As we role into Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s become almost impossible to keep track of all of the characters that have been adapted for the big screen thus far. Each new MCU movie comes with the promise of seeing a big screen adaptation of our favorite characters. Often, they’re easter eggs, sometimes they pop in for a scene after the credits, and more often than not, they’re full blown characters added to the universe. As the film universe expands, countless characters have appeared, leading up to arguably the most character jam packed film of all time, Avengers: Infinity War. Along the way here, characters have been killed, captured and incarcerated, and some have just faded into obscurity.
Not every character can be given the star treatment in a universe where new characters throughout space and time are popping up with each release, so naturally, some of them get forgotten. Often, we miss favorites that disappear, but even more often, the MCU litmus test is ahead of the game and knows which characters are right to be retired. As the MCU treads on into its next Phase, and with a host of Disney+ shows on the horizon, there is a lot of opportunity for fans to get more screen time out of forgotten Marvel characters, which may or may not be a good thing. We’ve gathered some of our favourite forgotten MCU characters we are itching to see more of, and others that can live in obscurity.
20 SEE MORE OF: HOWARD STARK
Tony’s mythical father, Howard Stark, has been cast and recast more than any MCU character. He has been played by three actors and voiced by a fourth, every single version compelling. Howard has had a huge impact on more than one of the Avengers. He is the inspiration and giver of life to Iron Man himself, whose creation of Stark Industries lead to the empire that houses Avengers Tower. He also had a huge hand in turning Steve Rogers into Captain America.
We’d like to see more of him, and his easter-egg-ridden doings that lead the Avengers to where they ended up in the 21st century. Dominic Cooper as a young entrepreneur with a mad scientists’ spirit is a show we would watch.
19 STAY GONE: HOWARD THE DUCK
One of the most talked about easter eggs in the MCU is when it was revealed that the Collector was holding onto Howard the Duck. Howard the Duck is one of the lowest rated comic book to film adaptations in his 1986 big screen debut alongside Lea Thompson.
While it was funny to see the big bird hidden in the film, that’s probably all we need. He doesn’t have a lot to offer above his oft poorly written jokes (which probably won't fly today), and we don’t need any writers busting their brains with trying. He can probably stay back in 1986.
18 SEE MORE OF: THE HOWLING COMMANDOS
One of the more fun parts of Captain America: The First Avenger was a sneak peak into the MCU’s take on WWII drama. And though they centered on the war as a central theme, there was not a whole host of WWII as the central conflict of the film.
But there were the Howling Commandos. Originally lead by Captain America, Bucky Barnes by his side, the Commandos were responsible for the capture of Zola, the mission that left Barnes presumed deceased. We didn’t get much more from the Howling Commandos after that, and we want more. We want to see a WWII drama, like the Inglourious Basterds as seen through an MCU lens.
17 STAY GONE: DENARIAN SAAL
What’s really cool about an actor like Peter Serafinowicz is that he is a master of comedy, but also a master of playing brooding characters, even voicing Darth Maul. His combined talents make him a great cast as a quirky villain type since he can break from brooding to campy comedic version of himself on a dime, which made him perfect for the Guardians of the Galaxy pool.
But he has only ever been a wall for Quill to bounce off of and is little more than a trope soldier for the films. He did his job and that’s probably enough we need to see of him.
16 SEE MORE OF: NOVA PRIME
Guardians of the Galaxy was one of the more light-hearted movies in the MCU family. And it’s the first one where you could hear the writers really enjoying writing their space nonsense. How did that manifest? It gave us Glenn Close unironically spouting space junk and it was brilliant.
Nova Prime, or Irani Rael, is a soldier who rose in the ranks to her Prime position. She is a no nonsense leader who speaks up at injustices and isn’t afraid to push the limits for what is right. Her screen time was unfortunately too short, and we would like to see more of the space nonsense spouting military leader.
15 STAY GONE: JANE FOSTER
A lot of great characters faded from Thor’s lore as he moved on to Ragnarok. One of those character casualties was the love of his life and motivation to save humanity, Jane Foster.
Jane, the beautiful and brilliant scientist, isn’t a bad character in and of herself, but she never really played a starring role. Thor’s love for her was important to his story, but once he was ingrained in Earth via the Avengers, she became nothing but a distraction. Thor is better when he is unfettered, like we saw in Ragnarok, so we are fine if Jane is only ever mentioned by name from now on.
