As I begin to compile information for future articles leading up to this summer’s premiere of Spider-Man: Far from Home, one view tends to surround our teenage web-slinger: Peter Parker’s Spider-Man is a fan favorite. I know this idea is far from revolutionary, and, to be quite honest, it is probably one of the safest views one could make. It seems as though there is hardly any negativity that surrounds Tom Holland’s portrayal of Spider-Man. With other Avengers and heroes, there has been or currently is some criticism based on various things like casting, story line, or character arc. Heck, fans were not initially sold on Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man back in 2008, and now the man can do no wrong in the eyes of the most novice fanboy.
Well, considering Spider-Man’s popularity, I began to think about other characters who have garnered strong fan followings over the years. Of course, Iron Man is arguably among one of the most popular superheroes Marvel has released within its cinematic universe. Then, you have the lovable Chris Hemsworth, and fans continue to clamor for a stand alone Hulk film featuring Mark Ruffalo. Hawkeye was ran through the critical ringer at one point early on, but fans seem to have gravitated towards his antics as Ronin. Captain America is the glue that holds our beloved team together, and he embodies our country’s fighting spirit. Black Widow’s character made the ultimate sacrifice in Endgame, and her story of redemption came full circle. Yes, yes, yes–all of these “originals” are highly viewed, and some could even argue that they are overrated. So, I ask, which MCU superhero do you think is underrated?
Every hero has served a purpose in one way or another, and there are plenty of supers I would like to see in future MCU films. It is anyone’s guess as to which heroes will be making appearances in Phase Four and beyond, and, frankly, speculation as to which characters need to show up can be a seemingly infinite discussion. I want to focus on what we do have. Which character had a major impact in the first three phases, and will s/he play a larger role in the future? For me, the answer comes somewhat easily: Bucky Barnes, aka the Winter Soldier.
Comic book presence and stories aside, Bucky’s role in the MCU has created some massive plot lines. From taking out Tony’s parents to fulfill a Hydra mission to giving Steve Rogers a purpose in the world, James Buchanan Barnes has done some great things on screen. Also, Sebastian Stan is fantastic, and the charisma and anonymity that he brings is often refreshing when compared to his somewhat predictable co-stars. Let’s talk about some of the major subplots he has been a part of since his debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. He helped Steve Rogers understand his true potential and encouraged him to be the best he could be. He has, arguably, suffered the most of any of our current superheroes, yet he continues to rely on others and fight for them. He has a checkered past, but he doesn’t allow such actions to affect his future (i.e. I firmly believe in the theory his character had the opportunity to be the next Cap, but that “conversation” off screen led to him insisting Sam was a better, more stable choice.). Bucky Barnes has consistently grown in each film. Not only does he have superior knowledge of combat strategy, but his bionic arm makes him nearly unstable. Lastly, his relationship with T’Challa and Wakanda demonstrates his ability to be diplomatic and serve as an important future ally of the Black Panther.
Going forward, I am really looking forward to how his character will be utilized. I really don’t want to get into the business of seeing how many films Stan has left in his contract because those figures and agreements can change or be misinterpreted; however, with the new Disney+ series with Falcon expected in 2020, I don’t see why he would not play a large role in reestablishing a presence in the cinematic Phase Four and beyond. As Bucky Barnes is often seen as nothing but a sidekick, I would really like him to take more of a leadership role, but the character’s most iconic moments are often at the behest of others. Sure, I do love Bucky’s role as Cap in said comic line, but there are too many variables that would need to happen for those stories and traits to be depicted on screen with an already established character. Regardless, the Winter Soldier has been a part of some of my favorite fight scenes and moments thus far, and I really hope to seem more. Who do you think is the most underrated superhero in the MCU?
Jon Maus is a high school English Language Arts teacher and an all-around pop culture enthusiast. He has a B.S. and a M.E. in English. Some of his favorite fandoms include The Walking Dead, Marvel, Disney, Back to the Future, and the Karate Kid.