After the snap heard round the universe, MCU fans collectively gasped at the loss of so many of their favorite heroes and villains. But these endings, though numerous, were not the only ones the Marvel Cinematic Universe ever saw, and certainly not the ones that hit the hardest. Marvel characters come with varying life spans, often related to the life cycle of villains, the emotional weight necessary to motivate other characters, and sometimes contract negotiations. A lot of characters have left us since the glimmer of a franchise that started over a decade ago, and it seems like we’ve lost more characters than we’ve gained, though the characters do keep coming.
But not every demise hurts as much as others, and not every character needs to exist longer than the speed bump in a different character’s story. Quite simply, we miss some characters more than we miss others. We’ve barely had time to digest the Infinity War losses, and while we haven’t decided if we miss them or not, we can be confident there is a level of expected impermanence, considering lots of those characters have sequels in the works. So assuming that not every one of those sequels takes place in the past like Captain Marvel’s coming film, we rounded up the more permanent ends in the MCU. having lost so many characters over the years, we noticed we missed some more than others, so here are the ones we miss the most, and those that can stay in the dust.
20 MISS: HELA
There’s no shortage of solid villains in the MCU, but some of the greats came and went far too soon -- Hela is one of those greats. Hela came blasting into the MCU as a famous Asgardian, but not until the third installment of the Thor arm of the Marvel franchise. She shows up as a worthy foe of the near untouchable gods from Asgard and did it all with a blast of evil style.
Hela was a fan favourite and sparked so much inspired cosplay, and disappeared before we could get enough. But it is hard to keep her around, she is the Goddess of Death after all.
19 DON’T MISS: ALDRICH KILLIAN
The not so real Mandarin had to go. Aldrich Killian was an interesting villain for Iron Man, and was a campy addition to the MCU with his glow-up makeover. The arms manufacturer and silver suit wearer was a worthy nemesis, but ultimately didn’t have a ton of depth or lasting power.
Fans of Iron Man were disappointed at the two false starts that came at the introduction of one of the most famous and revered Iron Man villains, the Mandarin. He wasn’t the least compelling villain of all time, but honestly, he can stay gone and we won’t miss him much.
18 MISS: CROSSBONES
When it was announced that Brock Rumlow would return to the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, fans (us included) were immediately excited. The prospect of one of Steve Rogers' greatest threats, and the man who actually took out Captain America, joining the ranks of villains in Marvel movies had us hungry to see a throwdown between the two characters.
While we did get that fist fight, it just led to him getting blown to bits thanks to Scarlet Witch. To say that this was an unceremonious end to one of Captain America's deadliest villains would be an understatement. What a waste of a good bad guy.
17 DON’T MISS: ALEXANDER PIERCE
One of the more compelling twists in the MCU was the reveal of the HYDRA sleeper cell growing within S.H.I.E.L.D. This not only tested the fallibility of Nick Fury’s plans, but tested the ethics and moral code of Captain America, and what it means to be loyal to your country, and if that loyalty means loyalty to the governing bodies.
So Alexander Pierce was a necessary element, representing the part of the organization that once believed in Fury, but was later recruited by HYDRA over a change of sentiments. But the storyline has a finish line, and the demise of Pierce was warranted and we had enough.
16 MISS: HEIMDALL
The all hearing and all seeing gatekeeper of Asgard, Heimdall is one of the more memorable character form Thor’s films and the MCU. Heimdall was unsuspecting at first, simply the guardian of the bridge, with a magic sword, but his heroism and bravery became more apparent over time.
Heimdall lead a gang of refugees to save them from Hela and spare them loss at Ragnarok, was able to get Thor back to Asgard to assist, and then later, got Thor to Earth during Infinity War. His end was one of the most powerful on-screen, being stabbed directly in the heart by Thanos after his act of heroism, and we wouldn’t want to lose that moment on film. We just miss the guy.
15 DON’T MISS: RONAN THE ACCUSER
Ronan, member of the Kree, played an important role in the Kree-Nova war, and was a particular pain in the neck for the Guardians of the Galaxy. Possessor of the Space Stone, one of the Infinity Stones, Ronan was an important note in what set off the awareness of the stones in the MCU.
