The Marvel Cinematic Universe has been established as not only a massive superhero franchise, but a vast cosmic one as well. Over the course of nine years of blockbusters, we've not only seen humans struggle with the complexities of good versus evil, but also a large number of alien species previously introduced in Marvel Comics. Because there are so many, however, it can be confusing to try and keep track of them all - which is what we've put together this handy little guide.

Sorted in order of appearance and primarily focusing on the most significant races/creatures we've seen, below we've put together a quick rundown that will help you get to know the various alien species of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read on as we explore everything from film appearances, abilities, notable individuals, and more!

Editors Note: Drax and Mantis don't appear on this list because it has not yet been revealed what species they are in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As characters, their individual origin stories have changed a great deal from the comics, and it has not yet been canonically stated what it is they are or exactly where they come from. As that information is revealed, we will update this article!

Asgardians

Featured In: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World, The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Who They Are: How awesome are the Asgardians? Well, when they first arrived on Earth they appeared so powerful they were perceived as gods, so they definitely have that going for them. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've primarily gotten to know royal members of the race like Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Odin (Anthony Hopkins), but characters like Sif (Jaimie Alexander), Volstagg (Ray Stevenson) and Heimdall (Idris Elba) have all individually demonstrated the Asgardian might.

Frost Giants

Featured In: Thor, The Avengers, Thor: The Dark World

Who They Are: The Asgardians have more than a few enemies throughout the Nine Realms, but their conflict with the Frost Giants is one of their oldest. They were led for centuries by King Laufey (Colm Feore), hail from Jotunheim, are massive in size, and possess certain ice abilities that presumably come from adapting to their frozen homeworld. Of course, it's impossible to talk about the Frost Giants without mentioning Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who spent years believing he was an Asgardian, but is actually King Laufey's kidnapped son.

Vanir

Featured In: Thor, Thor: The Dark World

Who They Are: Most of the major Thor characters are Asgardian, including two-thirds of the Warriors Three, but Hogun (Tadanobu Asano) is the exception. In Thor: The Dark World it's revealed that the character actually hails from Vanaheim, and he winds up staying behind to protect the Vanir people from the invading Marauder forces. We don't know too much about the Vanir in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but if Hogun is a fair representative of the species, then they possess strength and durability on the level of the Asgardians.

Chitauri

Featured In: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: Earth got a scary dose of extraterrestrial action when Asgardians were involved in a scuffle in New Mexcio in 2010, but that was nothing compared to the Chitauri invasion during the Battle of New York. Represented by both warriors and the giant worm-like Leviathans, they were led by Loki through a wormhole to try and take over the planet, and they would have had it not been for the actions of the newly-united The Avengers (who may have wiped out nearly the entire species). Before his death, The Other (Alexis Denisof) was the leader of the subservient race, but he served a more significant master...

Eternals

Featured In: The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, The Avengers: Age of Ultron

Who They Are: Created millions of years ago, the Eternals were born as an offshoot of the human race, only are far more powerful and live a great deal longer (practically forever). They have the ability to channel cosmic energy, and it can manifest itself as incredible abilities. We are really only aware of one Eternal in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, Thanos (Josh Brolin), but obviously he's a pretty big deal, and a remarkably powerful representative of his species (even before enhancing his powers with the Infinity Gauntlet). To date we haven't really gotten to see what he can really do on the big screen, but that will all change with The Avengers: Infinity War.

Dark Elves

Featured In: Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: The Dark Elves had a similar set-up to the Frost Giants when they were introduced in Thor: The Dark World, in that they are an alien race from an alternate realm - specifically Svartalfheim - that has had centuries of conflict with the Asgardians. Due to an lost battle that occurred eons ago, the entire species spent centuries in suspended animation, and only came back in the year 2013 during a cosmic event known as the Convergence. The Dark Elves, led by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) seems to have a unified purpose, which is to use the Reality Infinity Stone to plunge the universe into darkness.

Kronan

Featured In: Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: The description "Rock Monster" isn't entirely inappropriate when it comes to Kronan, because that's basically what they are. In the comics they live on the planet Ria, and exist as a very militaristic race. Case in point, every appearance we've seen from them so far has featured them in battle - from the showdown with Thor at the start of Thor: The Dark World, to the two lone fighters working out their differences in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.

