With the release of 2008’s Iron Man, Marvel Comics adaptations became Hollywood blockbusters, with effects, characters and set pieces to match. And what would any good action set piece in a superhero movie be without a show of force from superheroic abilities, or from weapons only a superhero (or villain) could handle? When the MCU is firing on all its proverbial cylinders, the weaponry in their movies is as staggering, in scope of design and utility. They’ve been able to modernize and streamline some clunkier weapons, and some of them didn’t need streamlining at all. In a universe like Marvel’s, having the right weapons for the right people has been a major selling point in the authenticity of the universe.
The MCU has given us dozens of interesting weapons, some of them peripherally mentioned in one TV series, some of them iconic enough to base posters and logos around. But in all that, there have to be good weapons and there have to be impossibly lame weapons. We took 18 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s weapons, from iconic to inane, and ranked them from the lamest to the most deadly. The only rule: No Infinity Stones. Check it out, and see where your favorite character’s weapon landed on our list!
18. DAREDEVIL’S BILLY CLUB
Daredevil was Marvel Studios’ first standout serial hit, plumbing the depths of Matt Murdock’s Catholic pathos while retaining a sense of swashbuckling fun. Part of the fun of the series was waiting on the reveal of “the man in the mask” as Daredevil, the protector of Hell’s Kitchen; when he is finally revealed, he brings his trademark billy club to the ultimate fight with Fisk.
As much as the billy clubs are an integral part of DD’s look, they’re limited technology. It’s just a stick that extends and also splits in two; it also happens to be painted to match Daredevil’s color scheme. In the second season, Melvin Potter upgrades Daredevil’s billy clubs to include an extending line/grappling hook, which makes it slightly more formidable. Ultimately, no weapon Daredevil uses is more effective than his fists.
17. BLACK WIDOW’S WIDOW STINGS
Black Widow’s wrist blasts are electrical bursts that can be directed at targets close or far, and includes some removable aspects, such as taser disks and two expandable batons that can also be charged with electrical energy. A proto-version of them appeared in the Widow’s first MCU appearance in Iron Man 2, but they weren’t given a lot of screen time in their recognizable configuration until The Avengers. In their first full outing against the Chitauri they are… less than impressive, as they short circuit almost immediately.
Before Avengers: Age of Ultron, Widow got upgraded versions of the Widow Stings (their official name according to MCU S.H.I.E.L.D. files) that had batons, taser disks, and they look cooler — but still not cool enough. They’re fun accoutrements, but the real fun of Black Widow is still watching her use unarmed combat to beat the enemy senseless.
16. SPIDER-MAN’S WEB-SHOOTERS
Spider-Man’s web-shooters are some of the most versatile weapons in the MCU, as evidenced by the too-long sequence in Spider-Man: Homecoming where the audience gets to discover all of the shooters’ capabilities alongside Spidey. His webs can split and fire in four directions at once, they can ricochet off a surface before sticking to a second surface, they can tase someone, and they can even form a grenade.
What keeps Spidey’s we- shooters low on this list is the deadliness factor. Spidey isn’t the Punisher, he doesn’t wish for death for any of his enemies, so all his web-shooter capabilities are non-lethal. His intention is to keep criminals around for the cops to arrest them, he just has a thousand different combinations of ways to do that.
Agent Carter was a bright star that burned out too quickly, but it gave the world a lot of delightful Cold War-era gadgetry, the likes of which have not been seen since the height of James Bond’s wackiness. With Howard Stark playing the svelte Q stand-in, many of his gadgets became central plot devices over the course of the show’s two seasons, including the Jitterbug.
The Jitterbug was used by Jarvis to help himself and Carter escape from Whitney Frost and the Maggia henchmen protecting her. When the user enters either the measurements of Barbara Stanwyck or Carole Lombard, it releases a concussive wave either instantaneously or delayed by a few minutes. It has a charming Atomic Age aesthetic to it, but its non-lethality and gross code mechanism leaves it low on the list.
14. CAPTAIN AMERICA’S SHIELD
This is a hard one to rank for several reasons. Cap’s shield is iconic, and maybe the closest to an unofficial logo that Marvel has; it’s technologically advanced, made from vibranium and equipped with electromagnets to automatically return to Cap’s arm; it can wreak a lot of havoc quickly, working like a crazed boomerang.
But ultimately, Captain America’s shield is just that — a shield. While shields can be a useful part of an armament, protecting a combatant’s weak side or even being used to push people around, they are here to defend, not to attack. The fact that Cap can make his shield into such a utile offensive weapon says more about Captain America than it does his super science shield. It speaks to Cap’s desire to protect things, to defend, rather than to lash out in anger, but it places it extra low on the list of deadly weapons.
