To say that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become a behemoth is an understatement, amazingly enough. It's the highest grossing film franchise of all time. At the time of this writing, 20 movies have been released so far and another three are on the way in 2019: Captain Marvel, Avengers: Endgame, and Spider-Man: Far From Home.
One of the keys to the series’ box office dominance is that the MCU has managed to introduce a deep roster of characters who mean the world to its massive fan base. Unfortunately, many of them have already made what appears to be their final movie appearance. On the other end of the spectrum, there also are some characters who show no signs of leaving anytime soon but we’d argue the MCU would be better off without them. With all that in mind, it's time to take a hard look at the MCU's deep roster.
For characters still in the MCU, we considered if the franchise would be improved if they were gone. On the other hand, there are those characters who are already gone-- whether deceased or simply written off-- whose absence is seriously felt throughout the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. That said, it should be noted that we only considered the exits of characters who are unlikely to return, so everyone involved in the final moments of Infinity War was excluded from consideration-- at least until Endgame hits screens in April.
Here are 10 Character Exits That Hurt MCU Movies (And 10 Who Need To Go).
20 Hurt: Peggy Carter
An all-around fantastic character we can’t get enough of, Peggy Carter represents the best values of the MCU. After all, she was one of the founding members of S.H.I.E.L.D. and she broke down walls for strong women in the MCU. On top of that, she also helped to train and inspire Captain America, a man who went on to serve as the moral leader of this franchise’s heroes.
With all of that in mind and remembering that when we saw her funeral in Captain America: Civil War it was attended by loads of people, it is clear that she led an incredible life. The only problem is that we never got to see the vast majority of the heroic things she did.
19 Needs to Go: Hawkeye
Hawkeye was an awesome character in the comic books. His battle knowledge and combat skills made him a valuable member and sometimes leader of the group on the page. However, in the movies, he never seems to do enough damage to the Avengers’ foes to be overly useful and, aside from the pep talk he gave Romanoff twins, he hasn’t been given much to do.
He is set to take on the much darker persona of Ronin in Avengers: Endgame. Judging by the trailer, that has some serious potential. Still, based on how little of note Clint has done up until this point, it doesn’t give us enough confidence to say he should stick around.
18 Hurt: Baron Strucker
No matter how much people love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, most fans will admit that some mistakes have been made. One of the biggest disappointments was that the MCU’s Baron Wolfgang von Strucker paled in comparison to the version of the character known to comics readers.
Considering that the people behind the MCU did such a poor job bringing him to life, it could be argued that it is a good thing that Ultron put an end to his life. However, we think the opposite is true and they should have kept him around and worked hard to revamp the character in ways that did him justice.
17 Hurt: Abomination
In most ways, the events of The Incredible Hulk have little to do with the rest of the series. While that is understandable, since Edward Norton played the lead in that movie and Mark Ruffalo took on the role of Bruce Banner from The Avengers onward, it's still disappointing.
It makes absolutely no sense that The Incredible Hulk’s powerful villain, Abomination, has never popped up again. He is a huge threat who comes close to rivaling the Hulk in terms of strength. We would love to see the Abomination team up with another Avengers foe to take the team on.
16 Needs to Go: Sharon Carter
Unlike her aunt Peggy, Sharon Carter has added very little to the franchise. An agent in her own right, Sharon was assigned by Nick Fury to keep an eye on Steve Rogers as he adjusted to the modern world. Opting to flirt with her target, ostensibly to gain his trust, even after Sharon’s true nature was revealed, her Cap connection stayed intact and during the events of Civil War they shared their first kiss.
Unfortunately, that moment would have been a lot more effective if Sharon hadn’t been written as a surface-deep character-- or if it hadn't happened right after Peggy's funeral. Unless Sharon is given the depth of character she deserves, her continued involvement in the series serves little purpose.
15 Hurt: Jane Foster
Another example of an MCU character nowhere near as good as their comic book counterpart, the movie version of Jane Foster could have been so much better. A lot of film fans don’t know it but in recent years Jane Foster received the powers of Thor in the comic books.
