When you have a franchise as big as the Marvel Cinematic Universe, a lot of characters start to pile up. Most of the Marvel heroes have returned for multiple movies, but with the side characters and villains, their prominence isn't guaranteed. Fortunately, there have been a number of supporting players over the years that have had their chance to shine, but for some of them, we believe their chances have run out for the future.
Having released 13 movies over eight years, some of the MCU's priorities aren't the same as they were a few years ago, and with new characters being introduced in each movie, that means new people are getting the spotlight shined on them. This also means that people we met and grew to know a while back probably won't return. We've gathered up the seven MCU characters who are unlikely to be seen again given where we last left them onscreen or how their fates have already been addressed offscreen.
Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. The Abomination, is notable for being one of the few main MCU antagonists who hasn't been killed off. When we last saw him in The Incredible Hulk, he'd just been beaten to a pulp by the Green Goliath, and passing dialogue in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has since revealed that he's in the spy organization's custody. While it would be great to see a rematch between Hulk and Abomination on the big screen, because Marvel isn't keen on making an Incredible Hulk sequel due to their "situation with Universal, that's probably not going to happen. Plus, Hulk is about to travel across the Nine Realms in Thor: Ragnarok, and then he and his fellow heroes will be dealing with Thanos in the Avengers: Infinity War movies. There's not really time for Hulk to battle Abomination on the side, so the latter will stay imprisoned for the foreseeable future.
For obvious reasons, we left any character seen or presumed dead off this list, but Red Skull is a unique exception. When he touched the Tesseract (a.k.a. the Space Stone) near the end of Captain America: The First Avenger, his body was disintegrated by a spacial portal that opened up in his aircraft. However, many fans have speculated that he was actually just transported to another area of the universe, and they've held out hope that he'll return one of these days. Five years have passed since then, and Captain America: Civil War marked the end of the Captain America trilogy. As cool as it would be to see him again, Hugo Weaving hasn't exactly been clamoring to return to the role, and with the MCU now in Phase Three, they have other goals on the horizon with certain villains. It would be too much trouble to bring Red Skull back, so it's better off to assume he's permanently dead.
Natalie Portman played Jane Foster in the first two Thor movies, but the character never really made a huge impression. Sure she was extremely intelligent and in love with the God of Thunder, but there wasn't anything else that highlighted her as unique. It's already been revealed that Jane won't appear in Thor: Ragnarok next year because 80-90% of the movie is set in space, but even so, it's surprising that Thor and Jane's romance is being dealt with offscreen rather than spending that brief time on Earth giving it a proper conclusion. Because of that, along with Natalie Portman not appearing particularly keen on returning to Marvel, we're guessing that at this point, Marvel doesn't plan on reuniting with Jane again, leaving her to go on with her life while Thor continues his heroic adventures. So while Jane will continue to conduct her astronomical studies in the MCU, we'll never see her at work in front of the camera again.
Iron Man 2 may be considered one of the MCU's worst movies, but many agree that Justin Hammer was one of its bright spots. He may not have been the main antagonist, but his antics and personality quirks were significantly more fun to watch than Ivan Vanko. If we had our way, we'd go back in time and make him Iron Man 2's primary baddie, but in reality, he's been stuck in prison since that movie, only to be briefly revisited in the All Hail the King short film. It would be great to get some more Hammer time (I had to do it) in the MCU, but the fact is that there's really no reason for him to return. He's behind bars, no one would want to break him out and even if there's an Iron Man 4, they would likely bring in a new villain rather than bring him back. Surely there's a way to do an Oz-style comedy show starring Sam Rockwell as Hammer, right?
Talk about a tease with no delivery. Samuel Sterns was introduced in The Incredible Hulk as the scientist who was helping Bruce Banner find a cure for his "condition." However, once we met him in person, we learned that he was more interested in using Banner's blood for scientific advance, not understanding just how dangerous it really is. After Sterns was threatened and tossed aside by Blonsky in the movie, some of Banner's gamma-infused blood leaked onto his head wound. His cranium subsequently started to expand, and the last shot of Sterns showed him grinning with power. Had an Incredible Hulk sequel been made, it's likely that Sterns would have completely transformed into The Leader and been Hulk's next personal adversary, but just like with Abomination, he's stuck in S.H.I.E.L.D. custody, as revealed in the Avengers Prelude: Fury's Big Week comic book tie-in. It's a shame, because The Leader would have made a great villain not just for Hulk, but potentially other heroes in the MCU.
For the first couple years in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Pepper Potts was arguably the most important woman of the franchise. Not only did she appear in all three Iron Man movies, but she was one of the few previously established non-hero characters to appear in The Avengers. However, she was absent from Avengers: Age of Ultron, and despite to the contrary beforehand, she was nowhere to be seen in Captain America: Civil War. Gwyneth Paltrow has taken a break from acting in favor of running her lifestyle brand Goop, and right now, it seems like Pepper's relationship with Tony Stark is effectively over. Aside from his Spider-Man: Homecoming role, Tony will be back in action for the Avengers: Infinity War movies, so he won't have time to interact with her between him continuing to enforce the superhero status quo and battling Thanos. For now, we just have to assume that she'll be living her life separate from Tony's shenanigans.
One of the more surprising castings for 2014's Guardians of the Galaxy was John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey, one of the lead members of the Nova Corps. It wasn't an action-heavy role, but he basically served as the Corps' main representative to the team, and one of the final scenes in the movie was him reuniting with his family, showing audiences just how much of a difference the Guardians made to the people of Xandar. Although the Nova Corps, including Glenn Close's Nova Prime, are returning for Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 next year, Reilly hasn't been said to return. It's not like he would have had a crucial role in the sequel, but if Nova Prime is now the main connection between the Corps and the Guardians, then there isn't a need for him anymore as far as the movies are concerned. Following that, the Guardians are all but confirmed to appear in Avengers: Infinity War, and while the Nova Corps may play a role in that epic, we don't believe Roman will participate in that particular battle.