9:04pm PDT, May 6, 2022
On May 6, 2022, Benedict Cumberbatch finally returns to the big screen as Dr. Stephen Strange — our favorite neurosurgeon-turned-Master of the Mystic Arts — in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness,” the long-awaited sequel to 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” In honor of the latest installment in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, Wonderwall.com is counting down our favorite heroes, sidekicks and antiheroes from the beloved superhero franchise. Keep reading to see where Dr. Strange and more of your favorite characters rank…
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No. 55: Quicksilver/Pietro Maximoff
Aaron Taylor-Johnson’s brooding Pietro Maximoff starts out as kind of a jerk but eventually redeems himself by saving Hawkeye during the Avengers’ big showdown at the conclusion of 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Unfortunately, he can’t compete with Evan Peters’ ridiculously fun version of the Quicksilver character in the “X-Men” franchise, which hit the big screen just weeks after Aaron made his debut in a cameo in an end-credits sequence in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.”
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No. 54: The Ancient One
Even though casting Tilda Swinton as the Ancient One in 2016’s “Doctor Strange” drew quite a bit of criticism (in the comic book series, the character is portrayed as an older man of Tibetan descent), we loved the androgynous actress as the extremely powerful mystic. That might just be because we have so much lingering affection for the English actress, though…
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No. 53: Agent 13/Sharon Carter
Our feelings here are complicated. On the one hand, we loved Sharon Carter — a S.H.I.E.L.D. operative known as Agent 13 who also happens to be Peggy Carter’s great-niece — when she first made her debut in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” But we weren’t thrilled when she locked lips with Cap, her great-aunt’s one true love, in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” We were even less thrilled when we saw her villainous side on the 2021 Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” We can only hope her true (non-villainous motives) have yet to be revealed.
No. 52: Agent Maria Hill
Meanwhile, we have only positive things to say about this female S.H.I.E.L.D. agent! Cobie Smulders made her debut as Agent Maria Hill — Nick Fury’s right-hand woman — in 2012’s “The Avengers.” She’s appeared in several more Marvel movies since then — she even had a three-episode stint on the “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV show. Most recently, Maria played a central role in 2019’s “Spider-Man: Far From Home.” She’ll return to the small screen on the upcoming Disney+ series “Secret Invasion” alongside Samuel L. Jackson’s Agent Fury and Ben Mendelsohn’s Talos — the shapeshifting Skrull general first seen in “Captain Marvel.”
No. 51: Dr. Christine Palmer
One of our all-time favorite actresses, Rachel McAdams, starred as emergency surgeon Dr. Christine Palmer, Dr. Stephen Strange’s former love, in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” As far as love interests go, a stunning surgeon’s not too shabby, right? (Christine is set to appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”)
No. 50: Heimdall
If we’re being honest, the Asgardian warrior Heimdall, who made his debut in 2011’s “Thor,” is nothing special as far as supporting characters go — except for one important factor: He’s portrayed by Idris Elba, one of our all-time favorite actors!
No. 49: Red Guardian/Alexei Shostakov
David Harbour starred as Alexei Shostakov — a super-soldier known as Red Guardian who’s the KGB’s answer to Captain America and also Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova’s adoptive father — in 2021’s “Black Widow.” Now retired and horribly out of shape, the extremely egotistical former assassin provides some extra muscle — but mostly comedic relief! — as he reconnects with his adult “daughters” following years of estrangement. Please, MCU, bring him back for more!
No. 48: Kate Bishop
Hailee Steinfeld charmed as Kate Bishop — the protégée Clint Barton never knew he needed — on the 2021 Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” which centers around the titular Avenger and his forced partnership with the skilled but trouble-prone young archer. What we love so much about Kate — who’s idolized Hawkeye from the time she was a little girl — is that she’s so relatable … aside from, you know, being ridiculously wealthy and skilled with a bow and arrow.
No. 47: Luis
No Marvel sidekick is more hilarious than Michael Peña’s fast-talking Luis, Scott Lang’s former cellmate who made his debut in 2015’s “Ant-Man.” He returned to the role in 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp” and was so hysterical, we missed entire scenes of dialogue from laughing too loudly!
No. 46: Mantis
Pom Klementieff debuted as Mantis, an absolutely adorable alien empath who teams up with the Guardians, in 2017’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.” She’s just such a sweetheart!
