Come Avengers: Infinity War, Marvel Studios will get to show us just who is the strongest among its vast array of heroes and villains. Hulk has already laid claim to that title, much to Thor's dismay in Thor: Ragnarok, but when it comes to fighting off Thanos and his Black Order, don't be surprised to see even more superheroes stepping up their game. What makes this all the more necessary is that the Mad Titan will be wielding his Infinity Gauntlet. However, while the Marvel Cinematic Universe has given us quite a few power players, there are some that just, well, fall way short of the mark.
With so many films in the MCU, it's hard not to find humanized or weaker heroes that will simply end up being useless in the fight against Thanos, and honestly, there's nothing wrong with that. In this battle, one's wits, charm and wiles may not be enough, because when it comes to this batch of aliens Thanos is bringing, the MCU needs its big hitters to come to the plate. With that in mind, CBR decided to explore all of the characters seen since 2008's Iron Man and analyze the strongest, as well as the most useless, for the battle ahead.
SPOILER WARNING: Major spoilers ahead for several movies in the MCU
15 STRONGEST: THANOS
Thanos is the cosmic tyrant that everyone fears in the MCU and if he ends up being as powerful as in the comics, expect epic bloodshed. The Guardians of the Galaxy already have a hint thanks to Gamora and Nebula (Thanos' daughters) but even if they didn't spread the word, we're certain Star Lord, Drax and the others would have gotten wind elsewhere around the galaxy. We're yet to see Thanos cut loose but fans who previewed Infinity War footage already saw him using the Infinity Gauntlet in a most destructive manner.
He's already on Hulk's level of power, but with the Infinity Stones, Thanos is more or less a godlike entity. The aforementioned footage showed Thanos bringing down what appeared to be the moon on our heroes so prepare yourselves for when he starts unleashing his true might, because it won't be a pretty sight.
14 USELESS: CAPTAIN AMERICA
We all love Steve Rogers and what he stands for but let's be honest, when Thanos invades, it's going to take entities with the power of gods to stave off his threat. Or at least heroes with a big arsenal! Captain America, as superhuman as he is, has neither. There's only so much his strength, agility and shield (if he gets it back from Tony Stark!) can offer against these invading despots.
Thanos' Black Order is expected to be much more brutal than the Chitauri as well, so Earth will need more than just someone who took a super-serum power-up. Cap's a great soldier for the fight but at the end of the day, he's pretty much useless if Thanos throws on the Infinity Gauntlet and starts dropping meteors on him. Vibranium isn't that strong, nor are Steve's bones against such vicious attacks.
13 STRONGEST: HULK
Hulk will get his chance to show he's the strongest in the galaxy in Ragnarok's gladiator arena but fans have already seen hints of this in the past. He's tussled with the likes of Abomination, Thor and of course, Iron Man's Hulkbuster suit, so it's clear that he is a walking, talking weapon of mass destruction. What's even scarier about Bruce Banner as a one-man army is that we probably haven't even seen his full rage unleashed.
Banner apparently has control for now but imagine if he absolutely loses it like in Age of Ultron. Hulk has unlimited strength and his skin is almost indestructible so let's pray he doesn't turn on his fellow heroes. This does however spell bad news for Thanos' crew. An enraged Hulk isn't someone you want to trifle with, especially when you threaten his beloved home with genocide.
12 USELESS: MANTIS
In the comics, especially Dan Abnett and Andy Lanning's run, Mantis was a fierce warrior and a lethal hand-to-hand fighter in the galaxy. However, in James Gunn's Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 she was watered down into an empath that offered nothing more than being the butt of Drax's obnoxious jokes. Gunn really did the character a disservice as all she became was a mind-reader and someone that could feel another's pain... and relate.
What is Mantis supposed to do against Thanos' armies? Indulge them in a therapy session and ask them about their feelings? Unless she has Drax, Gamora or another Guardians member around her, we can't see her putting up much in the way of a fight. Mantis was merely a plot device to lure Peter Quill to Ego, so unless Gunn had something else up her sleeve, we can see her being an early casualty.