Though we can’t imagine not missing Lee Pace, Ronan’s demise was necessary for the Guardians to come together, and served his ultimate purpose. Though he is deceased and we don’t necessarily miss him, it isn’t the last we’ll see of him on-screen, considering he was still alive in the '90s.
14 MISS: KILLMONGER
Another fantastic villain, and allegedly the fan-favorite, is Erik Killmonger. Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of the character was generally loved, and he just looked so cool in that jacket.
He was one of the better villains on-screen as, much like Zemo, he wasn’t the over the top magical baddie, but an angry guy fighting the battle on the ground. Killmonger was an impressive villain and a worthy adversary of the Black Panther, and his fight with T’Challa was as emotional and powerful as it was amazing. BP had bigger fish to fry and had to move past this villain, but we would have liked to see more of him.
13 DON’T MISS: THE ANCIENT ONE
The Sorcerer Supreme gave it all protecting the earth, managing and harnessing the magic of the universe and working to maintain order. The Ancient One was an important character, and the motivation and belief system needed to encourage Doctor Strange to reach his ultimate destiny.
But the Ancient One was really a means to an end, and a welcoming of Dr. Strange, without a foreseeable arc for the character beyond that. She served her purpose, sacrificing herself when she had to and showing up post-mortem to arm Strange with the knowledge he needs to be successful. She did what she had to do, and we can move on.
12 MISS: FRIGGA
Queen of Asgard, and mother to Loki and Thor, Frigga is a goddess with whom we want to spent more time. She is powerful beyond her credit, and acts with goodness and caring. She risked herself to protect Jane Foster while showcasing her powers to project her, and ultimately died by choosing not to give Foster up.
Though the trickster god was not her biological son, like him, Frigga visited in the form of a hologram, making for touching moments between the conflicted Asgardian and his mother. Thor and Loki don’t need any extra motivation to fight Malekith or spend time saving the universe, so we wish their mother had been spared.
11 DON’T MISS: KLAUE
Klaue was the thread that weaved various MCU stories together, and planted the seeds of other characters when he popped up to deal in the dark. The Dealer gave us our first glimpse of what have might been Black Panther, digging up important metals and elements and mentioning them by name.
His final battle in Black Panther was his natural end. He planted himself firmly in the MCU and served as an introduction and tease of what was to come, but we got what we needed out of him. Moving into a world where villains like Thanos exist, we can leave him behind.
10 MISS: GAMORA
Of all the ends we've seen on-screen in the MCU, Gamora's hit the hardest. Fans knew that not everyone would survive Infinity War, but we didn’t know exactly how or how many heroes we would lose.
Gamora’s demise comes long before the snap, and we lose her in a much more gut wrenching way that shows just how committed Thanos is to his cause, showing that he truly does love Gamora, but not as much as his desire to wipe out half the universe. Gamora is an incredible fighter and character, and necessary part of the Guardians. It was difficult to brave the balance of the war without her.
9 DON’T MISS: IRON MONGER
One of the many actors we can’t believe Marvel let go is Jeff Bridges, who we saw briefly on-screen as Obadiah Stane in Iron Man. Obadiah is a link to Howard Stark, Tony’s father, and the father of the engineering empire on which Tony sits. Both business and physical foe, Iron Monger was an important and successful villain for the early installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
But his motives were just that, a simple introduction to the universe that he was not long fore. The universe out grew him, and though he is a great villain, we are fine with him staying in the past.
8 MISS: QUICKSILVER
There isn’t much the MCU can be accused of doing worse than competing comic book franchises, but the portrayal of Quicksilver in Avengers: Age of Ultron gave us a bit less than the portrayal of the character in the respective X-Men films.
Still, we wish we were given more time. Aaron Taylor-Johnson started out playing the guy we could never imagine as a real hero, and grew into a bonafide superhero type. His appearance on-screen could have given us so much more, and we wanted to see more of the character. But maintaining consistent Maximoff accents is tough, so maybe it was for the best.
