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The Best New MCU Characters Of 2022

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has evolved a lot over the last few years. After an epic conclusion to Phase 3 way back in 2019, 2020 kicked off not with a bang but with a whimper. Pandemic complications pushed many projects out, and there wasn't a new MCU installment until "WandaVision" reignited the momentum early in 2021. From there, the new combo of Disney+ series and feature films took the MCU from zero to 60, and we've stayed in top gear ever since.

This breakneck speed has led to a fantastic 2022, complete with three tentpole films (remember back when that felt like a lot of Marvel for one year?): "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness," "Thor: Love and Thunder," and "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever." Disney+ added a trio of additional shows in the form of "Moon Knight," "Ms. Marvel," and "She-Hulk: Attorney at Law." And that doesn't even include one-off events like the Halloween spooktacular "Werewolf By Night" or the year-ending "Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special."

This climactic run brings Phase 4 to an epic conclusion, and the stage has been set for Phase 5 to take things to all new heights. The plethora of fresh content has also introduced a significant number of new faces to a universe that is already awash with larger-than-life personalities. Let's recap the year with a quick rundown of some of the best new MCU characters — many of whom we can look forward to seeing again in the future.

Namor is an antagonist we can't wait to see again

"Wakanda Forever" perfectly served as a climactic conclusion to the MCU's Phase 4, with so many protagonists it feels like a crossover all on its own. Most of the characters are holdovers from the first installment of the franchise, but the introduction of Talokan also means we were introduced to several exciting new personalities — starting with the aqueous kingdom's leader, Namor. The superpowered ruler has a sweet set of skills and even officially bills himself as a mutant, which is exciting, considering the future of a new class of heroes in the already massive MCU.

Mutant potential aside, Namor's role as leader of the vibranium-infused underwater Mayan culture of Talokan is instantly memorable. It's apparent from the moment he arrives on screen, hurling helicopters and paying surprise visits to the royal family of Wakanda as they grieve the loss of their late king. The passion that actor Tenoch Huerta brings to the role of the Sub-Mariner is immediately mesmerizing. It'll be exciting to see where he takes the character next as the kingdoms of Talokan and Wakanda head into Phase 5 with an uneasy partnership and clearly differing goals and worldviews.

Ms. Marvel brings a relatable angle to the MCU

The MCU is a lot of things. It's fun. It's exciting. It's melodramatic. One thing it isn't, though, is relatable — at least, it wasn't until Kamala Khan showed up. The spunky Pakistani American teenager is an Avenger superfan of epic proportions. In fact, it's in the pursuit of her superhero fandom that she accidentally stumbles into her role as Ms. Marvel.

Kamala's relatable nature is a fun and refreshing change of pace for the MCU. It provides an accessible "window" to help viewers peep into the imposing fantasy world and connect with the larger experience. And yet, we're not just talking about a "breaking the fourth wall" kind of character. (Don't worry, there's some of that on this list, too.) Kamala stands at a unique crossroads of perspectives, with the young girl in Jersey City shown adoring her in-world heroes ... and then becoming one herself.

Khan's path into the MCU is unique. As with Namor, the fact that Kamala Khan is also a mutant bodes well for the future of the cinematic universe as far as the X-Men are concerned. The youthful hero is clearly facilitating the establishment of mutants in the MCU through her very existence. Don't forget that we'll be able to see her team up with Carol Danvers and Monica Rambeau as she continues to use her Noor Dimension energy constructs and trademark elasticity when "The Marvels" arrives. Put it all together, and things are only going to get that much better as we move forward.

She-Hulk is a transformational character ... and doesn't even care

One of the more off-beat MCU introductions of 2022 is Bruce Banner's cousin Jennifer Sue Walters, the star of a Disney+ series that turned out eclectic and unpredictable. It sets up both the character and her superhero alter-ego, She-Hulk, to play an interesting role in future MCU projects. Throughout the course of the season, we see Walters become a Hulk and bond (kind of) with her cousin. She rubs shoulders with well-established Marvelites like Wong, Abomination, and Daredevil while taking on villains like Titania, both in person and online.

