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Ensemble Darkhorse / Marvel Cinematic Universe

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The MCU is a big place and so there are a lot of secondary characters to choose from.

  • Agent Phil Coulson from Iron Man, Thor, Iron Man 2, and The Avengers has quite a few fans. Remember the guy who kept trying to get Tony to get Iron Man to join S.H.I.E.L.D., was mostly ignored, and there's a Running Gag of him saying S.H.I.E.L.D.'s full name and being told it was too long? That's him. This gag's all he gets as well as being in a few crowd scenes. By now, he's one of the most popular characters in the Marvel Cinematic Universe just due to being his lovable self, the face of S.H.I.E.L.D. to everybody who doesn't like organizations like S.H.I.E.L.D.. Watch A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor's Hammer. You'll see why. Powers That Be have definitely taken note and the actor has really gotten into the role, so he wound up in Thor and had a much bigger role in The Avengers. There are two short films with him (the other being The Consultant) and now he has appeared in first a non-canon side story in the comics, and then an appearance that definitely counts. Also, he's a major character in Ultimate Spider-Man, being the S.H.I.E.L.D. agent who is undercover as the principal at Peter's high school, keeping an eye on them. His design is the exact likeness of his actor, Clark Gregg, and he also has the same voice - Gregg has so much fun with the role and is protective of it by now. There's just one Agent Coulson! He's also got a cameo in Iron Man: Armored Adventures. Coulson's gone from a bit part to a phenomenon. For a middle-aged human in a world of superheroes, he really impressed. And, achieving likely the ultimate goal for an ensemble darkhorse, is one of the lead characters of the spin-off TV show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D..
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  • Agent Peggy Carter as played by Hayley Atwell got major acclaim from Captain America: The First Avenger, unlike the comics where her role is very minor. This film gave her a larger supporting role and a new actress determined to do her most in portraying her, showing her to be just as badass as Cap and his emotional partner. Despite the end of First Avenger preventing her and Cap from continuing their relationship, due to her explosion in popularity after that film, Carter returned in her own short film, cameos in The Winter Soldier, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., Age of Ultron, Ant-Man, and even got her own TV show, making her the first leading lady of the MCU.
  • The Howling Commandos in Captain America: The First Avenger, considering they're only in a handful of scenes and one montage. Since then they've returned for cameos in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the Agent Carter short film, and the Agent Carter TV series.
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  • Loki from Thor has been hugely popular since the movie was released despite the fact that he is the villain and only has roughly twenty minutes of screen time. His popularity seems to rival that of Thor, the hero and older brother's popularity, especially the female fanbase, no doubt because of his actor. And he does a repeat performance in The Avengers, in many places beating characters who are popular enough to carry their own movies (and sequels): Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor (again). Advertising for the Thor sequel quickly became almost entirely "Here's more Loki". And several months after filming ended, they went back and shot some additional scenes just of him.
  • Hulk is this in The Avengers, due to Mark Ruffalo's portrayal of Bruce Banner as a normal guy who's got anger issues and the Hulk stealing the show during the final battle, where defeats the Chitauri and his smackdown of Loki (and calling him "Puny God") being highlighted as one the funniest scenes in the film. He has become a fan favorite ever since, to the point where there were talks of Ruffalo having a stand-alone Hulk film. However, to some fans, Edward Norton's portrayal of Bruce Banner/Hulk in The Incredible Hulk can be considered as this, to the point where he's considered to be better than Ruffalo and wishing he would have returned in the MCU.
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  • Idris Elba's performance as Heimdall in Thor gets this. A classic case of Ability over Appearance, all but the most rabid of detractors enjoyed his performance and the hints that he's even more powerful than he lets on.
  • Antoine Triplett gets a lot of love for being a really Nice Guy and for having good chemistry with Simmons. Many fans were ecstatic when he joined the team near the end of Season One and essentially replaced Ward, as well as a ton of outrage when he died in the mid-season finale of Season 2. His return in the LMD arc in season 4 was widely acclaimed by fans.
