Monday, December 23, 2019

Marvel Cinematic Universe is Cinema Pt. 3: Heroes

Part 3: We Can Be Heroes, Just for One Day

One of the things that makes a superhero film work is the hero itself. Heroes are there to help people, do some good, and make the world better. Yet, they have to be characters that are relatable and can have flaws or characteristics that make them human. They have to put others first instead of themselves as well as wanting to save the world from evil. Some try to protect a world that is fragile with others trying to keep secrets so that evil beings couldn’t use these secrets for their own selfish gain. Being a hero isn’t just about trying to save a life but also deal with their own faults and failures but find a way to rise above that. The heroes in the MCU have those attributes as that is what makes them so interesting.

This list of 40 individuals play into not just their strengths but also their selflessness and eagerness to make the world better. Even if they start out as villains or antiheroes but find a reason to be part of something or to become a better version of themselves. This list isn’t just ranked on my own personal references but also in what they’ve done for the series and the development they’ve endured. There are no sidekicks in this list nor anyone who is at the bottom of the near-bottom of this list of 40 that should be considered less than. All of these characters have worth and value that can allow people someone to root for. Here are the 40 best heroes of the MCU:

1. Thor (Chris Hemsworth and Dakota Goyo)

The Asgardian prince who wields a mighty hammer in the Mjolnir and later the Stormbreaker, he started off as this god that can retrieve lightning and wreak havoc as well as being someone that is incredibly strong. Yet, he would be the one character to have an arc that would make him more than just this mighty god but someone who would grow up and later deal with loss and failure. Chris Hemsworth performance as Thor is definitely one of complexities where he starts off as this arrogant god that endures a lesson in humility in the first Thor film and then trying to be part of a team in the first two Avengers film. Hemsworth was solid in those films but it would be in Thor: Ragnarok where he came alive in not just displaying many of Thor’s attributes as a hero but also showcase a funnier side to Thor in the way he deals with adversity and fear from getting a haircut by Stan Lee. His performances in Infinity War and Endgame that shows Hemsworth at his best where he allows Thor to be vulnerable as well as show a comical yet realistic approach to depression and PTSD in the latter where Hemsworth showcases Thor’s reluctance to get back in the game only to get a pep talk from his mother and realize what he needs to be rather than what everyone expects him to be.

2. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans)

A short and skinny kid from Brooklyn who would later become an iconic figure of patriotism and servitude to generations only to question this role later in his life. Steve Rogers was someone that just wanted to help out and make a tiny difference as he would have an arc of his as someone who would gain super-strength and powers through an experimental serum but retain all of the elements that made him a man of humility and kindness. After fighting Hydra and then being frozen for 70 years until he was found, he would encounter a new world that is confusing as he copes with this increasing need of militarization and government control. Chris Evans was the right choice to play that role as he can display that air of humility and confusion but also be someone who does have some moral values that can steer people in the right direction despite his own faults as a person. His work in his own trilogy is incredible as his performances in the Avengers film with credit also going to Leander Deeny as the body double for the young and skinnier Rogers as the character does at least get a happy ending.

3. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.)

Tony Stark in the first minutes of the first Iron Man film seems like the last person anyone would want to save them. Yet, after being attacked by terrorists, nearly dying, and having to create an arc reactor with a box of scraps to keep pieces of shrapnel away from his heart. He would one of the key faces of the MCU through a trilogy of films as well as appear in several other films including the Avengers as he went from a self-centered and troubled tech genius into a man who would ultimately fight for something and is willing to sacrifice himself if he has to. Casting Robert Downey Jr. in that role is a stroke of genius as he displays the charm and vulnerability of a man with problems but manages to rise above. Even if he is also flawed while eventually learning to be more giving as his final act of heroism is proof of what he is willing to do to save the universe just so that those he cared about can live on.

4. Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk/Professor Hulk (Mark Ruffalo and Edward Norton)

The Incredible Hulk had a rough start upon his arrival into the world of films as many wondered how to make audiences care about a scientist who turns into a big green monster whenever he gets angry. While Edward Norton did a fine job in playing up the anxieties of Bruce Banner in its lone titular 2008 film, it would be Mark Ruffalo who would provide the complexities and humor into both Banner and the Hulk in The Avengers and in subsequent films as the character would go into a journey of someone trying to be accepted but has a lot of problems. Banner still trying not to repress his anger and Hulk trying to let go of his anger as the latter starts to gain a personality and feelings while choosing to sit out during Infinity War after getting his ass kicked by Thanos. This would force Banner to finally fight but after being defeated by Thanos again and for a third time in the opening minutes of Endgame. Banner comes to terms with his identity in being the Incredible Hulk and thus emerged Professor Hulk who is this ultimate outcome that allows both Hulk and Banner to let go of their anger and find happiness.

5. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)

Starting of as a spy for the Russians and then join S.H.I.E.L.D. where she would inhabit many different identities, Romanoff is someone that arrived with a lot of secrets and notoriety who had done a lot of bad things. In being part of the Avengers, she is given a chance to find redemption and purpose but would be haunted by her own sins. Scarlett Johansson’s performance brings a vulnerability and charm to the character as well as someone who is there for her friends as her sacrifice in Endgame is one of the film’s most devastating moments. Yet, her sacrifice wasn’t just to get a man back his family but also give the Avengers hope again as they were her family with her as their mother. Her fighting skills and willingness to be there for the team makes her one of the toughest and most compelling figures of the MCU.

6. King T’Challa of Wakanda/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman)

Though he would get the identity of Black Panther due to means of violence when his father was killed by a bombing, T’Challa would make an immediate impact in taking on an identity that had been passed from father to sons for generations. It’s a role he immediately accepts as well as the role of king for an African nation that disguises itself as a third-world country but is really far more advanced than any other nation on Earth. Chadwick Boseman’s performance in the titular role is a man who is more reserved in his approach but is also powerful in his strikes and what he can do in and out of the suit. He is also a man that is willing to listen to reason as well as accepts challenges to anyone who wants the throne of Wakanda but also do what he has to do to protect that throne. Boseman’s performance in the titular film as well as Captain America: Civil War, Infinity War, and Endgame are highlights as a man who is aware what it takes to be a king and a leader to his people but also be someone who everyone can rely for help.

7. Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland and Max Favreau)

Tom Holland’s approach to the character of Peter Parker/Spider-Man is very different from the previous incarnations and different film franchises that starred Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield in their takes as the web-slinger. Notably as he’s in his early 20s and providing a different energy to the character where Holland portrays Parker as a kid still trying to figure things but also wanting to hang out with his friends. As Spider-Man, Holland provides a more grounded approach to the character but also knows when to be involved even if he accidentally causes problems but tries to fix things. Holland definitely shows his best work when Parker is trapped under a rubble of building debris as he is calling for help and then sees his mask along with the words Tony Stark tells him about being Spider-Man. Holland also has abundance of charisma and charm that makes him a joy to watch that include some of the pop culture references he spouts out.

8. Clint Barton/Hawkeye/Ronin (Jeremy Renner)

Clint Barton’s cameo appearance in Thor was a surprise as the master assassin/sharpshooter watches Thor fight off S.H.I.E.L.D. security guards but finds himself starting to root for Thor. As one of the six original members of the Avengers, Barton might not seem like the most powerful of the six but he is the glue that keeps everyone in the team together whenever they’re down such as the case in Age of Ultron as he was the only one not manipulated by Wanda Maximoff’s powers. Barton is also someone still loyal to his family but is also a father-figure to Wanda as she joins the Avengers. Barton’s arc is unique as someone who is loyal to job but also to his family but when he loses his family, he becomes lost where he becomes Ronin. Renner is great in showcasing Barton’s grief and loss of direction and identity in Endgame as he goes on a killing spree on cartels and mobsters only to be coaxed by Natasha Romanoff to come home as he would take on the mission to retrieve the Infinity Stones in the hope he could get his family back.

9. Doctor Steven Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)

Doctor Steven Strange shares a similar development of both Thor and Tony Stark as men who were good at what they did but were also arrogant in their skills but would also endure humility. For Strange, it would be in a car accident that would change his life as he is a man that is known for fixing things where he would go on a journey where he would eventually take on a new role but also become a master of the mystic arts who is sworn to protect the dimension of the universe from other threats as he would succeed in doing so. In contact with other heroes, he would help Thor find his father and also get involved with the war against Thanos as he would discover the many possibilities of the Avengers/Guardians defeating Thanos where he realizes there is only one outcome that will guarantee Thanos’ defeat. Benedict Cumberbatch would bring a reserved approach to the character but also some humor to the man who becomes humble and realizes what he must do to protect the universe and its many threats with the help of the Cloak of Levitation.

10. Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)

One of the Maximoff twins who were introduced in a post-credit scene in Captain America: The Winter Soldier as a volunteer for one of Hydra’s experiment with Loki’s scepter. Through her usage of telekinesis and hypnotism, Maximoff is one of the most powerful members of the Avengers though started off as an antagonist to the Avengers due to a grudge she and her brother Pietro had with Stark over his weapons killing their parents many years ago. A brief alliance with Ultron would make them powerful against the Avengers until they learn about Ultron’s true intentions as they join the Avengers to stop him. Elizabeth Olsen’s performance as Maximoff is entrancing in displaying the vulnerabilities of a young woman who is aware of her powers but also has feelings where she bonds with Barton and later Vision while seeing both Rogers and Romanoff as people she can count on. Olsen’s display of humanity as well as her wit makes Maximoff a fascinating character who is just getting started.

11. Carol Danvers/Captain Marvel (Brie Larson, McKenna Grace, and London Fuller)

Though she’s only appeared in two films of the MCU so far and still new to audiences, Carol Danvers still manages to make an impact as a woman with great powers due to an encounter with the Tesseract that would make her a powerful force but under the tutelage of the Kree and its leader in the Supreme Intelligence. Danvers’ story would have her learn about her past following a conflict with the Skrulls as well as understanding what happened to her on the day she lost her memory and such. Brie Larson definitely brings a charm and pathos to the character who would be a key factor in Endgame as the one who would bring Tony Stark home as well as come in for the final battle as she is one of the few who is powerful enough to go toe-to-toe with Thanos.

12. Groot (Vin Diesel)

I am Groot. Those are the words that this gigantic, tree-like alien figure can say though he is really saying a lot of things. With immense strength and the ability to grow limbs that can stab someone or allow him to reach a certain height, Groot is a character that is also innocent in the way he engages his surrounding that is in display in the Guardians but is also willing to get into a fight. In the second Guardians film, he is a baby as he ends up being the most adorable thing in the MCU while teenage Groot is also a joy in the way he prefers to spend time playing video games than help out unless it’s necessary such as creating the handle for the Stormbreaker in Infinity War. Yet, he knows when it’s time to fight as Vin Diesel’s work in the voice work as well as in some of the performance capturing brings a lot of wit while Diesel also deserves a lot of credit for saying those three words in numerous different language.

13. Rocket Raccoon (Sean Gunn and the voice of Bradley Cooper)

A genetically-engineered raccoon who talks and causes trouble is definitely a character who is powerful with whatever weapon he carries yet this more to him than just being this mischievous bounty hunter. Rocket is a character that is also inventive and can create something through scraps but he is initially resistant to be part of a family as his arc does have him become less selfless during the second Guardians film during his time where he is prisoned with Yondu by traitorous Ravagers. The bond he would have with Yondu would showcase more of Rocket’s heart while retaining his own need to get something in the hopes of making money. Even through Infinity War and Endgame as he is one of the two members of the Guardians to survive the Snap as he would get Thor out of his despair and tell him what is at stake showing how much he deeply cares for the Guardians whom he sees as family. Sean Gunn provides the motion capture as he does a lot to bring out the physicality of the character while Bradley Cooper adds a lot of personality to Rocket’s voice.

14. Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie)

A soldier who served in the Air Force as a pararescueman who flies on a jet-pack with wings, he is probably the closest figure to Steve Rogers in terms of knowing what it’s like to be a soldier as he is one of the few that helps Rogers cope with the modern world. Wilson himself proves to be powerful in his own ways but is also the perfect right-hand man as he can fly and survey areas while also having some funny things to say. Anthony Mackie hits all of the right notes to play Wilson where he is reserved and witty while also doing some amazing work in the action sequences where he brings Wilson to life and make him a key guy anyone would want on their side. Even in Endgame as he would be the first one to contact Rogers for the final battle with three simple words, “on your left” as his heart and determination makes him worthy to carry Captain America’s shield.

15. Okoye (Danai Gurira)

The leader of Wakanda’s royal guard that is the Dora Milaje, Okoye is widely considered to be one of the greatest warriors in all of Wakanda as all she needs to carry is a spear. She is a woman who represents a long-standing tradition while is also T’Challa’s closest confidant as she is tasked with protecting the king by any means necessary and to assist him in any way. It’s a role that also allows her to keep the king humble as well as get a few ribs at him. Danai Gurira brings a gravitas and wit into the role as she is someone who is a bit of a traditionalist but also wants what is best for Wakanda. All Okoye needs to carry is a spear as it has proven to be a formidable weapon in combat and in other things as she would use it to fight Proxima Midnight in Infinity War with Black Widow and Scarlet Witch as she would also be one of the few that would survive the snap allowing her to maintain contact with Widow in Endgame years after the snap and then accompany T’Challa for the final battle.

