While several Marvel superheroes and villains have been up to par —Killmonger in his motivations for villainy, Thanos in his warped logic, god complex, and twisted sense of omniscience — some stand above the rest. Some offer multiple layers of humanity, making their journeys relatable, no matter how extraordinary the circumstances abound. The three characters below are, arguably, the most complex in the MCU, as they are layered and unpredictable.
3. Black Widow / Natasha Romanoff
Black Widow’s story is about to get even more complex, as the Red Room that gives rise to the Soviet spy turned familial agent will receive its debut in the upcoming prequel. Yet, Black Widow has already received — despite the lack of narrative focus via a solo installment — quite the intoxicating arc.
Natasha goes from a self-serving spy trained to kill to an Avenger — willing to put Clint’s family life before her own existence. She sacrifices herself to save a man who had become a brother — to save a man who turned to darkness. She saw the depth of his humanity despite his present pain-induced murder spree, and she placed his ability to be a great father and great husband once more before her own life.
Hesitant to trust and skeptical of society and government, Natasha grows into someone who trusts a select few and boasts loyalty to a fault. She is not a cynic, but a woman who learned what life can take from you before she learned what it can provide.
The God of Mischief, or should we say the God of missed opportunity, the God who is misunderstood, the God who is misguided, but worldly? Loki fights for himself.
As a child, Loki always felt lesser and never felt like he belonged — neither of which was Thor’s fault, yet both of which wound up creating heartache for the God of Thunder. Loki suffers from a broken heart and a childhood sense of inferiority that lingers within; yet, when push comes to shove, he does the right thing. When all is lost, he stands with the Avengers and tries to trick Thanos.
When Loki dies in Infinity War, he dies on the right side of history, and would he have expected anything less from someone who operates in the morally gray; someone who is individualistic, but grows to see the benefit of a united front (even if it takes him way too long to get there)? The upcoming Disney+ show, if allowing the character’s three-dimensionality to surface, should prove to be quite the character exposé.
1. Iron Man / Tony Stark
Tony Stark easily boasts the most development over the course of the Infinity Saga. He transcends his egotistical selfishness and arrogant pigheadedness to become a selfless savior.
He snaps his fingers to save humanity, and in the same instant, relinquishes his grasp on life — relinquishes a future with the wife and daughter he would have never been able to live with had he done any different.
Tony Stark grows substantially in his journey leading up to and through the MCU’s Avengers: Endgame, coming to understand that there is a difference between heroism and fame, altruism and recognition.