Elders of the Universe

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: Few species on this list have names quite as appropriate as the Elders of the Universe, who are just that: Elders of Universe. They have been around since the Big Bang (and actually harness energy that directly originates from it), and individually they wield a great deal of power and influence. The Collector (Benicio Del Toro), who is actually the eldest of the Elders of the Universe, was the first to appear in the Marvel Cinematic Universe - featured in both the Thor: The Dark World stinger and Guardians of the Galaxy, but it won't be long until we meet his brother.

Krylorians

Featured In: Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: The Krylorians are extremely recognizable thanks to the distinct pink color of their skin and their purple eyes, and while we don't know a great deal about them from big screen narratives, it does appear that a whole lot of them have homes on Xandar. To date we haven't seen any major characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe who are Krylorian, but there have been some notable individuals. This includes Bereet (Melia Kreiling), the girl Peter Quill is sleeping with at the start of Guardians of the Galaxy; Carina (Ophelia Lovibond), who first appears as The Collector's assistant in Thor: The Dark World; and the wife (Rachel Cullen) of Denarrian Dey.

Kree

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: As far as alien races go, the Kree is one of the most important in the Marvel Universe, and we've only had a brief taste of what they're all about on the big screen. The primary representatives of the species that we've seen are Guardians of the Galaxy's Ronan The Accuser (Lee Pace), who is a powerful rebel and clearly had a big chip on his shoulder about the Xandarians (more on them in a bit), and his right-hand-man Korath (Djimon Hounsou). We expect them to play a much larger role in the future of the Cinematic Universe, particularly because of another kind of extraterrestrial that will be introduced to the big screen in a couple years.

Sakaarans

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: Within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the Sakaarans are somewhat similar to the Chitauri - in that they are a species found very useful as foot soldiers for a more powerful entity. While the Chitauri were led by Thanos, however, it was the thumb of Ronan The Accuser under which this race found themselves. Unfortunately for the Kree rebel, while there are certainly a lot of Sakaarans to throw into battle, they are pretty easy to cut down like "paper people."

Centaurians

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: The Centaurians have yet to be established as a major player in the cosmos of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but they have been well represented. Between both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, audiences got to know Yondu (Michael Rooker) rather well, and while he was definitely rough around the edges, he certainly had a big heart. You can tell Centaurians from other aliens thanks to not only their bright blue skin, but also the red fins that they have on their heads (which Yondu famously used to control his deadly Yaka arrow).

Zehoberei

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: As far as we know, we have only met one Zehoberei in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and that's Guardians of the Galaxy member Gamora (Zoe Saldana). Unfortunately, that also means that we don't really know much about them as a species. Gamora was taken away from her family and her people at a young age when Thanos arrived on the scene, killed everyone, and kidnapped her, so it's hard to say what kind of personality traits she may share with her kind at large. Clearly they have strength, speed and agility that far exceed human abilities.

Luphomoids

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Much like how Gamora is the lone representative of the Zehoberei in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, the same can be said for Nebula and the Luphomoids. Also very similar is the fact that we also don't know much about the species because Nebula's backstory is full of the same death and kidnapping as her "sister." What does set Nebula apart, however, is that she isn't really fully Luphomoid anymore, having had key body parts removed and replaced by Thanos. So really, we still don't have a full idea of what a normal Luphomoid actually looks like.

Xandarians

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy

Who They Are: Watching James Gunn's cosmic Marvel movies, there are a few notable characters who look very human, such as Corpsman Dey (John C. Reilly) and Denarian Saal (Peter Serafinowicz), but they're not. Much like the Asgardians and the Vanir, Xandarians appear to be very similar to "Terrans," but hailing from the Xandar they are very much their own thing. The race plays a very important role in the intergalactic peace keeping commission known as the Nova Corps (their home planet serving as headquarters), and the leader, last we saw, was the Xandarian Nova Prime (Glenn Close).

