Nearly 10 years ago, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was borne out of a standalone movie that only made subtle hints at the greater things to come. That film was, of course, Iron Man, which wowed critics and audiences alike by its ability to take a lesser known Marvel hero played by an actor who was seemingly past his prime and turn out one of the most entertaining popcorn movies in recent memory.
We won’t run through every MCU movie that’s been released since, but suffice it to say that their roster of characters has grown exponentially. And with Avengers: Infinity War quickly approaching its release date, it feels like nearly every major hero from the first three phases will be making an appearance in the film.
For lifelong fans of the Marvel comics, this intertwined universe has been a dream come true, which — only a decade ago — seemed like a nearly impossible feat beyond the pages of the comic books. And for the more casual fans of blockbuster movies, this franchise has given the viewers a chance to be connected with their favorite movie characters more than ever before.
But how many of these MCU characters do you actually known by name? Let's find out!
He is the Iron Man.
If you don’t know the answer to this question, then you have clearly clicked on the wrong quiz. This character helped launch the MCU with the 2008 movie Iron Man, and he has been a staple of the franchise ever since. He is played by America actor Robert Downey Jr. and has starred in a whopping eight installments to date with plans to appear in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. In fact, with the character being a part of the MCU for so long, many suspect that he may meet his demise sooner rather than later.
This character is better known as the Scarlet Witch.
Easily one of the most powerful of the Avengers, this character first popped up in a credits scene for Captain America: The Winter Soldier before she had a starring role in Avengers: Age of Ultron. In the comics, this character is actually a mutant, though her origins had to be changed for the MCU movie as to not overlap with Fox’s X-Men franchise. While her twin brother didn’t end up making it out of Ultron alive, this character may be one of the Avenger’s biggest assets when it comes to defeating Thanos in Infinity War.
This character wears the Mind Stone in his forehead.
With Thanos collecting the six Infinity Stones to add to his gauntlet, this character’s well being is in grave danger due to the fact that the Mind Stone is embedded in his forehead — and is very likely the source that gives him his life. The character first popped up in Avengers: Age of Ultron as a hybrid creation of both Ultron and Tony Stark. He is played by British actor Paul Bettany, who previously voiced J.A.R.V.I.S. in the Iron Man trilogy and the first Avengers film until his character was unexpectedly brought to life.
A secret agent in the Strategic Science Reserve.
This character has appeared in a number of MCU movies — most notably in Captain America: The First Avenger, where she played Steve Roger’s love interest. But this secret agent was also given her own TV series, which ran for two seasons between 2015 and 2016. The character was one of the most important agents working for the Strategic Scientific Reserve, and she aided Steve Rogers in becoming Captain America and she also continued to take on HYDRA after his disappearance.
The First Avenger.
This should be another freebie, considering that this character has been with the franchise since nearly the beginning and is currently the leader of one of the factions of the Avengers. This characters arc throughout the franchise has been one of the most interesting, as we’ve watched a starry-eyed, super-patriotic soldier from World War II turn into a skeptic who wishes to operate free of government control. The characters last known whereabouts were in Wakanda, which is where it looks like we'll pick up with him in Infinity War.
One of Thanos’ adopted daughters.
Much like her sister, who went on to join the Guardians of the Galaxy, this character was another one of Thanos’s adopted daughters, who was trained to be a heartless mercenary at her father’s disposal. While she may be at odds with her sister, they both have one thing in common: they will do anything in their power to defeat their father the Mad Titan, who would make them battle each other as children until this character basically became half machine.
Former Deputy Director of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The character first appeared in 2012’s The Avengers as one of the most prominent figures working inside S.H.I.E.L.D. Before she earned the title of Commander while working under Nick Fury, she served in the United States Armed Forces. The character is played by Cobie Smulders, who is probably best known for starring on the hit sitcom How I Met Your Mother, though she did go on to play this MCU character in three episodes of the spin-off TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
The latest incarnation of Ant-Man.
