Superhero fatigue may be real, but that doesn’t mean fans of the genre have simply turned their back on it. That would be virtually unthinkable, given what an enormous impact the MCU has had on cinema in the last two decades. After all, it was a feat that reshaped and astounded the cinematic world with its massive success, meticulously detailed shared universe, and intricately designed plots.
Between the intrigue, action, and drama, the MCU also introduced us to a plethora of Marvel’s greatest heroes, aside from those like the X-Men, Silver Surfer, and Fantastic Four, who are still set to join the MCU. While they represent the best of humanity, virtually every hero from the MCU has also proven to have dark qualities too.
It’s often when those heroes don’t always do the right thing that audiences are provided with the most riveting story arcs. Given those darker, imperfect traits, here’s a look back at the 10 worst things MCU heroes have done over the years.
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1 Hulk Destroys Johannesburg
Release Date April 22, 2015
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Tony and Bruce inadvertently build a murderous machine run by sentient AI who is hell-bent on destroying humanity. Before Wanda and Pietro Maximoff come to learn they’ve been fighting for the wrong side, Wanda uses her powers to mess with the Avengers’ heads. When it comes to Hulk, he loses it completely and flies into an uncontrollable rage.
What He Did Wrong?
The Hulk’s propensity to lose control and destroy virtually everything in his path is notorious. However, it’s sadly also not something he can fully control in the beginning. Despite the tragic underpinnings, when he’s like that, the hard truth is that everything and everyone around him is in danger. This was something he proved after Wanda messed with his mind.
The result sends Hulk on a massive rampage that sees him land in the city center of Johannesburg, South Africa. Thankfully, Tony uses his Hulkbuster armor and goes after him. But their ensuing fight, as entertaining as it was, basically leveled half the city, traumatized countless innocent civilians, and injured and possibly maimed or killed others, including local South African police officers. Though Hulk couldn’t help himself, the chaos still caused billions in damage to a developing country with a struggling economy.
2 Captain America and Sharon Carter
captain america 3
Release Date April 27, 2016
Director Anthony Russo , Anthony Russo
As Marvel’s favorite blue-eyed boy, Captain America often makes for one of the most endearing characters around. He’s like the MCU’s version of Superman, a character who represents the best in humanity — a Sir Galahad type of figure who can seemingly do no wrong. However, as the events of Captain America: Civil War showed, he actually isn’t always perfect.
That film saw him push his famous moral code to the brink in order to protect Bucky. His actions end up tearing The Avengers apart and even causing some epic fights between them. However, all of that could still be justified according to Steve Rogers’ principles, since he’s from another time, one where old-school values were still upheld. It was a different action that actually felt a lot more out of character.
What He Did Wrong?
Since his unfreezing, Captain America has faced conflicting feelings. On the one hand, he struggles with grief over losing the love of his life, S.H.I.E.L.D co-founder and ex-director Peggy Carter, since he unwillingly left her in the past. On the other hand, he’s also lonely in the modern world and longs for a companion. His neighbor seems a worthy candidate for a while, and the pair share some chemistry.
However, he later finds out that she’s actually a S.H.I.E.L.D operative, assigned to keep an eye on him. He also learns that she’s actually Sharon Carter (Emily Van Camp), Peggy Carter’s great niece. We see from the events of Endgame that he never truly got over Peggy and eventually makes a decision to stay in the past with her.
Yet in Civil War, even after learning who Sharon was, he’s still attracted to her, and the pair even share a kiss. Given that Captain America is often thought of as the epitome of a chivalrous man, this was a pretty much a dog move on his part. Nevertheless, this doesn’t affect the persona of Captain America and how much fans still adore him.
3 The Red in Natasha’s Ledger
Natasha Romanoff A.K.A. Black Widow, first appeared in the MCU early on when she showed up in Iron Man 2. Once it became apparent who she was, Scarlett Johansson has pretty much owned the role ever since, making her one of the coolest characters in the MCU. As the films went on, we see in The Avengers that, as good as she was now, she agonizes over her past because she has “red” in her ledger.
What She Did Wrong?
