The Marvel Cinematic Universe features a bevy of superheroes, which all began in 2008 with the very first Iron Man. That film was followed by The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers to complete the first phase of the MCU's plan for creating a fictional world that is connected between all of its films.
In total, Marvel Studios has created 19 total films within the MCU featuring more superheroes than anyone can count. These heroes have become the stars of the MCU and are featured on all the movie posters and trailers. From Captain America to Iron Man, the main characters from the MCU are the ones that everyone knows about and loves.
But the main characters are not the only ones in the MCU that matter. There are several more characters that we might not know much about but we do notice them. Those other stars are the sidekicks. These are the characters that every hero needs but rarely ever gets the credit they deserve.
Here are the 20 side characters from the MCU that are better than the mains.
20 Maria Hill
There are not very many S.H.I.E.L.D. agents that are as loyal as Maria Hill. She has been around since the birth of the MCU, having Nick Fury's back the entire time. She is such a loyal partner that when Nick Fury faked his own death, she was the only person who knew the truth.
She even played a major role in Captain America: The Winter Soldier where she helped members of the Avengers take down the Helicarriers controlled by Hydra. She even broke from her loyalty to S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to help Captain America destroy HYDRA. She knew the decision to help him would break S.H.I.E.L.D. apart but felt that it was the better choice to make.
19 Ned Leeds
Of all the characters throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Spider-Man is the only one that has been rebooted three times since 2002. But it finally seems like Marvel Studios got it right with Tom Holland and have already featured him in three films since 2016.
The one person who Spider-Man relies on, more than anyone else, is his best friend Ned Leeds, who finds out Peter Parker's big secret and quickly requests to become his "guy in the chair".
We get to see what he can do in Spider-Man: Homecoming when he is able to hack into the super suit, disabling the tracker installed by Tony Stark. He even helps Peter quietly escape a bus ride by distracting the entire class as Peter slipped away.
At first glance, Luis is not the typical superhero sidekick. Then again, Ant-Man is not your typical superhero either. But the two men work together to form an unbreakable bond that turns into a life-saving situation.
Luis is a former prisoner that becomes Ant-Man's best friend and even joins his team to steal the Ant-Man suit and, later on, helping Ant-Man escape Pym Technologies by pretending to be a security guard. He is hilarious, captures the audience with his quick wit, and because of that, fans are more than excited to see how his story plays out in the second Ant-Man. He was definitely one of the best parts of the whole movie.
17 Pepper Potts
One could argue that the most important character in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe is Iron Man, and they would have a good argument. He was the original superhero that started the MCU and has been the driving force behind The Avengers.
But behind all of the jokes and all of the one-night stands, there is a man that is broken. Tony Stark is nothing without Pepper Potts, who eventually becomes his wife. She was once his personal assistant but eventually became the CEO of Stark Industries. She is the voice inside Tony's head that reminds him of who he is and makes sure he never gets lost in such a dark and cruel world. Plus, they definitely have the best love story in the movies.
Until the sequel hits theaters next month, the only thing we know about Hope Van Dyne, who will eventually become known as the Wasp, is from her appearance in the first film in the Ant-Man series.
Hope is crucial to the future of Ant-Man because her father is Dr. Hank Pym, formerly of Pym Technologies. So when it comes to her costume, the design is an upgrade which includes wings and blasters built into the arms. In other words, she is the best sidekick Ant-Man could have when duty calls. Plus, she looks great in the suit and kicks some serious tail, even better than Ant-Man at times.
Ulysses Klaue is first introduced to us during an encounter with Ultron, where he loses his arm following the sale of Vibranium. As a result of that encounter, Klaw became increasingly angry towards Wakanda and found Erik Killmonger, who would later go on to destroy T'Challa in a battle for the throne.
In order to get into Wakanda, however, Erik had to betray Klaw and take him out to continue his quest of taking over the entire land.
Klaw is one of the only bad guys on our lists but his role is just as important as any of the others. He delivered an incredible performance in both films, mostly because he played someone who acted crazy, and did a very good job at that.
14 The Collector
The Collector is the only man in all of the galaxies had such an extensive collection of objects and living specimens due to his obsession with collecting.
He was also the first character in the MCU to introduce us to the idea of how powerful it is to collect and obtain all five of the Infinity Stones. He owned the Aether Infinity Stone and was working to obtain the Power Stone by purchasing the Orb containing it from the Guardians of the Galaxy.
We would later find out that Thanos would obtain the Reality Stone from him while on the planet Knowhere. In every performance that he gives, no matter how small, he manages to leave his mark on the film.
If you are a fan of dedication than Okoye is going to be your favorite side character in the MCU. She swore an oath to protect Wakanda and whoever is the king. She plays a huge role in the protection of Wakanda during the tribal war started by Erik Killmonger in The Black Panther.
Following her successful protection of the magical land, she moves on to become a fighter in the battle against Thanos and his group of warriors. Her skillset is as important as any other superhero in the entire universe because she is one of the most highly trained bodyguards ever. A lot of people knew she would be great from her past roles, but she delivered her role in such amazing grace.
Following the fall of Asgard, Thor was left with very few friends as Thanos would attack the ship carrying his people safely away from the land as it was destroyed during Thor: Ragnarok. One of the survivors of the escape was Korg, a former Kronan warrior, and fighter in the Grandmaster's Contest of Champions.
While Thor was able to come up with a solid plan to escape capture, it was Korg that helped him escape, on multiple occasions. He has actually become a fan favorite and should make an appearance again, in another MCU film in the near future.
