The cosmic realm in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is in full swing at present. At the time of this list’s writing, Thor: Ragnarok will pit Thor Odinson, Valkyrie and the Hulk with Loki against Hela and the Grandmaster’s arena of warriors in outer space. At this point, too, fans have already feasted healthily on two chapters featuring the Guardians of the Galaxy. Thanos is also coming to Earth to fill his Infinity Gauntlet, bringing his fearsome Black Order with him; and of course, we’ve got the Inhumans being screened in IMAX… though at present, the less said about that, the better.
Now, while all these space sagas are unfolding and interconnecting, there are flaws with the current bunch of characters in these cosmic stories. We’re already limited because some rights aren’t home with Marvel Studios: Phoenix, Silver Surfer and Galactus, to name but a few, so Marvel Studios really needs to be making the best with the players it has. With that in mind, there are quite a few key personnel we felt should have been brought to life better. That’s why CBR decided to analyze this cosmic corner of the MCU, looking at 15 characters that we think weren’t done justice.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for the several properties in the MCU
We can’t wait to see Thanos unleashed in Avengers: Infinity War! However, while we’re certain he’ll cause chaos on Earth seeking the Infinity Stones, we just can’t help but feel the MCU dropped the ball as it painted the Mad Titan as an observer for way too long. He debuted in 2012’s The Avengers with a sly-grin in the after-credits, gave a small speech in Guardians of the Galaxy and then teased a more hands-on approach in an Age of Ultron post-credits scene.
But we’re yet to see him get his hands dirty. The MCU is saving Thanos like the final boss in a video game, but fans do feel a little short-changed that after five years. He’s basically been cast as a voyeur who was less about action and more about talk. It left some fans understandably impatient, especially as Thanos’ comic and animated depictions are all about aggression.
14. BLACK BOLT
Black Bolt was a big player in Marvel Comics’ modern cosmic stories, ranging from events like Secret Invasion to War of Kings to Infinity. He’s faced off against Skrulls, Thanos and even took on the Hulk, which clearly illustrates that he’s a heavy-hitter. However, if anyone saw Marvel’s Inhumans, he wasn’t given that regal treatment. The Inhuman king didn’t feel like a king at all, which sucks because Black Bolt is such an iconic leader.
Anson Mount really tried in his performance, but his presence on screen just wasn’t commanding enough. This is crucial in a non-speaking role and Mount fell short of the mark. Inhumans deserved to be a film spectacle but instead of Black Bolt draped in an epic costume and a headpiece with an icy-stare, we got something that looked like cheap cosplay or an outfit ripped from Bryan Singer’s X-Men films.
Drax is one of the most brutal warriors Marvel Comics has to offer. Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning reinvigorated the character when they took on the cosmic books, more specifically Guardians of the Galaxy. They shaped him as a badass with a tortured soul, destined to rip out the heart of Thanos. However, the MCU watered down this rivalry, especially in GotG Vol.2, and turned Drax into little more than a comedian… or even just a joke.
Sad to say, he’s not even that funny. He ended up being downright offensive and obnoxious, especially when shooting off immature and sexist jokes at Mantis. It’s not a bad idea to differentiate Drax but James Gunn really overdid things. We’re hoping come Infinity War, he reverts to the fist of cosmic vengeance that lost his family to Thanos and is out for blood, not laughs.
Fans were skeptical in the early stages when they saw Medusa’s wig in the Inhumans promotional material. Then came the trailers, and with each clip that was subsequently released, more and more confidence was lost in the queen that Serinda Swan would be playing. Medusa’s costume was very average, the visual effects when we saw her use her powers were iffy and in the premiere, Swan struggled to bring a royal feel to her character.
It’s a shame her depiction flopped because Medusa has been such a big part of the comics recently, especially when she led the Inhumans against the X-Men. On the IMAX screen, all the character’s shortcomings were magnified and the showrunners have already jumped the gun with Medusa going bald. To make things worse, her chemistry with Black Bolt felt like a weak daytime soap opera.