Guardians of the Galaxy was a breath of fresh air in the MCU; a space adventure movie with plenty of laughs and goofs in the increasingly grim world of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It felt like a spiritual successor to Iron Man, with its wisecracking heroes and amazing gadgetry. In Ronan the Accuser, it also had a strong mid-tier opponent for the Guardians to face.
Ronan wields his Cosmi-Rod with aplomb, using its concussive force to twist the head of Thanos’ personal servant completely around, but at the end of the day, it’s still basically just a huge hammer that you have to be super built to even hold. He puts an Infinity Stone in at the end of the movie, which ups its power and abilities pretty seriously, but that’s a clear disqualification.
12. HAWKEYE’S BOW, ARROWS & QUIVER
Hawkeye gets a lot of unfair grief for being just a guy with a bow and some arrows. With that reductive approach, it gets glossed over that he’s still a high-ranking S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, and that his hand-to-hand skills are staggering. However, of all the weapons that could be used in this day and age, there’s a grain of truth to referring to his bow and arrows as Stone Age weapons. He’s still using a projectile shot from a snapped string to try and combat alien ray guns, super bombs, literal gods and just plain old bullets.
His quiver is not without its intrigues; there are buttons on the left-hand grip of Hawkeye’s bow to summon tactical arrows without having to dig through his quiver (always a pain in the middle of a fight), and the arrows themselves have almost a dozen configurations, from thermal explosive to computer hacking.
11. JUDAS BULLETS
The Judas Bullet is another weapon made from reverse-engineered Chitauri materials left behind after the Battle of New York, or “The Incident.” Cottonmouth purchases a batch of Judas Bullets for Diamondback to use in his pursuit of Luke Cage as they were the only bullets that had a chance of penetrating Luke’s impermeable skin. Diamondback was able to puncture Cage twice with them before their fight ended, and Cage almost died — and would have, were it not for the quick thinking of the unsung hero of the MCU’s Netflix subsidary: Claire Temple.
That’s the real impressive part — these bullets not only pierced Luke Cage’s invulnerable skin, but they did it twice, and they almost killed him. Any external weaponry that can do that kind of serious damage to Luke Cage is something to get serious about, and quick.
10. BERSERKER STAFF
The MCU is full of weapons that gain their destructive edge by co-opting the darkness and viciousness inside otherwise good people, weapons that poison the user for their power. In Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., during an arc where Sif and the Asgardians were appearing on the show, the team was hunting for a relic called the Berserker Staff, which is pretty much exactly what it sounds like — you hold it, and it ups your rage by several orders of magnitude and turns you into a killing machine, but it makes you confront your suppressed inner hate.
While this isn’t the most readily obvious of the deadly weapons on this list, it taps into the dark heart of humanity, which ends up being the deadliest of weapons in practice. Deadly to user and victim alike, the Berserker Staff is not to be messed with.
9. MIDNIGHT OIL
In Agent Carter, aside from his wonderful gadgets, Howard Stark creates a variety of other means to help Peggy and the SSR win their covert war on Hydra. One of his most brutal inventions was from the final days of World War II, when he created Midnight Oil — a gas that was stolen by an American general and used on the Russian army, causing them to become completely enraged and massacre each other.
The real shock in the show comes later, as the gas is released in a movie theater, causing all the attendees to slaughter each other; removed from the context of a battlefield, the devastation is all the more affecting. Eventually, Stark recovers all of his Midnight Oil samples and destroys them, as he deems it too dangerous to fall into anyone’s hands, period.
8. DESTROYER SUIT & GUNGNIR
The Destroyer and Gungnir are two sides of the same coin in the MCU; Gungnir is the mystical spear wielded by the rule of Asgard (usually Odin, but sometimes Loki), and the Destroyer is an almost-unstoppable automaton who unquestionably obeys whoever holds Gungnir. The spear itself is a formidable weapon, on par with other Asgardian weapons such as Mjølnir, and the Destroyer almost destroyed an entire town in Mexico before Thor and S.H.I.E.L.D. were able to properly subdue it.
As a one-two punch, the Destroyer and Gungnir would generally rank in the top five of deadliest MCU weapons, but so much is dependent on the skill of the user. While they clearly can be used by the uninitiated, such as Loki, they only reach their full destructive power when a master such as Odin wields them.
7. IRON MAN’S SUITS
Tony Stark ushered in the age of the MCU in 2008’s Iron Man, and his Iron Man suits have remained close to the top of the list of deadliest items in the MCU ever since. From the MK I, which was just a walking trash can that had a flamethrower taped to it, to the MK XLVI (worn in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming), with EMP projectiles, a unibeam, and power relays all over the suit, the Iron Man suits have only gotten more technologically advanced and more deadly.
In the nine years since the beginning of the MCU, Stark has created almost 50 different versions of his suit, some extremely specialized, others just general improvements over previous generations; for all his talk about reducing his investment in weapons, his suits are the most lethal weapons he’s ever designed.
