One of the benefits of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is knowing that you might get a chance to see your favorite character pop up in another movie very soon. With the connective tissue of these expansive blockbusters allowing ample time for crossovers and continuous reappearances, it's a given that — unless the character has passed on (and even then, Marvel might find a way to bring them back) or the actors (and/or the studios) have started feuding with the producers — we will probably see them again soon. They all share the same universe, after all. So they can find time to make a return. This is certainly true for the supporting characters in the MCU, who get less time to shine than the leads, but more often than not make the most of it.
Sure enough, while we've seen countless characters make copious appearances in various MCU installments, we hope these supporting characters in particular get more time to shine in the future MCU installments. Supporting characters are often left to play second fiddle to the title superheroes. But that doesn't mean they can't provide some marvelous moments. With many recent Marvel characters, we have only gotten a taste of what they might do inside the MCU — which is why we want to take a moment to celebrate our favorites of the bunch. Hopefully, we'll see more of them soon.
Now obviously with a cinematic universe as large and expansive as the MCU, we can't list every single character to be found, so we've narrowed it down to ten, and we're sure there are going to be a few glaring omissions. (I tried to get Goose from Captain Marvel on here, for instance. No dice.) Alas, if you disagree with our selection process, let us know in the comment sections which supporting MCU characters are your favorites and why you think they're the best.
This one is currently in a state of flux, since the recent news that Sony has decided to exit its deal with Marvel means that the future of any Spider-Man characters in the MCU is in a tentative place if the two sides don't come to an understanding. (We're hoping Sony and Marvel can work things out soon.) Nevertheless, if there is a future for Spider-Man inside the MCU, we'd love to see more of Zendaya's hilariously dry and sarcastic take on MJ.
Introduced in Spider-Man: Homecoming and given more time to shine in this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home, Zendaya's MJ, which stands for Michelle Jones, instantly stood out from Kirsten Dunst's portrayal of the original Mary Jane through her fast wit, emotional distance and high sarcasm level which suggested that, like many high schoolers, she wanted to be over everything happened around her. It was through the latest Spider-Man movie that Peter Parker and MJ finally solidified their relationship, particularly at a pivotal point in Parker's life. When given more time to shine, it was clear that Zendaya is a star on the rise for a reason. She possess a charm and sense of self that helps her stand out immensely in the crowded MCU. While the future of the character is left on very uncertain terms (at least, in the MCU) when it comes to the possibility of her big return, we hope she gets more time to shine.
Korg (Taika Waititi)
While everyone has their favorite character in Thor: Ragnarok, one of the standouts of the standouts was Korg, voiced by and played through the art of motion capture by director Taika Waititi. The gentle, immensely polite rock monster is a kind soul, even if he has a hard exterior. And while Korg's social skills might be lacking, he's an engaging and likable character. It was also revealed in Avengers: Endgame that Korg likes to wear a pineapple floral shirt similar to the one the director is often seen wearing. What's not to like about Korg? More importantly, what is stopping Korg from returning?
Hopefully very little. The reveal of Thor: Love and Thunder means that we're going to get more Thor than we initially anticipated. With Taika Waititi returning to direct the third Thor sequel, we should hopefully get another chance to see Korg hanging out with his demi-god buddy – particularly with the events leading up to Jane Foster, played by Natalie Portman, i.e. Thor's ex-girlfriend, becoming The Mighty Thor in this brand new film. Perhaps Thor needs a buddy to talk to? It sounds like this turn-of-events will probably bruise his ego a little bit, and he could use come rocky comfort.
Okoye (Danai Gurira)
There are a number of outstanding moments and investing characters to be found in Black Panther. But one of the standouts was Danai Gurira's Okoye, a badass woman who knows how to take down her opponents like it's second nature. Her striking appearance matched with her excellent combat skills made her an easy favorite in a movie filled with exciting new characters, and it's hopefully just a glimpse at what will come next.
While we don't know when it will come, Black Panther 2 is on the horizon. Whenever it arrives, and we should expect to see Okoye return to Wakanda's side for whatever dangers might lurk in the next installment. She also played a role in the climatic fight at the end of Avengers: Infinity War, but she was unfortunately overlooked in the broad mechanisms of that larger-than-life story. It was nice to see the character again and for her to briefly return in Avengers: Endgame, but it'd definitely be in the best interest of the filmmakers behind Black Panther 2 to make sure she gets more screen time.
