they gave (at least so far) a legitimate death to, Peggy has always been a driving force behind Steve. Although the quote was not originally hers, Peggy was definitely a character who would “plant yourself like a tree beside the river of truth and say no; you move.”
6. THOR (CHRIS HEMSWORTH)
To start things off for Thor he was shown as a brash, egocentric character who wanted war for the sake of war. This mentality is what forces Anthony Hopkins’ Odin to make the decision to cast Thor out of Asgard and cast a spell on his hammer Mjolnir making only the worthy able to wield it. Hemsworth was able to perfectly emulate the raucous warrior side of Thor who would win a fight, then party it up with the Warriors Three and Lady Sif, as well as the broken man who realized just how badly he screwed up when he realized he couldn’t lift his hammer any longer.
While Thor is able to learn humility and regain his powers, he luckily doesn’t turn around and revert to all of his old ways. The God of Thunder can still party and have a good time, but he has much better morals this time around. While he may stick up for his brother more than he should for the sole reason that they’re “family,” Thor is still a capable warrior who anyone would be hard pressed to defeat.
5. LOKI (TOM HIDDLESTON)
The trickster God of Norse mythology is arguably one of the most popular characters in the MCU. With a perfect amount of sass, as well as the almost childlike glee he gets from doing things specifically to bother his half-brother, Hiddleston brought to life a funny character who also has a deep-seeded resentment toward his adoptive family. While the audience laughs at jokes like Loki becoming Captain America in “Thor: The Dark World” and openly mocking him, that same audience also feels for him when he goes through the pain of learning he’s actually a frost giant or at losing his mother.
With a glowing golden outfit and a regal posture, Loki doesn’t just think he’s better than everyone else, he is. Loki truly believes that his ways are the best and that everyone and everything else is his lesser. Even after a good old-fashioned Hulk smashing, he still goes right back to his old ways of trying to screw everybody over, and that’s part of the charm that makes us all love him.
4. VISION (PAUL BETTANY)
While Vision may not have had a birthday that was exactly the same as the rest of ours, it would be unfair to call his origin scene in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” anything less than a birth. The combination of Vibranium, the mind stone, Jarvis and some Mjolnir-level lightning result in the creation of Vision, the antithesis to Ultron.
With the abilities to become intangible, make laser beams shoot from his forehead, create awesome capes from nothing, all the way to being able to wield the same hammer that helped create him, Vision is no pushover. Paul Bettany, originally the voice actor for Tony Starks A.I. assistant J.A.R.V.I.S, was tasked with bringing the Vision to life in the Avengers’ second outing. Bettany’s mannerisms and ability to portray an android who shows a true understanding of humans, while not being able to fully grasp the concept of humanity, was exactly what the character needed in his live-action adaptation.
3. IRON MAN (ROBERT DOWNEY JR.)
Tony Stark is a man with everything, while at times, nothing. Stark would never admit that he needs anyone else, but the greatness of a man comes from the people he surrounds himself with. From his best friend Rhodey to his now frenemy Steve Rogers, Stark is constantly uplifted by his friends; it’s when he pushes them away that he falls into holes.
He would never have been able to complete the original Iron Man suit without help from Yinsen, Whiplash would have been much harder to kill without Rhodey, and he wouldn’t have been able to repel the Chitauri without fighting alongside the rest of the Avengers. Downey was able to bring so much to the role that it is next to impossible to tell where he stops and Stark begins. He has become synonymous with the role and the day that he decides to stop playing the part will be a dark day for Marvel fans.
2. CAPTAIN AMERICA (CHRIS EVANS)
Captain America is the boy scout of the MCU. From not understanding most of what’s going on after getting out of the ice to telling his Avengers teammates to watch their language during a raid on a Hydra base, his thoughts are always on the best outcome with the least problems. Evans brought a heart to the character that perfectly emulates what one would expect from someone who lives and breathes the American values of the 1940’s.
After he came out of the ice and found out that Peggy Carter was still alive, he went and visited her often so that he could try to make up some of the lost time between them, and he had to handle the pain of realizing she wouldn’t be able to remember anything they’d been talking about after only a short while because of her Alzheimer’s disease. The kid from Brooklyn who wanted nothing more than to do his part became one of the mightiest heroes his world will ever know. The only regret with Chris so far? He still hasn’t said a favorite quote of all time, and he won’t because they gave it to Peggy.
1. AGENT PHIL COULSON (CLARK GREGG)
No, his name isn’t Agent (at least not anymore), but who better to top our list? Gregg originated the character of Phil Coulson in “Iron Man” and has continued to portray the character to this day. Some may argue about Gregg making the list, but consider this; Coulson became so popular that not only was he killed in “Marvel’s The Avengers” and brought back to life in Marvel’s “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.,” he also broke the barrier and they put him in the comics!
Coulson sacrificed his life to bring the Avengers together, then after a brief vacation to Tahiti, wound up coming back to become the new Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. after Nick Fury left in the wake of “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” If that doesn’t earn a place on a list like this, then nothing will. There will simply never be anyone else as perfect for the role than Gregg because he is Coulson, he made Coulson what he is, and that’s all there is to it.
Which character in the MCU do you think is the best? Be sure to let us know what your opinion is in the comments!