11 STRONGEST: IRON MAN
Tony Stark may be human but his genius intellect levels him up into a major MCU powerhouse. He has many weapons at his disposal, equipping him to fend off aliens like the Chitauri or even Ultron's robots. However, if you think all this comes down to one suit, think again. As seen in Iron Man 3 and Spider-Man: Homecoming, he has a battalion he can control remotely.
He also has the Hulkbuster suit which we can already see him upgrading to fight Thanos and he can even alter his tech (as in Brian Bendis' recent Guardians of the Galaxy books) to make a space suit to take the fight to the invaders. Stark is much more than just a suit though -- in Age of Ultron he turned out to be a hacker and we even witnessed his brawler side against Cap and Bucky in Civil War!
10 USELESS: BLACK WIDOW
The MCU has done a great job with Natasha Romanov but it's time to get realistic here and admit the truth: if Captain America is useless, then you can imagine how futile Black Widow's efforts will be in Infinity War. At least Cap is powered up but Widow, well, she's just human. No disrespect meant there but Thanos' forces are way above her level.
Widow's weaponry and her martial arts expertise may have been enough for the Chitauri and HYDRA, but she'll be batting in the big leagues against Thanos. The galaxy's most ruthless murderers are coming so unless she has a lot more weapons in her holster, she'll be a liability. Even if she gets past the Black Order, with or without the Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos will easily crush her. Heck, she barely made it out of the Civil War film against Cap's rogue squadron!
9 STRONGEST: THOR
Ragnarok has already hinted that Thor will be harnessing his full electric potential against Hela's forces, and what's even scarier is that this evolution may be occurring without the use of Mjolnir, his trusted weapon and apparent source of power. The Odinson's strength and indestructibility could also be higher than ever at the end of Taika Waititi's film, which spells bad news for Thanos.
This makes it no surprise as to why Thor has managed to take on the Hulk on a couple of occasions, pushing the gamma behemoth to the limit. We've also seen him defeat the Destroyer, Malekith's Dark Elves, the Chitauri and Ultron's robots, so his extensive resume does indeed show what he's capable of. Thanos may be pretending to be a god but he might end up biting off more than he can chew with a true Asgardian deity, whose power can make or break worlds.
8 USELESS: GROOT
Be real, if you're fighting Thanos, you'll need more than a tree. Groot fits in well when he's backed by the Guardians, especially the gun-toting Rocket Raccoon, but even with his rodent bestie, what can you really expect Groot to do against Thanos' army of killers? Stretch his limbs? Regenerate and bloom again? Offer flowers as a peace token?
Can you imagine Groot, whether as a teen or an adult, trying to run up against Thanos? In James Gunn's GotG Vol. 2 we saw just how limited his power set is and frankly, Groot will be broken into twigs, even if it's against the Black Order. Gunn did a fantastic job at making us believe he can be a hero but this upcoming battle is going to be merciless and you'll need more than flora and fauna to save the universe.
7 STRONGEST: SCARLET WITCH
Comic fans know that Wanda Maximoff can be a ticking time bomb. In the MCU, she was retconned a bit, gaining powers as a HYDRA experiment with the Mind Stone. Apart from being able to control people's minds, we've seen her display telekinesis that makes her quite a danger to heroes and villains alike. We saw it against Crossbones' army and Ultron's robots, not to mention when she took on Vision and the rest of Team Stark.
Yet somehow we get the feeling her powers are still evolving. When Thanos tries to harness the Infinity Stones, who knows how the Scarlet Witch will react, given that she's so closely linked to the Mind Stone's energy. Maybe we'll end up seeing her using teleportation and her reality-bending abilities like in the comics. It would be quite a moment if she whispers, "No More Thanos..." and eviscerates him, wouldn't it?
6 USELESS: HAWKEYE
Hawkeye is another soldier that just doesn't fit this battle cloth. He may be cut out for your run-of-the-mill Chitauri who lack leadership or his fellow Avengers that are trying to arrest, and not kill him. However, Thanos' minions are coming for blood, and a bow and arrow won't cut it. Clint Barton is just like Black Widow -- a great fighter but still as human as they come. There's only so much his pinpoint aim and martial arts skills can do.
