The MCU introduced plenty of new characters to the franchise in Phase 4, and these are the best superheroes that have joined the Marvel series.
Phase 4 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe truly expanded the franchise in bold new ways. Supporting characters like Wanda Maximoff, Vision, Sam Wilson, Bucky Barnes, and Hawkeye were given expanded roles with their own stories, the multiverse was expanded upon, and a new threat was teased in the form of Kang the Conqueror. With seven feature films and eight television series, the franchise also introduced a host of new heroes.
The MCU has introduced a variety of new characters, filling up the universe with new heroes to take up the spots left by the vacant Avengers as well as setting the stage for the battle against Kang the Conqueror. Marvel has even used their post-credit scenes to introduce even more heroes. Almost as many new heroes have joined the MCU as there were introduced through the Infinity Saga and this is only the beginning. Yet which heroes were the best? Who were the real breakouts of Phase 4, and who do we want to see more from in the future? These are the best new heroes introduced in the MCU's Phase 4, ranked.
Introduced in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Riri Williams aka Ironheart is a young genius inventor from M.I.T. who created an invention that can detect Vibranium which drew her into a conflict with Namor and Wakanda. Riri Williams provided much of the comedic levity Black Panther: Wakanda Forever needed after shifting Shuri to the dramatic lead role. The creation of her own Iron Man-inspired armor shows her as one of the greatest minds in the MCU and a true successor to Tony Stark's legacy while also forging an identity of her own. The character will get her own Disney+ superhero series titled Ironheart set to debut in 2023, and following her introduction, she certainly has what it takes to carry a project.
Man-Thing had been teased in the MCU for years in projects like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Thor: Ragnarök but the character finally made his debut in the Halloween special Werewolf by Night. Big, kind, and lovable, Man-Thing immediately won over fans and newcomers with many excited about where the character will show up next. Essentially the Groot of the MCU supernatural corner of the franchise, Man-Thing didn't need to say a word to become a breakout star.
While not a hero in Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Namor is not quite a villain either and is more of an antagonistic anti-hero. Namor has a rich history in the comics where he is both friend and foe to the various Marvel superheroes and one hopes that is the trajectory for the character in the MCU moving forward. Thanks to a combination of a great backstory and powerful performance by Tenouch Huerta Mejia, Namor was a complex character with a relatable motivation which made him both captivating and terrifying. The character was a powerhouse and showed why one of Marvel Comics' first characters has endured for so long.
Everybody was shocked when Werewolf by Night was announced, including Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige when Michael Giaccanio pitched the idea to him. A smaller known Marvel comic character, Werewolf by Night was most famous for having been the comic where Moon Knight was introduced. Yet the Halloween special redefined the character of Jack Russell into being his own unique creation.
Played by Gael García Bernal, the character has the tragic man on the run nature typically associated with the character but a more outwardly noble heroic motivation, using his human form to do right for what his monster side can destroy. The characters' transformation and appearances feel like the perfect marriage of comic book accuracy and classic film homage. The character of Werewolf by Night, like Iron Man, wasn't initially well known, but by the end of Werewolf by Night, the character became one of the best new heroes in the franchise. He was a breath of fresh air, one that audiences now want to see meet the rest of the wider MCU.
Getting Academy Award-nominee Hailee Steinfeld in Hawkeye to play Kate Bishop was an immediate winning formula. Steinfeld gives the character a relatable, laid back nature that firmly plants her in a similar role as Hawkeye had in the first three phases of the MCU, but also acts as an audience surrogate.
Kate Bishop, like much of the target audience, grew up with The Avengers and has spent years admiring them. Now she is given the chance to be one and behaves in a way the audience can relate to. While no Young Avengers project has officially been announced, Kate Bishop is a character that has proven she can be the team's anchor and lead.
Shang-Chi in many ways epitomizes the reason why the MCU works as well as it does. Similar to Iron Man and Werewolf by Night, Shang-Chi was a lesser-known superhero that Marvel Studios saw potential in and reworked from the ground up. They kept some key elements from the comics but also reworked the character to get rid of the problematic stereotypes and make him work as a feature film character.
Simu Liu had natural movie star charisma and makes Shang-Chi an immediate breakout hero. Fans are eagerly anticipating the character to take a bigger leap forward in the MCU, likely in Avengers: The Kang Dynasty. In 2019 Shang-Chi was an obscure Marvel hero, but after 2021 the character was as big a name as Thor or Captain America.
Within the first few minutes of Ms. Marvel, the character won audiences over thanks to the incredible performance by Iman Velani. Ms. Marvel is one of the best MCU series to date and much of it comes from the lead character of Kamala Khan, who like Kate Bishop, reflects an audience who has grown up with the MCU.
Kamala behaves like a real teenager, and in many ways fills a void that not even the MCU Spider-Man has been able to: small-scale personal stakes stories about identity. Ms. Marvel is set to have a crossover with her hero Captain Marvel and the character Monica Rambeau in The Marvels, but fans are already looking forward to her meeting the entire MCU.
She-Hulk burst onto the MCU as the best new hero of Phase 4 and one of the best heroes in the entire franchise. Jennifer Walters is probably the best-defined character the MCU has introduced since Tony Stark and Steve Rogers. Star Tatiana Maslany put her stamp on the character in ways that will be felt for years, and after only one story, audiences can already get a vibe for who she is, what she will be like with other characters, and many exciting possibilities. She-Hulk is a richly defined character with a bright future in the MCU.
Richard Fink is a writer who graduated from Arizona State University in 2016 with a degree in Film and Media Production. He loves the finer things in life, like cold Diet Coke on a hot summer day. Richard is a fan of all things Star Wars, Marvel, DC, and Film History.