The Marvel Cinematic Universe is an achievement in film making. Thanks to the hard work of head honcho Kevin Fiege and his team at Marvel Studios, fans have been able to enjoy a long-form story that has gone on for ten years. Not only is the universe still going strong, made clear by Avengers: Infinity War's box office success, but more characters are still being introduced. The Wasp is finally going to take flight in Ant-Man and The Wasp, and Captain Marvel makes her big screen debut next year. No matter how exciting it is that there are more iconic characters coming to the MCU, it doesn't change the fact some of the heroes and villains who already live in that world deserve better.
Captain America, Iron Man and Thor are clearly the stars of the MCU, but that doesn't mean supporting characters don't deserve some loving too. Some classic characters have been relegated to small parts or written out of the MCU instead of receiving the screen and development time they warrant. A few of them will have future chances to prove themselves, so any fans who feel their favorite characters have been disrespected may change their minds soon.
One of the rare characters who exists in both the Fox and Disney Marvel Cinematic Universes, Quicksilver falls flat when he is with the Avengers. While the comics label the character and his twin sister Wanda Maximoff as mutants, Avengers: Age of Ultron called him a metahuman as to not avoid any legal issues with Fox. Not only was a core part of the character ignored in order to jam him into the movie, but actor Aaron-Taylor Johnson doesn't bring the eastern European figure to life in a convincing way. While audiences do watch him overcome a villainous path to team up with the heroes, Quicksilver is probably the worst part of Age of Ultron.
Quicksilver has always been a cocky individual, but there's something about his attitude here that is more smug than endearing.
The character may have been annoying in Age of Ultron, but the main problem is the fact that his death serves no purpose. Sure, his sister gets upset and unleashes her power on Ultron, but the MCU could have likely moved forward on stronger footing had they kept Quicksilver alive. Including him in the movie was an unnecessary move that essentially backfired in Marvel's face because the Fox version of the character, played by Johnson's Kick-Ass co-star Evan Peters, has gone on to become a fan-favorite.
19 RONAN THE ACCUSER
Ronan the Accuser is a Kree warrior who has gained the trust and favor of Thanos. Ignoring the constraints of a peace treaty between his people and the Nova Corps, Ronan sets off across the galaxy to receive an artifact for him. As seen in Guardians of the Galaxy, when Ronan realizes he is searching for an Infinity Stone, he decides to betray his employer and keep the power for himself. With the boost, he tries to singlehandedly destroy the Nova Corps . Even with all that raw energy surging through his body, he was dumb enough to allow Star-Lord's silly dance off to distract him long enough for Rocket Raccoon and Drax to destroy his hammer and snatch a portion of his power away from him.
Part of what makes Ronan's depiction so underwhelming is how one-dimensional the character comes across. Instead of giving the character any nuisance, he's a brutish thug who is motivated solely to destroy Xandar and anyone in his way. While he is usually a supervillain, he's evolved over time and come to view himself more as an antihero. Luckily, Lee Pace will reprise the role in Captain Marvel, so perhaps Ronan will be redeemed after all.
18 LADY SIF
A strong defender of Asgard, Lady Sif is one of the most interesting supporting characters in Thor's corner of the Marvel Universe. An old friend of Thor's, Sif travels to Earth against the wishes of her king in the first Thor to rescue the depowered prince. Originally, Sif's skills as a warrior are disregarded by her fellow Asgardians, but Thor's belief in her ultimately inspires others to recognize and appreciate her fighting prowess. Like the rest of the Asgardians, she has limited super strength and speed, but she is shown relying on a sword and shield more than anything else. Due to their close relationship, Sif is often portrayed as another potential romantic partner for Thor, but the movies just depict her as another obstacle for Jane Foster as she falls in love with the God of Thunder.
Since actress Jaimie Alexander was busy filming her NBC show Blindspot, Lady Sif didn't appear in Thor: Ragnarok.
As if that omission isn't bad enough, Lady Sif could very well be among the trillions of beings who died at the end of Infinity War when Thanos snaps his fingers. While most of these individuals will likely be resurrected, with the introduction of characters like Tessa Thompson's Valkyrie, it's unclear how important Lady Sif will be in the MCU moving forward.
