When Marvel Studios created a sprawling cinematic universe, it accomplished something only thought possible in panels on the page. The MCU’s impact on entertainment is immeasurable, leaving other studios scrambling to form continuity actively aware of itself. People don’t just watch Marvel movies for exhilarating action, but to see Captain America and Iron Man argue politics. Throughout seemingly countless films, the MCU has never phoned in the character development of its heroes.
Leading up to Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame, MCU movies implemented increasingly huge ensembles. These ensembles are often split up into smaller groups depending on the movie or subplot, allowing now-iconic duos, pairings, friends, and family to show off their chemistry and unique dynamics. With over 70 major characters in this universe, the MCU's relationships could be discussed ad nauseam (and some would still be missed). That said, what follows is a collection of some of the best on-screen duos in the MCU. Remember to vote up your favorite pairings.
Steve Rogers And Bucky BarnesPhoto: Captain America: The First Avenger / Paramount Pictures
"Best friends since childhood, Bucky Barnes and Steven Rogers were inseparable on both schoolyard and battlefield."
Captain America: The Winter Soldier rehashes the line, "I'm with you until the end of the line." Bucky says it to Steve back in the day and Steve repeats it when fighting his very confused friend. The sentiment epitomizes a friendship spanning a century. Before the super-soldier serum, Bucky always looked out for the scrawny kid from Brooklyn (even though he could fight bullies all day). After becoming Captain America, Steve and Bucky fight Nazis (real bullies) together before Bucky's apparent demise. The two are so close that when a brainwashed Bucky returns as the Winter Soldier, Steve doesn't doubt for a second that his friend is still inside somewhere. Conspiracy and a superpowered civil war can't stand between these two, who are arguably the most loyal friends in the whole Marvel franchise.25032Great duo?
- Photo: Guardians of the Galaxy / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
When the Nova Corps capture Star-Lord, Gamora, Rocket, and Groot in Guardians of the Galaxy, Rhomann Dey reacts to Rocket’s buddy by asking, simply, “What the hell?” Garthan Saal explains, "They call it Groot. He's been traveling recently as 89P13's personal houseplant/muscle."
The MCU introduces Rocket and Groot as buddy-cop bounty hunters as inseparable as Riggs and Murtaugh, or Han and Chewie. In that first film, you might even call the genetically enhanced Raccoon and Vin Diesel tree brothers. Their relationship is strengthened by the fact that Rocket understands all the nuances within the phrase "I am Groot." After Groot sacrifices himself to save the Guardians, he leaves his "offspring," Baby Groot (who eventually grows into a teenager). In Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 onward, Rocket becomes an irritable (but loving) father figure.22138Great duo?
- Photo: Thor: Ragnarok / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Thor and Loki are the MCU’s most popular bros. As Thor’s adopted brother, Loki initially feels ostracized, bitter, and even envious of his cookie-cutter brother, whom he deems unworthy of the Asgardian throne. The foundation of this dynamic is not unlike its counterpart in Norse mythology; Thor, the meathead; Loki, living up to the mantle, "God of Mischief." What makes the MCU’s depiction of these two different is that they care about one another (and Thor is a lot smarter), in their way, at least.
Thanks to outings like Thor: The Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok, Loki’s malicious lust for power is mitigated by Thor’s affable and forgiving nature. As is the case with real-life siblings, rivalry turns to respect. This love-hate relationship seemingly ends when Loki sacrifices himself (again...) to save Thor and company from Thanos, completing one heck of a character arc.24047Great duo?
Peter Parker And Tony StarkPhoto: Avengers: Endgame / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Before Peter Parker’s introduction in the MCU, audiences had seen the webslinger's origin story twice before in Sony’s films - so everyone knows Peter has daddy/uncle issues. It’s only fitting that Tony Stark becomes a father figure for “Spider-Boy” after recruiting him in Captain America: Civil War. Tony’s signature irreverence and Peter’s schoolboy innocence play off one another magically; it’s not hard to imagine a young and bright Tony acting a bit like Peter.
The former’s guidance shows how much he’s grown since the first Iron Man, and he helps Spider-Man become a full-blown Avenger (with some pretty cool Stark tech). The two genuinely care about each other; Peter is arguably why Tony does what he does in Avengers: Endgame, setting Peter up as the MCU's spiritual replacement in Spider-Man: Far From Home.21147Great duo?