The MCU is 20 movies strong now, and fans eagerly await the culmination of a complex, interconnected story that spans over a decade. With every installment, the ever-growing saga continues to add more characters and new takes on classic storylines. But despite the vast universe that is the MCU, there is only so much story the multiverse can tell in a set amount of films. Consequentially, not every Marvel character to join this mammoth of a creation has enjoyed equal treatment. In the interest of an interconnected story, many characters were downplayed, simplified, or altered altogether. Oftentimes, the changes made sense -- not even the most devote comic fan can expect decades worth of stories to fit into a decade worth of films.
However, Marvel is still guilty of shorting several heroes and villains in their cinematic universe. Sometimes it's something simple, like two lovers who never have the opportunity to start a relationship. On other occasions, a character is adapted so that they never get to hit the streets in all their costumed superhero glory. Despite the seeming impossibility of offing comics characters, many MCU heroes and villains bite the dust at the peak of their potential -- often under circumstances completely against their characters. And of course, there are some characters who should be so cool but just haven't had an opportunity to shine. Whatever the reasons, there are plenty of villains, supporting characters, and even Avengers who got less than they deserved. Here are 20 Marvel characters needlessly wasted in the ever-expanding MCU.
If there's an original Avenger who didn't live up to his potential, it's Hawkeye. Apart from the fact that we haven't had so much as a reference to the Circus of Crime or even the possibility of a West Coast Avengers, Barton hasn't had many significant moments in the MCU, either.
As far as appearances, he spent most of the first Avengers movie brainwashed, which didn't allow for much character development. He wasn't a part of Infinity War, and with a Black Widow movie on the horizon, he's about to be the only founding MCU Avenger without his own movie. Hopefully, his appearance in Avengers 4 as Ronin (possibly) will give the hero some time in the limelight.
19 ARNIM ZOLA
Perhaps the most disappointing thing about Arnim Zola in the MCU wasn't that he was written off prematurely or for no reason. that certainly happened, but to make matters worse, his end went completely against his entire character. Zola was always a survivor. He gave up information in the first Captain America movie when he was captured, and he was so intent on living that he downloaded himself into a giant computer.
After all the trouble he went to so he could live, though, he never upgraded his tech so he could get around or keep up with the times. And instead of focusing on living, he decided to end his life because it would probably end Captain America too. Zola wasn't just a waste, he was completely contradictory.
While comic characters are typically impossible to off, Quicksilver is a prime example of just how mortal some of our MCU heroes are. Pietro Maximoff only appeared in the MCU once before he was unceremoniously written off. He hadn't been around long enough for his passing to be that emotional, so it didn't add much to the movie.
And to add insult to injury, he was downed because he couldn't outrun a few bullets, something a speedster can typically do in his sleep. Despite all the weird ways there are to bring characters back to life in comics, Peitro is still gone and will probably stay that way.
17 JANE FOSTER
While Jane Foster was originally Thor's love interest, she also spent a spectacular few years as the new Thor. When the Odinson was no longer worthy of wielding Mjolnir, the hammer chose Jane Foster to take his place. Foster spent several years defending the Ten Realms and only recently stopped being the Goddess of Thunder.
Jane Foster made an excellent Thor and would have been a welcome addition to the MCU's growing lineup up female superheroes. With Mjolnir destroyed though, we'd be surprised if Foster, or anyone else for that matter, took up the Odinson's mantle in the near future.
16 SHARON CARTER
When Captain America's long-time love interest showed up in the MCU, we naturally expected a romance to blossom. And it did -- or it sort of did for one movie, and then we never heard anything on the subject again. When we last left Sharon Carter in Civil War, she had just become a fugitive to help Steve Rogers.
The two shared a kiss, she disappeared, and we haven't heard from her since. She didn't resurface during Infinity War, and no one has mentioned her since Civil War -- not even Cap. With the all of the careful build-up in Winter Soldier and Civil War, it's a shame that Agent 13 disappeared without a trace.