7 DON’T MISS: KILGRAVE
Kilgrave’s brand of power was an interesting addition to the extended universe, and his manner of exploiting his power of persuasion was used in such an evil way, that he made for a compelling discussion around how he impacted those around him, particularly, his victim, Jessica Jones.
His evil was straight up scary, and served to shape Jessica and have her live in a state of guilt and fear. He was truly evil, and worked as a motivation for Jessica with a host of different ends. But it was time for him to go. Jessica got what she had to out of hunting him down, and we don’t want anyone like Kilgrave popping back up.
6 MISS: SKURGE
Karl Urban brings so much to so many fandoms with his ability to bring charm and humor to even the most serious and sinister characters. Skurge, the Asgardian warrior tasked with keeping an eye on the Bifrost bridge, was just one of the many roles to which he brought his brand of bulk and buffoonery.
Skurge was a perfect addition to the Taika Waititi take on the Thor franchise for all of those things, and we loved his take on changing loyalties, and honestly, his comedic out-of-breath run was an art piece. Lots of Thor’s friend and allies had to perish and he is left with almost no longstanding Asgardian friends or foes, and we wish Skurge was one that made it out.
5 DON’T MISS: ODIN
Father figures and their residual issues are not hard to find in the MCU, from Star-Lord’s dads, to Tony Stark’s whole mess, and of course, the complicated Asgardian kind in Odin, father to Thor, Hela, and adoptive father of Loki.
Odin’s complicated approach to his fatherhood is what lead to the issues between Thor and Loki, leading to Thor’s ultimate finding of heroism within him, and leading to Loki leaning into his trickster ways and jumping between good and evil with his questions of loyalty. Odin is not boring, nor is he a character we imagine living without, but like a lot of Marvel dads, he served his purpose and set up his sons, and he is better left behind.
4 MISS: EGO
It’s hard to imagine getting Kurt Russell into your franchise and not letting him live past one installment. Ego, the living planet, was an important addition to the backstory of Star-Lord, and was an incredible open window into learning about the important relationship Star-Lord had with others in his past, and the expanded meaning of fatherhood and parentage.
Ego has quite literally, awesome power, and his sinister plans mixed with charm were really fun to watch. We know that Star-Lord had a lot to come to terms with as his story rolled along, but we wish the powerful ego, with his incredible hair and winning smile, was still around.
3 DON’T MISS: WHIPLASH
Another Iron Man villain not long for this world was Ivan Vanko. Much like his other villains, Ivan was scorned in a family dispute over Stark intellectual property and swore vengeance on Tony. He built himself some arc reactor whips that were capable of slicing through cars and was a big fly in Tony’s ointment.
But Vanko’s beleaguered dialogue and specified motivations had a shortened lifespan, and it was time for him to go. Vanko did what he had to do, and was a great villain for a one off, but he had no long running foreseeable motivation and his demise was the right move.
2 MISS: YONDU
Yondu is a fun character, being one of those maybe villains with a big heart. He is introduced as a less than savory guy, and is often a threat to the Guardians of the Galaxy with his ravage ways. Though Yondu’s death gave him more character than we might have otherwise associated with the character, it still feels like he was taken too soon.
He was full of depth, revealing himself to be Peter’s saviour and otherwise father figure, and sacrificing himself to save others. He also has one of the coolest weapons in the MCU, and we miss watching him control that arrow with ominous whistles.
1 DON’T MISS: MALEKITH
The Dark Elves are an important villainous group in the MCU and specifically Thor and Asgard’s storyline. Malekith, leader of the Dark Elves, is a malevolent member of the race that outdates the universe itself and existed in a realm of complete darkness.
Malekith, like leaders of other CGI armies to come, wanted to bring earth and the universe back into darkness, and launched a war on the light. He ultimately came up against the grandson of his original nemesis, Thor, and lost in the Battle of Greenwich. Malekith was one of many malevolent villains that are hard to distinguish, and though his leadership of the ancient race was significant, his demise came in time and we don’t miss him much.