Flora colossus

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Between both Guardians of the Galaxy and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, we have grown to know a lot about the Flora colossus, courtesy of Groot's misadventures. Biologically, they have an appearance similar to a tree, have the ability to grow their limbs at will, and have a very limited speaking capacity that pretty much only allows variations of "I Am Groot." They are also very hard to kill, as they have the capacity to restart their lifecycles so long as they are properly replanted in time.

Ducks

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: While Rocket and Cosmo The Space Dog are technically genetically modified animals rather than being aliens, Ducks are kind of a different story. There is a world populated by anthropomorphized ducks in the Marvel Universe, and we know this because of Howard The Duck's introduction in Guardians of the Galaxy (voiced by Seth Green). From what we've been able to gather from Marvel Studios movies, they are rather human-like in their behavior, with Howard in particular being a hard-living individual.

Abilisk

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Some aliens appear as straight-up monsters more than others, and the Abilisk certainly qualifies in that department. We don't know much about their history, but it's noted in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 both that they are multi-dimensional beings, and subsist on power sources. It's while going after some tasty ultra-powerful batteries that the Abilisk encounters the Guardians of the Galaxy - and it's a meeting that doesn't go too well for the great beast.

The Sovereign

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: The word "perfect" gets bandied about a lot, but that is precisely what The Sovereign aim to achieve as their species perpetuates. Recognizable thanks to their all-gold skin and pretentious attitudes, they are genetically engineered extraterrestrials who use specially designed birthing pods to create new beings deemed worthy and necessary for existence in their society. They are also highly technologically advanced, and not only use Anulax Batteries to power their world, but have the resources to create a fleet of unmanned drone ships. They are led by the High Priestess Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but she may not hold on to that position long.

Pluvian

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Hailing from the planet Pluto, Pluvians are easily recognizable because of their unique crystalized appearance. In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this race is specifically represented by the Ravager Martinex (Michael Rosenbaum) - and it's worth noting that he is actually the last of his own kind in the comics. It's not quite clear what special abilities the live-action adaptation of the character possesses, but we're excited to see what's revealed in the future.

Celestials

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: We've touched on some crazy powerful beings in this guide, but the Celestials are arguably the most powerful entities that we know of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As "little-G gods," their will is basically reality, and Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 gave us a taste of those skills with the introduction of Ego (Kurt Russell) - who had the capacity to exist as his own planet while working on his plans to remake the universe. He was ultimately defeated and killed at the end of James Gunn's second Marvel movie, but it's very possible that we could see another Celestial on the big screen at another time (some of you may remember that Knowhere in Guardians of the Galaxy was actually the severed of a Celestial, which stands as proof there are more of them out there.

The Watchers

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: The Watchers are one of the most important alien races in the entire Marvel Universe - even though their whole deal is that they don't really do much at all. Much like the Elders of the Universe and the Celestials, they are extremely ancient, and as their name implies, their big thing is observing and watching the known universe, usually only making their presence known (if ever) during times of monumental conflict. In the MCU, it seems that Stan Lee is an agent for them, which explains why he shows up at some point in all of the superhero stories.

Arcturan

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Yondu's old Ravager mates are only on screen for a few seconds in the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 - which is why we don't know much about Aleta (Michelle Yeoh) and the Arcruran in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just yet. In the comics, they come from a world that lives in perpetual sunlight thanks to its twin suns, and they are both technologically advanced, and can live for hundreds of years.

Jovians

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: Ving Rhames is naturally a very big dude, but as the Jovian Charlie-27 he is a literal giant. The aliens get their name from their home world, Jupiter, and the reason why they tend to be rather huge is because they have to withstand the planet's incredible forces of gravity. The Marvel Cinematic Universe may ultimately take a different approach, but it's possible that Charlie-27 is the only Jovian we will ever meet, as he is the only one of his kind left in the comics.

Lem

Featured In: Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2

Who They Are: The magically-inclined and mute Krugarr is the only Lem that has been featured thus far in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there is plenty of potential to learn a lot more about the species if we get to see more stories about Yondu's old team a.k.a. the Guardians of the Galaxy 3000 team from the comics. As you can see, they are all red and look like a cross between a worm, a reptile and a fish. They have no mouths to use for communication, and while Krugarr specifically uses magic to talk, it's unknown if other Lem have different methods.

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