In the comics, Ronan the Accuser went from a dangerous cosmic villain to a redeemed hero who married Crystal and forged a crucial alliance with the Inhumans. However, Gunn wanted to use him as a straight-up villain in GotG. That was fine by us but the director was inconsistent with how the character was to be portrayed by Lee Pace. He made him intimidating at times, as seen when he killed the Other, but Gunn then molded him as a cowering lackey running errands for Thanos.
We understand Thanos needs to inflict fear but Gunn didn’t have a proper handle on the Kree general; one moment he was an ice-cold killer bent on genocide, the next he was whimpering. Not to mention he got tricked by Star Lord in a dance-off! Seriously? Ronan was turned into a joke instead of a galactic threat.
10. THE CHITAURI
Fans were introduced to the Chitauri when Mark Millar pitted them against the Ultimate Avengers. Their shapeshifting abilities made them the Ultimate Universe’s version of the Skrulls but when Joss Whedon brought them to the MCU in The Avengers, they disappointingly felt like your run-of-the-mill, generic force of alien invaders. They were loaned out to Loki like a bunch of average mercenaries, as opposed to being threatening aliens as seen in other films.
The Chitauri came off as bland and were easily taken out by Earth’s mightiest, with their look, attitude and weapons (apart from the Leviathans) leaving no lasting impression. The MCU failed to make us tremble at their sight, which is quite the opposite to the Chitauri we saw recently in Secret Empire battling Captain Marvel’s squad in space. Here’s hoping the Skrulls get better treatment from the MCU in Captain Marvel.
9. THE OTHER
The Other was initially teased as the main villain in The Avengers as he was the one working with Loki, lending him the Chitauri army and the scepter with the Mind Stone. However, it was revealed in the film’s post credits, following Loki’s defeat, that the Other was the loyal servant of Thanos, going so far as to warn him about Earth’s heroes.
However, the MCU quickly move to discard the mysterious alien. We saw the Other using his mental powers on Loki in Whedon’s debut only for Gunn to quickly kill him off in GotG when Ronan lost his temper. Ronan then continued his conversation with Thanos, making the Other feel inconsequential. It was disappointing because fans were hoping he would turn out to be someone bigger than just a flunky or glorified secretary Thanos simply didn’t care about.
In the books, apart from being an empath, Mantis is one of the galaxy’s most dangerous hand-to-hand combatants. Sadly, this was all thrown out the window in Gunn’s GotG sequel as the character became severely diluted. She was nothing more than a plot tool to trick the Guardians, but what was so off-putting was how Gunn made her the victim of bullying from Drax.
His jokes were distasteful enough, but the way Mantis accepted them while being treated so poorly came off as… gross. The MCU tries to push strong female characters, so fans were lost as to why such a move was taken by Gunn. To have one of your female leads objectified and embarrassed like this isn’t progressive at all and it actually felt like a step backwards for Marvel Studios.
7. THE NOVA CORPS
The Nova Corps should have been depicted as a powerful force policing space instead of the cops we got that felt so aloof. In the comics, using the intelligence of the Worldmind, they protect the galaxy with great strength. However, with the likes of John C. Reilly and Glenn Close, it was hard to take them as a serious peace-keeping army. The costumes looked super cheesy as well, not to mention Gunn left them out of his sequel.
What sucks even more is that Richard Rider hasn’t even made an appearance, despite being a fan-favorite and a key member of the Secret Avengers. He’s one of the publisher’s most badass characters too, so many felt he should have been the one representing the Corps. Here’s hoping they get their fair due when Thanos comes for his Orb, or that Sam Alexander gets a chance to don the helmet as seen in Champions.
Iwan Rheon was the first major casting for Inhumans and given the villainous performance he turned out as Ramsay Bolton in Game of Thrones, fans felt he was perfect for Maximus the Mad. As the brother of Black Bolt, what Maximus lacks in power, he makes up for with his intellect and his politically-duplicitous tongue. However, in this series, he came off as a spoiled brat ranting and raving without ever giving the impression of a formidable villain.
