The Worst Thing Every MCU Hero Has Ever Done

List Rules
Vote up the MCU moments that show heroes at their worst.

There are some who contend that the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are the modern equivalent of the Greek gods and other pantheons of the past. Like the Olympians, MCU superheroes use their fantastical abilities to lord over and protect humanity from all manner of supernatural threats. Also like the Olympians, MCU superheroes are occasionally prone to committing great acts of evil themselves.

Nothing an MCU hero has done can compare to the genocidal actions of Thanos or Hela - or the consistently worse actions of their comic book counterparts - but they’ve still done some pretty awful stuff by the standards of most people. And, sure, nobody’s perfect - but there’s a decent-sized gap between perfect and some of the heinous decisions made by these seemingly benevolent characters.

  • Plenty of people make costly mistakes at work, but very few of those mistakes lead directly to the demise of half of all life in the universe. Peter Quill is that rare kind of screw-up. 

    In Avengers: Infinity War, with Thanos the Mad Titan subdued and the Infinity Gauntlet inches away from being pulled off his hand, Star-Lord decides that he has to interrogate Thanos about Gamora’s fate right this instant. Yes, Quill has just found out that the love of his life might have been slain by her father, and his emotional reaction is very understandable. But with just a few seconds of foresight, Peter would have realized that he could still ask Thanos those very same questions after the Gauntlet has been removed. Heck, the other heroes would have happily helped him smack Thanos around at that point.

    But Quill can’t just wait a hot second. And so, half the universe dies. 

    29 votes
  • The sheer sweetness of Mantis’s portrayal in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 and beyond makes it impossible to dislike her, but it also serves to cover up her complicity in one of the worst crimes imaginable: mass filicide. 

    All indications are that, prior to the Guardians’ arrival, Mantis had been aiding Ego for quite some time. During that time, she definitely became aware of Ego’s penchant for killing his own offspring, and she did nothing to stop him. Then, even after she befriends the Guardians, it still takes her most of the film to muster up the courage to warn them of the danger. 

    How many of Ego's children did Mantis previously befriend and then watch die at their father’s hand? Sometimes, inaction is an evil act in and of itself, and if the number is anything more than zero, it really takes away from Mantis’s whole adorably innocent vibe. 

    15 votes
  • For someone whom most would describe as a superhero, Wanda Maximoff has done an awful lot of awful stuff during her time in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. She aided Ultron, traumatized the Avengers, and accidentally set off an international incident. But all of that pales in comparison to the events of WandaVision.

    There’s a lot of important context at play when it comes to the Scarlet Witch. When she decides to take the town of Westview hostage in her own pocket reality, she’s obviously grief-stricken to the point of extreme mental illness. She’s also grappling with an immense power that she only barely understands. 

    But that she even has the capacity to control the thoughts and actions of an entire town of people, children included, and force them to live out her own sitcom fantasies is deeply disturbing. The complete and total loss of agency and body autonomy, all the while retaining a smidgen of self-awareness, can only be described as a torturous experience. Even more chilling is the indication that, if not for the interventions of Agatha Harkness and Monica Rambeau, Wanda may very well have kept those people trapped forever.  

    23 votes
  • In one of The Avengers’ tensest scenes, Loki taunts Natasha Romanoff with her worst deeds, including something about “Dreykov’s daughter.” Then, in Black Widow, MCU audiences got to see exactly what Loki was talking about - and suddenly, it seemed like he might not have been harsh enough in his admonishments.

    There’s no real doubt that Natasha’s justification and desire for assassinating General Dreykov were legitimate. He was responsible for the ongoing abduction, torture, and indoctrination of children, and ending his life was the only way of stopping him and his Red Room.

    But Romanoff specifically settled on a plan that would place Dreykov’s innocent young daughter at risk, and then chose to pull the trigger on the large-scale explosion that supposedly killed both father and daughter, but later turned out to have claimed the lives of neither. 

    This is, after all, the Black Widow, the world’s greatest assassin. She couldn’t have come up with any other plan, one that didn’t involve child murder? She couldn’t have found a way to pull it off and save the kid at the same time? It’s a difficult set of actions to reckon with, as the rest of her character arc demonstrated. 

    22 votes
  • Thor has gone on quite a heroic journey during his time in the MCU thus far, so much so that it’s sometimes difficult to square the Thanos-slaying God of Thunder with the chump who pouted around on-screen in the first Thor adventure. And it’s not just the eyebrows.

    Consider that Thor is introduced to audiences as he formulates a plot to instigate an assumedly genocidal war between Asgard and the Frost Giants, partly because they ruined his big day, and partly because he’s just bored. Then he goes to Jotunheim and actually does it! The only thing that stops Thor’s origin story from being one of mass slaughter along ethnic lines is the intervention of his father, Odin. 

    All of which makes Odin’s subsequent decision to take away Thor’s hammer fairly understandable.

    22 votes
  • Tony Stark may have saved the Marvel Cinematic Universe with his boldest sacrifice, but he also did some serious endangering along the way before arriving at that fateful moment. There’s a laundry list of Stark's irresponsible actions, but one that really stands out is the time he invited a bunch of people over to his mansion for a birthday party and then drunkenly imperiled them with a weapon of mass destruction. 

    By Iron Man 2, the Iron Man armor was only about a decade away from going toe-to-toe with Thanos, and yet there was Tony, using it to blow up watermelons right above the heads of his guests. He shot several bottles out of the air over the crowd, something that would be extremely dangerous with a regular gun, never mind a multi-billion-dollar weaponized mech-suit. He even let some of his guests, including “Natalie Rushman,” try his gauntlets on!

    If operating a motor vehicle while under the influence is considered reprehensible, what can be said about operating the Iron Man armor? James Rhodes may have looked like a party-pooper when he showed up to shut Tony down, but he was absolutely in the right.

    21 votes