Characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

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DVD artwork displaying various Infinity Saga protagonists with Thanos in the background

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is an American media franchise and shared universe that involves productions of superhero films and television series. These productions star various titular superheroes; they are independently produced by Marvel Studios and are based on characters that appear in American comic books published by Marvel Comics. The shared universe, much like the original Marvel Universe in comic books, was established by crossing over common plots, settings, casts, and characters.

Marvel Studios

Marvel Television


The depiction of adapted and original characters in the MCU has been generally positively received,[1] with the portrayal of superhero protagonists mostly positive. IGN opined, "With heroes ranging from super-spies to super-soldiers to space raccoons, the MCU has gifted us with some of the most memorable champions in movie history."[2] Meanwhile, reception of the MCU's depiction of its villains has been more mixed, with some media outlets coining the term "villain problem" to describe this shortcoming.[3][4][5] Collider described the villains as "Achilles' heel" of the shared universe,[6] with Phase One and Phase Two most commonly criticized for having weak or unmemorable villains.[7] The villains of Phase Three were hailed as an improvement over the villains of the previous two Phases,[8][9] while villains of Phase Four have also been praised.[10]

In an analysis of the MCU's villains, Michael Burgin of Paste opined that it was "probably still fair to say their track record has been less consistent with the bad guys than with the good", believing that this was due to "a reluctance to embrace the established look and character of the villain" and the differences from their source material.[3] Angelo Delos Trinos of Comic Book Resources further elaborated on this, opining that "the MCU has been widely praised for its characters and storylines" but has "mistreated some villains and wasted the potential they have in comics", remarking on the wasted potential of some of the supervillains within the franchise in comparison to their comic book counterparts.[11] Alternatively, Looper described the MCU's villains as "fairly compelling criminals",[4][12] while Eric Diaz of Nerdist described them as being unappreciated despite being the weakest part of the franchise.[12]

Some villains were more well received than others, with Screen Rant elaborating on which villains were "loved" and "hated" from the fans of the franchise.[13] Carolina Darney of SB Nation explained, "Some of the villains — hello, Vulture — are fantastic. They're well-rounded, they have depth, and there seems to be a method to their madness. Then there are the other villains. Their backgrounds aren't particularly explained, you're not entirely sure what they're doing — looking intently at you, Malekith — and motivations seem weak at best."[14]

See also


  1. ^ Langmann, Brady; Miller, Matt (May 20, 2021). "The Best Characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Ranked". Esquire. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  2. ^ Fowler, Matt (November 1, 2021). "The 25 Best Marvel Heroes in the MCU". IGN. Retrieved December 29, 2021.
  3. ^ a b Burgin, Michael (May 19, 2019). "From Strucker to Infinity: Ranking the Villains of the MCU". Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  4. ^ a b Moore, Trent (July 26, 2017). "Every MCU movie villain ranked worst to best". Archived from the original on December 13, 2019. Retrieved November 20, 2019.
  5. ^ Abad-Santos, Alex (November 8, 2017). "Marvel has a villain problem. Thor: Ragnarok is a textbook example". Vox. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  6. ^ Chitwood, Adam (July 9, 2020). "Every MCU Movie Villain Ranked from Worst to Best". Collider. Retrieved May 19, 2021.
  7. ^ Outlaw, Kofi (May 13, 2015). "The Marvel Cinematic Universe's Movie Villain Problem". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  8. ^ Caswell, Tom (March 8, 2018). "How Phase 3 fixed Marvel's cinematic villain problem". SyFy Wire. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  9. ^ Nedd, Alexis (October 4, 2018). "Marvel had a huge villain problem. Then Phase 3 happened". Mashable. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  10. ^ Robinson, Tasha (April 29, 2021). "Marvel Studios' TV shows are fixing the MCU's biggest flaw". Polygon. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  11. ^ Trinos, Angelo Delos (May 14, 2021). "10 MCU Villains Who Are Just Better In The Comics". Comic Book Resources. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  12. ^ a b Diaz, Eric. "Every MCU Villain Ranked from Worst to Best". Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  13. ^ Jain, Tushar (February 17, 2021). "5 MCU Villains Fans Loved (& 5 Fans Hated)". Screen Rant. Retrieved May 20, 2021.
  14. ^ Darney, Caroline (May 5, 2020). "Every Marvel Cinematic Universe villain, ranked from forgettable to iconic". SB Nation. Retrieved May 20, 2021.