Unlike many of the Avengers, who started off working in the armed forces or protecting their people in one way or another, this unlikely hero actually started out as a professional thief. The character first popped up in his mostly stand-alone solo movie before joining the fray in Captain America: Civil War. The character is portrayed by Paul Rudd, who is set to star in the upcoming Avengers film as well as a sequel, titled Ant-Man and the Wasp, both out this year.
Just as Iron Man has his wingman with War Machine, this character is often by Captain America’s side — especially when the Avengers ultimately fracture over the Sokovia Accords and go their separate ways. Falcon was formerly a pararescue trooper in the United States Air Force until he suffered a tragedy when his wing-man died. Before he got caught up with the Avengers, he spent his time helping other soldiers who were also dealing with PTSD. The character is played by Anthony Mackie.
This character goes under many monikers, including the Allfather, the King of Gods, and the Protector of the Nine Realms. But do you remember his real name? This former King of Asgard first popped up in the original Thor film, where he watches over his two adult sons while he prepares to step down from the throne. The character is played by Welsh actor Anthony Hopkins, and the character actually succumbed to old age in the most recent Thor film.
Tony Stark’s father.
Not many characters in the MCU have been played by multiple actors. However, this character has actually been portrayed by both Dominic Cooper and John Slattery as we watch him work with Captain America back in the 1940s, and with Hank Pym, the original Ant-Man, in the 1980s. Much like his son, this character was a true innovator, who founded Stark Industries and was at the cutting edge of technology throughout World War II and onward. But do you happen to remember his first name?
Better known as The Collector.
This character so often goes by his catchy nickname “The Collector,” that there’s a good chance you don’t know his real name unless you’re a true Marvel fan. Though you could always figure it out by a process of elimination as well. Much like his popular moniker, this character is a collector of all things rare and exotic. His base of operations and museum are located on the Knowhere port, and he currently has in his possession one of the six Infinity Stones.
After wondering what happened to this character for a number of Marvel movies, we learned in the latest installment of the Thor series that she dumped him. Or that Thor dumped her depending upon who you choose to believe. Though we can’t blame either of them since it has to be fairly rough maintaining a relationship across two different planets. The character was played by Academy Award-winning actress Natalie Portman, who currently has no plans to return to the MCU.
Better known as Hawkeye.
This character first appeared in Thor before reappearing in The Avengers, where he was brainwashed by Loki and forced to fight against the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The character has appeared in four MCU movies to date, with plans to make an appearance in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War — though he has been strangely absent from much of the promotional content. The character is played by American actor Jeremy Renner, who has also starred on the hit films The Hurt Locker and The Town.
Tony Stark’s chauffeur.
Though you may think this character is only a small time player in the MCU, you may not have realized that the actor who plays him, Jon Favreau, actually helped launched the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe by directing the original Iron Man film. The character has since popped up in every Iron Man sequel, as well as Spider-Man: Homecoming, where he serves as somewhat of a chaperone to Peter Parker at Tony Stark’s request. He is set to appear in the untitled Avenger 4 film.
The God of Thunder.
While most superheroes have multiple names, this character’s name is fairly easy to remember considering that he is literally always a superhero. In other words, he doesn’t need to jump into a phone booth and change out of his civilian clothes at the first sign of danger. The character has been a staple of the MCU since he first popped up in his 2011 solo film. In fact, the third installment of this series was met with critical acclaim, which raked in over $850 million at the box office and earned over a 90% approval rating on Rotten Tomatoes.
Real name: Emil Blonsky
Though the MCU has received mostly universal acclaim, a main point of criticism is franchise’s villains — who are often introduced and eventually killed off in the same film, never allowing them to become as interesting as the franchise's heroes. However, this monstrous beats was actually taken into custody at the end of The Incredible Hulk and he hasn’t been seen since. Many are calling for this characters returned, as he was played by the always intriguing Tim Roth. But do you remember his name?