17 BARON WOLFGANG VON STRUCKER
A former Nazi operator who becomes a key figure in Hydra, Baron Wolfgang Von Strucker is one of Nick Fury's oldest and fiercest rivals. In addition to all the espionage and theatircal skills Strucker relies on to be an evil spy, he has enhanced strength and a limited healing factor that helps him repress his body's natural aging processes. A master tactician, Strucker's most dangerous weapon is his strong will because nothing will stop him once he has a plan of action.
Unfortunately, Baron Strucker was brought into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as more of an easter egg than an official character. Introduced during Captain America: The Winter Soldier's after-credits sequence, Strucker is shown to be in possession of two mysterious individuals who turn out to be the twin metahumans Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch. Despite the importance of Hydra in the MCU, Strucker was relegated to nothing more but a prop character in Age of Ultron. During Ultron's search for vibranium, he confronts Strucker after he's been arrested by the Avengers and seeks the information. Instead of recruiting him to his side of seeing that they may have similar goals, Ultron simply bashes Strucker's head against the wall and kills him before he could truly make his mark on the MCU.
Clint Barton is so much more than just a man with a bow and quiver full of arrows. A reluctant villain who ultimately becomes an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. and a core member of the Avengers, Hawkeye has helped save the world more times than he can count. Barton may have somewhat of a cocky attitude, but he has no problem putting his ego aside to make sure those in need are receiving help of some kind.
Unfortunately, the character was essentially shafted as far as the Marvel Cinematic Universe goes.
Jeremy Renner is a great actor who fits the role well, but he's never given anything exciting or enjoyable to do. For most of The Avengers, Barton is under Loki's control and doesn't participate in any crowd-pleasing moments until the major fight sequence at the end of the movie. Things got a little better for him in Age of Ultron when audiences were introduced to his family, but the decision to keep him away from the action during Infinity War should be insulting to any hardcore Hawkeye fans. As of now, his fate at the end of Infinity War is still up in the air, so there's a chance the character may be able to redeem himself when the survivors regroup and attack Thanos in Avengers 4, but he could just as easily have disappeared like many of his fellow heroes.
A mercenary for hire who often works for Red Skull, Crossbones has taken on some of the Marvel Universes's fiercest fighters. An ex-military man who is an expert hand-to-hand combatant, marksman and tactician, Brock Rumlow grew up fighting inside and leading some of New York's toughest gangs. He also sometimes has special gauntlets that grant him a limited degree of super strength. The character is best known for his role in the assassination of Captain America as he walked up the court house steps after turning himself in at the end of Mark Millar's Civil War series.
In the MCU, Crossbones is still a Hydra agent but he's not as significant as he is in the comics. A Hydra plant inside S.H.I.E.L.D., Rumlow helps tear the organization apart from the inside as a strike commander. Instead of killing Captain America in the MCU, he is famous for detonating a suicide bomb that ends up destroying Sakovia and prompts the UN to come up with the Accords that forces superheroes to register with the government. He does hold his own against an Avengers squad at the beginning of Captain America: Civil War, but the character always comes across as a second-string thug instead of a well-rounded character on his own.
14 RED SKULL
Johann Schmidt is a dedicated Nazi agent who becomes a key leader in Hydra and one of the Marvel Universe's most feared villains. Captain America's oldest rival, the Red Skull is a twisted individual who personally oversaw the sacking and burning of multiple villages by the German army during World War II. Unlike many of Captain America's foes, Red Skull typically doesn't have any super powers. Schmidt is just a ruthless tactician who is a skilled marksman and master hand-to-hand combatant. At one point in the comics, Red Skull steals parts of Charles Xavier's brain and gives himself psychic abilities, making him an even bigger menace.
Unfortunately, the villain didn't translate well on the big screen.
Instead of coming across as scary, he just seemed silly and single minded. Hugo Weaving, who appeared in classic franchises like The Lord of the Rings and The Matrix, brought the role to life but he has since gone on record saying he doesn't want to return to the role in subsequent films, so Red Skull was essentially cast aside after his first appearance. It wasn't until Infinity War did fans finally learn that Schmidt has been the gatekeeper of the Soul Stone ever since Captain America: The First Avenger.
13 PROXIMA MIDNIGHT
A member of the Black Order, or Thanos' Children as they're called in Infinity War, Proxima Midnight is one of the most feared warriors in the universe. Proxima Midnight has pledged her life to Thanos and helps him search for the Infinity Stones. With limited invulnerability and enhanced strength, speed and reflexes, Midnight is a dangerous fighter on the battlefield. In the comics, she is armed with a spear made out of a star that Thanos has somehow trapped in place, but Infinity War just depicts her spear as a high-tech gadget that Captain America is able to steal away from her.
