We’ve been following characters like Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America since The MCU began. However, they may not be the most important players when Infinity War begins.
Marvel fans everywhere are growing increasingly excited. After ten years worth of story and world building, the biggest superhero crossover film ever made is just weeks away. Avengers: Infinity War hits theatres in April.
This film has a huge cast of characters, many of whom – Iron Man, Cap, Thor, etc – we have been following through all three phases of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While these early favourites are sure to play a vital role in the battle against Thanos, from a story perspective, they may no longer be the most important.
The MCU’s newer faces, and a few supporting characters, are going to take a big step up in importance when Infinity War rolls around.
For some, like Vision, who openly possesses the Mind Stone, the reason for their increased importance is obvious (we explain the Infinity Stones here). Others, however, may be surprising to newer fans.
1. Doctor Strange
Doctor Stephen Strange’s presence in the MCU was confirmed long before we ever saw him on screen.
The character was first referenced during Captain America: The Winter Soldier, as being on HYDRA’s watch list. Exactly why is unknown, as Strange did not have his powers at that point. Whatever the reason, Cap unknowingly saved his future teammate’s life with his actions in the film.
Strange made his onscreen debut in Phase Three, during his solo adventure, Doctor Strange.
The film follows Strange’s quest to heal his hands, after an accident ends his career as a neurosurgeon. This quest leads him to the Kamar-Taj, where he takes up the study of Sorcery under the tutelage of the Ancient One. Initially seeing his studies as a means to an end, Strange ultimately finds new purpose as his mastery grows.
Doctor Strange next appeared briefly in Thor: Ragnarok, helping Thor find the missing Odin.
Why will Doctor Strange be important?
Like Vision, Doctor Strange is currently in possession of an Infinity Stone. Unlike Vision, Strange’s stone is not immediately obvious.
Those who watched his solo film know that Doctor Strange is the keeper of the Time Stone. The stone is currently concealed within the Eye of Agamotto, through which Strange can channel its power.
His possession of the stone will make Strange a major target of Thanos during Infinity War. This means that, like Vision, he will need to be protected.
Aside from the need to protect the Time Stone, Doctor Strange is important in at least one other way. As long as the stone remains on their side, the heroes have a little bit of wiggle room in the event of fatal accidents.
2. The Collector
Taneleer Tivan, also known as The Collector, first appeared in an after-credits sequence in Thor: The Dark World. Volstagg and Lady Sif deliver the Aether (reality stone) to him for safe keeping.
He was next seen in Guardians Of The Galaxy, as Gamora’s arranged buyer for the Orb containing the Power Stone. Tivan explains the history of the Infinity Stones to the Guardians.
Why will The Collector be important?
For fans who have come to Marvel through the films alone, it may be easy to underestimate The Collector’s importance, beyond his guardianship of the Reality Stone.
Comics fans will know that The Collector is one of the Elders of the Universe. The Grandmaster, introduced in Thor: Ragnarok, is part of the same group. The Collector spends his time gathering important objects and life-forms for preservation. The Reality Stone is a part of his collection, however he remained unaware of its power until Thanos came for it.
The film’s Collector is noticeably less ignorant. Upon receiving the Aether, he declares ‘One Down, five to go.’
Thanos will surely pay Taneleer Tivan a visit in Infinity War. What side the Elder will actually take is unknown.
Mantis is an empathic alien introduced in Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2.
At first a servant of Ego The Living Planet, she later warns the Guardians of his true nature after befriending Drax. Mantis’s big moment in the film comes when she uses her powers to briefly put the raging Ego to sleep. This allows the Guardians time to set up the plan that eventually leads to their victory.
Mantis has now joined the Guardians permanently. She is seen waving to Thor in the first Infinity War trailer.
Why will Mantis be important?
While Mantis is not a heavy hitter from a physical standpoint, her abilities could very much come in handy.
If the Avengers manage to get Mantis close enough to touch Thanos or any of his allies, she may be able to put them to sleep long enough for the heroes to take a breather and regroup.
4. Wanda Maximoff
Wanda Maximoff and her twin brother, Pietro, were first seen in an after-credits sequence of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The siblings are the subject of experiments by Baron Strucker, involving Loki’s sceptre from the first Avengers film. The sceptre, of course, holds the Mind Stone, and the experiments leave the siblings with super human abilities.
Wanda and Pietro next appeared in Avengers: Age Of Ultron. Believing Tony Stark responsible for the deaths of their parents, the pair initially work with Ultron. This quickly changes once they learn of Ultron’s true goal. While Pietro is killed in the ensuing battle, Wanda survives to become a member of Cap’s revamped Avengers team.
In Captain America: Civil War, a tragic misfire of Wanda’s powers prompts the rushed introduction of the Sokovia Accords. While unsure of herself for most of the film, Wanda ultimately takes Steve’s side in the conflict.
Why will Wanda will be important?
In the comics, Wanda is the daughter of Magneto, her powers the result of her mutant genes. This is not the case in the films.
In MCU canon, Wanda’s powers are the result of her being experimented on with the Mind Stone. Fans have speculated that due to the connection between the Stones, Wanda’s abilities are drawn not just from the Mind Stone, but the Reality Stone as well. This would explain the distinct red energy when she uses her powers.
With powers drawn from two Infinity Stones, Wanda could potentially go toe to toe with Thanos, Infinity power vs Infinity power. And if Thanos has done something to upset Wanda… like, for example, taking out her love interest, Vision, in his quest for the Mind Stone?
Then, all bets are off.
Nebula, adopted daughter of Thanos and sister of Gamora, first appears in Guardians Of The Galaxy. Working with Ronan the Accuser, Nebula is tasked with tracking Gamora down after her betrayal of Thanos.
In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol.2, the Guardians retrieve Nebula from the Sovereigns, hoping to collect a bounty on her.
She later escapes, with the goal of killing Gamora. When she gets her sister on the ropes, however, she finds herself unable to deal the killing blow.
Ultimately, Nebula helps the Guardians in defeating Ego. Gamora offers her a place among them, but Nebula refuses, instead planning to track down and destroy Thanos.
Why will Nebula be important?
To the non-comic savvy fans, it is easy to assume that Gamora, as female lead among the Guardians, is the more important sister.
In the comic’s version of Infinity War, however, it is Nebula that has the more important role to play. There, she ends up stealing the Infinity Gauntlet, seeking to rule the Universe herself.
As the MCU’s version of Nebula has been portrayed as a more sympathetic figure, whether this will play out the same way on film is uncertain.
If not, she will likely be important in other ways. Nebula has likely been tracking Thanos in the few years between Vol.2 and Infinity War. She may be the one to give the Guardians a heads up on Thanos’ plans.
Beyond Infinity War
While supporting players now, a lot of these characters may be important for the MCU’s future.
Some members of the original team (Cap, Thor) are coming to the end of their contracts. Robert Downey Jr has extended his contract multiple times already, but he cannot keep playing Iron Man forever.
Many fans are expecting Tony Stark to either die or step away from his Avengers duties after Infinity War. Doctor Strange has already been named as a potential future leader for the team.
Beginning with Captain Marvel, the MCU is assumed to be moving into the cosmos for Phase 4. This makes the Guardians of The Galaxy hugely important.
The MCU is going to need characters like those above. Characters that can start out small, and grow in importance over time. We’ve listen some others here.
These are the characters that will keep the MCU fresh and interesting for many Phases to come.
For five theories on where the MCU will head after Avengers: Infinity War, click this really really pretty hyperlink.