Whether you’re a comic book fanatic or not, you’re probably at least relatively well versed in all things Marvel now. Over the last decade, the MCU has risen to become an unassailable juggernaut of the movie world.
There was a time when superhero super-fandom was the sort of thing that shows like The Big Bang Theory made snarky jokes about. Now, though, Spider-Man, Iron Man, Black Widow, and their buddies are the hottest and most mainstream properties around. The hype that surrounded the latest Avengers adventure, Infinity War, was just astronomical, and it’s increasing with each new release.
As any fan of the Harry Potter franchise will tell you, though, there’s sometimes a stark difference between what you see on screen and what you read in the original source material. This extends to heroes and heroines, their powers, and their favorite toys.
With that in mind, let’s dive into the wild world of the MCU, a land where artifacts certainly aren’t created equal. Some things seem far cooler and more powerful on screen than in the comics, while the reverse is true in other cases.
Then again, still others are just blatantly much stronger, in whichever media they appear. It’s a bit of a lottery, really. From Odin’s mighty Gungnir (which he gets precisely zero use out of in the movies) to the contentious Ultron and Black Widow’s lesser-known Bites, let’s check out some of the most formidable weapons and items in the MCU. Alongside some of the most useless, of course, just to keep these super-people humble.
20 MOST POWERFUL: The Reality Stone
As everyone who’s seen Infinity War (which is just about every sentient being in the known universe, apparently) will know, all of the Infinity Stones are… well, they’re pretty darn powerful items, to put it simply.
All these artifacts wield immeasurable power and are all but indestructible, but the Reality Stone is arguably a cut above. It was first seen (in the MCU) in the form of the Aether, an odd red liquid with which the Dark Elves and their leader Malekith would attempt to bring darkness to the Nine Realms.
That’s already enough to suggest the Reality Stone’s monstrous power, but let’s not forget: in theory, one could use this stone and its reality-bending properties to create the other Infinity Stones.
19 Completely Useless: The Casket Of Ancient Winters
Now, the Casket of Ancient Winters demands respect. It absolutely does. After all, this is the mystical source of the power of the Frost Giants of Jotunheim. An ancient relic that obliterates opposing armies and plunges whole planets into an ice age? That’s a handy-dandy thing to have around, by all accounts.
At the same time, though, Hela was spectacularly unimpressed by the Casket’s powers. Perhaps she lives in Britain or somewhere, where the weather’s so darn cold and grim that a new ice age would probably be an improvement.
Besides, Odin also has his handy Gem of Infinite Suns, a priceless piece that can cancel out the Casket’s effects nicely.
18 MOST POWERFUL: The Infinity Gauntlet
Now, we weren’t going to get very far in a rundown of powerful MCU artifacts without this one cropping up, were we?
Needless to say, if you’re going to have a single antagonist fighting all of the Avengers, the Guardians of the Galaxy, and more, you’d better darn well give the poor guy some serious firepower.
The Infinity Gauntlet is about as serious as it gets. By itself, it’s just an eccentric-looking glove (like something Michael Jackson would’ve worn while performing), but the true power of this dwarf-crafted relic lies in its ability to harness the might of the Infinity Stones.
In the hands of a being powerful enough to wield it, the ‘complete’ Infinity Gauntlet makes one an all-powerful god. Which, you know, rates relatively highly on the strength-o-meter.
17 COMPLETELY USELESS: Gungnir
Again, there's no disrespect intended here. You don’t just snark on the signature weapon of the Allfather himself, the symbol of Asgardian power and authority, do you?
Odin’s beloved lance is among the most formidable weapons in Asgard (well, it was, before its presumed destruction), so what’s it doing over here in the Completely Useless side of things? Well, we never darn well got to see it in action, that’s what (sure, Loki briefly used it in battle, but…).
In the movies, Odin spent much of his time being all philosophical Anthony Hopkins, which left precious little screentime for the smiting of his foes. It’s a shame, but as far as Asgard is concerned, the MCU is/was all about Thor and Loki.
16 MOST POWERFUL: Mjølnir
Naturally, talk of iconic Asgardian weaponry leads us to our next entry: Thor’s trusty Mjølnir.
Norse mythological depictions of Thor also see him wielding this mighty hammer, presenting it as a weapon capable of flattening mountains. Marvel’s interpretation of him took all kinds of liberties, but retains the hammer as a crucial element of the character.
Yes, Mjølnir is far from being indestructible (just ask Hela, who caught it and crushed into a thousand sad little shards of failure in one hand), but considering the feats that Thor had performed with the weapon prior to that, it’s certainly worthy of a place among the most powerful artifacts in the MCU.
15 COMPLETELY USELESS: Quad Blasters
There’s a lot to like about Star-Lord. For one thing, he’s played by the super-popular Chris Pratt, who’s so beloved by the world that he appears in absolutely every movie ever. For another, he has fantastic taste in music (ooga chagga, ooga ooga ooga chagga), and it’s not often that fans of decades-old cheese get to meet a kindred spirit.