And throughout all of the proceedings, the hero remains firmly disinterested in the superhero life. She regularly criticizes the expectations that superpowers automatically put on her. She breaks the fourth wall consistently (setting the stage for Deadpool's arrival, perhaps?), engaging with the audience, commenting on what's going on around her, and quibbling over creative decisions. She even stumbles on a behind-the-scenes mastermind in the form of K.E.V.I.N. (more on that AI entity elsewhere), exposing the oft-ridiculous nature of the MCU at its core. And we love it. Walters may not be your traditional Marvel superhero, but her charismatic yet aloof approach to hero work is something we're more than ready to watch play out in future seasons and crossovers.

K.E.V.I.N. reveals all

Breaking the fourth wall is fun. It provides little moments of humor and connection between the audience and the characters on screen. There are times, though, when the out-of-story awareness is taken to all new levels — as with the Knowledge Enhanced Visual Interconnectivity Nexus (aka "K.E.V.I.N."), the superpowered AI character introduced at the very end of She-Hulk's first season. 

The character is a machine that Jen Walters discovers after fighting her way right out of her own show's finale and wandering through Marvel's writers' room and production studio. K.E.V.I.N. is revealed to be the mastermind software that ties everything in the MCU together, and the entity that's been trying to over-saturate Walter's finale with unnecessary distractions, plot twists, and action sequences. The robot and the hero have a very enlightening conversation that includes story writing faux pas, MCU clichés, and future introductions before Walters convinces the AI being to make adjustments to her story.

By the time the scene ends, it seems unlikely that K.E.V.I.N. will ever be seen on the screen again. Nevertheless, the brief time we get with the cheeky take on mastermind Kevin Feige's role in the larger Marvel movie world is thoroughly enjoyable. It certainly goes down as one of the better character reveals in all of 2022.

Cosmo gets involved with the Guardians of the Galaxy

This next one is a bit of a stretch as far as "new" characters go. Cosmo is a canine who has technically had a couple of very brief appearances in the MCU already (in the first two "Guardians of the Galaxy" flicks). However, it isn't until the Guardians' holiday special that the communist space pup really gets some significant screen time — and not just as an Easter egg. After multiple appearances as a prisoner of the Collector, we finally meet Cosmo enjoying some newfound freedom as she works with Rocket to fix up the gang's newly acquired home base of Knowhere — in exchange for treats, of course. We also see her get into the festive spirit as she hunts down an Orloni rodent as a gift and decorates Groot as a Christmas tree.

The thing that really makes Cosmo exciting as a new character, though, is the potential here. Now that she's out of captivity and part of the team, there's a lot of room to see the superpowered pooch get more involved. We got a brief glimpse of her psionic abilities through her telekinesis and her dog collar-translated telepathic conversations, but that was just a taste. We want more!

Kevin Bacon enters the MCU

Kevin Bacon is a film icon. In fact, the Hollywood star shines so brightly that he's even talked about on other planets. For instance, there was that one time that this guy named Peter Quill taught aliens about Kevin Bacon's incredible heroics as he inspired an entire city of people to let loose and dance. Quill's unhealthy level of respect and adoration for Bacon is so high, in fact, that it led to the introduction of the actor himself (as himself) in the MCU in 2022.

"The Guardians of the Galaxy Holiday Special" revolves around Mantis and Drax's attempt to cheer Quill up by celebrating the strange human tradition of Christmas with him. This leads them to Earth, where they kidnap Bacon and bring him to their leader as a present. Bacon's willingness to play along with the fun is admirable, and the results are genuinely entertaining. From mind-controlled glee to pure abject horror, Bacon's emotions run the gamut over the course of his brief MCU tenure. While we probably won't see him again, there's no doubt that the actor's inclusion is one of the best new additions to the MCU all year, and one that we'll be revisiting each December for a long time to come.

Attuma puts Talokanil potential on full display

Namor is a fiery new mutant who entered the MCU in 2022. He represents the vibranium-powered undersea kingdom of Talokan, but he isn't actually a fair sampling of his people because, well, they don't all have the winged feet, superhuman speed, regenerative capabilities — you know, all the fun stuff that can come with mutant genetics. A more fair assessment of the peak of Talokan prowess can be seen in Attuma.

The original comic character Attuma is a warlord who shares a sketchy history with Namor. In "Wakanda Forever," he's one of the Sub-Mariner's trusted advisors. Don't be lulled by the apparent subjection to authority, though — the MCU's version of Attuma gives us about as doughty a warrior as the seas can produce. His fight with Okoye on the bridge is epic, visceral, and filled with violent respect. The warrior has used his first appearance on screen to make his presence known. Now we want to see more of his involvement as Namor and the Talokans find their place in the larger and expanding universe.