No. 45: Yelena Belova
Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff may have finally stepped into the spotlight in 2021’s “Black Widow,” but it was Florence Pugh as her adopted kid sister, the hilarious but equally skilled Widow Yelena Belova, who had everyone talking. We were overjoyed when she made a surprise appearance on the late 2021 Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” and we can only hope it’s just the beginning for this adorable assassin.
No. 44: Wong
Benedict Wong starred as Wong, a master of the mystic arts, in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” What we love about this character is the way he was updated from a simple manservant in the comic books (a disgraceful racial stereotype) to a master in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Welcome to the future, y’all! (Wong — who popped up in 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” — is set to appear in “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”)
No. 43: Michelle “MJ” Jones
Zendaya stole every scene as Michelle “MJ” Jones in 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming” and its two sequels. We could not be more thrilled with the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe updated Peter Parker’s love interest from the popular Mary Jane Watson, an aspiring actress, to the super-sarcastic intellectual loner MJ.
No. 42: Happy Hogan
Jon Favreau has portrayed Happy Hogan — Tony Stark’s friend, chauffeur and bodyguard — since 2008’s “Iron Man.” Most recently, he appeared in 2021’s “Spider-Man: No Way Home” after picking up where Tony left off as an advisor to young Peter Parker. Over the years, we’ve watched him blossom from a valet to the head of security at Stark Industries as he’s become more and more important to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We hope we haven’t seen the last of him! (As a bonus, Jon also directed the first two “Iron Man” movies, making him even more vital to the MCU!)
No. 41: Darcy Lewis
Kat Dennings made her debut as Jane Foster’s hilarious assistant Darcy Lewis — a former political science major who initially sucks at actual science stuff — in 2011’s “Thor.” Although she started out as simply comic relief, she really proved herself in 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World.” By the time she made a surprise appearance on the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision,” she’d become a full-blown astrophysicist capable of unlocking the secrets of Wanda’s hex all by herself.
No. 40: The Wasp/Hope van Dyne
Evangeline Lilly starred as the super-smart and strong-willed Hope van Dyne — who’s WAY more qualified to wear the shrinking suit than Scott Lang — in 2015’s “Ant-Man” and its sequel, during which she takes the lead in terms of butt-kicking.
No. 39: Yondu Udonta
Who could’ve guessed when he debuted in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1” that Michael Rooker’s exiled Ravager Yondu Udonta would become one of the most beloved father figures in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?
No. 38: Pepper Potts
Gwyenth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts kept Tony Stark in line (personally and professionally) starting with 2008’s “Iron Man.” She’s smart, beautiful and doesn’t take crap from anyone. But as far as the Avengers’ love interests go, she has some tough competition…
No. 37: Jane Foster
Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster, who made her debut in 2011’s “Thor,” is our favorite Avengers love interest by far. Why? Um, hello, she’s an astrophysicist! Sadly, the brave, brilliant and beautiful scientist took a lengthy hiatus from the Marvel Cinematic Universe after 2013’s “Thor: The Dark World” — aside from a brief appearance in 2019’s “Avengers: Endgame.” But we expect to love her even more after she becomes Lady Thor — who, according to the actress, will be known as The Mighty Thor — in “Thor: Love and Thunder,” which is due in July 2022.
No. 36: Monica Rambeau
Teyonah Parris made her debut as S.W.O.R.D. agent Monica Rambeau on the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision.” (Akira Akbar portrayed a younger version of the character — the daughter of Carol Danvers’ best friend Maria Rambeau — in 2019’s “Captain Marvel.”) On the show, Monica gains the ability to manipulate energy after her cells are rewritten when she passes through a hex created by the Scarlet Witch. In the Marvel comics, she’s adopted several superhero names including Pulsar, Photon and Spectrum. We can’t wait to see what the Marvel Cinematic Universe does with her next!
No. 35 and No. 34: Sif and Valkyrie
We were all about Jaimie Alexander’s Sif — an Asgardian warrior and childhood friend of Thor’s who made her debut in 2011’s “Thor” — until she got upstaged by Tessa Thompson’s Valkyrie — a washed-up drunkard and the last surviving member of the all-female Valkyrior warriors — in 2017’s “Thor: Ragnarok.” Whether your No. 1 is Sif or Valkyrie, you have to admit: These Asgardian warrior women (Ragna)rock! (They’re both set to appear in 2022’s “Thor: Love and Thunder.”)