The newest member of the Guardians.
This character first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, where she served the Celestial Ego. She has an unusual power set, which allows her to effect someone’s emotions, which Ego used to ease his unstable behavior. However, after forming an unlikely friendship with Drax the Destroyer, Mantis turns on her master and confesses to the Guardians of the Galaxy that Ego’s motives are not as innocent as they may seem. She helps Peter destroy his father and has since joined his crew.
A member of the Kree race.
After a pact is established between the planet of Xander and the Kree Empire, this character decides to team up with the Mad Titan Thanos with the hopes of destroying Xandar once and for all. However, once he gets his hands on to the Power Stone, he betrays Thanos, keeping the gem for himself which he believes can be used to destroy the planet on his own. This, of course, puts him on a crash course with the Guardians of the Galaxy, as well as Thanos’s adopted daughter, Gamora.
Though this character was more of a sidekick when she debuted in Ant-Man, it looks like she’ll take on a more central role in the upcoming sequel. After all, at the end of the last film, the character is gifted her own Pym Particle-based suit by her father, who is finally allowing his daughter to take up the mantle of the Wasp following his wife’s disappearance years before. The character is played by Canadian actress Evangeline Lilly, who previously played Kate Austen in the hit series Lost.
Beyonce's biggest fan.
This character first appeared in the 2016 MCU installment Doctor Strange. The character is a Master of the Mystic Arts of Kamar-Taj, and he aided Stephen Strange in his studies by providing him with important books upon his arrival. The character is played by British actor Benedict Wong, who is probably best known for starring in the 2015 film The Martian. The actor also made an appearance in this year’s sci-fi thriller Annihilation, and he is set to reprise the role of this MCU character in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War.
Just your friendly, neighborhood Spider-Man
Even if you’re not quite up to date on your MCU watching and you happened to miss this 2017 installment, it would be near impossible not to know Spider-Man’s civilian name, especially considering the sheer amount of Spider-Man movies that have been released in the past couple decades.Though the character may be one of the newest Avengers it looks like he’s going to be playing a prominent role in the future of the MCU, since he is set to appear in both upcoming Avengers films with a sequel to Homecoming also in the works.
Better known as Black Widow.
Unlike Tony Stark and Steve Rogers, this character civilian name is a little harder to remember. In fact, her real first and middle name in the movies are actually Natalia Alianovna. But even those were a little too difficult to spit out, so she goes by a simplified name most of the time which can be located in the answers below. The character is played by Scarlett Johansson, who has appeared in five MCU movies to date, with talks of a solo movie for her character finally in the works.
This character's real name and superhero name are the same.
Just as the Guardians of the Galaxy helped shake up the MCU in 2014, this film ended up doing the same two years later by introducing the concept of magic — better knows as Mystical Arts — along with the reality of other dimensions into this cinematic universe. The character at the center of it all is this world renowned neurosurgeon, who’s life is turned upside down following a terrible accident that leaves his hands permanently damaged. He goes searching everywhere for answers, only to stumble upon the Ancient One, who encourages him to master this Mystical Arts.
The former guard of the Biofrost Bridge.
Played by the always engaging Idris Elba, this character first popped in the original Thor film, where he was the guard of the Bifrost Bridge who also had the distinct ability to see and hear everything that was happening in the Nine Realms. That’s a lot to keep track of! While the character was largely put on the back burner for the first couple Thor films, he took on a more prominent role in Ragnarok, where he helps lead a resistance against Hela on Asgard.
Jane Foster’s assistant.
This character popped up in the first two Thor films, but much like Jane Foster, it’s unlikely that she will appear in any upcoming films in the MCU. the character was a political science major studying at Culver University. She got tied up with Thor’s arrival on Earth when her bosses, Erik Selvig and Jane, inadvertently discovered the link from Earth to Asgard via the Bifrost Bridge. The character is played by Kat Dennings, who first broke onto the scene with her performance in The 40-Year-Old Virgin before she went on to star in 2 Broke Girls.