11 Wong (Benedict Wong)
One of the most important roles in the universe belongs to Wong. He is the protector of the ancient books. These books contain some of the most dangerous spells in the galaxy and if they get into the wrong hands, it could turn into a catastrophic event.
Wong helps protect Earth from Dormammu and eventually becomes Doctor Strange's, right-hand man. He traveled with Doctor Strange to New York during the Infinity War to help defend against the Black Order, as they searched for the Time Stone. He failed to protect Doctor Strange but will return.
Although no one has been able to successfully defeat Thanos yet, there have been two characters that have been very close and one of them was Thor, the other is Mantis.
She used her ability of sleep inducement to slow down Thanos and control him long enough to give the rest of the group enough time to grab the Infinity Gauntlet from his arm but the mission failed.
Mantis has the ability to manipulate a person's mind and has a very strong durability, leaving her to survive some pretty intense battles. However, she did fail to defeat Thanos and became another casualty in the Infinity War. However, we cannot fault her too much, as a lot of the problem with that falls on Peter. If he had not lost control, Mantis would have succeeded.
As of today, Valkyrie is ranked ninth on our list of most important side characters but we feel as though she is going to become a major character in the near future following her escape from Thanos's attack on the ship carrying all of the people of Asgard to Earth. She was able to escape and protect some of the survivors of his attack, which took the lives of Heimdall and Loki.
We have a sneaky suspicion that her role in the MCU is far from over. As a former member of the elite warrior group called the Valkyries, Brunnhilde has many superpowers and extensive training as an Asgardian defender. There is no way that she becomes a wasted talent if not.
There aren't many people in the MCU that can see and hear everything that happens throughout the nine realms besides Heimdall, who was also the former guard of the Bifrost Bridge.
Heimdall was the key figure in saving the people of Asgard from the hands of Hela during her attack only to die by the hands of Thanos after he attacked the ship carrying all of the Asgardian people to Earth. He did manage to accomplish one of the most important moves in the Infinity War by teleporting the Hulk back to Earth after his battle with Thanos. It allowed Bruce Banner to reach out to Tony Stark and Doctor Strange to warn them of Thanos plan.
Nebula has slowly become one of the most important side characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe following her role in the Infinity War.
When we first meet Nebula, she has joined forces with Ronan the Accuser and is out for revenge against her adopted sister Gamora. She is the adopted daughter of Thanos and is raised to be an assassin. She eventually learns that her hatred is misguided and she redirects that hate towards Thanos.
The moment she decides to go after her adopted father is the moment she becomes a good hero. She tries to save Gamora and protect the location of the Soul Stone but fails. She would later survive Thanos wiping out half the world's population.
During the first Guardians of the Galaxy, we are introduced to Yondu as this horrible creature that is more focused on himself than protecting anyone else, while leading his faction known as the Ravagers.
Before the second Guardians of the Galaxy film, we see Yondu as a villain because of his lust for power over anything else but it turns out, he was actually protecting Peter Quill, who was also his adopted son. We originally thought he only adopted him to get him to join his gang but find out just before his death that the move was made to protect Peter and keep him safe from Ego.
Yondu dies to save the Guardians by giving himself up to let them escape.
Without M'Baku, The Black Panther would have died and Wakanda would have turned into an international arms dealer supplying the world with the most advanced weapons ever created.
As the leader of the Jabari Tribe, his role is to stay away from any of the politics and live in their remote location in the mountains. But he comes forward to protect T'Challa and then again in Infinity War to fight alongside the heroes.
His toughness and his ability to fight against the toughest of opponents, helps tip the balance of right and wrong. Not to mention that his offbeat humor made everyone in theatres laugh.
4 Peggy Carter
If you did not think Peggy Carter was important then you obviously have not heard about the ABC hit show, Agent Carter. The show gives us all the details we did not get to see following the ending of Captain America: The First Avenger. The show actually begins following the events of the film and shows how she becomes the world's greatest secret agent.
Her role is to get the worst of the black market weapons from around the world while undercover. Her story is what makes her so important because she helps fill in a lot of the blanks from the beginning of the Avengers, many years ago. Not to mention she is an incredibly strong female character.
3 Bucky Barnes
One of the most important side characters in all of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the man that grew up with Captain America, Bucky Barnes. Because of his loyalty to his friend, Captain America has been forced to make several decisions that are far from normal in order to protect him.
Bucky's role in the death of Iron Man's mother and father, in which he was responsible for killing them while under mind control by HYDRA, caused the Avengers to split into two sides mainly because of Captain's loyalty to Bucky. He was never going to leave him. Fans have fallen so in love with the character, that he has built one of the biggest fanbases in the entire universe.
2 Phil Coulson
After the first Avengers film introduced us to S.H.I.E.L.D., we immediately became fans of the organization's former Director, Phil Coulson. Originally, he was an operative that quickly rose through the ranks as one of the best and was tasked with keeping an eye on The Avengers.
He ended up meeting his demise at the hands of Loki, which turned into the motivation that the Avengers needed to wipe out the Chitauri invasion. He would later be brought back to life for the television series, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and was assigned the Director in charge of rebuilding the organization, once again. The fact that a character was so loved that he had to be brought back certainly says something.
If there is a character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe that just might be smarter than Tony Stark or Bruce Banner, it is T'Challa's (Black Panther) little sister, Shuri.
Almost all of the technology that we find out about in Black Panther, was invented by Shuri. She was also the only person who was able to successfully erase all of the HYDRA programming from Bucky Barnes brain. But her latest accomplishment fell short when she was interrupted from removing the Mind Stone from Vision's head.
Her intelligence is so far advanced that her value is far more superior than anyone else on this list, so far.