While Mantis is a wonderful addition to the Guardians of the Galaxy and the MCU as a whole, she hasn't done much as an individual character. In the comics, Mantis does far more than in the movies. She's a master of martial arts with a special connection to the universe. She's the Celestial Madonna and her powers go way beyond those of an empath.
Is MCU Mantis hysterical and a great part of Star-Lord's team? Yes, of course. Is she ever going to be more than a side character who puts supervillains to sleep? Probably not, especially now that Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is suspended.
14 THE MANDARIN
The Mandarin drew the short straw when it came to villains in the MCU. While some characters were written off early, nerfed, or simply not used to their full potential, the Mandarin suffered a worse fate: he was a fake. When Tony Stark tracked down the Mandarin in Iron Man 3, he learned that the man was nothing more than an actor hired to keep the government off Killian's trail.
Eventually, a real Mandarin was teased in the Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King. However, even though the real Mandarin was referenced, we've never actually seen the villain in the MCU.
13 BETTY ROSS
Betty Ross isn't a name we've heard in the MCU for a while (ten years, if anyone's counting). Ross only made one appearance in the MCU, and it happened to be in The Incredible Hulk, which everyone typically forgets ever existed. Since she hasn't even been mentioned in a Marvel movie since 2008, it's no surprise that she was among the half of the universe that no longer exists.
Ross' absence in the MCU deprived us of two things: Red She-Hulk and a love triangle that could have been highly entertaining. And apart from that, it just doesn't make sense that a woman who was that close to Banner would just disappear off the face of the planet.
12 BILL FOSTER
When Bill Foster made his MCU debut in Ant-Man and the Wasp, he was a college professor with his adventurous days behind him. And while we liked what we saw of Foster, we never had the chance to see him suit up as Giant-Man, Black Goliath, or just plain Goliath.
Unlike Hank Pym, who at least had a few photos and flashbacks to his glory days in Ant-Man, we never get to see anything from Foster's time in the Goliath project. We have to take Foster's word that he was 21-feet tall at one point, which isn't very exciting since, from the sound of it, he never went on any missions.
11 BARON VON STRUCKER
When a well-known villain makes an appearance in a mid-credit scene, we expect to see much more of him. Naturally, when Baron von Strucker showed up at the end of Winter Soldier, we expected him to have a prominent part in the next MCU installment. As it turned out, his role in Age of Ultron was barely longer than his tease in Winter Soldier, since he was only a means to an end.
After providing a backstory that allowed Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver to have powers without being mutants, Strucker was no longer needed. Ultron offed him off towards the beginning of the movie to make a statement.
10 MARIA HILL
Maria Hill has been nothing but helpful to the MCU Avengers so far. Almost too helpful, given her history. While serving as Fury's deputy is part of her story, Hill is much more than a right hand, and she's typically much more opinionated. Hill tries to defend the world, but she does it on her own terms.
She was a strong supporter of Superhero Registration and went after the opposition with gusto. She got her hands on a Cosmic Cube and used it to brainwash supervillains. She's served as the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and even as the leader of the Avengers. In the MCU though, we've only seen her take roles to support everyone else's plans to defend the world.
In many respects, Zemo is Zemo in name only. Devoid of a rank and a legacy (and let's not forget that classic purple costume), his MCU incarnation has no long-standing history with Captain America and no strong affiliations with Hydra either.
His entire far-reaching plan to bring down the Avengers stemmed from one single (albeit, devastating) event, and he was more than happy to off himself when his plan reached completion. Technically, Zemo is still alive and could make a glorious comeback in the MCU -- and maybe even usher in the Masters of Evil. Realistically, we're not holding our breath.
8 JANET VAN DYNE
As one of the founding Avengers in the comics, we honestly expected more from Janet Van Dyne in the MCU. When Ant-Man starts out, Van Dyne's superhero days are long gone, and she only made the smallest of appearances in a flashback scene.