As a super assassin, we learn through her own film that she was forcibly taken and trained as a KGB spy under the Soviets. We also learn that she supposedly had to kill an innocent child to eliminate a target. Despite this, it was later revealed the child survived and Natasha had been vindicated.
However, another theory states that she may have actually been responsible for a lot worse. In fact, during the original reference to the red in her ledger, Loki seems to confirm as much, since his chilling words harked at a far darker past than her own movie shed light on. When she indicates that she wishes to clear the red in her ledger, this was his reply in The Avengers:
“Can you wipe out that much red? Dreykov’s daughter. Sao Paulo. The hospital fire. Barton told me everything. Your ledger is dripping. It’s gushing red, and you think saving a man no more virtuous than yourself will change anything?”
4 Tony and Bruce Create Ultron
Tony Stark and Bruce Banner aren’t just awesome because one is Iron Man and the other The Hulk. For many fans, the best traits of each come from the fact that they’re both brilliant scientists whose minds are just as formidable as their physical abilities. In Age of Ultron we got a chance to see both of those super intellects combined, as the pair worked together to create an AI system that was meant to be the answer to the goal of “peace in our time.”
What They Did Wrong?
Unfortunately, we know that this scientific collaboration went very wrong. While it was more Tony’s fault for his overzealous and reckless nature in tinkering with a technology he didn’t fully understand, the pair both helped inadvertently bring the murderous bot named Ultron into the world. The chaos, mass death and destruction caused by Ultron made this one a pretty unforgivable error of judgment on both their parts — but mostly Tony’s.
5 Hawkeye’s Actions as Ronin
Release Date April 24, 2019
Director Anthony Russo
The early stages of Avengers: Endgame finds Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner) as a very different person, one deep in grief after losing his family to Thanos’ snap. The film initially sees him tracked down in Japan. However, Hawkeye now sports a gritty new look, and a remorseless homicidal attitude that has him pursuing criminals in a misguided attempt to gain a sense of justice, since his family died while so many criminals survived the snap.
What He Did Wrong?
Adopting the character’s look and outfit, it’s obvious that this version of Hawkeye was actually an iteration of him known as Ronin. The Ronin identity was made famous by the comics, with Marvel’s Echo actually being the first character to assume it. As Ronin in the film, Hawkeye is a far cry from the good guy and family man we know him to be.
Driven by rage and irrepressible pain, he mercilessly slaughters criminals. While people may argue over the finer points of his actions, it shouldn’t change the fact that, despite them being criminals, he had no justification for acting as judge, jury, and executioner himself.
6 Thor Wanted Genocide
Release Date April 21, 2011
The first Thor film introduced us to a much more arrogant and reckless Thor Odinson, when he was on the verge of claiming his birthright as the King of Asgard. This Thor was one who often lusted for conflict and a chance to wield his immense power. However, as his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) points out to him, “a wise king never seeks out war, but he must always be ready for it.” Unfortunately, back then, Thor was too immature and hot-headed to heed his father’s counsel.
What He Did Wrong?
When the Frost Giants infiltrate Asgard, Thor takes the incident as an unforgivable sleight. In his estimation, it constituted an act of war and should have been met with full scale retaliation that would crush any growing idea among the Frost Giants that Asgard was weak.
Unfortunately, this also meant that Thor actively pushed for his father to authorize the perpetration of genocide against them.
As humanity, having already seen horrific chapters in our history like the Holocaust and the Rwandan genocide, we know all too well the unspeakable horror that such narrow-minded thinking can lead to. Now that the world is again living through such divisive conflicts, ones where both sides are again actively calling out for the extermination of entire races of people, it gives us chilling insight into why Thor was so wrong here.
7 Dr. Strange Plays God With The World’s Memories
Spider-Man 3 / Spider-Man: No Way Home
Release Date December 17, 2021
In Spider-Man: No Way Home, the film’s novelty in teaming up the web slinger with versions of himself from other universes brought Tom Holland’s Spidey together with Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield’s. The result was an instant classic from phase 4 of the MCU.
However, another cool aspect of it that got somewhat overshadowed by having multiple Spideys was the fact that Holland’s Spider-Man and Dr. Strange also shared plenty of cool interactions in it too, including an epic fight scene.