14 SEE MORE OF: ALDRICH KILLIAN
Everyone loves a good “glow up,” story, and Aldrich Killian’s is a good one. After being shunned by Tony Stark at an event, wanting to share his ideas for tech, Killian dedicated his life to ridding changing himself and to become a worthy adversary of Stark. Going the “evil route,” he preformed some failed illegal experiments and ultimately created the Extremis Virus.
At the end of Iron Man 3, it is revealed that Killian is the real Mandarin, and he passes away shortly after. For a lot of fans, this was an upsetting turn of events, where the Mandarin we saw was a decoy, and the classic character was reduced to a one-liner and a character amalgamation. We actually want to see how Killian became the Mandarin.
13 STAY GONE: EBONY MAW
He’s pretty fresh, considering he was only introduced in Avengers: Infinity War, so it’s hard to say he forgotten, but we guess that’s what happens when you’re that forgettable. When most loyal of the Thanos adoptees rolled into the scene, he was interesting and, honestly, pretty scary.
But by the time we arrived at the tail end of the ambitious epic, Maw was already fleeing memory. He served to do some of Thanos’ dirty work early in the film before Thanos himself struck us all on-screen, but that’s kind of it. We had some fun with him, but we don’t much care if we ever see a series how or why he came to serve Thanos.
12 SEE MORE OF: ABOMINATION
Having Tim Roth on the sidelines is almost a crime, but that’s where he sits after his character, Abomination, was taken into custody at the end of The Incredible Hulk. Emil Blonsky, a British Special-Ops soldier, was loaned to Thaddeus and his team to help capture the Hulk. Driven to succeed at any cost, he injected himself with a combination of Super Soldier Serum and Hulk’s blood which created, well, an abomination.
He made a perfect match for the otherwise unmatched Hulk, and Tom Roth is a compelling actor on his worst day. We want to see the impossible villain come back, and be given more depth than a CGI giant.
11 STAY GONE: ERIK SELVIG
The science of astrophysics can be pretty daunting, but leave it to Dr. Erik Selvig to have no interest in dumbing it down for us at all. Selvig’s appearance, played by Stellan Skarsgard, in Thor was welcome as a nod to the Nordic nature of the legend of Thor.
He was fun, but we figure Jane and Darcy could have handled the scientist bit on their own. He later assists Loki, while under the influence of his power in The Avengers, which felt like a way to give the character something to do. As a plot device, he worked, but hasn’t he done enough already?
10 SEE MORE OF: JUSTIN HAMMER
Justin Hammer is the thorn in the otherwise untouchable Stark Industries’ side. To try and squash his rival, Hammer tried to sully Tony Stark’s public image, and when that failed, he sent Ivan Vanko after him, and that didn’t go so great either.
But Hammer represents the corporate giant villain trope that is otherwise lacking in the MCU. When used properly, that type of character can end up being Lex Luthor or Ozymandias. We would like to see more of that kind of character, with unlimited means, wiles, and a vendetta. The dude is only in jail, not even deceased, so it should be even easier than usual for the MCU to get him back into the mix.
9 STAY GONE: OBADIAH STANE
The bit of Tony Stark as a cunning business man, making enemies out of internal competition, shareholders, and competition is a bit overdone. By the time Iron Man 3 rolled around, you could almost play the movies side by side to find comparisons.
So, of course, the corporate villain types became a bit tired. Some of them had a lot of depth, and like we’ve mentioned, we’d like to see more of, but Stane felt like mostly fluff. Far be it from us to turn away more of Jeff Bridges, but we think the jealous former CEO, Stane, can probably sit the arrival of Disney+ out.
8 SEE MORE OF: THE COLLECTOR
Taneleer Tivan, better known as the Collector, has a collection of interstellar entities that would rival the under-the-sea collection of Ariel. He shows up briefly during the end credits of Thor: The Dark World in time to be an easter egg full of easter eggs. His collection becomes instrumental in the events leading up to Infinity War, and his projection is a set of one of the films’ biggest upsets.
