Since the Marvel Cinematic Universe kicked off in the summer of 2008, the world has been spun out into an ever-growing series of stories and mini-franchises on the big and small screen. There have been fifteen movies so far, with seven more coming in the next few years.
On the TV side, ABC and Netflix have created a combined six series, with at least as many more coming on various networks, cable channels, and streaming services between now and 2018. And though Avengers: Infinity War will serve as a culmination of everything that’s come up to this point, it won’t be able to tie up every loose thread.
It’s not just plots that have fallen to the wayside or are slowly being drawn out, either. Over the nearly ten years it’s existed, the MCU has introduced dozens of heroes, villains, and side characters that it can’t keep juggling. As a result, a number have been all but forgotten, doomed to waste away in creative purgatory. While the future could still bring them back into the fold, things aren’t looking great for certain denizens of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Here are 15 MCU Characters That Have Been Totally Abandoned.
15 Pepper Potts
Poor Pepper Potts. In the comics, she’s bounced between being Tony Stark’s secretary and love interest, but her path seemed to be more linear in the MCU as she grew in prominence across the Iron Man trilogy. Unfortunately, Tony’s promise to give up his superhero life at the end of Iron Man 3 was fairly short-lived.
Two years after the events of the movie, Stark was back in his suit helping the Avengers fight Hydra and Ultron, with Pepper barely getting a mention. Captain America: Civil War pushed her out even further, establishing that she and Tony were taking a break and ensuring the MCU could continue ignoring her character and the vital role she’s played in Tony’s life. While there’s always a chance she’ll pop back up in a future film, the only hint we've had so far is a rumor about Pepper appearing in Spider-Man: Homecoming.
The Iron Man franchise and SHIELD have produced a lot of material, so it makes sense a number of forgotten characters would stem from them. The Incredible Hulk, meanwhile, has jettisoned almost all of its characters in Marvel’s bid to pretend the film never happened. At the conclusion of the movie, Abomination was very much still alive and moved to a cell in the Vault.
Since that time, a number of shows, shorts, and canon comics have made reference to his continued existence. There was even a plot to have him join the Avengers, as many in the government viewed Emil Blonsky as a military hero and thought the Hulk was the aggressor. Of course, none of this has amounted to the character reappearing, unless Thanos has some plans for him next year.
13 Justin Hammer
Pepper Potts isn’t the only character that the Iron Man series has left behind. After serving as one of the two antagonists in Iron Man 2, rival industrialist Justin Hammer (played by the genius Sam Rockwell) has mostly disappeared. But like Abomination, the Marvel Cinematic Universe still seems keen on keeping his memory alive.
His only other appearance was in the Iron Man follow-up One Shot All Hail the King. Since then, however, his name and company have shown up attached to various weapons shipments across the MCU. Most recently, it was his company that was behind the guns on Luke Cage. While Marvel may not have strictly forgotten the name Justin Hammer, Sam Rockwell has yet to return to our screens, big or small.
Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is guiltier of introducing and then abandoning characters than any property in the MCU, mostly due to how much content it's had to generate. In the process, most every element of season one of the series was swept away in favor of plots involving Hydra and the Inhumans. One of those abandoned characters is Blizzard.
Introduced as a younger and brighter take on Donnie Gill, the long-time Iron Man rogue became a somewhat sympathetic villain in the first season of the show and wound up with his signature ice powers as a result. He did manage to get another key spot in a season two episode which saw him more as an outright villain, but it ended with him seemingly dead. As this is a comic book series, it’s a safe bet that he’s still alive, but you wouldn’t know that from watching the show.
Graviton has had even less justice than Blizzard, as he never even got the chance to properly manifest. We first meet Dr. Franklin Hall in the early part of season one, teasing the rise of the villainous Graviton with the doctor’s creation of Gravitonium. He’s even sucked into the substance, setting up his origin for a future episode.
Sadly, he’s yet to ever return in his comic book form. After the fall of SHIELD, we did see the substance carted off by Hydra, so it’s presumably still out there. Unfortunately, it’s been three seasons since he last appeared and nobody seems all that concerned about bringing him back.
Hammer has at least fared better than Iron Man 3 villains Advanced Idea Mechanics. One of the most stalwart villainous organizations in the comics, A.I.M. have long posed a problem for Cap, Tony, and the Avengers. In the third Iron Man film, however, they’re barely a blip on the radar.
Serving merely as the group working for Aldrich Killian, they never get a chance to form into anything resembling their comic book counterparts. Even worse, but Marvel has failed to take advantage of their long history and love of super science for future films. Given all the robot and alien invasions that have happened lately, the tech-worshipping AIM would be the perfect aggressors to pop back up in any corner of the MCU.
9 Agent Blake
To be fair, Agent Felix Blake has only been absent for a season on SHIELD. Still, his last appearance teased a bigger plot that was ultimately abandoned, signaling his lack of a future in the MCU.
We first met Titus Welliver’s character in the One-Shot Item 47, which followed a couple who start robbing banks with a Chitauri weapon they find after the events of The Avengers. Since then, Blake has popped up on SHIELD a few times, with his last appearance seeing him go evil following an accident for which he blames SHIELD. He was shown leading a faction of the human supremacist group the Watchdogs with a nuclear weapon, but has failed to reappear even as the terrorist group gained prominence over this past season of the show.