With all of that said, though, it’s his signature weapons that let him down a little. When compared to the likes of Thor’s hammer and Captain America’s shield, the Quad Blasters just really lack that oomph. That’s a bit of an unfair comparison, for sure, but you’ve got to treat everybody the same around here.
14 MOST POWERFUL: The Eye Of Agamotto
Doctor Strange, being a floaty, mysterious, enigmatic and magic sort of guy, has all kinds of curious artifacts at his disposal. We’re going to take a look at the rather spiffy Cloak of Levitation later, but before that, here’s another strange Doctor’s Strange toy.
The Eye of Agamotto was created by the First Sorcerer Supreme (who was called Agamotto, funnily enough). It held the Time Stone and contained its power, until its destruction by Thanos during Infinity War. At that time, though, the stone itself wasn’t inside the Eye of Agamotto.
As this relic contained the Time Stone, it granted the holder the power to manipulate time, which can have connotations far beyond those the wielder ever imagined.
13 COMPLETELY USELESS: Extremis
Speaking of events with the potential for unimaginable connotations, there’s something else we need take a look at: Iron Man 3 and the Extremis virus.
This virus was developed by Aldrich Killian and Maya Hansen, and had almost limitless potential, because it could give people… well, almost limitless potential. Incredible healing powers (regrowing limbs in short order), strength, you name it. It was like a Spray-On Wolverine, essentially.
Just think about that for a moment. As we’ve reported before, Extremis affected Pepper Potts in Iron Man 3, and could even have given Tony Stark actual superpowers of his own.
Sadly, outside of this one movie, Extremis never came up again.
12 MOST POWERFUL: The Twilight Sword
As we’ve already seen, the people of Asgard have some astonishing artifacts at their disposal. Not only weapons, but technology and a whole assortment of relics to boot. They are also, as Thor, Loki, and Hela made very, very clear, a darn strong and resilient bunch in and of themselves.
As such, any blade capable of slicing the whole of Asgard apart with one blow is going to have to be… well, a few notches above your average butterknife on the power scale.
Enter Surtur, vast, demonic ruler of the fiery Muspelheim, with his Twilight Sword in hand. As seen in Thor: Ragnarök, Surtur did indeed demolish the whole realm with his flaming, unstoppable blade, even effortlessly defeating Hela (yes, the one-handed hammer crusher).
11 COMPLETELY USELESS: Ultron
Now, this entry is sure to be a little contentious. As tends to be the case with the MCU, opinions on the movie vs comic portrayals of the character are very mixed.
The thing about The Avengers: Age of Ultron was that the main villain wasn’t exactly the main villain. While still a formidable opponent, the Ultron in the movie was an early one and hasn’t made countless returns with countless upgrades as the comic book Ultron does.
With his ability to switch around and ‘possess’ his various clones, Ultron never made itself the big bad single threat that a true villain (i.e. Thanos) needs to be. In that movie, Wanda Maximoff was more of a straight-up threat to the Avengers, really.
10 MOST POWERFUL: The Hulkbuster Armor
Technically known as the Mark XLIV, the Hulkbuster suit is the forty-fourth suit that Tony Stark made for himself. Its intended purpose, as the name implies, is an unenviable one: to subdue or incapacitate the Hulk should the need arise.
Now, that’s not a job that would see many applicants, but somebody’s got to do it. As such, you’d better believe that the Hulkbuster armor is just about the most resilient suit that all of Stark’s tech could create.
As we saw in Age of Ultron, the Mark XLIV did triumph over the enraged Hulk (if just barely) and eventually knock him out. That’s quite a testament to its defensive and offensive capabilities.
9 COMPLETELY USELESS: Hawkeye’s Bow
Here’s another entry that's going to be a little controversial. Hawkeye really can divide opinion. Is he underrated, or is he simply a bit weak?
Like Star-Lord, he’s a completely likable and relatable guy. In a movie universe full of megalomaniacal space-villains and all kinds of extra-terrestrial monsters, those are important traits to have on your side. He's a family man, he's got issues that are more important to him than being a superhero at times, and that's totally respectable.
Also similarly to Star-Lord, though, his main weapon just isn’t that inspiring. Hawkeye’s shown that he can throw down with the best of them throughout the Avengers movies, yes, but at the same time, he tends to be the most underestimated Avenger by fans.
He’s the Aquaman of the team (before Jason Momoa came along, that is), I guess you could say.
8 MOST POWERFUL: Crimson Bands Of Cyttorak
Meanwhile, back in the New York Sanctum, Doctor Strange has found himself another neat little toy. This time, we’re taking a look a the Crimson Bands of Cyttorak.
You might know this artifact better as "That Thing Doctor Strange Just Threw At Kaecilius Because He Had Zero Clue How It Worked." Still, it restrained his enemy for a time all the same, so it all worked out. Strange was new to the whole sorcerer thing at that point anyway, so we can forgive him.
