13 Times MCU Heroes Were As Cold-Blooded As The Villains

List Rules
Vote up the most cold-blooded MCU moments involving heroes.

With a new supervillain making their arrival in nearly every film in the franchise, there’s no shortage of cold-blooded Marvel Cinematic Universe characters. But the harshest Marvel moments of all are not necessarily exclusive to the baddies. In fact, it’s always a little more impactful when the ruthlessness is committed by the heroes that audiences have come to know and love.

Obviously, no hero is going to match the sheer evil performed by the MCU’s greatest villains. But sometimes they’re equally capable of turning off their emotions and making heartbreaking decisions for the good of the Marvel Universe - or, even more rarely, for some less noble goal. Sometimes, cold-bloodedness is as cold-bloodedness does.

  • 1
    276 VOTES

    When Melina Vostokoff Showed Off Her Mind-Controlled Pig

    For someone of a generally heroic alignment, Melina Vostokoff has committed some truly horrific acts in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, she was a maternal figure to Natasha Romanoff and Yelena Belova and helps them shut down the Red Room in Black Widow, but she also helps develop the brainwashing technology that empowers the Red Room in the first place - and she’s not shy about showing it off in the most disturbing way imaginable.

    When her adoptive family tracks her down on her farm in Saint Petersburg, Melina is all too happy to show them what she’s been working on - namely, more mind-control tech. She summons a pig into the room and commands it to stop breathing, only to become visibly confused when the suffocating animal on the floor seems to bother everyone else.

    Creating technology like that is heinous. Using it to force a creature to stop breathing is sadistic. Doing all that and not understanding why anyone else would have a problem with it? That’s just detachment to the point of cold-heartedness.

    276 votes
  • It’s no real secret that, prior to becoming Iron Man, Tony Stark was a bit of a jerk. Really, it’s the whole point of his character arc. But it didn’t become apparent until Iron Man 3 just how much of an unrepentant bully he could really be, and by then, it was far too late to prevent the consequences of his past actions from catching up with him.

    A flashback scene reveals Stark meeting the physically disabled Aldrich Killian at a party in 1999 and feigning interest in Killian’s Extremis project. Not content with merely teasing Killian, Stark tells the would-be entrepreneur he will meet him on the rooftop to discuss their future collaboration - but then he leaves to cavort with Maya Hansen instead.

    Left alone on a cold rooftop that was presumably fairly difficult for him to access, Killian considers jumping over the ledge and ending his life right then and there. That he decides otherwise - and goes on to found a multi-billion-dollar criminal science collective - doesn’t do much to take the sting out of Stark’s wanton cruelty in this instance. 

    Stark isn’t just rude to Killian - he zeroes in on the most spiteful prank he can think of and goes for it, just to get out of a conversation. It’s enough to make Killian’s villainous turn almost seem justified. 

    260 votes
  • Thor reaches the climax of his heroic journey when he comes face-to-face with the genocidal Mad Titan, Thanos. That’s fairly significant, too, because Thor starts out his time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe trying to incite a genocidal war of his own, and for far less benevolent reasons.

    Whereas Thanos wants to commit a mass random slaughter to balance the universe, the God of Thunder just wants to do it because he’s bored - and because the Frost Giants ruined his big day.

    Thor’s coronation is interrupted by a Jotunheim incursion, and that’s all the impetus he needs to launch a counter-invasion, against the strict orders of his father. Once there, Thor and his allies break the peace treaty and start a fight that will almost certainly end in the near-eradication of the Frost Giants - and when Odin shows up to save the day, Thor is still blood-lusted and shouting for his father to join in on the rout. 

    By that point, Thor is more than a thousand years old, which is more than old enough to understand the full implications of an ethnic war. And yet, he tries really, really hard to start one, and there’s nobody waiting around to bury an ax in him for his hubris. 

    230 votes
  • Maria Hill is sort of omnipresent in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - never in the forefront, but always lurking somewhere in the shadows ready to act. The reason why she is Nick Fury’s most trusted deputy becomes apparent as early as The Avengers, in which she demonstrates how quickly she’s willing to follow orders without questioning them, even if those orders involve firing on her friends.

    Moments after Clint Barton is Mind Stone-washed by Loki and turned over to the dark side, Hill passes him in the hallway before hearing a single, two-word message from Fury over the radio: “Barton’s compromised.” By that point, Hill had worked with Barton for years, but those two words are all she needs to hear to turn and start firing at Clint and his entourage. 

    She has to duck out of the way of Hawkeye’s return fire and doesn’t actually manage to land any shots herself, but she’s undoubtedly trying to. Without knowing the full circumstances of the situation, Hill doesn’t try to reason or negotiate with Barton, or to subdue him peacefully. Instead, she starts shooting first and leaves the question-asking for later, because that’s what her mission calls for, and that’s all that ever matters to Maria Hill.

    241 votes
  • Unlike most heroes in the MCU, the Black Widow made her reputation on mercilessness. By the time she became an Avenger, she’d built up a ledger so red that even saving the world a few times couldn’t make up for it - and no moment was redder than the infamous “Dreykov’s daughter” incident. 

    Natasha Romanoff’s goals in Budapest were noble, as she tried to simultaneously escape her life of bondage and put an end to the Red Room once and for all by assassinating General Dreykov. Doing so would have saved countless young women from being abducted, trafficked, and indoctrinated into Black Widow training. 

    The plan, however, involved confirming Dreykov’s location via the presence of his daughter, Antonia, and when Antonia stayed in the building with her father, Natasha gave the order to blow it up anyway. In doing so, Romanoff thought she’d sacrificed the life of an innocent young girl in order to bring her criminal father to justice - and though the mission would haunt her for the rest of her life, Romanoff was ultimately able to convince herself that it was a necessary action.

    Blowing up a child is ruthless any way one slices it. Doing so and still managing to feel mostly okay about it? That takes nerves of ice. That both Antonia and her father happened to survive the incident does little to change the implications.

    194 votes
  • 6
    188 VOTES

    When Ayo Unapologetically Disconnected Bucky Barnes’s Prosthetic Arm

    Through appearances in Captain America: Civil War and Black Panther, Ayo has established herself as an important supporting character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but she doesn’t get to show off much of her personality until The Falcon and The Winter Soldier. There, her close bond with Bucky Barnes, forged in Wakanda, is revealed, but that only serves to further accentuate the cruelty of her actions when the two find themselves in conflict.

    In the heat of a battle over Barnes’s freeing of Baron Zemo from prison, Ayo reaches out with her hand and presses a secret button on Bucky’s Wakandan-made prosthetic arm, causing it to disconnect and fall to the ground immediately. The look on Bucky’s face says it all: It’s an act of betrayal, to be sure, but it’s also a pretty callous thing to do to a person with a physical disability. Ayo, dedicated member of the Dora Milaje that she is, doesn’t seem to have the capacity to care any less.

    Ayo might as well have said, “Just remember, Barnes, you’ve only got two arms because of us, and we can take one of them away at any time.” How could a guy not come away from an interaction like this with some serious trust issues?

    188 votes