The Marvel Cinematic Universe is filled with some of the strongest superheroes and most dangerous villains in movie history, with alien beasts, Asgardian gods and gamma-irradiated giants leveling cities during the course of their battles.
And then there are the tiny, fragile little beings who are just doing their best, despite being almost laughably weak. Now, that's not to say these characters aren't wonderful, charming, sinister, or downright awesome for what they contribute to the world. It's just that, if they tried to punch Thor, they'd just break their own hand.
In a effort to give them their due, it's important to understand what they contribute before explaining exactly why, despite their various mental or emotional strengths, they are physically out of their league in the MCU.
Justin Hammer is supposed to be a parallel to Tony Stark - he's a wealthy, megalomaniacal arms dealer and tech CEO who builds Iron Man-like battle armor. However, he's more like a poor man's Tony Stark instead of a mirror image. While Tony is egotistical yet brilliant, Justin is just a self-obsessed buffoon more interested in money and self-promotion than helping the world or even producing a competent product.
There's one telling scene in Iron Man 2, when Justin has Ivan Vanko sitting in a room under armed guard, and the well-dressed businessman is doing his best to threaten the Russian lunatic. Justin tells Vanko that he's "a dead man" if Vanko doesn't do what he wants. He's putting on his toughest tough guy act and it would be physically impossible for Vanko to be less concerned or intimidated. While he has an undeniable flair for salesmanship - which he displays while selling arms to Lt. Col. James Rhodes - he's just a weaselly jerk in a grey three-piece suit.3,856328Are they weak?
While he is known to the world as the Mandarin, a global villain of unequaled magnitude, it's eventually revealed that the international baddie is just a washed-up, substance-using actor named Trevor Slattery. He was hired by the evil think tank organization Advanced Idea Mechanics and the deranged scientist Aldrich Killian, who uses the Mandarin's supposed attacks to further his goals and cover up accidents resulting from his various Extremis program mishaps.
While the Mandarin has built a fearsome reputation through menacing propaganda videos, his true, drunken, oblivious persona is revealed by Tony Stark. Instead of the psychotic villain Tony expected to find, Trevor turns out to be a scared, idiotic actor desperate for work who has no idea that he is a very public pawn in a vast conspiracy.3,493293Are they weak?
Also known by his awesome (but not particularly intimidating) real name Phineas Mason, the Tinkerer is a construction site salvage worker turned clever, brilliant inventor and underworld mastermind in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Working with Adrian Toomes - AKA the Vulture - Phineas is able to use salvaged alien and Ultron technology to create hyper-futuristic tech to aid in heists pulled off by Toomes and his bitter crew of former upright salvage company employees.
While the Tinkerer has an incredible mind for reverse engineering and modifying otherworldly technology - and developing anti-gravity blasters, shocker gauntlets, and matter phase-shifters - he doesn't actually use any of the tech himself, and basically stays out of fights altogether. He's an affable behind-the-scenes kind of guy who's good at welding and stays in his own lane.2,158740Are they weak?
As the Yellowjacket, Darren Cross proves to be a formidable adversary for Scott Lang as Ant-Man. His Yellowjacket suit has all the bells and whistles you could want, including laser-blasting robotic appendages and a much more threatening helmet. Their epic (albeit miniature) climactic battle is one of the most creative and thrilling fights in the entire MCU.
That being said, before he dons the suit, Darren is just an incredibly smarmy, pompous scientist who throws tantrums over not being appreciated enough by his mentor, Hank Pym. After Hank, his daughter Hope Van Dyne, and Scott break into Cross's lab to take the Yellowjacket suit before Darren can sell it to Hydra, Hank surprises Darren with a solid punch to the face. If that isn't sad enough, Darren later flees from the exchange after being bitten by a few ants. That's just poor villian-ing.1,5041,403Are they weak?