Moon Knight is cool, and so is Marc Spector, and so is Steven Grant... and Jake Lockley

This next one is a four-for-one addition that immediately added some darker tones to the MCU through the multiple personalities connected to the edgy hero Moon Knight. Over the course this Disney+ series, we get to know former U.S. marine and mercenary Marc Spector. Spector suffers from a dissociative identity disorder that leads to the creation of two alter egos: museum employee extraordinaire Steven Grant and the cold and calculated Jake Lockley (who is around but out of sight early on, and then briefly introduced at the very end of "Moon Knight").

All three of these entities become entangled with the Egyptian Moon God Khonshu after the latter saves Spector's life. This leads to a complicated, fascinating, and downright entertaining story, which is brought even further to life by the impressive performance of the immensely talented Oscar Isaac. Spector gains a lot of ground with his deeper issues by the end of Season 1. And yet, his persistent personalities fully remain in play — as does his secret vigilante life as Moon Knight — making this a top character (or set of characters?) to watch as we move into 2023 and beyond.

Scarlet Scarab steals the show

The psychological mess that is Moon Knight may be a fascinating jumble of personalities all on their own, but they aren't the only thing that stood out in the Disney+ series. Marc Spector's wife, Layla Abdallah El-Faouly, is also a fearless hero in her own right. The archaeologist shows her steel at multiple points throughout the show, first by tracking down her husband and figuring out the mental and spiritual debacle that he's trying to sort out.

Once she discovers the threat of Harrow and the potential unleashing of Ammit, Layla doesn't hesitate to get involved, even in her mortal form. Fortunately, the situation quickly changes for the better when she agrees to become Tawaret's Avatar, transforming her into the Scarlet Scarab. This divine empowerment gives Layla all of the superpowers she could ask for and makes her a critical part of the season finale. More importantly, it sets her up as a key player moving forward. With her husband still unstable and working with the equally erratic Khonshu, Kayla's relationship with Marc and her powers as the Scarlet Scarab could keep her heavily involved moving forward. Here's hoping that's the case.

America Chavez is breaking barriers, literally

2019 opened the door for the multiverse through the complicated timeline shenanigans of "Avengers: Endgame." After that, MCU events like "Loki," "Spider-Man: No Way Home," and "What If...?" expanded on the concept, bringing multiple heroes and villains from different universes into the larger MCU story. It wasn't until 2022, though, that the multiverse took center stage in the form of "Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness." This sequel embraces the multiverse in all of its, well, madness, pulling in characters from Fox's X-Men universe, the animated "What If...?" series, and even more than one iteration of Strange himself.

One new character who stood out, even in the midst of all the high-concept hijinks, was America Chavez. The terrified teenager develops a significant connection with Strange throughout the film, revealing both her backstory and her powers in the process. Tragically torn from a utopian paradise, America spends her life on the run via her singular ability to travel across the multiverse. At first, her star-shaped portals appear when she becomes afraid. By the end of her first movie, though, she can open doors and walk from one universe to another at will. This power alone makes America Chavez a fascinating character, but the raw potential and youth of her MCU iteration (combined with the fact that she's studying in Kamar-Taj now) make her future involvement in Marvel projects something to bookmark.

Gorr butchers the mood in the best way possible

The solo "Thor" movies started off fun with Kenneth Branagh's 2011 original, got a bit grim during "The Dark World," and then resumed their hilarious trajectory in "Ragnarok." This was thanks in large part to the creative vision of director Taika Waititi, who stayed on to take the fourth film, "Thor: Love and Thunder" to all new levels of colorful goofiness. While fun, though, the lighthearted nature of the fourth Thor movie made Christian Bale's job of portraying Gorr the God butcher that much more challenging, since there's virtually nothing funny about the dude.

In the MCU version, the thoroughly human-looking Gorr loses his family before being possessed by the Necrosword and going on a god-killing spree. This leads to a disturbing string of attacks across the galaxy and launches Thor, Jane Foster (aka the newly-minted "Mighty Thor"), and Valkyrie on a mission to stop him. Gorr is one of the more compelling characters in Marvel comic history, and his relatable backstory makes him compelling as all get out. While the Necrosword "possession" does take away a bit of the character's agency, Bale still brings a five-star performance that makes his eventual death and unlikely return tragic. At least there's still his daughter, Love. Hopefully we can look forward to seeing her bring the thunder alongside her Asgardian guardian in the future.