The item itself is the inspiration for a binding spell of Strange’s, which proved so powerful that he was able to briefly subdue Thanos with it in Infinity War.
7 COMPLETELY USELESS: The Mandarin’s Rings
The movies of the MCU, first and foremost, are about big, flashy set pieces. Nobody does that stuff like Marvel. You don’t see gigantic flaming demons tearing through civilizations on your average soap opera, do you?
To convey that sense of grandeur, only the biggest and most dramatic weapons will do (Thor’s hammer, for instance). There’s one character in the Marvel world who’s been sorely underappreciated in the movies as a result, and that’s Mandarin. He’s given only fleeting mentions in the movies, which has meant that we haven’t seen the famous Mandarin’s Rings do much of anything at all.
These alien artifacts are small cylinders that came to be worn as rings, granting the wearer a variety of effects. For instance, the Matter-Rearranger Ring, as it came to be known, is worn on the right thumb, and allows the Mandarin to make the very air around enemies solid, trapping them.
6 MOST POWERFUL: War Machine
Ah, yes. Throughout the Marvel and DC universes alike, the age-old battles rage. Who could beat who in a fight? As children, we argue it on the schoolyard. As adults, we hop onto internet forums and continue to debate.
One of the tougher fights to call, for a lot of fans, would be Iron Man versus War Machine/Iron Patriot. James Rhodes’s original suit was Stark’s own Mark II, which was taken away from him and customized with advanced weaponry and armor.
As a result, is War Machine more powerful than Iron Man? Was he, at some stage of the MCU, until Tony himself developed something new? There’s no way to say for sure, but Iron Man certainly has a rival in the power stakes here.
5 COMPLETELY USELESS: The Destroyer
Let’s not be too negative here. Let’s really, really not. Very early in the MCU (in Thor, in fact), The Destroyer proved that it could live up to its name. This mighty automaton was created to guard the Asgardian vaults and repelled some of the Frost Giants who came to call. After that, though, things went south for the famous Destroyer.
The ever-treacherous Loki sent the automaton to Earth to battle Thor. Still mortal at this point, Thor was being bounced around like a magnificent long-haired pinball for a while, but on regaining his powers, destroyed the Destroyer far too quickly and easily. It was a real anti-climax, in the eyes of some moviegoers.
4 MOST POWERFUL: The Kurse Stone
If an item like the Kurse Stone existed in the real world, gyms the world over would be less than amused. A mysterious item that gives you enhanced size, strength, height and such, simply by crushing it in your hand? I imagine many people would be down for that.
You’ve got to read the fine print, though, because there’s a major caveat here: you don’t survive for very long after using it. As seen in Thor: The Dark World, the Dark Elves used Kurse Stones to become the Kursed, the last to do so being Algrim the Strong.
Short-lived, yes, but the effects of Kurse Stones were very darn strong indeed.
3 COMPLETELY USELESS: The Cloak Of Levitation
Again, this one’s sure to be highly controversial. Another of the many mystical relics of Doctor Strange (well, they’re not technically his, but who could say no to Benedict Cumberbatch?), the Cloak of Levitation is an artifact that functions very differently in the MCU than it does in the comics.
As the name suggests, it’s primarily a means for the user to fly/levitate. This is neat and all, but Strange is most often seen using this ability to make dramatic entrances (such as when Thor visits the sanctum).
The cloak is less a weapon or item and more a character in its own right. Not only that, but it’s also known to be highly fickle. As such, it might have sentience of its own and be able to save ‘owners’ from falls and such, but what use is all of that if it chooses not to?
2 MOST POWERFUL: Dragonfang
The Dragonfang is yet another MCU weapon that isn’t quite sure what it wants to be.
In the comics, it has far more grandeur attached to it than its movie counterpart. There, this unique blade was carved from bone, and the bone of an extra-dimensional dragon at that. It was originally possessed by the Ancient One, then given to Valkyrie by Doctor Strange.
In the movies, the only remaining Valkyrie wields a Dragonfang of her own. At the climax of Thor: Ragnarök, she slays numerous Berserkers with it, and even incapacitates Hela with the blade. As legendary weapons go, it may not be a towering Twilight Sword, but it’s about as good as we regular mortals get.
1 COMPLETELY USELESS: Black Widow’s Bite
As spider species go, the black widow is among the most infamous. They aren’t aggressive creatures, and their bite doesn’t tend to be as dangerous as the inexperienced may fear, but that’s just the way they’re seen in popular culture.
Speaking of potentially-disappointing bites, how about the MCU’s Black Widow? You may not even know it, but her signature weapon is Black Widow’s Bite, a device developed by S.H.I.E.L.D. that allows her to transmit electricity through bracelets she wears.
It’s nice enough for an agile and powerful close-quarters combatant, but falls way short when compared to the arsenal that other Avengers are packing.