Unlike how Andy Serkis performs both the motion capture and voice work whenever he brings a CGI character to life, Proxima Midnight was brought to life by two separate performers.
Carrie Coon who ironically stars in HBO's The Leftovers, another property that features the sudden disappearance of a large percentage of population, is a great actress but her separation from the character and the film results in a lackluster voice over. Proxima Midnight comes across as silly instead of imposing in the movie, and she is easily killed by a team-up consisting of Black Widow, Okoye and Scarlet Witch during Infinity War's major battle sequence.
12 KORATH THE PURSUER
Korath the Pursuer is a cyber-geneticist and the developer of weaponry for different Kree militias. Thanks to an experimental process, Korath's genes were augmented so he would have super strength, speed and heightened reflexes. Though he has a reputation as a weapons manufacturer, he's also a skilled fighter who has gone up against everyone from the Avengers to Adam Warlock. In addition to weaponry, he also builds defensive battle suits that he and other Kree warriors wear while waging war. While he's a member of the Kree race, he is not necessarily affiliated with Ronan in the comics.
However, in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Korath is one of Ronan's subordinates.
What makes this whole situation even more insulting is the high-calibre actor Marvel decided to waste on this non-essential version of Korath the Pursuer. Djimon Hounsou, who is best known for his Oscar nominated work in movies like Blood Diamond and In America, does a fine job bringing the character to life in Guardians of the Galaxy, but it's a shame his talents couldn't have been saved for a more essential character. Similar to Lee Pace and the role of Ronan, Hounsou will return to the big screen as Korath in next year's Captain Marvel.
11 THE LEADER
The Incredible Hulk, starring Edward Norton and Liv Tyler, may not be a perfect movie but it does a good job reintroducing the character for the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Norton may no longer be portraying Bruce Banner on the big screen, but Mark Ruffalo's version of the character is the same Hulk that fought Abomination on a college campus all those years ago. Since the character has just been featured in other movies instead of starring in a sequel, many of the plot threads that were meant to be picked up in subsequent films never came to fruition.
The most exciting thread that was cast aside was the reveal that Samuel Sterns is actually The Leader. Sterns acts as an off-screen pen pal for Banner throughout most of the film, but he is ultimately brought on by Banner and Betty Ross to help control the Hulk. After experimenting on Banner's blood and being forced to turn Emil Bionsky into the Abomination, Sterns accidentally spills some on himself and starts mutating. Instead of turning into a giant monster, his brain and cranium start expanding and he is supposed to gain a series of psychic powers. In the comics, The Leader is one of Hulk's most fearsome opponents who relies on his wit instead of muscles to confront the Jade Giant. At this point, it's a safe bet to assume The Leader will never make another (or an actual) big screen appearance inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
The leader of the Dark Elves, Malekith is a cruel individual who is willing to do anything to protect himself and expand the Dark Elves' status among the Nine Realms. Bitter and full of hate, Malekith considers the extinction of the Light Elves to be his life's calling and will stop at nothing to wipe them out. Like the rest of the Dark Elves, Malekith has extreme strength, speed and reflexes to rely on whenever he's in battle. Additionally, he can manipulate the forces of magic to teleport, shoot projection blasts or cast illusions among other things.
Similar to Marvel's use of Korath, the biggest problem with Malekith's presence in the Thor: The Dark World relates to the fact that Marvel wasted a great actor on the villain.
Christopher Eccleston, best known for playing The Doctor in the first season of the revamped Doctor Who series, is a whimsical actor who has a knack for displaying emotion through his facial expressions. Well, in order to make Eccleston appear like one of the Dark Elves, the makeup team completely covered his face, taking away one of the actor's most powerful assets. Malekith is still evil in the movie, but he comes across as more of a one-dimensional Power Rangers villain instead of a complex being motivated by centuries worth of spite and hardship.
9 MARIA HILL
Created by Brian Michael Bendis when he essentially had free-reign over the Marvel Universe and was simultaneously writing two Avengers titles, Maria Hill is one of the MCU's top super spies. One of Nick Fury's top agents, Hill even takes over as director of the organization after his supposed death. In the comics, she is presented as a constant thorn in Tony Stark's side and an avid supporter of the superhero registration act, but in the movies it's hard to say anything about her.