No. 33: M’Baku
Winston Duke killed it as M’Baku, the ferocious but ultimately super-funny leader of the Jabari Tribe, in 2018’s “Black Panther.” He’s so beloved by fans, some are calling for him to succeed T’Challa as the next king of Wakanda in “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever,” which is due in late 2022.
No. 32: May Parker
Marisa Tomei made her debut as Peter Parker’s Aunt May — a younger and hipper version of the character than we’ve seen in the past — in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War.” While the MCU is chock-full of father figures, maternal surrogates are few and far between. That’s why Aunt May will always mean so much to us — and why we’ll miss her so dearly!
No. 31: Hawkeye/Clint Barton
Jeremy Renner debuted as Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, who’s an expert with a bow and arrow, in 2011’s “Thor.” For years, he played a mostly supporting role in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. But things took a sudden shift when he revealed his secret family in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” Through them — and through his deep friendship with Natasha — he revealed himself to be the secret heart of the Avengers. Overcome with grief after losing his family in the Blip, he becomes the katana-wielding vigilante Ronin … and also reveals himself to be a much more interesting character than we initially thought! Fans saw the toll his days as a non-powered hero took on his body on the charming late 2021 Disney+ series “Hawkeye,” making him all the more inspiring.
No. 30: Drax the Destroyer
Dave Bautista broke our hearts (Ronan the Accuser murdered his wife and daughter) and then made us cry with laughter as the completely literal alien warrior Drax the Destroyer, who made his debut in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.”
No. 29: War Machine/James “Rhodey” Rhodes
Don Cheadle took over the role of James “Rhodey” Rhodes, Tony Stark’s friend and sidekick, in 2010’s “Iron Man 2” after Terrence Howard walked away from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s been a joy to watch him blossom into War Machine — a true hero in his own right — over the years, and we can’t wait to see him on the upcoming Disney+ series “Armor Wars.”
No. 28: Nebula
Who’s the greatest anti-heroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Karen Gillan’s Nebula, of course! The “Doctor Who” star first appeared as Gamora’s adopted sister, whom the Scottish actress has described as a total sadist, in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy.” She started making moves toward redeeming herself in the 2017 sequel and took things even further in “Avengers: Infinity War” and “Avengers: Endgame.” We now see her as one of the most complicated characters in the MCU: She’s both unintentionally hilarious and completely tragic.
No. 27: Director Nick Fury
Samuel L. Jackson made his debut as S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury in an end-credits sequence in 2008’s “Iron Man.” He’s the tough-talking leader you can’t help but respect! After playing a supporting role in more than 10 Marvel movies — including 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” which depicted a younger, pre-eye patch version of the character — Nick will finally step into the spotlight on the upcoming Disney+ series “Secret Invasion.” We can’t wait!
No. 26: Agent Peggy Carter
Is it any wonder she won Cap’s heart? Hayley Atwell made her debut as Peggy Carter in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The brilliant and beautiful British SSR officer was such a huge hit with Marvel fans, she scored her own TV series: the fantastic but short-lived “Agent Carter,” which follows Peggy’s efforts to fight Hydra in 1940s New York City and Los Angeles.
No. 25: Agent Phil Coulson
He’s the heart of S.H.I.E.L.D., the glue that holds the Avengers together and our favorite Marvel father figure: Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, who made his debut in 2008’s “Iron Man.” The character was so beloved, he scored his own TV spinoff (“Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.”) after getting killed off in 2012’s “The Avengers.”
No. 24: The Sorcerer Supreme/Dr. Stephen Strange
Benedict Cumberbatch debuted as Dr. Stephen Strange in 2016’s “Doctor Strange.” The world-class neurosurgeon becomes the Sorcerer Supreme, one of the most powerful (certainly the weirdest) member of the Avengers. And it’s awesome! He and the Scarlet Witch are sure to make an unbeatable duo when they team up in 2022’s “Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness.”
No. 23: The Winter Solider/Bucky Barnes
Sebastian Stan has starred as Bucky Barnes, who eventually becomes the Winter Soldier, since 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger.” The bond of brotherhood between Bucky and Cap, his childhood best friend, is one of the greatest love stories in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! His dedication to his longtime pal carries over to the second Captain America, Sam Wilson, on their 2021 Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier,” which depicts their complicated (and often hilarious) dynamic.
