It’s still hard to believe that the Marvel Cinematic Universe started way back in 2008, back when Tom Holland was attending school in the United Kingdom and the likes of Mark Ruffalo and Jeremy Renner were still finding their feet in the acting world.
Over the several years the MCU has introduced so many weird and wonderful characters, each with their own appeal in some way. Yet some of those people were killed off way too soon, either for narrative reasons or just because fans wanted to see more.
UPDATE: 2022/09/07 20:00 EST BY SHAWN S. LEALOS
For many years, superhero movies almost always ended up with the bad guys dying in the end, which was something that hurt the longevity of certain characters. How can a character develop a long-lasting nemesis if they die too soon? The alternative was actually shown twice recently, first in Spider-Man: No Way Home, where Spider-Man’s villains who died in the past all returned to life, and he set out to save them from their fate. The second was She-Hulk, streaming on Disney+, where the Hulk’s villain, Abomination, is not only alive but prepared to play a large role in the MCU once again.
Brock Rumlow was a S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who worked alongside Captain America and Black Widow before Hydra attempted its hostile takeover. At that time, he chose to remain on Hydra’s side and ended up becoming Crossbones after getting caught in an explosion.
However, this only led to one other appearance in the MCU. In Captain America: Civil War, Crossbones planned a terrorist attack, but Wanda Maximoff stopped him by containing the explosion and killing him as a result. The death was part of the overall building of the Civil War, but killing a villain as great as Crossbones just to set up the story seemed a waste, as he had plenty left to offer the MCU.
A lot of Asgardians died between Thor: Ragnarök and Avengers: Infinity War. Some of these included fan favorites like The Warriors Three, but their loss never really meant that much in the grand scheme of things. However, Heimdall’s death hit harder.
Heimdall proved in Thor: Ragnarök that he was one of Asgard’s most powerful warriors. It was his true hero moment. However, he died in the opening scene of Infinity War, and it not only took a warrior off the board before the battle with Thanos, but it removed a great actor in Idris Elba. Luckily, Heimdall returned in a scene from the afterlife in Thor: Love and Thunder, but the MCU will miss seeing Heimdall in action.
Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 remains unfairly maligned. While the Mandarin twist rubbed many MCU fans the wrong way, the reveal was perfectly done and created a brilliant side character in Trevor, as Shang Chi showed. However, the movie did one character wrong.
In the comics, Maya Hansen played a big role in Tony Stark’s life. She was a brilliant scientist who helped create Extremis. She also worked for Stark at S.H.I.E.L.D., and even worked with the real Mandarin. However, in the movie, she was nothing more than Aldrich Killian’s lackey and died a meaningless death. She could have been so much more if adapted correctly.
Ronan the Accuser
Ronan the Accuser posed a huge threat to the Guardians of the Galaxy in their first movie, and he is one of the few people to stand up to Thanos and live to fight another day. However, when the movie ended, he died at the Guardian’s hands following a comic quip by Peter Quill.
Fans got to see Ronan back in a smaller role in Captain Marvel, which took place in the 1990s. However, his death in the MCU means that any future plans for cosmic battles with beings like Annihilus will never be as great as they were in the comics, where Ronan was forced to team with his enemies for the sake of the Kree Empire.
If there is one MCU death that deserves undone, it is the death of Wanda Maximoff. Dying at the end of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in an act of self-sacrifice, Wanda really deserves a second chance in the MCU, if for no other reason than the fact Elizabeth Olsen completely owned the role.
Wanda has done a lot in the MCU. She played a big role in three of the Avengers movies, was brilliant in her Disney+ series, WandaVision, and was one of Marvel’s most powerful villains at the end, but she deserved a better fate following her traumatic life. There are some fans who believe Wanda could have survived, and that might be best for the MCU.
Thanos’ involvement in the MCU went beyond his two huge appearances in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame. Prior to that he’d made cameos in both the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie and Avengers: Age of Ultron, setting the scene for the dastardly mission the Mad Titan would embark on years later.
But two movies of Thanos at the forefront of things, while admittedly spectacular, isn’t enough. Josh Brolin painted the purple beast as an intriguing character, one with a moral compass and yet horrifically twisted. Hopefully, despite his death in Endgame, maybe Disney can find a way to bring the character back some point down the line.