Played by Cobie Smulders, Hill is nothing more than a background character in the MCU. Instead of coming up with any plans of her own, she constantly follows Fury's orders. The MCU has a lot of characters to juggle, many of which are exponentially more popular than Hill, but it doesn't excuse the fact that the studio has completely swept this character under the rug. She never receives any moments to shine, and instead of letting her come into her own in Avengers 4, the character was shown fading away at the end of Infinity War along with half the universe. Hopefully Hill earns a larger spot in the MCU after Samuel L. Jackson retires and Nick Fury is taken off the map, but until then fans of the character will just have to wait for some kind of character development.
8 JANE FOSTER
Introduced to the MCU in Thor, Jane Foster is a nurse in the comics and an astrophysics in the movies. A long-term love interest for Thor both in the comics and movies, Jane is one of the world's foremost experts on Asgard in the MCU, making Foster the perfect person for Thor to coincidentally bump into after he's banished to Earth by his father.
In the comics, Jane Foster was, up until recently, defending the Marvel Universe as Thor.
After the events of "Original Sin", Odinson has been seen as unworthy and unable to wield his legendary hammer. He is still out there defending the universe, but it's Jane who defends the Nine Realms as Thor. Writer Jason Aaron has done a fantastic job transforming this supporting character into a compelling lead who feels like an original hero instead of a carbon copy of the classic God of Thunder. Unfortunately, this version of Foster will likely never make it to the big screen because Odinson is one of the MCU's most popular characters. Unlike characters like Lady Sif and Betty Ross, Jane Foster's fate at the end of Infinity War has been deemed a spoiler by the Russo Brothers, so there's a chance she will return and play an important role in the MCU moving forward.
7 THE MANDARIN
Arguably the most famous villain in Iron Man's rogues gallery, The Mandarin is a fearsome warrior who is connected to magic instead of technology. Thanks to ten magical rings, he has access to a wide array of powers that have helped him build a vast criminal empire. Despite his status in the comic, the character was used as a prop to support Aldrich Killian instead of being shown as a villain in his own right.
Fans of the character weren't happy with the way he was depicted in Iron Man 3. Ben Kingsley is certainly a great actor, but he played a dunce who was pretending to be powerful instead of the menacing foe the villain really is. To make things right, Marvel released All Hail The King, a short-film that was a direct follow up to Iron Man 3. It follows Slattery, still in prison for his crimes, as he is being interviewed for a documentary about why he decided to pose as The Mandarin. It turns out the documentarian is actually an agent for the real Mandarin, and he is there to deliver Slattery to him. Hopefully this more menacing version of the character will make an appearance soon, but he was introduced way back in 2014 and he hasn't been mentioned again.
Elektra is one of the most iconic characters in the Marvel Universe. Originally created by Frank Miller during his epic run on Daredevil, she has been depicted as both a hero and a villain over the years. One of Daredevil's primary romantic partners, her cold-blooded tactics have put many wedges in their relationship. A trained killer who was once the leader of the Hand, Elektra is a skilled fighter and an expert with her sai blades. She has died numerous times since her creation in 1981, and during "Secret Invasion" it was revealed that Elektra had been replaced with a Skrull years earlier as the alien species prepared for an invasion.
Elodie Yung's version of the character is definitely a better fighter and bigger threat than Jennifer Garner's, but Netflix's Elektra is still underwhelming.
She was trained by Stick, the same individual who trained Matt Murdock before he became Daredevil, and successfully fights every member of the Defenders during their series. In the shows, she is essentially depicted as the Hand's secret weapon, the Black Sky, and not in control of her own destiny. She died at the end of The Defenders, but knowing the character's history with reincarnation there's a chance she'll be back in the MCU soon.
Six years before the adamantium laced Wolverine was introduced to audiences, Ultron became the first character in the Marvel Universe who was composed of the rare metal. Created by Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, in the comics, Ultron is an Artifical Intelligence system who is based off Pym's own brainwaves. Over time, Ultron develops his own thought patterns and rebels against his creator, ultimately growing to resent him enough to challenge both him and the Avengers to multiple battles over the years. Like all good robot villains, Ultron can upgrade himself and build duplicates to do his bidding, but he's also incredibly strong and can shoot energy beams at his opponents.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, the character is created by Tony Stark instead of Pym. Ultron doesn't turn dark and rebel against his creators thoughtwaves, he just immediately downloads all of the information on the internet and comes to the drastic conclusion that he needs to kill all of the humans to save the planet. Ultron is normally associated with deeply personal, emotional stories, but here the character just comes across as a jokester thanks to James Spader's hammy performance. Ultimately, Ultron feels like nothing more than a tool to insert Vision into the Marvel Cinematic Universe instead of coming across as the terrifying villain that he is.
