Of the early Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, which characters ended up getting too much attention – and who deserved more?
The world of superhero film was forever changed with the launch of Phase 1 of the MCU. Starting with the incredibly successful Iron Man, Marvel attempted to build a cinematic universe of heroes all leading up to the massive team-up film The Avengers.
While the whole idea seemed crazy to some, the result was a huge success. Phase 1 successfully introduced characters fans never thought would make it to the big screen and turned them into cinematic icons. But even with all these heroes and comic book characters, there were some who didn’t get enough screen time in Phase 1, while others took up far too much time.
10 Not Enough: Bucky Barnes
When we meet young, skinny Steve Rogers in Captain America: The First Avenger, his only friend in the world in Bucky Barnes. This relationship would become very significant for Steve going forward and would make for one of the most complex friendships in the MCU.
However, the relationship would have been even more impactful if we had a chance to spend more time with Steve and Bucky in that first film. Bucky seems like he’s just another member of the Howling Commandos until he apparently dies and we realize he was more important than he seemed.
9 Too Much: Pepper Potts
Pepper Potts is an underrated character who is unfairly dismissed by fans. Gwyneth Paltrow gives a very charming performance in the role and Pepper is a big reason why Tony Stark becomes more likable over time.
While the relationship between the two was effective in the first Iron Man, it takes up too much time in the already crowded Iron Man 2. The bickering and back-and-forth between the two could have been trimmed way back without missing anything important.
8 Not Enough: Red Skull
Given that he is probably Captain America’s most famous foe from the comics, it’s not surprising that Red Skull made his MCU debut in The First Avenger. The character design and the performance from Hugo Weaving were both great, but the villain wasn’t given enough to do.
The movie only seemed interested in viewing Red Skull as a cartoonish villain with only vague evil plans. Given that he was the head of Hydra, it would have been great to explore his warped ideologies more deeply to understand how people followed Hydra for so long.
7 Too Much: Justin Hammer
Anyone who has watched Iron Man 2 knows that Sam Rockwell’s performance as Justin Hammer is one of the highlights of the film. However, it is also very apparent that they never intended Hammer to be a serious villain. He is too goofy and incompetent to be a real threat.
Mickey Rourke’s Ivan Vanko was the big bad of the film. But the filmmakers spent so much time with Hammer’s antics that Vanko feels like an afterthought and is completely uninteresting.
6 Not Enough: Thor
One of the biggest question marks about Phase 1 was how such a mythical and grand character like Thor was going to fit in with the Earth-bound heroes. As it turns out, Thor was a natural fit for the team and Chris Hemsworth did a great job of grounding the character.
However, Joss Whedon’s concerns about the character were apparently so great that he initially planned to only introduce Thor during the final battle in The Avengers. This hesitation is noticeable as Thor gets far less attention than his high-profile teammates.
5 Too Much: Loki
While Thor might have been pushed to the side in The Avengers, his brother Loki was front-and-center. The team-up movie wisely chose a villain audiences were already familiar with and Tom Hiddleston’s performance made it believable that this God of Mischief could take on all these heroes.
But with all these iconic heroes sharing the screen for the first time, it’s strange how Loki gets the most character development. As good as Hiddleston is in the role, his screen time took away from more fun with the team together.
4 Not Enough: James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes
Phase 1 hit some early speed bumps in its journey and was forced to recast some significant roles. One of those roles was James ‘Rhodey’ Rhodes, Tony Stark’s best friend and a future Avenger himself.
Terrence Howard played him well in Iron Man, but Don Cheadle stepped into the role nicely in Iron Man 2, even donning the War Machine armor. But while Iron Man 2 was an opportunity to redefine the character and build on his relationship with Tony, it was a small subplot. Even worse, Rhodey was totally shut out of The Avengers.
3 Too Much: Darcy Lewis
Darcy Lewis was a comic relief character added to Thor. As the assistant to Jane Foster, Darcy was a sarcastic and aloof sidekick. While actor Kat Dennings is very charming, the role was written like something out of a sitcom and many viewers were annoyed with the character.
Darcy likely would have been a lot easier to take if she was not thrown in our face so much. Almost every line she has in the movie is meant to get a laugh which ends up being very hit-or-miss. If they had dialed her back a bit, she could have been a fan-favorite.
2 Not Enough: Hawkeye
Prior to The Avengers, Hawkeye is the member of the team who had the least screen time having only appeared in a small and pointless cameo in Thor. The Avengers was the first chance to really introduce the character to audiences and he ended up being mind-controlled for most of the movie.
Instead of cementing him as the grounded, everyman member of the team, Hawkeye just comes off as the arrogant guy with a bow and arrow. It was hard for audiences to care about him at all and the character never really recovered from his Phase 1 introduction.
1 Too Much: Nick Fury
There had to be one character who could bring all these heroes together and Nick Fury was the perfect character for the job. The moment he steps out of the shadows in Iron Man, the MCU was truly born. But seeing him pop up at the end of every subsequent movie was less impactful.
Fury is finally fleshed out in interesting ways in The Avengers, but up until then, he was just shoehorned into other stories to remind everyone he was around and building up to something.
NEXT: MCU: 10 Best Unused Ideas From Phase 1
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