A rival of Stark Industries.
This primary antagonist only appeared in 2010’s Iron Man 2, where he played a rival CEO of a company that was in heated competition with Stark Industries. After his plan to smear Tony Stark backfires, it’s this character who prompt Whiplash to try and take Iron Man out. The character was played by often underrated actor Sam Rockwell, who actually just won the Academy Award for Best Supporting actress this past year for his performance in Three Billboards Outside of Ebbing, Missouri.
AKA The Iron Monger
The first primary antagonist of the MCU was played by the usually likable Jeff Bridges, which really threw audiences for a loop when it was revealed that he was going behind Tony Stark’s back and trying to kill him using Stark’s own technology. The character is a war hawk, who has little interest in the well being of the world so long as he makes a fortune off of arms dealing. In order to try and defeat Tony Stark, he dons the Iron Monger armor and has a showdown with Iron Man, which eventually leads to his death.
A brilliant astrophysicist.
Played by Swedish actor Stellan Skarsgard, this character appeared in the first Thor installment and went on to appear in three subsequent MCU movies. The character is an astrophysicist at the fictional Culver University who employees both Jane Foster and Darcy Lewis when the trio unexpectedly stumble upon the connection between Asgard and Earth after Thor is banished from his home realm. The professor later goes on to aid S.H.I.E.L.D. when the world is being threatened by both Loki and Ultron.
A member of the Duckworldian species.
Easily the weirdest character to appear in any MCU movie to date, this anthropomorphized duck first appeared in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1 before making yet another brief appearance in the film’s sequel. This character's debut in the MCU was sure to bring a laugh to anyone who has an extensive knowledge of comic book, as this Marvel character was actually given his own solo picture back in 1986, which is often considered one of the worst movies ever made.
The original Ant-Man.
Some comic book fans were upset that the first Ant-Man movies would actually find Scott Lang taking up the mantle of the unlikely superhero, as he wasn’t the original incarnation of the character. But when the movie was actually released, we got an in-depth look at the creation of the superhero thanks to this character, who once donned the suit back in the day alongside his wife, The Wasp. The character is played by Michael Douglas, who is set to reprise his role in the upcoming sequel.
This character prefers to go by Star-Lord.
One of the more obscure superheroes to make it into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, this character appeared to have no apparent superpowers at first, until he is inexplicably able to handle and Infinity Stone at the end of the first Guardians of the Galaxy film. In the follow-up movie, it is revealed that Star-Lord is, in fact, half-human and half-celestial after he discovers that his father is Ego the Living Planet. The character is portrayed by American actor Chris Pratt.
Tony Stark’s love interest.
It didn’t take long into the first Iron Man film for the audience to assume that Tony Stark was going to end up romantically involved with this character, who works as his personal assistant and plays a vital role at Stark Industries. The character has appeared in five MCU movies to date, with plans to appear in the upcoming Avengers: Infinity War. She is portrayed by American actress Gwyneth Paltrow, who has starred in such hit films including Seven and Shakespeare in Love.
An agent of S.H.I.E.L.D.
Before Nick fury stepped in and rounded up the gang of solo superheroes which later comprised the Avengers, this character was already laying the groundwork to bring Iron Man and Thor into the fold. The character made his debut in the very first MCU film, Iron Man, before he was eventually killed in The Avengers. However, that didn’t stop this character -- who is played by actor and director Clark Gregg -- from making a comeback in the spin-off TV series.
The last living member of the Zehoberei race.
Yet another one of Thanos’s adopted daughters, this character was taken in by the Mad Titan after he destroyed everyone on her home word, leaving her as the sole survivor of the Zehoberei race. Though she is at first hesitant to join Star-Lord, she too is after the Orb that Ronan the Accuser has stolen to give to her father. The character is played by Zoe Saldana, who has appeared in some of the biggest sci-fi action films of the past decade, including Avatar and Star Trek.