The 100 Greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters (40-31)

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.

40. Colonel James “Rhodey” Rhodes / Iron Patriot / War Machine (Terrence Howard & Don Cheadle)

I must admit that I was pretty happy that Terrence Howard dropped out of the Iron-Man franchise and was replaced by Don Cheadle. Nothing against Howard, I’m just a sucker for all things Don Cheadle. Plus, Cheadle brings a lighthearted charm to the Rhodes/War Machine character that Howard unfortunately can’t access. Few characters in the MCU are as reliable as War Machine. He’s always been there when he was needed, whether it was Tony Stark or the Avengers as a whole – Rhodes could be counted on. He exists as an unsung hero, but one who is never looking to have his praises sung. The definitive team player.

Raf Stitt

39. Nebula (Karen Gillan)

Nebula is one character that I had never even heard of prior to 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy. That’s saying something for someone who has read and researched comics since the early 2000s. She is the adopted daughter of Thanos and the adopted sister of Gamora. Nebula grew up angry and she didn’t know where to direct that anger except at those who she felt most hurt by: Thanos and Gamora. I never thought much of Nebula — she was always “just there” — until the events of Endgame. The character development that she was given really made me pay attention to her and she is one that I wouldn’t mind seeing a lot more of even if she’s not accompanied by the Guardians.


38. Katherine “Kate” Bishop / Hawkeye (Hailee Steinfeld)

This has to be the best casting the MCU has ever done. Hailee Steinfeld is the spitting image of Kate Bishop and I can’t think of anybody who would be better suited. Although Kate lost her father during The Battle of New York, she would spot Hawkeye amidst the action and get inspired by him to take up archery. After being targeted by the Tracksuit Mafia, she comes face-to-face with Kingpin and takes him down in order to save her mother. This would result in Clint rewarding her with the title of Hawkeye (which they both now share). I don’t know when we are going to be seeing Kate next but as far as I am concerned, it is not soon enough.


37. Dr. Otto Octavius / Doctor Octopus (Alfred Molina)

The best decision Marvel Studios and Sony ever had (besides agreeing that Spider-Man should join the MCU) was having Spider-Man: No Way Home bring back all the beloved Spidey villains from Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s films. Alfred Molina’s Doc Ock was easily the best villain of Maguire’s trilogy (Sorry, Dafoe), and seeing him back on the big screen before his last-minute change of heart in Spider-Man 2 was fun to watch. Sure, Molina looks older despite the obvious de-aging attempt, but who cares! He’s having as much fun back in the role as we are watching it happen on the screen.

Marmaduke Karlston

36. Peter Quill / Star-Lord (Chris Pratt)

When Guardians of the Galaxy premiered, it was unlike anything the MCU had released thus far. A space adventure centered around a group of unorthodox outlaws led by Peter Quill, aka Star-Lord. His first scene, a song and dance routine to “Come and Get Your Love,” was the perfect introduction to audiences and expertly laid the groundwork for the kind of tone we could expect from the film, and the character. At first glance, Quill doesn’t precisely scream leader. Like the rest of the Guardians, he’s used to being on his own and doing things his own way. But when he’s forced to step up, he does. He may be quippy, sarcastic, and a bit boyish, but he’s not your typical tough-guy leader like Cap or Tony, and I think that makes Peter a nice breath of fresh air in the MCU.

Romona Comet

35. Shuri / Black Panther (Letitia Wright)

The difficulty of transitioning from the comic relief sidekick character to the lead protagonist from one film to the next cannot be overstated. What Ryan Coogler as director and Letitia Wright as star did was nothing short of a miracle. After the untimely and unimaginably tragic death of Chadwick Boseman, the Black Panther franchise seemed up in the air. Fortunately, Coogler handled the tragedy with grace and respect, incorporating it into the story in a way that made sense and allowed the Shuri character to shine in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. Now on top of being one the smartest characters in the MCU, Shuri gets to flex her muscles outside of the lab as the Black Panther and protector of Wakanda. Her duality of brawn and brain make her an interesting figure in the MCU going forward, as she’ll be able to contribute in Avengers team ups in a variety of different ways.

Raf Stitt

34. Doctor Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch)

As I type this, a copy of Alex Ross’ Timeless: Doctor Strange is on my desktop. This must be Fate (sorry, wrong doctor). Stephen Strange / Doctor Strange, played by Benedict Cumberbatch, is intended to be the linchpin of the MCU post-Iron Man’s death in Endgame. I’m not really seeing that, I feel that’s more on the shoulders of Spider-Man but I digress. Here’s what you missed if you never watched his 2016 origin film: Strange was a surgeon who got in a car accident, jacked-up hands, went to Tibet, and became the Sorcerer Supreme. I skipped a bit there, but you get it. As a character, we’ve seen Dr. Strange mature a bit and become only slightly less pompous and come to grips with loss (his career and his girlfriend) and take on the mantle as the main defender of the Earth and hopefully leader of the Avengers. I personally love the comic book version of Doctor Strange, so I’m looking forward to seeing what sort of multiverse shenanigans the MCU version will find himself in next.

Ralph Hosch

33. Trevor Slattery / Mandarin (Ben Kingsley)

No character on this list typifies Marvel’s “even when it’s a miss, it’s a hit” luck more than this guy. Teased as “The Mandarin,” Iron Man’s archnemesis in the comics, Trevor Slattery was revealed to be a down-on-his-luck actor playing “The Mandarin” while villain Aldrich Killian said he was the actual Mandarin. But wait, Aldrich Killian, the so-called Mandarin in Iron Man 3 dies at the end! In a stroke of genius, the last Marvel One-Shot “All Hail the King” had Trevor kidnapped from Seagate Prison by… The Ten Rings at the command of the real Mandarin, never to be seen again! Not really, since the real Mandarin finally showed up in Shang-Chi with Trevor as his hostage. Confused? It’s the best I can do in a paragraph. It’s an amazing turn for this character. You have no idea how much I despised the “twist” in Iron Man 3 and then how much I loved Iron Man 3 after the One-Shot retconned the Mandarin. I’m a self-acknowledged Trevor Slattery fan and he is the MCU!

Ralph Hosch

32. Jessica Jones (Krysten Ritter)

Jessica Jones may be the best character to have been created in modern times, but she is still a character who really only works in the ’90s. You know, when answering machines were still a thing. Jessica gained her powers by complete accident and she basically has no interest in being a superhero. She is a private investigator and will use her powers when it suits her or if and when it is convenient. She’s basically the opposite of Spider-Man. Certainly not in a selfish way but where Spidey will go looking to help people, Jessica will only do it when it benefits the situation. I felt it was a bit type casting when Krysten Ritter, mostly because of her time on Breaking Bad, but I have had time to come to accept her in the role. Will Jessica Jones show up in the MCU in the same way that Daredevil has? A part of me kind of wishes she does because she is a terrible character to go to waste!


31. Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders)

One of the more brilliant casting choices, Cobie Smulders killed it as Maria Hill. Appointed by Nick Fury as his right hand, Maria oversaw the Avengers Initiative and helped with the invasion of New York as well as the resurrection of Phil Coulson. After the fall of S.H.I.E.L.D., she would pass along information to the Avengers about Loki’s scepter which would result in Ultron’s attack on the Avengers compound and would rejoin Nick Fury, who would help thwart Ultron’s plans at taking over all of humanity. It’s shame we haven’t seen much of her in recent years, she is definitely a character who needs more screen time.


50-41 | 30-21

Who are some of your favorite MCU characters? Maybe they’ll show up later in the list!