It could have amazing to see one of the most talented actors in the world today, Natalie Portman, play an amazing hero on the big screen. Unfortunately, it seems certain that will never take place and instead Jane’s MCU departure was revealed by a throwaway line of dialogue in Thor: Ragnarok.
14 Hurt: Justin Hammer
One of the best actors of his generation, Sam Rockwell is so great at what he does that we are always happy when he lands a role in a movie we already wanted to see. However, that alone is nowhere near enough to earn his character a spot on this list. Instead, Justin Hammer appears here because he was the most entertaining part of Iron Man 2 by far.
A poor man’s Tony Stark who is desperate to be seen in a similar light, Hammer’s feeble attempts to seem half as charismatic as his greatest foe always entertain. We know he's locked up in Seagate prison, so why can't he just break out and join the fray?
13 Needs to Go: Thanos
By the time Avengers: Infinity War was released, fans already knew Thanos was very dangerous. However, there was no way to know how nuanced and compelling Thanos would be in his big screen debut. With that in mind, you may be wondering why we think that Thanos needs to go before too long.
As he's obviously set to play a huge role in the upcoming film Avengers: Endgame, it seems obvious that he will lose his battle in that film. That will strip him of his entire motivation and we can’t imagine another film handling his character better, so it's better and more likely that he'll be written out completely.
12 Hurt: Hela
The biggest problem with the Marvel Cinematic Universe early on was that the initial batch of movies had some pretty lackluster villains. Fortunately, that is nowhere near the problem it once was since Phase 3 brought us the the likes of Killmonger, Thanos, The Grandmaster, and Vulture. Hela also was a fantastic addition to the series as the first villain from the Asgardian world that viewers actually cared about.
Evidently dispatched by the end of her film debut, Hela was powerful enough that taking her out prior to Thanos’ arrival on the scene may have seemed necessary. However, if any future film focuses on the new home of the Asgardians, it would be great to know an awesome foil for them had already been set up.
11 Hurt: Alexander Pierce
The idea that comic books would inspire many box office behemoths seemed impossible to believe at one point. However, due to how beloved superhero movies have become and how great the MCU is, the series has been able to attract some top-notch talent. A perfect example of that, it is amazing that an actor of Robert Redford’s caliber took on the role of Alexander Pierce.
A multifaceted character whose true motivations came out just before he met his doom, Pierce’s time in the MCU came to an end before the character’s potential had even come close to being tapped. The storytelling potential of a displaced former powerbroker like Pierce trying to recapture his place of prominence would make for a thrilling narrative.
10 Hurt: The Watchers’ Informant
Film theories can be a lot of fun to talk about but they rarely are addressed by filmmakers. When it comes to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, however, the most popular theory related to the franchise seems to have been confirmed. Essentially, the theory was that all of Stan Lee’s MCU cameos were as a single character; an informant who works on behalf of beings that passively observe major events.
This was all but confirmed when Lee’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 cameo showed him talking with a group of Watchers, and it was a marvelous moment. Sadly, now that Lee has passed, his in-person MCU cameos are almost through and he will be sorely missed.
9 Hurt: Crossbones
Crossbones never was anything more than a supporting player in the MCU. Still, when you really think about what the character went through, it is tantalizing to think about the damage he could have done. Already secretly a villain by the time he earned Cap’s trust, when the man then known as Brock Rumlow revealed himself to be a Hydra agent, it signaled a seismic shift in the MCU.
After Rumlow was driven mad and took on the name Crossbones, his training and fearlessness should have made him a big threat. Instead, everything the character could be as an archenemy of Cap’s was flushed away when he perished in an explosion, early in Civil War.
8 Needs to Go: Happy Hogan
Happy Hogan has a long history in the comic books, so seeing him on the big screen was pretty great at first. Portrayed by Jon Favreau, the man who directed the debut MCU movie, Happy appeared as Tony’s loyal employee and friend in all three of the Iron Man movies. It's a perfect role for the character and Favreau, so if more Iron Man solo movies were on the way, we’d be all for Happy sticking around.
Considering that seems incredibly unlikely, though, if Happy sticks around we probably will see the character serve as a Stark’s stand-in as he did in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Though he was perfectly serviceable in that role, we still can’t help but think that no one can truly replace Tony.
