While Marvel released the standard two movies in 2015 (the company is upping to three starting in 2017), this year was undoubtedly its biggest in television. Not only did Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. finish its second season and move into its third, but the House of Ideas added three new shows to its lineup. Agent Carter aired while Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was on hiatus, giving another period piece adventure. Meanwhile on Netflix, Marvel delved into darker storytelling with Daredevil in April and Jessica Jones in November. With so much ground covered on television this year, it’s no wonder that one of the results was introducing some great players.
To celebrate all that Marvel accomplished on the small screen in 2015, we’ve gathered together the top 10 TV characters that debuted this year in the MCU. From heroes to villains and the supporting characters in between, these are the folks who made major impressions with viewers and left them wanting more. Thankfully, we’ll be seeing most of these people again in future seasons, so there will be more opportunities for them to shine in the near future.
Warning: there will be spoilers for all of Marvel’s current TV shows from this point forward in the text. If you haven't caught all shows, feel free to slide right through the ones you haven't seen.
10. Andrew Garner
Andrew Garner was introduced on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. as a former S.H.I.E.L.D. psychologist and May’s ex-husband. While he was helpful counseling Daisy Johnson, after she became an Inhuman, Andrew was a fairly cut-and-dry character during the show’s sophomore season: not boring, but not interesting either. Fortunately, he has gotten quite the boost during Season 3 after he was outed as Lash, the Inhuman who has been killing his fellow kind if he deems them unworthy. Unlike most Jekyll and Hyde dynamics, Garner hasn’t struggled to fight the new urges imbued in him since he was transformed. He has the same drive to see his mission through in both forms, and his villainy has become a refreshing change of pace from what HYDRA has been doling out. Like Grant Ward, Andrew became more appealing once he was a full-on antagonist, and while it’s unclear if he’ll ever redeem himself, we’re content seeing him continue on his rampage in the near future.
9. Dottie Underwood
Johann Fennhoff may have been Agent Carter Season 1’s main antagonist, but it was Dottie Underwood who shined as Peggy Carter’s personal nemesis. While cheerful and friendly on the surface, this demeanor was merely a facade that disguised her as a cold-blooded killer. Dottie gave viewers a glimpse into the program that would eventually produce Black Widow, but more importantly, it was her ability to switch between sweet and ruthless that made her an effective villain. One minute she would lull you into thinking she’s a harmless small-town girl, the next she would snap your neck or put a bullet in your head with ease. In terms of sheer physical prowess, Dottie was certainly Peggy’s most dangerous opponent, and although she endured quite the beating in the Season 1 finale, she was able to escape to cause trouble in Season 2. God help the people in Hollywood who run into her, because odds are they won’t survive the experience.
Stick only appeared in one episode of Daredevil Season 1, but that was more than enough for him to leave a lasting impression. It’s because of him that Matt Murdock learned how to fight and hone his enhanced senses, but Stick didn’t make it easy for the future superhero. The man was blunt, rude and unforgiving, and despite his advanced age, he was more badass than his visually-aided opponents. Unwilling to make emotional attachments with anyone, Stick’s main purpose in life has been dedicated to his mysterious mission, and he won’t let anyone get in the way of that, whether it’s the enemies blocking his path or Matt trying to stop him from taking a life. Fans will see him again next year for three episodes in Daredevil Season 2, and while we got the sense he cares more for Matt than he lets on, there’s no doubt his abrasive personality will alienate anyone who’s around him… assuming he hasn’t already killed them.
7. Claire Temple
Much like how Nick Fury was the main connective thread in the Phase 1 movies, Claire Temple was the main bridge between all of Marvel’s Netflix shows. Although she didn't have any powers or combat skills, her nursing skills came in handy treating Matt Murdock after numerous nights on the streets and treating Luke Cage after he was comatose following a gun blast. Equally important, however, was how Claire counseled/assisted her superhuman allies outside of medical treatment. Although she helped Matt, she repeatedly told him how his mission was practically a suicide one, and while he didn't heed her advice, she told him she’d be around if he needed to get patched up. Despite not know Jessica Jones well, she also offered to call Matt in to help with the Kilgrave situation. We’ll be seeing more of Claire next year inText here Luke Cage and likely beyond, but so far she’s demonstrated herself to be one of the most selfless people in the MCU.
6. Edwin Jarvis
Pairing an SSR agent and a dignified butler together might seem like a weird idea at first, but if Edwin Jarvis hadn’t been on Agent Carter, Peggy would have missed out on a wonderful friendship. The man was obviously out of his element when Howard Stark assigned him to help her on her mission, with one of his few bouts of excitement being when he caught the maid stealing silver. After some trial and error, he started to get the hang of the spy life, though not without humorous results. Beyond his dry wit (which would later inspire Tony Stark’s A.I.), Jarvis shined through his determination to do good and his loyalty to those close to him. In terms of his relationship with Peggy, he was one of the few men who treated her like an equal, and his support, both in the field and emotional, aided her several times during Season 1. She’s lucky to have Edwin as a friend, and Howard is lucky to have him as his right-hand man.
