The 100 Greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters (20-11)

Whether you think it’s the worst thing to happen to cinema or the only thing keeping it alive, there’s no denying the MCU changed Hollywood forever. Kevin Feige and his producing partners at the time should never stop getting praise for creating the franchise mold everyone borrows from now and for finally delivering the connected superhero universe every comic book fan dreamt about for ages. They weren’t the first to produce quality superhero movies but they were the first to make each film an event by making you see how each one was going to connect to the next and what it was all leading to. It was a ballsy move that ended up being the most successful gamble in Hollywood history. It has spawned over 30 movies and almost half as many TV shows. Not all of them have been great but almost all of them have produced great characters. Characters that turn no-name actors into instant movie stars and make B-tier comic creations into instant fan favorites. This franchise will continue to thrive for years to come because the actors they cast are always on point (well, most of the time) and the writing keeps them feeling distinct and instantly memorable. No other franchise has produced this many unforgettable characters and I predict, no other franchise ever will.

These are the 100 Greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters of All Time.

20. Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen)

Wanda definitely has one of the more interesting character arcs in the MCU. I didn’t realize just how much story she has until I researched it for this write-up and I have to say, even though she has only headlined one tv show, she has one of the best journeys in the MCU of any character. After getting introduced at the end of The Winter Soldier, she gains the magical ability of chaos magic while her twin brother Pietro can run really, really fast. While fighting Ultron, Pietro sacrifices himself, and Wanda is absolutely devastated by the loss. She goes on to have a very significant role in the MCU, being responsible for the implementation of the Sokovia Accords which leads to the superhero civil war. She takes refuge at the Avengers compound along with Vision, with whom in which she starts to form a romantic relationship. Yes, this is all comic book accurate.

Flashing forward a few years, Wanda and Vision join the other Avengers in trying to take down Thanos. They put up a good fight but they ultimately fail and Thanos rips the Mind Stone from Vision, which ultimately leads to his demise. However, the next time we see Wanda, she is living in the city of Westview, New Jersey. We slowly find out that Wanda had a mental breakdown and used her powers to resurrect Vision and give herself her own happily ever after. After accepting her destiny as The Scarlet Witch, Wanda begins reading from the Darkhold, unknowingly playing with witchcraft. She ends up getting possessed until Doctor Strange is able to save Wanda, freeing her from the Darkhold‘s control. As I said, very interesting journey. Especially considering her character development mostly occurs in other characters’ movies.


19. Margaret “Peggy” Carter (Hayley Atwell)

Peggy Carter has to be the most underused character that Marvel is refusing to use. Working as an agent of the Strategic Scientific Reserve during World War II, she meets Steve Rogers after he volunteers to experiment with the super soldier serum. The two would fight alongside each other to take down the Red Skull and they would end up falling in love with each other. She is also one of the founders of S.H.I.E.L.D. Frankly, it’s a huge missed opportunity to not expand on her story because this character has huge potential. Unfortunately, the poor reception the Agent Carter series received might put a halt to any future exploration. Both seasons started off great but petered out about halfway through and neither was able to recover. Is the show worth watching? Probably not, and that is a real shame.


18. Phillip J. “Phil” Coulson (Clark Gregg)

An original character created solely for the MCU, he proved to be so popular with fans that Marvel had no choice but to introduce him into the comic book continuity. The intent of Coulson was to be a minor character who floated and maintained continuity between the early MCU films, with his death at the hands of Loki in the first Avengers film spurring Iron Man into his leadership role within the team and forcing the heroes together. Of course, due to his popularity, the Son of Coul wasn’t actually dead as we would find out in the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. spinoff series, which resurrected the fan-favorite character and expanded on his background. Coulson also popped up again in Captain Marvel, which takes place before the first Iron Man film. I’m interested to see if he shows up again in Secret Invasion.

Ralph Hosch

17. Norman Osborn / Green Goblin (Willem Dafoe)

Sam Raimi’s original Spider-Man only works as well as it does because of how committed Willem Dafoe is to his performance as Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. Dafoe perfectly balances the campy, menacing, and sympathetic into one performance. He brings a lot of that same energy to his reprisal of the role in Spider-Man: No Way Home. Here he’s mostly balancing the line between menacing and sympathetic, which makes him a juicy villain for Holland’s Spider-Man. The Goblin character here doesn’t come close to the magic Dafoe and Raimi were able to capture the first time around, but he’s still the best of Now Way Home by far. That’s gotta count for something.

Raf Stitt

16. Thanos (Damion Poitier & Josh Brolin)

Few characters have ever been so anticipated in any franchise as the debut of Thanos. We caught glimpses of him in a few after-credit scenes and then a larger supporting role in Guardians of the Galaxy, but we waited with bated breath to see him in a full movie. Avengers: Infinity War finally gave us what we were waiting for and boy did that film (and Brolin) deliver. Thanos is an unstoppable force with motives that are understandable if not sensible, and he gives our heroes a threat like no other. He is much more interesting in Infinity War as he fulfills what he sees as his duty, but he is still fun as a time-traveling big bad in Endgame with some epic fight scenes. In my opinion, Thanos has cemented himself as one of the top movie villains of all time.