  • Before she had even appeared yet (or even being cast yet), Mockingbird had gained a lot of hype after she was revealed to be joining Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.. CBR's SDCC announcement poll has her announcement as the highest rated announcement of the second day, even beating Sam Raimi's Evil Dead TV series announcement, The Walking Dead season 5 trailer reveal, and Guardians of the Galaxy sequel announcements. She also dominated a later poll concerning new characters people are hyped for in the second season, with 46% of the votes going to her. When she does appear, this does not change. Going from Tumblr, in less than twenty minutes of the episode finishing people were posting their love for her character, even ones who never heard about her or what was such a big deal about her. The popularity only increased until she was Promoted to Opening Credits. Like many other darkhorses, she was set to get her own spinoff. However, after being written out of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., her spinoff, Marvel’s Most Wanted, was not picked up for a full season order, leaving the character essentially adrift.
  • Skye's father (Mr. Hyde of the Marvel Cinematic Universe). Thanks to him being a complex, Creepy Awesome character and Kyle McLachlan's magnificent performance, every time he appeared on screen, you can bet the review and comments will be gushing about him and place him as the best thing in the episode.
  • Raina has got a lot of attention from fans to her Affably Evil, Anti-Villain and Monster Fan Girl status, with many praising Ruth Negga's awesome performance. It's the point that in the 5th episode was renamed to 'Girl in the Flower Dress' from 'Scorch' because even the creators like her. Plans to kill her off early were also put aside, letting her return for Season 2 and become an Inhuman.
  • Dum-E, from Iron Man. Sure, it's an artificially living thing that exists only for quick gags but it has its fans.
  • Laufey from Thor can be considered as one. Although he's been long dead and more or less forgettable in the comics, he is surprisingly favorable due to having a pretty good characterization and being a Reasonable Authority Figure, despite still evil.
  • Howard the Duck due to his hilarious cameo at the end at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy. Marvel predicted this would happen and took full advantage of it by digitally re-releasing his original comic series the same week as the movie's launch. He's also getting a new series in 2015 which likely wouldn't have happened without the film.
  • Claire Temple received a lot of praise for her Good Is Not Soft Beware the Nice Ones moments while still being sympathetic and supportive of Matt. It's a refreshing break from the stereotypical female love interest on superhero television as well as a strong performance from Rosario Dawson. Many bemoan how wasted she is in the first season of Daredevil (2015) when it was clear that Dawson is only an Advertised Extra. Then this turned to excitement when she was revealed to actually be the connecting thread between every Netflix series, much like Coulson was in the Phase 1 films.
  • Maya Hansen from Iron Man 3 and the U.S. Marshall played by Kate Mara in Iron Man 2 are surprisingly popular on Tumblr, especially with the latter appearing for only a minute of screentime.
  • The waitress played by Ashley Johnson in The Avengers. She's even become a Fan-Preferred Couple with Steve.
  • Madame B. from Avengers: Age of Ultron for being Creepy Awesome and played by Julie Delpy.
  • In the overall franchise, Pepper Potts is the best received non-badass supporting character for her supportive, entertaining relationship with Tony and importance in the storyline without being killed off, as well as a strong performance from Gwyneth Paltrow. Half of the Heartwarming and Tearjerker page of Iron Man 3 is made up by Tony/Pepper and the pairing is universally agreed to be the best part of an otherwise controversial movie. She is so liked by fans that even slash fans tend to spare her from Die for Our Ship despite Tony's Launcher of a Thousand Ships status. Her already high popularity exploded in Avengers: Endgame for Take a Level in Badass and become Rescue as well as her absolutely Tear Jerker scene when Tony was dying after using a Snap to destroy Thanos's force.
  • While he had his fans back when The First Avenger came out, Bucky Barnes didn't leave a lot of impact on the majority of the fandom. But then The Winter Soldier happened, and while he still didn't get a whole lot in terms of screentime even as the titular Winter Soldier, with his cool design, being a badass, some old-fashioned Woobifying, more exploration of his friendship with Cap and an overall fantastic performance from Sebastian Stan, Bucky quickly became one of the most popular characters in the MCU, giving even Loki a run for his money.
