Phase Four of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is set to conclude on November 11 with the highly anticipated release of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever. This has been one of Marvel Studios’ most divisive phases to date. Phase Four brought some of the MCU’s greatest entries, like Spider-Man: No Way Home and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings, and some of its most polarizing installments, like Eternals and Thor: Love and Thunder.
Both the best and worst of Phase Four’s movies have had at least one scene-stealing supporting character, from Black Widow’s Yelena Belova to Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness’ America Chavez.
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6 Black Widow – Yelena Belova
The first movie in Phase Four, the long-awaited Black Widow solo film, set the tone for the phase with the first of many passing-the-torch narratives about the protégés of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. Natasha Romanoff’s belated standalone adventure started assembling the next generation of Avengers by introducing her surrogate sister as the new Black Widow.
Yelena Belova, one of Phase Four’s most exciting new additions to the ensemble, is characterized as much more reckless and morally ambiguous than Nat. Yelena’s casual attitude toward taking human lives is darkly hilarious. Florence Pugh nailed all the deadpan one-liner deliveries, Like “It’s a s**t plan,” and “You’re such a mom.”
5 Shang-Chi And The Legend Of The Ten Rings – Katy
Every MCU movie needs a comic relief character to point out how absurd everything is, and Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings has one of the funniest examples to date. Awkwafina’s dry comedic style made Shang-Chi’s Katy one of the most memorable comic relief characters from the entire MCU.
After the action-packed inciting incident, Katy tells her fellow valet, “A guy with a freaking machete for an arm just chopped our bus in half!” Throughout the movie, Katy gets a “hero’s journey” of her own alongside the titular martial arts master. She learns archery in an afternoon, subtly throwing shade at Hawkeye, and lands the arrow that ends up winning the final battle.
4 Eternals – Kingo
Chloé Zhao’s Eternals introduced MCU viewers to 10 main characters. Even with its overlong runtime, the movie didn’t have enough time to develop any of those characters with enough depth. But Kingo is definitely a highlight. With plenty of quips, he’s the one who feels the most like a traditional MCU superhero. Unlike the other Eternals, Kingo hid in plain sight. While his friends laid low, Kingo enjoyed the spotlight as three generations of Bollywood stars.
Kumail Nanjiani hysterically leans into the character’s vanity and arrogance. He shares a fun dynamic with the human valet he hires to document his superhero crusade as a reality TV series. If Marvel Studios doesn’t make an Eternals sequel, they should at least bring back Kingo.
3 Spider-Man: No Way Home – Peter-Three
The multiversal shenanigans of Spider-Man: No Way Home worked so well because director Jon Watts stayed focused on Tom Holland’s Spidey and the culmination of his MCU arc. But there are a few scene-stealing supporting characters along the way. Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May gets a heartbreaking death scene and Willem Dafoe’s return as the Green Goblin is more unnerving than ever (especially since Watts mercifully shattered his goofy mask within a few minutes of his arrival on Earth-616). Arguably, the secondary character who shines the brightest is Andrew Garfield’s Peter Parker, dubbed “Peter-Three” to avoid confusion.
Tobey Maguire had already completed his arc as Peter Parker when he was brought back in the MCU, so No Way Home was sort of a victory lap for his Spidey, but Garfield treated No Way Home as the third movie he never got. His powerful performance offers glimpses of the dark turn he took after Gwen Stacy’s death. Peter-Three finally manages to achieve redemption in the final battle when he saves MJ in a near-identical scene to the one where he failed to save Gwen.
2 Doctor Strange In The Multiverse Of Madness – America Chavez
Although Doctor Strange is the character whose name is in the title, Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness works better as an America Chavez origin movie or a Scarlet Witch villain movie than a Doctor Strange movie. Strange is just the middleman who connects Wanda to the interdimensional superhero whose power she wants to steal.
Xochitl Gomez gives a brilliant debut performance as the reality-hopping teen – and she’s only just getting started. By the end of the movie, she’s working on mastering her powers and she has faith that her mothers are out there somewhere. Hopefully, Multiverse of Madness is just the beginning of a long-running arc for America.
1 Thor: Love And Thunder – Gorr The God Butcher
This year, Christian Bale lived long enough to see himself become the villain. The notoriously committed actor made his MCU debut with the antagonistic role of Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and Thunder. At the beginning of the movie, after losing everything and being mocked by his own deity, Gorr sets out to massacre godkind.
Gorr’s characterization is unnervingly at odds with the comedic tone established by Taika Waititi. Bale’s performance is genuinely creepy. His scenes with the Asgardian children he abducted wouldn’t be out of place in a horror film. The only downside to this character is that he doesn’t have nearly enough screen time.
NEXT: 7 Ways Gorr The God Butcher Is Thor’s Best MCU Villain Yet