No. 22: Ant-Man/Scott Lang
Paul Rudd injected some much needed humor into the Marvel Cinematic Universe as ex-con Scott Lang, the titular hero in 2015’s “Ant-Man” who’ll do anything for his little girl. (He brought even more LOLs to the MCU in 2018’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp.”)
No. 21: Vision
Paul Bettany has been part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe from the very beginning: first as the voice of J.A.R.V.I.S., Tony Stark’s AI system stemming back to 2008’s “Iron Man, and then as the powerful but naïve android Vision, who first appeared in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron.” (It was such a pleasure to see the English actor’s face on the big screen after all those years!) We fell deeper in love with Vision when he appeared on the 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision,” during which on-screen love Wanda Maximoff reenvisioned their life together as the “American Dream” inspired by Hollywood sitcoms from different decades.
No. 20: Xu Shang-Chi
There’s no doubt that Simu Liu’s Xu Shang-Chi has some of the best martial arts skills of any character in the MCU. When he made his big debut in 2021’s “Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings” — the first Marvel movie with a predominantly Asian cast — as an aimless valet under the pseudonym Shaun, he proved that he could land punchlines as well as punches.
No. 19: Gamora
Zoe Saldana made her debut as Gamora — the first female member of the Guardians of the Galaxy — in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.” The former assassin betrays her adoptive father, Thanos, and later becomes a true hero on her quest to redeem herself for her past crimes. It’s one of the best character arcs in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but sadly, that arc was undone when Thanos sacrificed Gamora on his quest to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet. Later, when a version of Thanos from the past travels forward in time in “Avengers: Endgame,” he brings an alternate version of Gamora into the present with him. It remains to be seen what will become of this iteration of Gamora, who hasn’t technically met her fellow Guardians yet. Meanwhile, she’s got some competition where green-skinned heroes are concerned…
No. 18: The Hulk/Bruce Banner
The Hulk has changed hands so many times over the years, we haven’t quite developed as much loyalty to him as to some of his peers. Eric Bana portrayed the naïve scientist Bruce Banner in 2003’s “Hulk.” Edward Norton gave us a dark, tortured version of the character in 2008’s “The Incredible Hulk.” And Mark Ruffalo (pictured) took over the role in 2012’s “The Avengers,” giving us the best iteration yet: a Hulk who’s equal parts sweet, silly and savage.
No. 17, No. 16, No. 15 and No. 14: Okoye, Nakia, Shuri and Ramonda
How could we possibly choose a favorite from the foursome of remarkable women at the center of 2018’s “Black Panther”? Danai Gurira knocked it out of the park as Okoye, the fierce leader of the Dora Milaje, an all-female unit of warriors and King T’Challa’s personal bodyguards. Lupita Nyong’o killed it as Nakia, who would rather work undercover to free enslaved Nigerian women than sit on a throne. Angela Bassett was regal and wise as T’Challa’s mother, Ramonda. And Letitia Wright stole every scene as Shuri, T’Challa’s kid sister — who also happens to be the lead inventor and head of technology of the most advanced nation in the world and therefore the smartest person on Earth. Yeah, bow down.
No. 13: Star-Lord/Peter Quill
Chris Pratt made his debut as Peter Quill, who’s nicknamed himself Star-Lord, in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1.” The actor has described the character as a combination of Han Solo and Marty McFly, who are basically two of the best characters ever. So, yeah, it’s safe to say we love Star-Lord. Unfortunately, he’s got some stiff competition when it comes to guys named Chris who star in Marvel movies…
No. 12: Spider-Man/Peter Parker
Tom Holland breathed new life into the role of Peter Parker, who made his debut in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” before scoring his own film, 2017’s “Spider-Man: Homecoming.” After suffering through two super-dark Sony-produced Spider-Man movies with Andrew Garfield in the lead role, it was a welcome change! (Tom’s Peter even helped Andrew’s Spidey score some much-needed redemption with the widely beloved 2021 sequel “Spider-Man: No Way Home,” which saw the two-time Oscar nominee sharing the screen with Tom and the original Peter Parker: Tobey Maguire.)
No. 11: Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff
Scarlett Johansson made her debut as the Black Widow — former KGB operative Natasha Romanoff, who’s the first female member of the Avengers — in 2010’s “Iron Man 2.” She’s super smart, super tough and super sexy. But she’s not superhuman, which makes the fact that she can keep up with the boys all the more impressive! She finally stepped into the spotlight when her eponymous standalone film debuted in 2021.