16. Gamora (Zoe Saldana and Ariana Greenblatt)

An alien warrior who would be one of two adopted daughters of Thanos came into the universe after being seen by Thanos and then having her be part of his gang where she would also be affiliated with Ronan the Accuser along with her sister Nebula. Yet, Gamora is a fierce warrior who carries knives and swords while can do anything else with weapons is a total badass but what makes her standout is the fact that she is always willing to listen and try to see the good in someone whether it’s in Nebula or in Thanos. Zoe Saldana brings that air of seriousness and charm into the character who would eventually loosen up and be more giving in the course of her time in the two Guardian films while also being someone who has learn about love while realize what Thanos would do to her in Infinity War as she would be a sacrificial lamb for the soul stone. Gamora would return in Endgame but someone who had never known nor encounter anything in her time with the Guardians but it would be Nebula who would reveal Gamora about what Thanos did as a way to have Gamora see reason.

17. Drax the Destroyer (Dave Bautista)

Another key member of the Guardians of the Galaxy, Drax is definitely one of the most powerful figures as he’s big and strong while can kill with a couple of big daggers yet he is also a fascinating figure that offers so much more than just another big man. He’s a man driven by vengeance over the death of his wife and daughter where he is later fulfilled to be in another family with the Guardians as he says some offbeat things and has a great sense of humor where he’ll laugh at anything. The casting of former professional wrestler Dave Bautista is a major coup as he brings a lot to the role in not just the physicality but also in its humor. Bautista makes the character a joy to watch as someone who is kind of like this older brother figure to everyone who can bring mischief but is also protective of his family as it allows Drax to be a favorite with the fans.

18. Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd)

A thief/safecracker who is wanting to redeem himself is the unlikely person to play the role of Ant-Man as he had chosen by its creator Hank Pym as he sees someone who has the heart and determination to play that role. Lang is reluctant in being a superhero but he eventually finds his footing to connect with ants as well as be able to fight bad guys so he can make his daughter Cassie be proud of him. Paul Rudd’s performance has a light-hearted comic touch that allows Lang to be an everyman of sorts but also someone who has his heart in the right place. His work in the two Ant-Man films and in Captain America: Civil War showcases Lang’s willingness to help as well as some big surprises when he becomes Giant Man. Yet, Lang’s greatest contribution is in Endgame as the spark of hope for the Avengers when he returns from the Quantum Realm having been stuck there for five years (five hours quantum time) as he would give the Avengers an idea that would help them get their friends and families back.

19. Lt. Col. James “Rhodey” Rhodes/War Machine (Terrence Howard and Don Cheadle)

A longtime best friend of Tony Stark and an officer in the United States Air Force, Rhodey was the man who was considered a conscience of sorts for Stark as he would also be one of the first to discover Stark’s identity as Iron Man with the Mach 2 prototype suit later becoming his own suit under his own identity in War Machine after a fight with a drunken Stark who was in his own Iron Man suit. War Machine would get his own gadgets and array of guns and cannons from another weapons manufacturer until making up with Stark who would give Rhodes the tools he need. Terence Howard’s performance in the first film about Iron Man was solid but the re-casting of Don Cheadle in the second film and in subsequent films brought a sense of wit, gravitas, and seriousness to the character. Cheadle’s work as Rhodey would make the character more prominent considering what happened to him in Civil War due to the schism created by the Sokovia Accords as Rhodes was among those who signed the agreement hoping to keep the team together. Yet, his paralysis only made him a stronger character in both Infinity War and Endgame as he defied the authorities in the former while being one of those who survived the snap where he would bring some wit but also some somber moments in the way he and Nebula bond over their own physical disabilities.

20. Nebula (Karen Gillan)

Though she started off as a villain in the first Guardians film, it is mainly because she was raised to fight and please her adoptive father Thanos who would continue to improve her through machines as she becomes less human and more machine-like. Yet, it is that abuse that puts Nebula at odds with Gamora and Thanos prompting her to go on a mission to kill the latter while eventually settling issues with the former. Nebula’s development from antagonist to heroine is a tricky one as she is first seen in Infinity War being tortured by Thanos only to later escape and try to kill him. Karen Gillan brings that humanity into Nebula who starts to express more emotions in Endgame by bonding with Rocket and Rhodey as well as learn how to play paper football from Stark. Nebula would redeem herself by killing her past self to save Nebula and the infinity stones while still retaining a sadistic side that is still tinged with humor making her a key part of the Guardians of the Galaxy.