Not to be ignored is what Benicio Del Toro brings to the character, adding an extra layer of quirk to the already quirky role. We want to see what other treasures he has buried in there and the adventures he took to get them and the subsequent adventures they will take him on.
7 STAY GONE: IVAN VANKO
Something the MCU teaches a masterclass in is that some villains are great for long running multistory arcs, and some are more effective as one offs. Loki was more than a movie’s worth of story, and Thanos could not be contained, but villains like Malaketh and Ivan Vanko are expendable.
That’s not to say the electricity wielding physicist was a bad villain. He was scary, and his arrival scene at the races was striking. He made a worthy adversary, and his team up made the “brains over brawn,” villains shine, but his bit comes and goes pretty quickly. We liked him, but his work here is done and we don't need to see anything else from him.
6 SEE MORE OF: DARCY LEWIS
Darcy Lewis got the short end of the stick, being funny before Thor movies really were. As Jane Foster’s assistant and a student of Erik Selvig, she had a front row seat to the cosmic mess that was the arrival of Thor and was pushed to the sidelines -- but she didn’t stay there.
Darcy was a champion of Thor and was instrumental in his war against Malekith and the Dark Elves. Darcy held it down while the scientists tried to fathom what Thor was and what he meant, and came to fight when she had to. We want to see more of what this hilarious, brilliant and brave whippersnapper has to offer.
5 STAY GONE: JACK ROLLINS
The story of sleeper Hydra operatives hidden amongst S.H.I.E.L.D was one of the best storylines in the MCU. The Captain America storyarc in which it featured was one of our favorites, and it asked Cap to decide what was more important: His view of what is right or his loyalty to his country. Cap ultimately chose loyalty to the people versus loyalty to those in power, something that really set off sleepers like Rollins.
Rollins was great in the later action sequences, and served as a great side dish for your plate of Rumlow/Crossbones, but ultimately, he was a faceless foot soldier. This made him forgettable, and we’re good with him being just that.
4 SEE MORE OF: SIF
Thor fell out of Asgard and was shortly followed by his warrior buds, who included Lady Sif. Lady Sif’s story started out pretty soft, as she was painted as an admirer of Thor who was painfully jealous of Jane Foster. We get it, Thor is worthy of a crush, but we want more for Sif’s story.
Sif is an accomplished warrior and demi-goddess from outer space who has fought in and won important battles for good. We want to see her meet the gals from Wakanda, swing by and pick up Valkyrie, and pass by some space battles and destroy everything that stands in her way.
3 STAY GONE: FANDRAL
Fandral was one of The Warriors Three that stood by Thor’s side. For a lot of you, you probably needed that reminder to place exactly who he is. He was even recast, and played by Shazam! star, Zachary Levi, and much like I Dream of Genie’s Darren, no one even noticed.
It’s not that Fandral is a bad character, he just isn’t much of one. The other warriors stuck out in our minds, but he really got lost in the mix. We’re glad he showed up to help Thor when he really needed it, but we’re not super sorry he didn’t make it. Out of all the Warriors Three, he's the one least worthy of more story.
2 SEE MORE OF: CAMERON KLEIN
He doesn’t have any special powers or a fancy uniform or a super suit, so you might not have paid much attention to S.H.I.E.L.D technician, Cameron Klein. But whether you noticed him or not, his actions were a huge part of what kept Nick Fury’s team going, and saved Captain America from his employer’s wrath. During the finale of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, he stayed loyal to Cap, leading do a showdown in the offices that ultimately spared Cap.
He was later recruited by Nick Fury, and right before the events of the snap hit Fury and Maria Hill, he attempted to contact Klein. Klein is the little tech that could, who’s loyalty and brains were valued by Fury and saved Cap’s life. We want more.
1 STAY GONE: "THE MANDARIN"
Fans of Iron Man lore waited until the third film before his most popular foe, The Mandarin, was mentioned. So cue the collective groan of theater goers worldwide when the, genuinely scary supervillain turned out to be... that guy.
Ben Kingsley gave the most to the performance, giving us varying cadences and being the perfect guy to play the “theater actor,” as a master of theater himself. But we’re happy if he fades into obscurity. Though we wanted more from Killian, ultimately, the movie’s iterations of The Mandarin were tragic. We deserved a full-blown version of the notorious villain, and one that is (at least half) Asian.