What He Did Wrong?
We know that Strange only wanted to help Peter. After Mysterio’s stunt ruins Peter’s life and, more importantly, MJ’s and Ned’s too, Peter desperately seeks his help. As brilliant as Dr. Strange is, he displays a shocking willingness to mess around with powerful magic regardless of it possibly having dangerous consequences.
His attempts to help the world forget that Peter Parker is Spider-Man instead result in a memory spell that gets out of control. His actions cause tears in the fabric of space-time, and allow people from other universes to enter through them.
8 Loki Stealing The Tesseract
Loki’s obsession with the Tesseract is legendary, but it’s also one of the worst things he’s done. Back when he was a villain, the tesseract leads to the events in New York that almost destroyed humanity. However, Loki goes through many bad boy phases before he actually ends up being a hero by Thor: Ragnarok. After finally accepting Thor as Asgard’s King, he chooses to fight for their realm, but steals the Tesseract one last time before Asgard’s doom is completed.
What He Did Wrong?
By stealing it this time, in the infamous opening to Avengers: InfinityWar, he inadvertently leads Thanos to them. This is because the Tesseract’s core contains an infinity stone which resonated an energy signature that enabled Thanos to follow and track them down. This in turn led to the slaughter of countless innocent Asgardians, making this one of Loki’s worst acts. Tragic or not, it all happened as a direct result of his selfish actions.
9 Star-Lord Loses His Head
Star-Lord is easily one of the most likeable characters of the MCU. Between the very lovable Chris Pratt playing him, his antics, and his hilarious quotes, there’s plenty to love about him. However, he and his goofy teammates were also notorious for their reckless stunts and lack of planning. While this came off as comedic in other films, in Avengers: Infinity War, Star-Lord loses his head and attacks Thanos, leading to unforgivable consequences.
What He Did Wrong?
While different bands of Avengers all tried to take down Thanos at different points in the film, it was Iron Man, Spider-Man, Dr. Strange and The Guardians who came the closest. During an epic battle scene, they actually manage to get Thanos into a position of weakness and are inches away from ripping the Infinity gauntlet off his hand when Star-Lord intervenes.
In a somewhat tragic twist, it’s his grief and rage when he discovers what happened to Gamora that causes him to violently attack Thanos and break the hold the others had on the mad titan. With the fate of half the universe in the balance, Star-Lord only cares for the woman he loves. Though his devotion to her is sweet, his actions swing the battle back in Thanos’ favor. That eventually leads to Thanos later effecting the snap and killing half of all life in the entire universe, an unfathomable loss.
10 Wanda Taking Out The Illuminati
Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness was certainly one of the most creative films to ever come out of the MCU. It saw Strange meeting and protecting America Chaves, a young mutiversal traveler. We learn that Wanda has been under the dark hold, transformed into The Scarlet Witch, and is hunting America to execute a horrendous plan so that she can be with her kids from another universe.
What She Did Wrong?
Basically everything. Whether it was keeping an entire town bewitched, attacking Kamar-Taj and killing most of its warriors, traumatizing her own kids, trying to kill an innocent young girl, or any other of her other depraved acts, she was simply out of control in the film. However, there was one scene in particular that showed not just the full extent of how unhinged Wanda was, but also just how immensely powerful The Scarlet Witch is.
In another universe, she encounters The Illuminati, a counsel of powerful and wise superheroes. In that universe, they consisted of well-known and powerful figures like Professor X, Reed Richards, and Black Bolt. Yet, for all their power and arrogance at the beginning of the confrontation, Wanda takes them all out in a matter of minutes, barely breaking a sweat as she mercilessly kills each of them in brutal ways.
As horrific as Wanda’s actions were throughout the film, it should be kept in mind that she was under the influence of the dark hold. It was also her unimaginable grief in the first place that led to that situation. Given that context, we can’t bring ourselves to blame her entirely and write her off as a character with no good inside her based on this film alone.
Twisted as it was, her own logic has some bearing here. To explain why she’s still awesome despite her worst traits, we think she sums it up best in her own words:
You have to wait 55 seconds.