Rheon didn’t seem like someone who was conniving enough to lead a coup. His take on Maximus felt like bad network television (although, admittedly, that’s what Inhumans is), and was far from the genius lunatic we’ve seen in the comics. The seeds of redemption for the character are there, but before that happens, Maximus has to come off as a real threat. Scott Buck and his team missed that train and it doesn’t look optimistic after the premiere.
Ego the Living Planet was depicted as a Celestial in Gunn’s sequel and things got a bit complicated with how he was portrayed by Kurt Russell. The bigger changes, though, came with Ego being Star Lord’s dad, and most importantly, a villain. This is where things fell off because the switch-up wasn’t just a predictable one, it felt too forced.
Ego wanted to use Peter Quill to spread his essence throughout the galaxy but apart from being the universe’s biggest player, he was just a major tool! On a more serious note, in the prequel, we saw Quill handle the Orb (the Power Stone) so fans were waiting to see how Ego would address Celestials and the Infinity Stones, but instead all we got was Ego being a deadbeat dad, trying to harness his son’s power. Personally, we didn’t feel any emotional connection to his scheme at all.
Gorgon has been quite the enforcer in the comics, ready to fend off any and all threats to his people. This would include Avengers, X-Men, minions of Thanos and basically anyone who came to Attilan uninvited and looking for blood. In the Inhumans, however, Eme Ikwuakor’s portrayal of the character left a lot to be desired. Apart from a lackluster performance, he didn’t come off as the beast from the books that always left opponents deeply shaken… figuratively and literally.
Gorgon has a look that’s meant for the big screen and more specifically, a visionary like Gunn’s. That way we could see his feral nature intimidating enemies right where he belongs — amid aliens and monsters. On IMAX screens, that visual aesthetic was lost, despite seeing the character’s hooves. Also, when Gorgon used his powers, particularly his seismic stomp, it didn’t feel cinematic at all. Hopefully, he evolves as the show progresses.
In his first flick with the Guardians, Gunn gave us a big easter egg through Cosmo the space-dog. Cosmo was created by Abnett and Lanning as a tribute to Laika, the Soviet dog that went into space. In the comics, Cosmo was an integral part of the modern team, carving out a special relationship with Rocket Raccoon, and using his powers of telepathy and telekinesis to help fight cosmic threats.
He starred in a post-credits scene with the Collector and Howard the Duck, which leaves us wondering why Gunn couldn’t work him into a galaxy filled with aliens and monsters. Cosmo has proven very useful in battle and it would have been nice to see the team expanded with another hairy animal. Gunn treated the pooch like a novelty item instead of the warrior he is.
2. THE KREE
While Ronan felt like a throwaway character in the MCU, the Kree as an army didn’t fare any better. It would have been awesome seeing them used as a true powerhouse that was wreaking havoc across the galaxy, much like Zod’s Kryptonians from the DCEU or Malekith’s Dark Elves in the MCU. The Kree mattered a lot in the comics and feuded with the Avengers often so they should have been built up as something to fear.
Relegating them to Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as science experiments was a major disservice and come the Captain Marvel film, we’re hoping that the Kree-Skrull war is done right. Hopefully, we also see hints of tragedy in battle like what cost Hawkeye his life in the comics under Brian Bendis, and the Kree technology that powered up Mar-Vell, offering us a true homage to the books.
1. ADAM WARLOCK
Adam Warlock appeared in the post-credits in Gunn’s second Guardians movie as we saw Ayesha looking at his storage unit, ready to unleash him against Star Lord’s team after they got the better of her. What makes this feel like a disappointment is that Warlock should have been part of the MCU already, especially as Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet are already in play.
This is where he resonated most in the comics, and where he kicked ass as the evil Magus. Once Infinity War and Thanos’ conquests ends, fans have to wonder where Warlock will fit in and what role he will play. Will Thanos still be around as his foil? In terms of the MCU timeline, to really make Warlock relevant, Gunn should have followed his gut and used him in an earlier space tale to stay true to Thanos’ hunger for the Gauntlet.
Let us know in the comments which cosmic characters you also think flopped in the MCU!
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