Top 10 Greatest MCU Redemption Arcs



Top 10 Greatest MCU Redemption Arcs

VOICE OVER: Peter DeGiglio WRITTEN BY: Matt Klem
No story is complete without a satisfying character arc. For this list, we'll be looking at characters that underwent a major character transformation during their time in the universe. Our countdown includes Stephen Strange, Tony Stark, Thor, and more!

Top 10 MCU Redemption Arcs

Welcome to WatchMojo, and today we’re counting down our picks for the Top 10 MCU Redemption Arcs.

For this list, we’ll be looking at characters that underwent a major character transformation during their time in the universe. We’ll be including both the MCU films and Disney+ shows.

Think we missed a great redemption story? Let us know in the comments.

#10: Captain Marvel

When we first meet Captain Marvel, she’s a Kree warrior who’s been indoctrinated into their society. She’s fully committed to the war on the Skrulls and wants to prove herself as a noble warrior. However, through her misadventures with Nick Fury, she uncovers the truth about her origins. This also leads to a major revelation about the true nature of the Kree and her mentor Yon Rogg. Carol’s journey from Kree warrior to Skrull defender isn’t as long as some of the others on this list, but is still an important one. Her choice to become a hero would eventually help the Avengers defeat Thanos.

#9: Stephen Strange

At the start of his character arc, Stephen Strange is an arrogant surgeon who’s overly sure of himself and his gifts. But after a car accident damages his hands, his surgical career is left in ruins. Strange eventually seeks a mystical solution to heal himself. For a man who thought he knew everything, his introduction to the mystic arts was truly an eye opening experience. It’s from here that his journey from surgeon to sorcerer truly begins. Between “Doctor Strange” and “Infinity War”, Strange learns to put his ego-centric nature aside in favor of the greater good. Nothing showcases this more than his willingness to part with his treasured time stone.

#8: Nebula

This fierce warrior begins her journey filled with rage. She’s angry at her adoptive father for his mistreatment, and resents her sister for not being there for her. All that fury becomes the driving force behind her desire to take them both down. Even when Nebula reconciles with Gamora, she doesn’t instantly transform from villain to hero. Instead, we see the deep cuts of her life finally surfacing and allowing her to start the process of healing. When you compare the current Nebula to her past self in “Endgame”, there’s an incredibly huge difference. This new version of the character is much more than just rage and pain.

#7: Rocket Racoon

One of the main themes of the “Guardians of the Galaxy” films is that each member of the team has a checkered past. Within the MCU, we haven’t learned much about Rocket’s history outside of the fact that he was experimented on. This made him a bitter criminal who’s primarily worried about himself. So, watching him go from trying to capture Star-Lord for a bounty to helping Quill and others save lives was deeply satisfying. Joining the Guardians ultimately brings Rocket to a place he’s purposely avoided: family. Every film after the first “Guardians” has shown that working on the team changed him - for the better.

#6: Thor

The God of Thunder has seen his fair share of ups and downs over the course of the MCU, both as a warrior and as a leader. Odin’s son was once cocky, aggressive, and unfit to lead. But after Odin took away his powers, he learnt a valuable lesson, and through self-sacrifice, became worthy once again. His arc was far from over however. Since Thor was next in line for the throne, he felt obligated to step into the position when his father passed. But after defeating Thanos, he had grown enough to let the idea of being a ruler go - letting Valkyrie take on the mantle instead and setting out to find his true purpose.

#5: Scarlet Witch

Wanda Maximoff’s journey is one that’s gone back and forth from redemption several times. In “Avengers: Age of Ultron”, her grudge against Tony Stark led her to team up with Ultron to fight against the Avengers. But after learning of the robot’s evil intentions, she switched sides to help save lives. She was put through the ringer again however in “Infinity War”, losing Vision to Thanos. This sent her down a dark path, revealed in “WandaVision”, where she enslaved an entire town in order to cope with her grief. Fortunately, she was able to grapple with her demons and come back from the dark side again.

#4: Skurge

Karl Urban’s Skurge flaunted his role of guardian of the bifrost, clearly letting the position go to his head. However, he goes from guardian to executioner when the insanely powerful Hela arrives. In an act of self-preservation, he throws his lot in with her and helps her conquer Asgard. Yet each time we see him, his face is that of someone who knows they’ve chosen the wrong path. It seems at first that there’s no line he won’t cross; but his better nature finally wins out when he jumps off a rescue ship to protect the escaping Asgardians. He loses his life to Hela, but dies a noble warrior rather than a villainous henchman.

#3: Bucky Barnes [aka The Winter Soldier]

When the Russo brothers gave us “Captain America: The Winter Soldier”, they blew the doors open on one of the most gut-wrenching road to recovery stories the MCU would portray. In the film, it’s revealed that Bucky was brainwashed by Hydra and forced into the life of an assassin. He eliminated target after target as a pawn in someone else’s game. After Bucky breaks away from Hydra, his struggle to deal with his history continually plagues him during his MCU journey. How can make up for the lives he’s taken? Thankfully, by the end of the “Falcon and the Winter Soldier” series, Bucky seemingly makes peace with his own history.

#2: Tony Stark

The path from Tony’s basement lab to a snap of his fingers in a field of rubble is one of a reluctant hero. It always felt like Tony’s biggest interest was Tony himself. Even Steve Rogers called him out on it. [b-roll:”You’re not the guy to make the sacrifice play. To lay down on the wire and let the other guy crawl over you.”] But at the end “The Avengers”, Tony found the strength to look beyond his needs and put himself on the line to save New York. His journey of caring for others more than himself continued. He served as a mentor for Peter Parker, married Pepper and became a father. And Tony knowingly sacrifices his life to save them all. When he snaps the infinity gauntlet to stop Thanos and his army, Tony completes his journey from self-serving playboy, to a true, unforgettable hero.

Before we unveil our top pick, here’s an honorable mention.

Ava Starr’s Fight for Survival Initially Pits Her Against the Good Guys

#1: Loki

Asgard’s God of Mischief was unsurprisingly a mix of both good and bad that was always at odds with his brother Thor. From sending the Destroyer to slay his sibling, to working for Thanos to try to conquer Earth, Loki has certainly had his moments as a villain. But this fan-favorite was always a character destined for redemption. Loki had several attempts at redeeming himself to both Thor and the audience. He pretended to sacrifice himself to great effect in “Thor: Dark World”, and went on to help save citizens of Asgard from Hela. Loki’s growth is clear when he stands up to Thanos in “Infinity War”, even when it means his death.