Jacob Holmes

15. Subject 89P13 / Rocket Racoon (Bradley Cooper)

If there’s one thing I’d want to say about Rocket, it’s that there isn’t enough of him. There are plenty of MCU characters I don’t need to see again, but I just love the little acerbic, smart-mouthed, loyal, bitter, insightful, broken jerk. I want to see a Rocket TV series with him partnering with various other members of the Marvel Universe. Pair him with Howard the Duck, or Hawkeye or the Hulk or even some other “H” named hero. Or even do a flashback Rocket & Groot series. Or anybody really, I just want to see more of him, especially if they can keep Bradley Cooper voicing the character and Sean Gunn doing the motion capture.

I know I keep going back to the comic versions of the MCU characters, but in this case I don’t have much history with the comics character, and what I read didn’t really resonate (even the Mike Mignola stuff). The MCU version balances the sarcastic humor with the darker and more emotional elements of the character. He’s tough because he’s had to be, but there’s a real heart to the character, as broken as it may be. Maybe he’s not top ten in this list, but he’s top ten in my heart. God that’s cheesy. I think Rocket would probably give me shit for that.

Bob Cram

14. Ego the Living Planet (Kurt Russell)

Kurt Russel rules. Anyone who says otherwise is dead to me. The fact that he was cast as Ego the Living Planet was awesome if you ask me. Sure he’s just an avatar of the actual planet, but that better than a giant talking planet with lips and eyes, right? Right??? Plus how could a planet with lips and eyes bed Quill’s mom? Anyway, Russell just nails the role of an egotistical Celestial hellbent of destroying the universe. But yet once again the MCU just wastes great talent and villains in a one and done situation. I really do hope they course correct Phase 5 with that and in a few other ways.

K. Alvarez

13. Yondu Udonta (Michael Rooker)

“I’m Mary Poppins, y’all!” is probably the best moment in Guardians of the Galaxy 2 and it led to Yondu becoming one of the more beloved characters in the MCU (well, the whole movie really helped with that – particularly his conversation with Rocket while they’re both imprisoned). That’s no mean feat, considering he’s a Christmas-hating, child-trafficking mercenary that was even disowned by the other Ravager clans. After the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie you could be forgiven for disliking Yondu a lot, even with the minor emotional stinger of the Troll doll replacement. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (and Michael Rooker’s performace) turned the character into one of the more complicated, interesting and ultimately endearing characters in the franchise. It’s too bad Gunn’s so dead-set on Yondu staying, well, dead, because I’d have loved to see the character evolve even more. Maybe it’s for the best, though – Yondu’s sacrifice was the one of the most meaningful in the whole series.

Bob Cram

12. Kevin Thompson / Kilgrave (David Tennant)

Kilgrave’s superpower isn’t the flashiest, or most aesthetically pleasing. No flying, web-slinging, or superhuman strength here. He can simply control people’s minds at will. Something about the simplicity of this makes it all the more chilling. Played to perfection by David Tennant in the Netflix adaption, he is the main antagonist of Jessica Jones. Alone, he is reason enough to watch the entire series. He has a long history with Jones, but his manipulative behavior goes beyond obsession and takes him into a whole new category of depraved sociopathy. And it’s completely intoxicating to watch. Some of the deeds he makes people carry out against their will are hard to stomach. But try as you might, you can’t look away. 

Lee McCutcheon

11. Dr. Robert Bruce Banner / Hulk (Edward Norton & Mark Ruffalo)

I think it’s Infinity War/Endgame Hulk that keeps him from the top 10. I mean, I get it – you gotta evolve the character, and merging the Banner and Hulk sides is a logical progression, but man – at least gives us a few scenes on how it happened. Throw in Doc Samson as his therapist in a scene or two Or, like, maybe a stand-alone film? I know they don’t have a great track record. I liked Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, but I was underwhelmed by The Incredible Hulk‘s CGI for the big green galoot (even more so than the CGI for the Ang Lee Hulk). Where am I going with this? I guess I don’t know, other than that I’m a huge Hulk fan – his comic was one of two I managed to scrape together enough pennies to get a subscription to when I was a kid (no comic shops in rural Maine) – and I just want the character to be as cool and interesting and fun as he was in those first two Avengers movies. And that one Thor movie. Science Bros! “I’m always angry.” “Hulk Smash!” “Puny god.” Okay, those are all from the first Avengers movie, but you know what I’m saying.

Anyway, I love Ruffalo as Banner, I loved the whole setup in the Avengers and the whole “barbarian gladiator” in Thor: Ragnarok, but the “shy Hulk” and combined “smart Hulk” haven’t wowed me as much, even though there was some fun to be had with the latter in She Hulk. What I want to see is the bad-ass, danger to the whole planet and himself Hulk as played by this actor. I want to see World War Hulk, with the Avengers arrayed against their one-time ally. He’s a character that started off his appearance in the MCU as great and has become merely good. Here’s hoping they reverse that trend.

Bob Cram

30-21 | 10-1

Only 10 more to go! Who do you think is in the top 10?