7 Hurt: Ulysses Klaue
Andy Serkis has risen to fame as an actor known for his motion capture abilities. Despite his main claim to fame, however, Serkis is marvelous when he appears on screen in person. This was proven by his performance as the character Ulysses Klaue in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He managed to sport an evil grin audiences enjoyed while not going so far that he became cartoonish.
He was never the main MCU villain, but even though Klaue played the second fiddle to Ultron and Killmonger, we would have loved for him to get second billing to a long list of other MCU baddies.
6 Hurt: Heimdall
One of the most unheralded heroes in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, even though Heimdall spent his life standing in place at the end of Asgard’s rainbow bridge, his sacrifice in Infinity War was impressive. Prior to Ragnarok, fans only got to see Heimdall sparingly. However, when he went on to shepherd the vulnerable Asgardian masses while wielding a massive sword and using his powers l to keep his charges safe, it was clear that Heimdall was totally awesome.
That is why it is frustrating that Heimdall was taken down by Corvus Glave’s weapon soon after his combat potential was first put on display.
5 Needs to Go: Captain America
Someone born with an unbreakable moral code, Captain America may not be right every time, but when the chips are down, he is willing to give everything to do what is right. Feeling like he's failed every living being and crushed over losing his friends at the end of Infinity War, Cap is the type of man that would spend the rest of his life trying to make that right. Fortunately, for him, it is clear that many of the heroes that turned to dust at the end of that film will return.
However, if everyone survives the battle against Thanos that will feel like a copout and if someone has to give their life, Cap is the most likely candidate-- though we'll miss him.
4 Hurt: Sif
Along with the Warriors Three, early on in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thor could count on the battle skills and loyalty of Sif to back him up in all his fights. In fact, when Loki took over as King of Asgard, she and their three pals took the dangerous step of rebelling against him to aid in Thor’s return to their homeland.
Unlike the Warriors Three, however, Sif was a multilayered character, motivated by more than just the glory of battle. Not seen on the big screen since the end of Thor: The Dark World, Sif wasn’t among the army of Asgardians who met their doom at the hands of Hela. Instead, due to the actor that played Sif’s scheduling conflicts, it has been confirmed that she met her untimely end off screen. Sif deserved a better fate than that.
3 Hurt: Samuel Sterns
Seemingly a throwaway character when he was introduced in The Incredible Hulk, Samuel Sterns was a cellular biologist who tried to help Bruce Banner stop his transformations into the Hulk. Unsuccessful in that regard, he was then forced to conduct the experiment that led to the creation of Abomination. During that process, an open wound on his hand was infected with Banner’s blood. Instead of becoming a brute, Sterns was transformed into the Leader, a supervillain whose intelligence was enhanced to the utmost.
Taken into the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Leader is brilliant enough to have escaped and it would be wonderful to see a non-physical MCU villain for once.
2 Needs to Go: Iron Man
Iron Man anchored the franchise’s first film and remains hugely important today. A genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist who possesses all the charm and comedic timing in the world, over the years Stark has delivered many of the franchise’s best lines. He is a flawed protagonist who sometimes struggles to know what the right thing is, despite all of his bravado. Tony has done his best to lead the Avengers in the right direction.
However, at this point, it seems like his story is reaching its natural end and it is time for Stark to step aside and allow another leader, perhaps Spider-Man, to take over his position.
1 Hurt: Loki
Considered the best Marvel Cinematic Universe villain but for a long time, Loki has seemingly been unseated. He has since become an antihero and, as we touched on earlier in this list, the franchise has introduced many fantastic villains to compete for the top spot in recent years.
Seemingly taken out at the start of Avengers: Infinity War, Loki went out in a powerful moment that brought his character around full circle. Despite that, we love Tom Hiddleston’s version of the character enough that we want to see more of him interacting with the main MCU movie players. While it is wonderful that Loki is getting a series of his own, that probably won’t provide him with the opportunity to grapple with the MCU’s most important characters.
Which character do you think should leave the MCU? Let us know in the comments!