The 100 Greatest Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters (50-41)

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.

50. Luis (Michael Peña)

Paul Rudd may be the anchor of the Ant-Man franchise, but Michael Peña really elevates the comedy with his performance as Luis. Marvel struck comedy gold with Luis’ recap of events with Peña’s voice superimposed over the overexaggerated performances of the characters in his stories. So much so that fans have long sought a series of Luis recapping every Marvel movie from Iron Man to Avengers: Endgame.

Jacob Holmes

49. Michelle “MJ” Jones-Watson (Zendaya)

I’ve never seen such an aggressive call and response as Marvel’s updated take on Mary Jane Watson. They looked at Raimi’s version and went out of their way to go in the complete opposite direction. But to great effect. This version has more agency, more personality, more chemistry with their lead, and more screentime. I think Kirsten Dunst really could’ve done something interesting with the role if they ever gave her something to do but she’s utterly wasted in Raimi’s trilogy. Zendaya benefits greatly from a writing team that actually gives her something to do. And right when they started making me really invested in her character, they took her away. Erasing her from Peter’s life is such a great gut punch because there’s a slight chance she might come back but she won’t. Peter can’t evolve as a character if she does. Losing her to save her might be the biggest sacrifice any MCU character has ever made. When other characters died, the hero had to live with the consequences of their decision for the time it took to hit the ground or snap a finger. Peter has to carry this weight forever. It’s an impossible load made all the heavier by the irresistible charm of Zendaya.

Sailor Monsoon

48. Xu Shang-Chi (Simu Liu)

After Avengers: Endgame I was very curious to see what direction the MCU was heading in. Another superhero origin story movie seemed destined for failure. Luckily, the hero in question in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings is freaking awesome. For starters, he has maybe the coolest fighting style in the MCU. The kung-fu influence of his fighting technique is certainly something to marvel at. I’m excited to see how the ten rings continue to get incorporated into what he does going forward – there’s a lot of really cool potential there. On top of his awesome fighting style is the fact that he’s such a sympathetic character. His initial arc is so understandable and there’s so much room to explore more of him. Don’t be surprised if he’s a bit higher on the list the next time we do one of these rankings.

Raf Stitt

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

Having not read any of the Marvel comics growing up, I wasn’t terribly invested in who Marvel Studios decided to cast for each new role that popped up as the MCU began to expand. That being said, even I was a little surprised when I heard Paul Rudd would be joining the MCU as Ant-Man. Paul Rudd? Don’t get me wrong, I love Paul Rudd. But I’ve only ever really known him in his comedic roles so it was hard for me to imagine him in the MCU. I should have known better because he slipped seamlessly into the MCU universe with his portrayal of Scott Lang.

Scott, a well-meaning thief, is the perfect person to toss into the Avengers. Sarcastic, witty, and charming, Scott is a convicted criminal, but one you absolutely root for anyway. He comes through when he’s needed, putting his own life on the line to help Steve Rogers during the events of Captain America: Civil War. Even when he’s caught, he never loses his sense of humor. He’s also incredibly useful beyond his ability to shrink and grow – after all, without Scott, would they have been able to reverse the snap? Ant-Man’s solo films may not be the gems of the MCU, but Scott Lang alone makes them worth watching.

Romona Comet

46. Vision / White Vision (Paul Bettany)

Vision is quite possibly one of the most overlooked characters in the MCU. We originally met him as Tony Stark’s A.I. assistant J.A.R.V.I.S. voiced by Paul Bettany, then he became a physical form known as Vision, still played by Bettany. If you’ve been keeping up with the MCU, you should be familiar with what happens with Vision and Wanda, right? The fan-favorite synthezoid’s death in Infinity War is perhaps one the most heartbreaking scenes in the MCU. Jumping ahead to WandaVision, Wanda recreates Vision… but wait; the group known as S.W.O.R.D. is also trying to bring Vision back. However, Wanda’s Vision isn’t real and the S.W.O.R.D. Vision is real and I’m confusing myself here. Needless to say, Vision is one of the more complex characters in the MCU, and I’m definitely invested in knowing what happened to “White Vision” after the events of WandaVision. Oh, and let’s be honest, Bettany should have gotten some accolades for playing this role. He’s really been that good and enjoyable as Vision.