21. Peter Quill/Starlord (Chris Pratt and Wyatt Oleff)

A half-human kid from Earth who is abducted by aliens only to be raised by a Ravager in Yondu to be a scavenger would be this unlikely leader of misfits who would be known as the Guardians of the Galaxy. A man who is stuck on music from the 1970s/1980s as well as the films and popular culture of those times, Peter Quill is someone who thinks he’s an outlaw but is also kind of an idiot yet he is someone that manages to get everyone on board and humanize them. Armed with gadgets that allow him to fly or breathe in outer space as well as guns, Quill is a tough individual who would later learn that he is a Celestial because of his father Ego. Chris Pratt displays the sense of enthusiasm, silliness, and humanity in Quill who would prove to be an engaging figure but also flawed when it comes to the big fight as he is consumed with grief over what Thanos did to Gamora as it would cost him and his friends the chance to beat Thanos. Quill would redeem himself in the final battle but would also get to see Gamora again despite the fact that she has no memory of their time together while he would later find himself contending for leadership of the Guardians with Thor who really just wants to help out.

22. Hope Van Dyne/Wasp (Evangeline Lily and Madeleine McGraw)

The daughter of two superheroes in the original Ant-Man and the Wasp, Hope Van Dyne was a young woman whose mother in the latter was presumably dead during a mission in the late 80s. Since then, Hope held a grudge towards her father until a protégé of her father is getting close to perfecting a formula similar to what her father created prompting her to get in the game but also to reluctantly train Scott Lang to be the new Ant-Man. Hope’s time definitely came in Ant-Man and the Wasp as she would take on the role her mother played as she proved to be a total badass but also someone who is hoping to get her mother back from the quantum realm. Evangeline Lily’s performance in the role has allowed the character to be distant in the first Ant-Man film who eventually warms up and then be more open in the second film while her brief appearance in Endgame proves how much of an asset she is to everyone including the Avengers.

23. Agent Margaret “Peggy” Carter (Hayley Atwell)

Despite not having any superpowers, Peggy Carter is still a total badass as she doesn’t need superpowers to get shit done. Though she only gets to show her skills in one feature film, a short film, and a much-beloved yet short-lived TV series, Carter is a woman who refuses to be pinned down while is also skilled with a pistol and in hand-to-hand combat. Hayley Atwell proved to have the right attitude to play the character who would be Steve Rogers’ love interest as she would make brief appearances in the rest of Captain America’s stories as well as two films relating to the Avengers and an appearance in Ant-Man as an old woman bothered that her beloved never got to live his life. Carter does remain an inspiration for Rogers as well as someone who saw something in him before he even got superpowers as she at least was able to be part of Rogers’ happy ending.

24. James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes/the Winter Soldier/White Wolf (Sebastian Stan)

A longtime friend of Steve Rogers since childhood, Bucky Barnes was always at Rogers’ side and knew him before Rogers’ transformation as he would fight with Rogers as part of a group of commandos who were hand-picked to fight alongside Captain America. A mission to stop a Hydra train lead to Barnes falling off the train on a mountainside presumably to his death where his story really begins as it is clear he was taken by Hydra forces to become their mysterious assassin in the Winter Soldier where Barnes would be brainwashed and frozen until needed to carry out missions and assassinations that included killing Howard and Maria Stark. Upon his encounters with Rogers, Barnes would start to regain his memories and humanity but remains vulnerable for Hydra until the events of Civil War where he was accused of the death of King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Sebastian Stan provides the right air of reservation and vulnerability to the character who would gain redemption as well as peace while proving to be a powerful figure who would gain another moniker as White Wolf during his recovery in Wakanda.

25. J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision (Paul Bettany)

Originally an artificial intelligence program named after Howard Stark’s butler whom Tony Stark had been fond of, J.A.R.V.I.S. is someone who had displayed all of the good aspects of humanity as he understood what to do as well as be someone who would often warn Stark about his limitations. It is in Age of Ultron where Stark and Banner tried to create a new AI that was meant for the Iron Legion forces that Stark had created in the hope to bring security to the world. Instead, the AI that is Ultron tries to destroy J.A.R.V.I.S. and later try to get access to a body that would ultimately become Vision as J.A.R.V.I.S. had hidden himself and became Vision. Paul Bettany provided a calm naiveté to the character as he learns about humanity and flaws in Civil War and in Infinity War where he found himself connected to Wanda Maximoff who showed him the many complications and goodness in humanity as he proves to be a powerful figure despite having to carry an Infinity Stone in the Mind Stone in his head.