4 THE WARRIORS THREE
Thor may be the Avengers' heaviest hitter, but that doesn't mean he's the only Asgardian warrior who knows how to throw a punch. The God of Thunder may like boasting about his solo adventures, but he usually has a few fellow Asgardians alongside him during his most dangerous missions. The Warriors Three, consisting of Fandral, Hogun, and Volstagg, are a rag-tag group of friends who have all pledged their lives to defend Asgard. Each member has a distinct personality and it's fun to watch or read the group bicker back-and-forth among each other, but on the big screen they just feel like comedic filler.
Due to their differing sizes and personalities, each member has a different fighting style.
Hogun is an expert hand-to-hand combatant, Fandral is killer with a sword, and Volstagg uses his mountainous size to throw his opponents around. During Hela's conquest of Asgard in Thor: Ragnarok, all three of them stepped up and put their lives on the line to defend their ancient home. Unfortunately, none of them could stop the oncoming destruction and they all lost their lives. For a trio of characters who appeared in two prior MCU movies, their deaths were very forgetful and none of them were sent off in style.
A fire demon who unlocks nearly unlimited potential whenever he's tethered to the Eternal Flame, Surtur is one of Odin and Asgard's fiercest opponents. A towering figure, Surtur is incredibly strong and quick, but its his massive sword, Twilight, that makes him such a terrifying foe. Whenever equipped with the sword, Surtur can tap into its magical abilities and do things like teleport across dimensions and alter an object's molecular makeup. At one point in the comics, Surtur uses the sword to turn Thor into a frog and even completely negates Odin's powers while the two of them are in battle.
Yes, Surtur is shown as an incredibly powerful character who is a threat to Thor and his fellow Asgardians, but he's nothing more than a prop in Thor: Ragnarok. The character appears in a fun sequence at the beginning of the movie that shows him keeping the God of Thunder hostage, but ultimately Ragnarok, the action and comic book arc that made the character so iconic, is treated like a joke. The death of Asgard could have been an epic, sprawling arc that took places over multiple movies, but Marvel decided to quickly shove Surtur into the movie and rush the story to its conclusion.
Ivan Vanko grew up the son of a Russian scientist who was poor after his father died as a result of Howard Stark's selfish actions. As a result of this, Ivan grows up to resent the Stark family and puts his own brilliant mind to work trying to develop ways he can outwit Tony Stark. Ivan was created especially for the movie, but he has since appeared in the comic books. Mickey Rourke spent time in a Russian prison to prepare for the role and turns in an interesting performance, but Whiplash comes across as an insignificant threat. He uses a long cable that is pulsing with electric energy like a whip to keep his foes at bay. After Iron Man featured a villain in a power suit fighting the hero, it just feels a bit underwhelming to see another super villain challenge Tony using similar tech.
In the comics, multiple individuals have called themselves Whiplash and fought Iron Man.
Each of them are skilled technicians who can develop their own power suits to defend themselves while committing crimes. Over the years he has taken on characters like Spider-Man and Captain America and even became a member of the Thunderbolts.
1 BLACK BOLT
While Vin Diesel was originally rumored to bring the king of the Inhumans to life in a film, Black Bolt ultimately found his home on prime time television instead. Capable of leveling whole cities with a whisper, Black Bolt rules his people as a mute who delivers silent judgements and seeks council from those around him. In the comics, he is presented as one of the Marvel Universe's smartest rulers and is one of the original members of the Illuminati, a shady group of characters consisting of people like Iron Man and Professor Xavier who have secretly been behind many of the publisher's most essential storylines.
Anson Mount plays the character, but the show changes a lot of things about his origin for no reason. Instead of being exposed to the Terrigen Mists in the womb, the show has him exposed during his teen years and his inability to control his powers leads to him killing his parents. In addition to Black Bolt coming across as a lackluster leader, the series really paints all of the Inhumans in a bad light. During a time that Marvel was pushing for the Inhumans to replace mutants and the X-Men in the comics, a successful television program featuring the characters could have been a huge boon for the publisher. Instead, the show earned consistently low reviews and won't be coming back for a second season at ABC.