Ralph Hosch

45. Agatha Harkness (Kathryn Hahn)

Oh, what do I say about Agatha Harkness? I adored WandaVision when it premiered and for me, the highlight was definitely Kathryn Hahn’s portrayal of Wanda’s neighbor, Agnes. The perfect foil to the grieving Wanda, her machinations are wonderfully hidden until all is revealed with a montage and the Hahn-sung song, “Agatha All Along,” which quite frankly is a bop. There are very few who can go up against a powerhouse like Wanda Maximoff and even stand a chance of defeating her, but Agatha sure comes close. She is the kind of villain I love to see in the MCU. Powerful, cunning, and completely unapologetic in her pursuit of power. I’m thankful that Agatha survived, even if she didn’t escape punishment. Coven of Chaos is probably my most anticipated MCU project on the horizon, and it’s all because of Agatha.

Romona Comet

44. Melinda May (Ming-Na Wen)

When audiences first met Melinda May, she was a cold woman who had withdrawn from field duty after an incident that had earned her the nickname “the Calvary.” Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. took its time pulling back her layers, slowly revealing new information about her family, past relationships, and how she became the Calvary. A highly-skilled S.H.I.E.L.D. operative, Melinda May quickly captured the hearts of fans no doubt thanks to an amazing performance by Ming-Na Wen (the voice of Disney’s Mulan). Coulson’s trusted confidant, fans were overjoyed when the two finally turned their working relationship into a romantic one. Of all the S.H.I.E.L.D. characters that could easily find their way back into the MCU, Melinda May is at the top of that list right beside Chloe Bennet’s Daisy Johnson.

Marmaduke Karlston

43. Baron Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brühl)

The supervillain with superhero fatigue! What makes Zero tick is his stark contrast to his surroundings — in a world of superheroes, he really is just a man, full of spite. Daniel Bruhl does excellent work conveying just how damaged a character Zemo is, and how much disdain he has for every superhero he encounters. Whether he’s pitting brother against brother in a civil war or busting moves in Madripoor, Zemo’s one of the greats.

D.N. Williams

42. Brunnhilde / Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson)

Valkyrie holds an interesting place in my overall Marvel experience because, as far as comics go anyway, she was part of the first comic book series I actively followed, that being Fearless Defenders in 2013. There was just something about Valkyrie sweeping in on her winged horse and smiting all in her path that left me in awe. It also gave an option for a female Norse superhero that wasn’t Thor (keep in mind this is before Jane Foster’s tenure as the Mighty Thor).

Then came Valkyrie’s appearance in Thor: Ragnarok. Due to being busy with real life at the time the film came out, I didn’t realize initially that the MCU’s Valkyrie was their take on the Valkyrie I’d seen in the comics. Once I made the connection though, Valkyrie shot up the ranks to be one of my favorite MCU characters. Just like in the comics, Valkyrie rides a winged horse, is a mighty warrior, and is dealing with a whole lot of emotional trauma. The way she’s portrayed on screen is so compelling that I continue to hope for a solo Valkyrie film in the future.

Becky O’Brien

41. Yelena Belova / Black Widow (Florence Pugh)

With Black Widow being the primary female Avenger/superhero in the MCU thus far, I was really excited when she finally got her own solo film, even if it came after Endgame – and chronically, after the events of Captain America: Civil War. We’re introduced to Natasha’s origins and her pseudo-family, Alexei, Melina, and Yelena. A victim of the Red Room herself, Yelena is an experienced assassin and quite obviously Natasha’s replacement after the events of Endgame. Thankfully she’s not coming on board as a mere mirror to her big sister. With Yelena comes confidence and some rather blunt honesty, not to mention the knowledge that it’s quite possible she’s even more skilled in assassinations than Natasha had been.

Florence Pugh’s portrayal of Yelena has made her one of the most intriguing additions to the MCU. She’s tough as nails but there is a vulnerability there that keeps you rooting for her, even when she’s on a mission to kill one of the Avengers. Pugh is the kind of performer that seems to have chemistry with nearly everyone she shares a screen with, which will certainly benefit the MCU as she continues in her role as Yelena in the upcoming film Thunderbolts.

Romona Comet

60-51 | 40-31

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