So while Thanos deserved better, fans were also left disappointed by the decision to kill off Ebony Maw so early into Infinity War. Of all the children of the Mad Titan, it was the Maw who was the best of the bunch, using his outstanding telekinetic skills to make life a living hell for his enemies.
He was prominent in the first act of Infinity War, helping capture Dr. Strange and surviving a showdown with Iron Man, Spider-Man and Wong. But fans were definitely feeling a bit blue when he met his end on the spaceship and, though he returned in Endgame, he wasn’t given enough screen time.
Marvel had been teasing the introduction of Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch for a while before both characters played a starring role in the 2015 blockbuster Avengers: Age of Ultron. And they both turned out to be worth the wait, with their powers a breath of fresh air and complexity as individuals making them fascinating to watch.
Quicksilver is good in the movie: he moves at incredible speed, makes jokes, and even joins the good guys in the fight against Ultron right at the very end. Marvel killed him off, though, with the speedster sacrificing himself for Hawkeye. A true hero — and one fans had hoped would be around for a lot longer.
The MCU kicked off back in 2008 with the release of the first Iron Man film. One of the first characters introduced in the movie was Ho Yinsen, who befriended Tony Stark during his time held captive in a cave in the Middle East.
Yinsen is a top guy, assisting Tony in the creation of his first Iron Man suit and helping the billionaire escape with his life intact. However, he was shot and killed, with the mentor managing to pass on some crucial words of advice before his death. Without him, Tony may never have realized his potential as a creator and, more importantly, a superhero.
Despite it having a stunning action sequence that takes place during the Formula 1 Grand Prix in Monte Carlo, critics still regard Iron Man 2 as one of the worst movies the Marvel Cinematic Universe produced. But while its plot leaves much to be desired, it would have been nice to see more of Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko, AKA Whiplash.
The 67-year-old is an interesting enough villain, seeking revenge on Tony for the death of his father. He dies at the end, but there was hope that he could have returned in some form, even in flashback movies in his home country, like Black Widow.
Andy Serkis moved on to play Alfred Pennyworth in Matt Reeves’ The Batman. This was great because the actor ended up underused by Marvel, making just two appearances in 2015’s Age of Ultron and 2018’s Black Panther.
Klaue gets his arm sliced off by Ultron in the former, but it’s in the 2018 movie where his character excels, using his new metallic limb to cause chaos all while operating with a big, albeit villainous, smile on his face. It was disappointing when Erik Killmonger killed him, and he never even got to return to Wakanda, and his most hated enemies.
Michael B. Jordan was under pressure to deliver a fine performance after failing to live up to expectations in the 2015’s Fantastic Four. He did just that, producing a performance so good, he’s now commonly regarded as one of the best villains in MCU history.
However, he’s in just the one movie. His battles to claim what he believes is rightfully is are spectacular to watch and mesmerizing. Killmonger was a brilliant villain. For that reason, he would have been an awful Wakandan king, but could he have been a good Black Panther.
Mysterio made his debut and then died in Spider-Man: Far From Home. Fans had been waiting years to see Jake Gyllenhaal make his MCU appearance. He didn’t disappoint, with Mysterio proving to be a more difficult villain to beat than Michael Keaton’s Vulture, who appeared in the previous movie.
All of Mysterio’s illusions were both astonishingly clever and wonderfully executed, nearly leading to the death of not only Spider-Man but the citizens of London as well. He seemed to die at the end when one of Tony Stark’s old drones shoot him. However, this is Marvel. Death doesn’t have to necessarily be the end.
Poor Thor. As if having a rogue like Loki as a brother wasn’t bad enough, the God of Thunder discovers in Thor: Ragnarök that his father was hiding a villainous sister from him as well. When Odin died, Hela became free and immediately set about, turning Asgard into a place where she could rule by fear.
She proved to be quite the villain, turning Asgard into a battleground and treating the majority of its population with nothing but contempt. She also owned a cool pet but was presumed dead at the end when Ragnarök unfolded. That’s a shame because, like brother Loki, she’s a character who deserves to pop up again and again.
When Hela first attempted to take control of Asgard, she found that nobody there was pleased to see her. She defeated the Warriors Three, slaying them in front of Skurge who, after being wooed by the promise of greater power and responsibility, chose to side with her.
However, he came to regret the decision and died heroically, fighting many of Hela’s minions to allow the Asgardians an escape. Sadly, Karl Urban was a big enough name to stick with, and Skurge appeared more complex than he initially seemed.