8 The Howling Commandos
We first meet the Howling Commandos during Captain America’s adventures in World War II during his first film. Following that, they’re made mention of a few times on SHIELD and even appeared on the series as well as in Agent Carter’s first season. Since that time, they’ve sadly disappeared, and haven’t popped up on any of the TV shows or in the movies.
While their existence in World War II may seem like the reason, we’ve seen Peggy Carter continue to play a role over the years. And in the comics, Dum Dum Dugan has had quite a long life, providing precedent for his survival. While a modern movie may not be the place for them, future flashbacks to the early days of SHIELD or any subsequent adventures with Peggy Carter wouldn’t be complete with the group.
Deathlok has had a long run on SHIELD, which makes his absence the past two seasons all the more unusual. We first met Mike Peterson in the pilot of the show, and he was slowly revealed to be working with Project Centipede. From there, he became the MCU’s first and only Deathlok and went from villain to hero while getting some upgrades to his gear.
It’s actually Deathlok's fault Agent Blake ends up in a wheelchair nursing a grudge for SHIELD, but he continued helping the group for a bit longer in season two. Since then, however, Inhumans and LMDs have taken center stage, and Peterson has been absent for two whole seasons. Given Deathlok’s comic history, here’s hoping we haven’t seen the last of him in the MCU.
Darkforce itself could be listed as one of those things about which the MCU has a strange sort of amnesia. A powerful substance and source of power in the comics, it’s first encountered in the form of the villain Blackout in season one of SHIELD. Able to manipulate the energy into attacks and various forms of absorption, Blackout hunted down Coulson’s fabled cellist as he was also harboring a crush for her. Since then, he hasn’t been seen or heard from on the show.
Meanwhile, Darkforce served as a huge plot point on season two of Agent Carter and popped up last season on SHIELD under the control on an Inhuman. Oddly, none of these events are ever connected by anyone and all have been forgotten in the years since.
5 Samuel Sterns
Samuel Sterns didn’t play as big of a role in The Incredible Hulk as Abomination, but his final moments in the film were clearly setting him up for a sequel that never materialized. Played by famed character actor Tim Blake Nelson, Sterns showed up in the movie to help Bruce Banner find a cure for his nasty case of Hulk. Unfortunately, all he got for his trouble was some of Banner’s gamma irradiated blood in his head wound.
While the end results of his mutation weren’t explored, comic fans know we were seeing the origin of legendary Hulk villain the Leader. With a brain to match Hulk’s brawn, he would have been a fascinating addition to the MCU. Sadly, he’s been AWOL ever since then.
4 Betty Ross
It wasn’t just the villains of The Incredible Hulk that the MCU has forgotten. Bruce Banner’s love interest, Betty Ross, has also undergone the Pepper Potts treatment. Even worse, but Liv Tyler has only had one appearance in the MCU and hardly a mention since. And while we could assume that Ross’s absence, along with Blonsky and Stern’s, means the Mark Ruffalo Hulk is in no way connected to the Edward Norton one, there is one Ross that throws a wrench in that.
Surprising everyone, General ‘Thunderbolt’ Ross popped back up in Civil War, with no mention of his arch rival or his daughter. Of course, if he’s around, surely Betty is too, but we hardly think we’ll see her again in a future film.
3 Jane Foster
Somewhere out there in the MCU, there’s a support group for the discarded love interests of emotionally unstable superheroes. Like Pepper and Betty, Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster has largely sat out the continuation of the MCU. After playing key roles in both Thor films to date, she’s only had a mention in Avengers: Age of Ultron to indicate her and the God of Thunder are still together.
Meanwhile, the Asgardian prince looks to have a new flame in his upcoming film, if Kevin Feige’s recent statements are any indication. Portman has said she’s keen to return, but there’s been seemingly no rush to bring her back. Then again, rumors have emerged recently that Jane could return to the MCU in Ragnarok, but we’ll believe that when we see it.
2 Bobbi and Hunter
Bobbi "Mockingbird" Morse and Lance Hunter (Adrianne Palicki and Nick Blood) are certainly the newest absent characters on this list, but their previous prominence makes their disappearance all the more glaring. Following two seasons of build-up for their lovable ass-kickers, Bobbi and Hunter had a tearful exit on the same episode of season three of SHIELD that last mentioned Darkforce.
The plan, of course, was for Bobbi and Lance to get their own spinoff show, Marvel's Most Wanted. The pilot for Most Wanted sadly never got picked up, and they’ve yet to return to SHIELD. With season four almost done, their return isn’t seeming likely, a bummer for fans who were hoping the legendary Mockingbird would join the movies or share a scene with her comic flame Hawkeye.
One of the Man Without Fear’s oldest villains, Wilbur Day debuted as Stilt-Man in 1965’s Daredevil #8. A former employee of hydraulic manufacturers Kaxton Industries, Day would eventually turn the tech from his job into a pair of expanding stilt legs and go on to battle Daredevil. Though one of Marvel’s sillier concepts, the character nonetheless appears to exist in the MCU.
Whenever Matt Murdock visits Melvin Potter’s workshop on Daredevil, references to the character abound. There’s equipment with the Kaxton logo on it, drawings of Stilt-Man’s suit, and even a prototype of the legs in a corner. Given all of this information, it’s clear that Day is a character in the MCU, though it’s unknown whether he’s taken up his villainous mantle yet. Marvel has yet to return to him in any concrete way, but fans around the world are eagerly anticipating the proper debut of Stilt-Man in the MCU.
Which MCU characters are you disappointed Marvel has abandoned? Let us know in the comments.