The Black Order are superpowered aliens so one-on-one, it's tough to see Hawkeye mounting a solid challenge. He ended up incarcerated in Civil War after all, so when it's time to face these galactic goons, unless he's coming with some sniper rifles or high-caliber guns like his Ultimates counterpart, we don't expect him to last long in the Infinity War field.
5 STRONGEST: BLACK PANTHER
Black Panther is more than just a man in a suit as Civil War showed. He has so many dimensions to his game, which is what Ryan Coogler has already put on display in his Black Panther trailers. Not only is T'Challa an expert martial artist that can take on Captain America and the Winter Soldier, but his vibranium suit and claws make him almost invulnerable to attackers and even bullets. He may not have Iron Man's weaponry but we have to remember T'Challa is the Wakandan King.
This means that he has an army of Wakandan soldiers, including the relentless bodyguard unit called the Dora Milaje, ready to fight alongside him, and a variety of aircrafts that can rival the Avengers' Quinjets. Black Panther's strengths doesn't just lie in technology, but in mysticism as well, so Thanos will be underestimating this hero at his own Peril.
4 USELESS: STAR LORD
Star Lord comes equipped with a lot of bravado, a jet pack and some pretty cool blasters but in the last GotG outing, he may have well lost the one key trait that would have made him a big player in the fight to come -- his Celestial DNA. As the son of Ego, he was able to hold and harness the Orb in James Gunn's first film but in defeating his father, he lost the essence that made him special and something of a god.
Now Star Lord is just a human again and given that he's not even that great a warrior, expect him to need a lot of help. Preview footage saw him leaping off Doctor Strange's magical constructs, guns blazing, emphasizing that he'll be relying on others a lot, especially folks with heavy artillery. Without this, Thanos' forces have an easy mark.
3 STRONGEST: THE VISION
The Mind Stone embedded in Vision's head as the source of his life makes him more than just an android. It's a great bet that this gives him latent power within that will make the MCU tremble. We've seen hints of this so far through his power of flight and his ability to emit high-energy blasts but what gives him an extra edge is his ability to phase through matter.
It remains to be seen how he'll adapt when in the presence of the other Infinity Stones but one thing is clear -- Thanos will have to rip the Vision apart to get the one he possesses, just like in the comics. Vision has seemingly held back especially when rounding up rogue Avengers but when it comes to protecting Scarlet Witch, the woman he loves, and the rest of Earth, we can see him unleashing his full potential.
2 USELESS: THE COLLECTOR
The Collector (aka Taneleer Tivan) is an Elder of the Universe and in the MCU, he collects rare items such as the Infinity Stones. This will surely make him a target for Thanos' forces and we can't see him surviving because just like in the comics, all he really has is the power of, well, being immortal. Unless he has some combative secrets hidden away, the Collector is going to be easy fodder.
When the Orb blew his home up, we saw Benicio del Toro's eccentric character wounded and bandaged so it's safe to say he's no warrior. Apart from his information and extra knowledge on the Stones, Thanos and the Infinity Gauntlet, all he'll end up being is an MCU Wikipedia page. Hopefully, his brother, the Grandmaster hints that there's more than meets the eye with his family in Ragnarok, but as it stands, they'll all be easy kills.
1 STRONGEST: DOCTOR STRANGE
Bargaining skills aside, Doctor Strange has a lot of weapons in his magical pockets that paint him as the most well-rounded of all the heroes trying to save Earth. Apart from his spells, which blur the lines of science and magic, and teleportation skills, he has access to so many mystical tools such as his cloak, the Wand of Watoomb and the Eye of Agamotto. The latter, in particular, is quite the artifact as it contains the Time Stone which he used in the Doctor Strange movie.
It allowed him to manipulate time so maybe he'll use this again, or dig deeper into the archives of Kamar-Taj or his own Sanctum Sanctorum in New York to unlock even more tools to take down Thanos' soldiers. Strange might not be the most reliable in a brawl but he's sure to utilize his magical treasure trove to the fullest extent.
Let us know in the comments who'll be the strongest and also, the most useless, in Avengers: Infinity War!