When she had a more substantial role in Ant-Man and the Wasp, her usefulness was limited to typing complex algorithms (because there clearly weren't enough smart people in that movie) and fixing problems with her magic-like quantum powers. And since she was one of the victims of Thanos' snap, we're aren't like to see more of her anytime soon.
While Ragnarok was a masterpiece in its own right, the plotline came at a cost. The movie incorporated elements from the "Planet Hulk" storyline, which had two consequences. First, we'd never get a Planet Hulk movie in the MCU -- that was permissible since the rights to Hulk are complicated.
However, a more serious side effect was that a few characters from Hulk's time on Sakaar were tweaked to fit the more light-hearted vibe in Ragnarok. Characters like Korg, while certainly a great source of comic relief, lost a good deal of their depth and purpose to accommodate the movie's humor.
It's one thing to off the main villain at the end of a movie. However, it's quite another thing to off a character right as they claim their identity and begin to pose somewhat of a threat. Brock Rumlow spent his first appearance in the MCU as a Hydra sleeper agent tasked with taking out Captain America.
His mission failed, and while Rogers escaped, Rumlow ended up injured and disfigured. He returned in Civil War as the vengeful Crossbones, but he didn't last long as an assassin. About five minutes into the movie he blew himself up trying to take out Cap again.
Miek is another victim of the "Planet Hulk" storyline merging with Ragnarok. Unlike Korg, though, poor Miek ended up as little more than a prop in the MCU. He doesn't say a word, so we don't get to learn much about the knife-wielding bug warrior in Ragnarok.
Apart from taking out a few of Hela's Berserker Warriors, he's just there for Korg to talk about, step on, or even carry around. It's a far cry from the Miek in the comics, who controlled a hive of giant bug warriors and tried to manipulate the Hulk into laying waste to the earth.
4 LADY SIF
Lady Sif's story arc is one of the more disappointing ones in the MCU. After Thor's "mutual dumping," in Ragnarok, having Sif resurface as a potential love interest made perfect sense both for Sif and for Thor. Even if a relationship with Thor wasn't in the cards for her, Sif was still one of Asgard's most renowned warriors, and her absence after Dark World made little sense.
Due to conflicts with Jamie Alexander's schedule, Sif couldn't be a part of Ragnarok. However, she was not only missing in Infinity War, but was later confirmed to have perished along with half of the universe.
Skurge the Executioner is not to be trifled with. He's a fearless warrior and a descendant of giants. He's best known for two things: his relentless love for Amora the Enchantress, and the time he stood at the bridge of Gjallerbru and fended off hordes of Hela's army. Even the Goddess of Death stands in awe of the Executioner.
Unless, of course, we're talking about Executioner in the MCU. In that case, Skurge is nothing more than a simpleton who literally had one job. After he failed his one job, he betrayed his people and worked for the enemy, until he had an opportunity to fight an undead army with guns from Texas.
2 BOBBI MORSE
Bobbi Morse in the MCU is different from her source material (meaning she's not a West Coast Avenger or Clint Barton's wife/ex-wife). Still, when she debuted in season two of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. she became one of the best parts of the show.
In season three, Morse and her estranged husband Lance Hunter were disbarred from S.H.I.E.L.D. The original intent was that the two characters would have prominent roles in the spin-off series Marvel's Most Wanted, although the series was never made. Instead, we needlessly lost one of the best of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
1 THE INHUMANS
The writing was on the wall for Inhumans long before it debuted in IMAX. When Marvel first announced Inhumans in 2014, it was part of the lineup for Phase Three movies. By 2016, the project had become a television series -- definitely not a good sign.
The show aired in 2017 and it ran for only one season with eight episodes. Inhumans was one of the worst additions to the MCU to date and deserved to be canceled. However, the show's failure means that we probably won't be seeing a better version of Attilan and its inhabitants anytime soon.