No. 10: Loki
Has there ever been an antihero more delicious than Tom Hiddleston’s Loki? The God of Mischief and Lies, who made his debut in 2011’s “Thor,” has stabbed his adopted brother in the back more times than we can count, and yet we somehow can’t help rooting for him. That’s what we call charisma! We were equally invested in his misadventures in his eponymous Disney+ series, which debuted in 2021.
No. 9: Thor
The luscious locks! The bulging biceps! The unintentional hilarity! What’s not to love about Chris Hemsworth’s Thor? The warrior and heir to the throne of Asgard made his debut in 2011’s “Thor.”
No. 8: Captain Marvel/Vers/Carol Danvers
Brie Larson starred as the Kree warrior Vers — who’s actually former Air Force fighter pilot Carol Danvers — in 2019’s “Captain Marvel,” the first Marvel movie centered around a female character. And boy was she worth the wait! She’s brave, bold, brash, beautiful and, oh yeah, one of the most powerful individuals in the universe — second only, perhaps, to another female hero…
No. 7: Scarlet Witch/Wanda Maximoff
The Marvel Cinematic Universe was seriously sleeping on Wanda Maximoff! Elizabeth Olsen made her debut as the Scarlet Witch in an end-credits sequence in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” After kicking things off as a villain in 2015’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron,” she flew under the radar for years as she struggled to control her powers while grieving the loss of her twin brother, Pietro. That struggle continued in the lauded 2021 Disney+ series “WandaVision,” which saw the underutilized superhero finally stepping into the spotlight. It was then we realized she’s actually one of the most complex and rich characters in the MCU. And the most powerful. In fact, there’s a reason why she had to fly under the radar all those years: If she had full control of her powers when the Avengers first faced Thanos, she could’ve taken him down with a simple snap of her own … without the Infinity Gauntlet.
No. 6: The Falcon/Captain America II/Sam Wilson
Anthony Mackie’s Sam Wilson made his debut in 2014’s “Captain America: The Winter Soldier.” When we first met him, the former U.S. Air Force Pararescueman wasn’t just smoking hot, he’d also dedicated his life to helping others, counseling veterans suffering from PTSD through the VA. He later puts his life on the line over and over again to help Cap as the Falcon — even though he doesn’t have superhuman strength, regenerative healing abilities or any other powers. It’s no wonder he’s the only one Cap trusts with his legacy. We fell even deeper in love with Sam when he took up the shield and accepted the Captain America mantle on the 2021 Disney+ series “The Falcon and The Winter Soldier.” No one deserves it more!
No. 5 and No. 4: Rocket and Groot
Rocket, a genetically modified raccoon (the voice of Bradley Cooper), and Groot, a humanoid alien tree (the voice of Vin Diesel), are the cutest platonic couple in the Marvel Cinematic Universe! The adorable but deadly duo made their debut in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” and quickly became favorites for fans of all ages. Don’t you just want to hug them?!
No. 3: Black Panther/King T’Challa
Long live the king! The late, great Chadwick Boseman broke barriers and made history as Wakanda’s King T’Challa, the ruler and protector of the most advanced nation on the planet. He appeared in 2016’s “Captain America: Civil War” before scoring his own spinoff, 2018’s “Black Panther,” which is now one of the most successful movies in cinema history. We’ll never stop missing him.
No. 2: Iron Man/Tony Stark
We wouldn’t have the Marvel Cinematic Universe — which kicked off in 2008 with “Iron Man” — without Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. (The two-time Oscar nominee took on the role in 10 different films.) We didn’t always agree with the billionaire industrialist, inventor and former weapons manufacturer, but no character in the MCU had a greater transformation than the former playboy, who made the ultimate sacrifice to protect the ones he loves in “Avengers: Endgame.” Tony, we love you 3,000.
No. 1: Captain America/Steve Rogers
Our deepest apologies to Tony Stark, but we’ll always be Team Cap… Chris Evans’ Steve Rogers, who made his debut in 2011’s “Captain America: The First Avenger,” is our favorite member of the Avengers — and not just because of his gorgeous, genetically enhanced appearance. Unlike his peers, the former wimp and scrawny Boy Scout actively chose to sacrifice his personal life to serve the greater good. (No lab accidents here!) You’ll be hard-pressed to find a more loyal member of the team, whether to his country or to his childhood BFF — remember, he gave up everything to protect Bucky — and became an international fugitive in the process.