  • Christine Everhart for her appearance in the YouTube exclusive WHIH World News. Even if a lot of that falls into the Love to Hate camp.
  • The moment Frank Castle was announced for Daredevil (2015) season 2, everyone knew he was destined to become one of these. The MCU's version of the Punisher has been widely heralded as by far the best adaptation he's ever had, and was popular enough that the plan for the Netflix shows was expanded to give him his own series (with discussions actually beginning a couple months before Daredevil Season 2 was released, because people were just that excited by Jon Bernthal's casting alone).
  • Ghost Rider follows in the pattern of characters who previously got disappointing film adaptations having far more success within the MCU. The decision to make him the Robert Reyes incarnation rather than the better known Johnny Blaze adds some much-appreciated diversity among the superheroes, and the Visual Effects of Awesome that are pulled off on a TV budget are jaw-dropping.
  • Betty Ross, despite only appearing in The Incredible Hulk (mainly due to a rights issue) and thus being largely ignored by fans at first, has become tremendously beloved overtime, mostly due to being the Nice Girl, the performance of Liv Tyler and her relationship with Bruce (particularly for those who dislike Bruce/Natasha), with fans hoping she'll be able to return to the MCU. More then a few Clintasha fans joined them after Avengers: Age of Ultron.
  • Adrian Toomes, aka The Vulture, was quickly hailed as a big step forward in the franchise's often dull and cardboard villains, having very relatable motives for his actions and even a good amount of sympathy for his adversary Spider-Man, which also doesn't diminish his menace and threat level in the slightest. And it seems the filmmakers knew full well they had something special here, as he's a rare subversion of Superhero Movie Villains Die and possibly even poised to make a Heel–Face Turn.
  • Erik "Killmonger" Stevens has made such a massive impression upon the fans that he is hailed as one of the most interesting villains in the MCU, being a character with deep characterization, relatable motives for his actions and impeccable sense of style who touches upon a serious subject of oppression of African and African-American people. He succumbs to the rule that Superhero Movie Villains Die, but his actions leave a huge impact upon Wakanda, and some fans still hope he'll be able to come back in the future.
  • Though she's more of a Base-Breaking Character, Darcy Lewis only appeared in the first two Thor films, yet due to a number of factors (including the fact that she managed to tase a depowered Thor into submission) she's now become one of the more popular characters in the MCU and a massive Launcher of a Thousand Ships.
  • Despite being barely featured in Thor: Ragnarok's prerelease advertising, Rock Monster Korg quickly became one of the film's most popular characters, thanks to his plethora of goofy lines delivered in a comically soft-spoken Kiwi accent.
  • The Black Order from Avengers: Infinity War are very popular with fans, despite dying in their debut movie. Ebony Maw in particular is especially popular.
  • A rare example of a pairing becoming an Ensemble Dark Horse. Despite the actors casting doubt that it will become canon and Karen being in a relationship with Matt, Frank Castle and Karen Page is a tremendously beloved ship in the MCU fandom. This is thanks in part due to their honesty with each other, the chemistry between Jon Bernthal and Deborah Ann Woll and Karen being one of the few people Frank is close to. It only got more popular with her appearences on The Punisher.
  • Luis, Dave and Kurt (Scott Lang’s friends) from the Ant-Man movies are extremely well-liked for being genuinely funny and sticking by Scott through thick and thin. Luis in particular is the most beloved, thanks to Michael Peña’s hilarious performance.
  • Everybody loves Cassie Lang for her being an adorable Nightmare Fetishist and for her possible future as Stature.
  • Sonny Burch is a popular minor bad guy played by frequent Ensemble Dark Horse actor Walton Goggins.
  • Ghost proved to be a massive hit with audiences thanks to her sympathetic backstory, unique set of powers and he costume. Everyone was thrilled that she not only averts the Superhero Movie Villains Always Die trope but her possible redemption is hinted at.

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