5. Matt Murdock
Twelve years after the Daredevil movie performed to mixed reviews, Marvel successfully revitalized the Man Without Fear in live action for Netflix. As with every Daredevil story, the series followed Matt Murdock as he tackled injustice from two sides: by day as a lawyer, and by night as a masked vigilante. Because of everything that happened to him, from the accident that blinded him to his father’s murder, Matt struggled throughout Season 1 with the darkness in his soul and with trying not to cross the point of no return. While it was obviously fun to watch him beat up the bad guys (like in that hallway), Matt’s emotional journey was just as captivating. Like Marvel’s other protagonists, he wanted to do the right thing, but the guilt he dealt with consistently made him question many of his actions while he was battling Wilson Fisk and his criminal organization. We’ll see Matt continue to battle both crime and his personal demons in Season 2, but in terms of his first year in action, he stood out fantastically as Marvel’s first Netflix hero.
4. Luke Cage
Luke Cage’s solo series hasn’t aired yet, but Jessica Jones did an excellent job of introducing him to the MCU. Even though the show didn't delve heavily into his past or how he got his powers (super strength and indestructible skin), viewers got a good sense of his character. Quiet and reserved, Luke was just a man who tried to avoid a crazy life, but when Jessica Jones came into the equation, he buckled down and assisted however he could, though there were a few snafus along to way. All-in-all, what made Luke appealing was how he was still coming to terms with his extraordinary nature, but when it came down to it, he did the right thing and used his powers to help others. It’s also a nice bonus that the man practically oozed ‘cool,’ but that’s typically the case with all versions of Luke. He was a great character in Jessica Jones, so just imagine how much more he’ll be appreciated and developed on his own series.
3. Jessica Jones
Up until this point, the super-powered protagonists in the MCU were all game for using their powers to protect people. Not Jessica. While that may have been her original intent, following the trauma she experienced under Kilgrave’s control (combined losing her family as a kid), we were given a protagonist who didn’t want any part of the superhero game, opting instead to become a private investigator. Beyond going a different career path with her powers, Jessica also differentiated herself from the pack with her cynical and aggressive attitude. This made her journey as a reluctant hero even better to watch, though all of her problems weren’t fixed after 13 episodes. Even after killing Kilgrave, she doesn’t know how she was going to move forward with her life. Putting it simply, Jessica has been one of Marvel’s most relatable characters, and while none of us have ever been mind controlled by a man in a purple suit (and if you have, you have our condolences), we were still able to feel for the pain she endured. Now she can take the first step towards the rest of her life, but it won’t be easy.
2. Wilson Fisk
It’s often talked about that Marvel doesn’t have many good villains, with Loki being the only exceptional bad guy. That changed with Wilson Fisk on Daredevil. While every villain has their own motivations for committing their heinous acts, Fisk has been one of the few who the audience can sympathize with. Like Matt Murdock, he was trying to help his city, but rather than heal, he opted to destroy it so he could rebuild. We usually didn’t support what he did, but we at least understood why he was doing it, from decapitating a guy with a car door to setting off explosions around Hell’s Kitchen. It also helped that his personality was so multi-faceted. One moment he was shy and sophisticated, the next he would fly into an animal-like rage. Although he’s not officially the Kingpin yet, Fisk admitted in the Season 1 finale that he’s become the “ill intent” in the world, so if he returns for Daredevil Season 2, his incredible strength and calculating mind will be put to even worse use.
It’s easy enough to find villains who are physical threats and cause rampant destruction, but rarely do you find bad guys who can ruin lives without literally lifting a finger. Kilgrave is one of those villains, having ruined not just Jessica Jones’ life, but almost everyone he came in contact with. By simply speaking, he could command someone to do anything he wanted, thus living a consequence free life, and the worst part part about all this was he didn’t even think what he was doing was wrong. Sinister and menacing, yet entrancing and personable, Kilgrave has been the definition of the villain we love to hate, and his sociopathic tendencies led to some of the most disturbing moments Marvel has ever show, both in terms of gore and mental anguish. Thanks to Jessica Jones developing a resistance to his suggestion and snapping his neck, Kilgrave’s reign of terror is at an end, but for the 13 episodes we had him, he was truly terrifying. In fact, it’s not a stretch to say that he’s probably the MCU’s best villain so far on both the big and small screens.
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Connoisseur of Marvel, DC, Star Wars, John Wick, MonsterVerse and Doctor Who lore. He's aware he looks like Harry Potter and Clark Kent.
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