26. Princess Shuri of Wakanda (Letitia Wright)

The younger sister of T’Challa is probably the smartest person in the entire world who has not only managed to find a lot of ideas for vibranium but also in creating technology that is far more advanced than the rest of the world. Though she’s only appeared in three films of the MCU so far, Shuri still manages to be someone who is full of energy and humor but is also still quite young. She is loyal to her family and her people but hasn’t had much contact with the outside world except through the gadgets she created as she had the powers to stop the likes of Erik Killmonger and many others. Letitia Wright is a major discovery in the role as she creates a new type of princess who is not only super-smart but also a bad-ass as well as someone who is funny and is full of life. Technically, she is a Disney princess but a princess who is totally cool.

27. Valkyrie/Scrapper 142 (Tessa Thompson)

Originally part of an elite group of female warriors from Asgard known as the Valkryie, the woman who would have that name is the only person that is left following a failed assault against Hela many years ago prompting the woman to become a scavenger to find fighters for an evil leader in the Grandmaster as Scrapper 142. Upon capturing Thor in Sakaar and bringing him to the Grandmaster, she is first introduced as an alcoholic who still harbors bad memories until a scuffle with Loki forces her to team up with Thor and Bruce Banner to stop Hela. Tessa Thompson provides a lot of great comic touches to the character but also someone who is hiding her own tragedy where she eventually faces them while also being the one to save many Asgardian from Thanos’ attack in Infinity War and find a new settlement for them while coming back to fight in Endgame where Thor made her king in the aftermath of the battle feeling she’s a better leader than him.

28. M’Baku (Winston Duke)

Though he is originally an antagonist to Black Panther in the comics, the character of M’Baku is an interesting one as he is someone who leads a tribe of Wakandan outsiders who prefer to worship the gorilla god Hanuman rather than take part in Wakanda’s more modernist world. A man of great ideal and tradition, M’Baku is also someone who loves Wakanda and its people as he is willing to fight for his king despite their ideological differences. Winston Duke’s performance is a major breakthrough from the way he is introduced in Black Panther with one of the finest monologues ever performed while showcasing the character’s strength in his own powerful abilities as well as wear gorilla pellets as shield where he proves to be a formidable fighter in both Infinity War and Endgame.

29. Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker)

A space pirate who is part of a group of pirates known as Ravagers, Yondu is a blue-skinned figure who was hired by Ego to take children and bring them to him to see if they’re his true heir. A role that made Yondu uneasy until he meets a young Peter Quill whom he would raise into becoming a Ravager until Quill steals an object that would reveal to be the Power Stone as he feels betrayed by Quill. Yondu is someone who is powerful while he wears a red fin-like object that allows him to whistle and have an arrow kill his enemies. In the second Guardians film, more about Yondu’s own regrets for his work with Ego come into play as he would try to save Quill and become part of the Guardians where he would gain redemption for his actions as well as be given a proper tribute by other Ravagers. Michael Rooker, who is a longtime collaborator of James Gunn, is the right person to play that character as someone who is gruff and tough but also has a good heart despite his own shortcomings about himself.

30. Mantis (Pom Klementieff)

Though she is sort of new to the Guardians upon her debut in the second Guardians film, Mantis is still a fascinating character an empath with antennas on her head who had been sheltered for much of her life as she was raised by Ego. Upon meeting the Guardians, she quickly befriends Drax who is amused by her powers that allow her to find out what people are feeling as she also has the power to make people sleep by just touching them. Pom Klementieff brings the right kind of innocence and exuberance to the character who would showcase more of what she could do in Infinity War and Endgame while retaining that air of humor that makes the character a joy to watch. Even in the former as she was nearly able to disable Thanos for a bit until Quill’s emotions get the best of him while Mantis would be able to help fight with everyone including the other women superheroes in Endgame proving that she is a badass in her own way.

31. Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson)

Despite only appearing in a post-credits sequence of a film before Age of Ultron, Pietro Maximoff is still a powerful and fascinating character. Like his twin sister Wanda, he volunteered his services for an experiment involving Loki’s scepter that gave the ability to run extremely fast. He is also someone with a sense of humor but also a grudge towards Tony Stark for what happened to his parents but also the Avengers for trying to instill their authority to the world. While he is able to use his speed to baffle the Avengers, he is still someone with good intentions where he would prove his worth once he decides to help the Avengers after he and Wanda learned what Ultron wants to do. Though he died in saving a young boy, his actions would make him an Avenger for life as Clint Barton would have use Pietro as the middle name for his newborn son Nathaniel as well as allow Wanda to have a life of her own. Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s performance doesn’t just display charm and humor but also a selflessness who cares about others than himself which makes Pietro a memorable character.

32. The Ancient One (Tilda Swinton)

Considered one of the most powerful and wisest people in the universe, the Ancient One remains one of the most mysterious figures in the universe as she never discusses her background while later admits toward her death that she doesn’t know everything. Portrayed in the comics in various formats as an old Asian man, the film version has Tilda Swinton portray the character as a Celtic to play into the character’s mystique. Swinton provides a low-key approach to the character in Doctor Strange where she teaches the titular character the mystic arts but is also someone who admits to using dark magic for her immortality but always has a reason to use dark magic. Her other appearance in Endgame has her using her magic to protect the sanctum in New York City from the Chitauri where she engages in a conversation with Bruce Banner upon realizing what Strange would do in the future and why where she gives the Time Stone to Banner as a way to give her hope.

33. Heimdall (Idris Elba)

Originally portrayed as a white man in the comics, changing the character to an African-based figure in Asgard was a big deal and for the right reasons as it allowed the character who sees and hears everything including the future as he is also the protector of the Biofrost. A close friend of Thor, he is also someone who understands his role and oath to the king which he would break in Thor: The Dark World to help Thor confront Malekith and the Dark Elves. Idris Elba provides that air of mystique, low-key humor, and determination of a man who is powerful as the character is given much more to do as a resistance leader in Ragnarok as he helps other Asgardians troubled by Hela’s rule as he would communicate with Thor to show him what is going on. Heimdall’s final act in Infinity War saw him use the power of the Biofrost to send a beaten Hulk back to Earth as an act of defiance to Thanos before being stabbed to death by Thanos.

34. Lady Sif (Jaime Alexander)

One of Thor’s closest childhood friends, Lady Sif is an Asgardian warrior who is quite powerful and cunning in her skills but also being someone who is loyal and cares about what is right. Though she’s only made two film appearances in the first two Thor films as well as a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., she still manages to make an impact as Jaime Alexander provides enough personality and charm into the character. Even as she allows Sif to showcase hints of infatuation towards Thor despite his attention towards Jane Foster. Sif is also someone who can get the job done though she is last seen carrying the source of the Aether which is revealed to be the Reality Stone which she gives to the Collector at the end of The Dark World as she hadn’t been seen nor heard since.

35. Nakia (Lupita Nyong’o)

A longtime childhood friend/lover of T’Challa, Nakia is known mainly as a spy working outside of Wakanda as she is one of the few to see what goes on in the outside world despite being a risk for her native country. Skilled in fighting and other tactics expected in the spy world, she is also someone who does have issue with some of Wakanda’s ideals in isolating itself from the world which is why she wanted to help out others. Though she’s only made one film appearance in Black Panther, Nakia is still a powerful figure as Lupita Nyong’o provides that air of sensitivity and honor in wanting to do what is right but also help out those she cares about.

36. Wong (Benedict Wong)

The librarian of the mystic arts and a master sorcerer who would teach Strange the power of the mystic arts along with the Ancient One and Mordo, Wong is a unique character as he’s a man that doesn’t know much about popular culture while takes his job seriously. Upon meeting Strange, he learns about Beyonce and even laughs while he also share the same view of both Strange and the Ancient One about the need to use dark powers when it is necessary. Benedict Wong brings a low-key charm to the character who does loosen up in his subsequent appearances in both Infinity War and Endgame as he would save Stark during an encounter with one of Thanos’ henchmen where Stark invites him to his upcoming wedding. His one major line in Endgame is a great humorous moment in an epic sequence as he helped bring other masters of the mystic arts to fight Thanos.

37. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson)

The head of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury is first introduced in the first post-credit sequence in Iron Man where he comes to Tony Stark about taking part in a major project. A project that Fury had an idea for during his time and encounter with Carol Danvers before he had become a hardened and somewhat-cynical man who sees the world as it is but is also looking for hope. Though he may not have any superpowers, Fury is still a powerful figure in terms of manipulation and influence as he can also fight and use guns. Samuel L. Jackson is the perfect person to play that character as he has that gravitas and sense of importance but also someone who can bring people together.

38. Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)

Often on the side of Nick Fury, Maria Hill is a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is the conscience of sorts for Fury yet she is also a powerful figure who has the skills that expected for an agent. Appearing in all of the films relating to the Avengers as well as Captain America: The Winter Soldier and in a different form in Spider-Man: Far from Home, Hill is an able ally who often help out the Avengers and give them some intel about what they’re facing. Cobie Smulders has a low-key approach to the character with some humor as well as a bit of seriousness while she also makes Hill a badass in The Winter Soldier as she would free Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson after they were arrested by Hydra as well as assist them in stopping Hydra from launching the Helicarriers.

39. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg)

A high-ranking agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Phil Coulson is a prominent figure that would help bring many of the Avengers together for much of the first phase of the MCU. A man who is quite skilled as he would prove that in a short film where he stopped a couple of robbers at a convenience store on his way to Thor’s hammer. Clark Gregg brings a calm presentation to the character as someone who takes his job seriously but tries hard to not go fanboy on Captain America whom he adores. Coulson would be a key player for the first phase of the MCU but also shows to be a loyal and dependable figure in Captain America when he helps out Nick Fury making him part of Fury’s close circle of friends.

40. Virginia “Pepper” Potts/Rescue (Gwyneth Paltrow)

From being the assistant to Tony Stark and eventually being his wife and CEO of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts definitely had a unique journey as someone who started off picking up Stark’s laundry only to then help him as he becomes Iron Man. Upon given the role of CEO, Potts is at first overwhelmed but manages to do the job better than anyone as she gets Justin Hammer arrested and begin a romantic relationship with Stark. After her encounter with Aldrich Killian and having a brief moment wearing an Iron Man suit, she would save Stark but was freaked out at first with the violence. Potts would appear every now and then yet her greatest contribution is in Endgame where she laments being one of the few who survived the snap and becoming a mother yet she would take part in the final battle against Thanos as Rescue where she proved to be powerful while fighting alongside with Stark as husband and wife while later assuring him that she and their daughter Morgan would be fine.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Infinity Saga: Phase One: Iron Man - The Incredible Hulk - Iron Man 2 - Thor - Captain America: The First Avenger - The Avengers

Phase Two: Iron Man 3 - Thor: The Dark World - Captain America: The Winter Soldier - Guardians of the Galaxy - The Avengers: Age of Ultron - Ant-Man

Phase Three: Captain America: Civil War - Doctor Strange - Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - Spider-Man: Homecoming - Thor: Ragnarok - Black Panther - Avengers: Infinity War - Ant-Man and the Wasp - Captain Marvel - Avengers: Endgame - Spider-Man: Far from Home

Post-Infinity Saga: Phase Four: Black Widow (2021 film) - Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings – (Eternals) – (Spider-Man: No Way Home) – (Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness) – (Thor: Love and Thunder) – (Black Panther: Wakanda Forever) - (The Marvels) – (Ant-Man & the Wasp: Quantumania) – (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3) – (Fantastic Four)

MCU is Cinema: Pt. 1 - Pt. 2 - Pt. 4 – (Part 5) – (Part 6) – (Part 7)

The MCU: 10 Reasons Why It Rules the World

© thevoid99 2019


Brittani Burnham said...

Great post! I cringed when I got to Rescue though, that shot of Gwenyth Paltrow was the worst shot of Endgame. Her acting was horrid. But as for Pepper as a character, I like her, just not the actress that plays her.

And of course I love seeing Wanda, Shuri, and Okoye being talked about. My queens.

Jay said...

Jesus, what a list!

keith71_98 said...

This is freaking incredible. I know it took some time to put it together. I found myself just reminiscing over the characters. So many goodies....

thevoid99 said...

@Brittani-I'm not a fan of Paltrow as a person either as I think she's smug and stupid but I do like Pepper and thought she looked fucking cool in that Rescue suit. Of course I have to represent the ladies as I remembered the reaction in the theaters when Okoye says "she's got help" as all of those women Avengers assembled and the ladies at the screening I went to were like "AW YEAH!!!" That's how you do fan-service right.

@Jay-It wasn't easy and now I have to do the villains.

@keith71_98-It took a damn long time for me to try and get it right as I'm still not done with the villains list as that's going to take a while for me to rank them properly. Then I have to do the supporting players as they deserve some props.