6. BLACK HOLE GRENADE
This one is pretty self-explanatory: in Thor: The Dark World, Malekith’s Dark Elves use handheld devices that create miniature singularities. After the Aether is unleashed into the world and Malekith is reawakened, his forces storm Asgard, and the black hole grenades are a major part of their strategy. Loki is able to steal some of them and turn them against the Dark Elves (particularly Algrim) during a stealth infiltration of Svartalfheim.
The black holes themselves have a small effective radius, and they require a higher degree of accuracy than your everyday grenade, but the effects are horrifying. The Dark Elves used the grenades to great effect in their battles with the Asgardians, sending many of them to their deaths on the other side of a black hole.
5. ABSOLUTION VIRUS
The Absolution Virus is a horrible cocktail, two parts parasites from the Inhuman Hive, three parts Terrigen Crystals, and a dash of Daisy Johnson’s Kree-tinged blood. The virus was intended as a way for Hive to force people to undergo Terrigenesis and unlock their Inhuman abilities, while also letting him control them with the use of his parasites. In the first trials, instead of doing what it was intended to, the Absolution Virus melted the patients’ bodies before they exploded.
When it was “perfected,” the virus didn’t make anyone explode anymore, but it did transform people into Primitives, horrifically deformed Inhumans with no free will of their own, subservient to Hive and his villainous demands. No cure was discovered, and the only way S.H.I.E.L.D. was able to save the day was by sending a warhead with the virus loaded into it into space to explode harmlessly…one hopes.
4. BUCKY’S ARM
Bucky’s transformation into the Winter Soldier was a groundbreaking moment in Marvel Comics, and Sebastian Stan’s turn as the tragic counterpoint to Chris Evans’ Captain America was equally earth-shattering in the MCU. The reappearance of Bucky pointed to the Hydra conspiracy that brought down S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside, but his most destructive potential came from the metal arm the Soviets gave him.
The Winter Soldier’s incredible metal arm is a win on almost every level — it’s a striking design, with the banded steel and the red Communist star; it’s incredibly powerful, while retaining the dexterity of a real hand. Bucky is able to use it to deflect bullets, and at one point he grabs a speeding motorcycle with it. Bucky’s arm, as a mechanical extension of Bucky’s body, makes the Winter Soldier one of the deadliest people in the MCU.
3. HELLFIRE CHAIN
The Hellfire chain is a simple instrument that has risen above its station in life to become one of the deadliest weapons in the MCU. Originally a simple industrial chain, it was appropriated by Hellfire during Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. to channel his heat powers without exploding. Hellfire was an Inhuman who had been banished after his Terrigenesis, and he became a thorn in S.H.I.E.L.D.’s side in their campaign against the Watchdogs. Eventually, Robbie Reyes as Ghost Rider was able to defeat Hellfire and complete his iconic look by adding the chain, which he wraps around his body when not in use.
The chain itself is not a particularly deadly weapon — it’s heavy, it would be unwieldy to a normal person, and it is not particularly glamorous. But with Ghost Rider and Hellfire’s power sets, it became a swinging tendon of Hell in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
2. YAKA ARROW
The Yaka Arrow is a weapon used by the Centaurians, and in the MCU, particularly by everyone’s favorite Centaurian/Mary-Poppins-impersonator, Yondu Udonta. In its first appearance in Guardians of the Galaxy, the Yaka Arrow was an interesting concept, but didn’t rate highly on the deadly scale, especially next to Ronan’s Cosmi-Rod and Star-Lord’s Quad Blasters.
If there was any doubt of the Yaka arrow’s lethality, it was put firmly to rest by Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2. During Yondu, Rocket, and Kraglin’s escape from Taserface and the mutinous raiders, Yondu goes on a veritable killing spree, making quick work of everyone else about the ship with a jaunty tune. He may be Mary Poppins, y’all, but the whistling while he works makes him look like a murderous Snow White.
This one is an easy one. The power of Mjølnir is granted to anyone who proves themselves worthy, and the list of worthy people is a short one indeed — in the MCU, it’s pretty much just Thor and Vision, who somehow was born worthy even though he arose from Tony Stark’s browsing history. Mjølnir is not the most subtle or delicate of weapons; it’s an enormous mallet, and works best as such. But the fact that it also can fly, grant its user a boost to their strength in orders of magnitude, and summon/control the weather makes Mjølnir one of the most overpowered of all the MCU’s weapons.
Mjølnir’s power and ubiquity have made it into Thor’s unofficial sidekick, and that’s ultimately what nudges it over the edge into the top slot. This isn’t just a deadly weapon; it’s one who’s best friend is a thunder god. Don’t mess with Mjølnir.
Do you agree or disagree with these rankings? Let us know in the comments!
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