Darcy Lewis (Kat Dennings)
What has Kat Dennings been up to lately? Ever since the end of the CBS sitcom 2 Broke Girls, the actress has disappointingly been absent from the limelight. And that's discouraging, because her natural blend of wit and charm were always good for a quick laugh — at the very least — and she infused these qualities well into her character, Darcy Lewis, who was always one of the standouts in Thor and Thor: The Dark World. In fact, I'd argue Darcy Lewis was one of the better things in an otherwise not-so-noteworthy sequel, and it was a bummer that she was not around for Thor: Ragnarok.
Thankfully, we're not alone in wanting to see Kat Dennings make a return to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The folks at ComicBook.com asked the actress the same question, and she played coy with her response. Obviously she can't say anything until the higher-ups say it's official, but we hope this means that there is room for Darcy Lewis to make another visit to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Under Taika Waititi's direction, and given the benefit of a storyline where her friend becomes the next Thor, this is fertile ground for comedy and dramatic territory. Dennings would be great here.
M'Baku (Winston Duke)
M'Baku didn't play a huge role in last year's Black Panther, but the character certainly made a memorable appearance. Covered in fur and seated on a giant throne in a winter wonderland, the character has a notable presence, and Winston Duke clearly relished the opportunity to play such a larger-than-life character — especially during the epic battle sequence at the end of the blockbuster. He's a huge, imposing figure, and he is definitely someone who stands out greatly. We only got to see him for a short amount of time in Black Panther, and even less time in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame, which means that it'd be great to see him in more movies.
As seen by his appearances in Black Panther and this year's Us, Winston Duke has extraordinary range. And we've only gotten a little taste of that range when it comes to M'Baku. The character is large and in charge, but it would be great to see his softer side, as well as the layers to his characters that were only hinted at in the original movie. This character has lots of room to grow so we'll be excited to see where he goes in the sequel.
Valkyrie (Tessa Thompson)
Tessa Thompson is quickly becoming one of the highest rising actresses in Hollywood, and there is a good reason why. Her wide talents have been on display numerous times in the past few years, in films like Dear White People, Creed I and II, Annihilation and Little Woods, to only name a mere few. Men In Black International wasn't the hit people hoped it would be, but Thompson already proved she could hold her own in a blockbuster with her star-making turn as Valkyrie in Thor: Ragnarok, the type of role that benefitted her talents in drama, comedy and newly-displayed action skills.
As Valkyrie, Tessa Thompson appears fierce and fearless, capable of standing up on her own terms, but not without her vulnerabilities. It's one of the best recent introductions to the MCU, and her limited role in Avengers: Endgame nevertheless suggested that she would play a big role in the MCU's future. Sure enough, the actress is slated to return for Thor: Love and Thunder, and it'll be interesting (and likely entertaining) to see how Valkyrie handles the powers of Thor being switched (or duplicated) from Chris Hemsworth to Natalie Portman. Certainly, it will hopefully be another great showcase for her. And giving Tessa Thompson more screen time has almost always proven to be beneficial, so we'll look forward to seeing what she has coming up.
Happy Hogan (Jon Favreau)
Of all the characters on this list, Happy Hogan is the one we are most accustomed to seeing inside the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The supporting character, played by Jon Favreau, has been around since the beginning, making his first appearance in 2008's Iron Man (which was also directed by Favreau). He is usually given bit appearances, especially in the movies directed by Favreau, and he is mainly there to help his egocentric boss in a myriad of ways, be it driving or getting him his suit to save the day. Happy is a reliable character, much like Favreau himself, and he is always there whenever you need him. Sure enough, when it came time to pass the torch, Happy went from taking care of Tony Stark to being there for Peter Parker.
