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!
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.
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.
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.
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...
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.