Happy Hogan got one of his biggest acting turns in this summer's Spider-Man: Far From Home, becoming a makeshift father figure for the grieving teenage superhero, even when Peter Parker was trying to enjoy his nice European vacation trip with his friends, teachers and fellow students. Happy was also given a little fling with Aunt May (Marisa Tomei), which helped to drive home the whole father figure angle. With Spider-Man's future in the MCU currently in a major state of flux, Happy Hogan might be the character on this list who is least likely to return. But we know that Jon Favreau is close with Disney, especially as the director of The Lion King (2019) and as the man currently serving as showrunner on Disney+'s much-hyped new streaming series, The Mandalorian. As per usual, Happy should be around when we need him. Hopefully, that means we'll get to see him again soon.
Wong (Benedict Wong)
Doctor Strange might not be everyone's favorite Marvel movie (which is a shame, because it's a good deal of fun), but it introduced a lot of exciting new elements into the fold. That includes not only magic finally being mixed into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but the first appearance of Wong, who would go on to help the title character in his time-bending efforts to save the world from an onslaught of peril from various outside forces. Wong is a reliable friend in a time of need, and he's funny to boot in a nicely dry way. He got some nice moments in Doctor Strange, but it would be nice to see him make more MCU appearances, especially after having only a limited number of appearances in last year's huge Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame this year.
Thankfully, Wong is slated to return in the upcoming sequel, Doctor Strange and The Multiverse of Madness. This movie will introduce horror into the Marvel fold, which should be a fun element of surprise for these characters. Wong is a great character when it comes to delivering what would otherwise be clunky exposition, being there during the big fights and delivering some humorous lines. He's the full package, and it'll be good to see him again in not only this Marvel movie, but hopefully the next few Marvel movies that are slated to come out in Phases 5 and beyond inside the MCU.
The Grandmaster (Jeff Goldblum)
Who doesn't love Jeff Goldblum? The man is a national treasure, a ray of sunshine on a cloudy day, and one of the few consistently-giving sources of delight and comfort you can find in a regular basis in Hollywood. Now, when we're given Space Goldblum, how can you go wrong? Thankfully, we will never know the downsides, because Jeff Goldblum was expectedly splendid in his Marvel debut. And while his role was limited, there is room for him to make a return —if he so wishes to do so. He is a busy man, after all, and he might not have the time even for the MCU. But if he does, Marvel would be fool-hearted if they turned down the possibility of bringing The Grandmaster back, particularly in Taika Waititi's upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder.
The future of The Grandmaster was left uncertain, if on funny terms, at the end of Thor: Ragnarok. But the Marvel machine is always good about finding ways to bring characters back — even if they've had a brush with death. Now, we don't think The Grandmaster has died (hopefully not, at least), but the point stands that when there is a will, there's a way. And hopefully, there's a way to bring Jeff Goldblum back for the next Thor movie.
Shuri (Letitia Wright)
As we have demonstrated with this list, there are a lot of standout supporting roles in Black Panther. And we didn't even talk about Killmonger! The film is filled to the brim with charismatic characters, and that includes Shuri, played by Letitia Wright. The extremely intelligent, hyper-skilled young woman is often Black Panther's right hand woman, helping him with his new tech and being there to provide the support he needs in order to save the day. It's a role that is cute without being cloying, smart without it seeming too obvious, and filled with charm and heart. Thankfully, Wright nailed this great part.
T'Challa's sister is receptive and insightful, well beyond her years, in a way that feels earnest and worthwhile. She makes for a great presence in the movie, and we should hopefully see her not only in Black Panther 2, but in other future MCU movies as well. Because surely Shuri's skills can be used for the good of many. Though, whether she wants to provide her tech and smarts to anyone but Wakanda is a question that'll need to be answered in the next movie.
As we've mentioned earlier, these are only a handful of the standout supporting characters found in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We could go all day listing all the noteworthy appearances, and we are sure that someone is mad about one or two characters we didn't list. You can let us know whether you agree or not with that assessment by writing down in the comments and telling us about your favorite MCU supporting characters.
Will is an entertainment writer based in Pittsburgh, PA. His writing can also be found in The Playlist, Cut Print Film, We Got This Covered, The Young Folks, Slate and other outlets. He also co-hosts the weekly film/TV podcast Cinemaholics with Jon Negroni and he likes to think he's a professional Garfield enthusiast.