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Original Characters That Were Invented For The MCU

Marvel has been around since 1939, but while they had Captain America fighting Nazis during World War II, Marvel didn't become the company as we know it until the 1960s. This was the era defined by the works of Stan Lee, Steve Ditko, and countless other writers and artists who brought the likes of Spider-Man, Iron Man, and the X-Men to life. Since then, Marvel has moved from the comics to the film industry, and it goes without saying that the MCU is the biggest thing around. And it makes sense why, as the company has decades of stories and characters to pull from when telling entertaining tales on the big screen.

However, that doesn't mean Marvel Studios is confined to those characters. In fact, there have been plenty of instances where movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe needed to create a brand new character in order to move a particular story along. Some of these have become fan favorites. Others have fallen to the wayside in recent films. But they all made their mark in one way or the other. From A.I. programs to secret agents, these are the original characters who were invented for the MCU.

The MCU totally reinvented J.A.R.V.I.S.

Yes, Tony Stark had a butler named Jarvis in the comic books. But the MCU retooled him so significantly that he practically became an entirely new character in his own right. Debuting in 2008's Iron Man, J.A.R.V.I.S. (Just a Rather Very Intelligent System) is Tony Stark's greatest tool and friend at the time. In his first appearance, he's an artificial intelligence that's pretty much there to give Tony someone to talk to as he's designing to Iron Man armor. But as the MCU continues, his role only becomes more prominent, as he helps Stark out in Iron Man 2, The Avengers, and Iron Man 3.

Sadly, in Avengers: Age of Ultron, the titular villain attacks J.A.R.V.I.S., but Tony is able to bring back his friend in a rather unusual way. With the help of a vibranium body and an Infinity StoneTony gives the A.I. program new life in the form of Vision. Fortunately, J.A.R.V.I.S. was already voiced by Paul Bettany, so it was simply a matter of giving Bettany an actual on-screen appearance. Tony then selected F.R.I.D.A.Y. to be his new A.I. system, and while she's great and all, we still kinda miss hearing Bettany's voice inside the Iron Man suit.

Erik Selvig became a friend to Thor

Erik Selvig had a crucial role to play in the MCU's Phase 1. He was first introduced in 2010's Thor as a brilliant astrophysics professor. He was an expert on worm holes and cosmic power, so it only made sense that S.H.I.E.L.D. would want to tap into his intellect the unlock the powers of the Tesseract. He was also pretty important in The Avengers, and while he was initially under Loki's mind control, he snapped out of it just long enough to help the heroes save the day.

On top of all that, he helped the god of thunder defeat the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World, and he helped his Asgardian buddy see the future in Avengers: Age of Ultron. However, his presence in the MCU has somewhat diminished in recent years, which makes sense considering the likes of Doctor Strange are now around to explain all of that timey-wimey stuff. Still, his importance in those early years can't be understated. He was often a voice of reason when things got crazy and out-of-control for everyone else. But believe it or not, Selvig never appeared in the comics before his MCU debut. We're not exactly sure how Thor got along so well without him.

Luis has provided the MCU with comic relief

Luis is Scott Lang's best friend in Ant-Man and Ant-Man and the Wasp. The two of them go way back, even being former cellmates back in the day. And when things start getting superhero-level crazy, he's still there for his buddy and even plays an integral role in helping Scott steal the Ant-Man suit. But above all else, the reason everyone loves Luis is because he's so darn funny.

Michael Peña fits the role perfectly, and he became particularly well-known for his ability to recap everything in hilarious fashion while taking a few detours along the way. In fact, that bit became so popular that a group of Avengers fans wanted Marvel to film a short segment of Luis recapping everything that happened in the MCU up until that point right before Avengers: Endgame. Sadly, that dream never came to be, but it just goes to show that everyone loves Luis.

Fortunately for fans of Luis, you can see more of him in the comic books, albeit ones published after Ant-Man hit theaters. You just can't keep a good character locked down to a few movies when he's this popular. He made his first appearance in the comics in 2015 in Astonishing Ant-Man #1. Who knows? Maybe he'll get superpowers of his own in the comics.

Harley Keener was an original character invented for Iron Man 3

When you have Shane Black directing your movie, you can be pretty certain a precocious kid is going to show up. Iron Man 3 continued this trend for the director, and fans really took a shine to Harley Keener. In the film, Iron Man's suit breaks down in the middle of nowhere, so the superhero breaks into a family's garage to recharge his armor, and that's where he meets young Harley. As it turns out, Harley is a fanboy in every sense of the word, and he's thrilled to meet his hero ... even if Tony doesn't always show the same level of enthusiasm.

It wouldn't be Harley's last appearance in the MCU, either. He makes an appearance at the very end of Avengers: Endgame in a nicely placed Easter egg, showing up at Tony Stark's funeral. After all, the dude totally deserves to be there, as he did a pretty good job of helping Iron Man get his mojo back.

Trevor Slattery seriously divided fans

Fans were ecstatic when it was announced the Mandarin was going to be the villain in Iron Man 3. With the announcement that such an iconic bad guy was going to be portrayed by Ben Kingsley, fans had reason to get their hopes up. And then something ... uh ... interesting happened. 

It turns out the Mandarin wasn't really the Mandarin after all. The big twist is that the villain we know as the Mandarin is actually just an actor named Trevor Slattery. It turns out that psycho inventor Aldrich Killian was pulling the strings all along and just using this character as a front, and Trevor had been oblivious to Killian's actions all along. 

It was a bold choice to say the least, especially considering this was the first movie coming off the immense success of The Avengers in 2012. But don't think the Mandarin's role in the MCU is over. Kevin Feige has confirmed that the real Mandarin is going to show up in the MCU very soon, with an appearance in Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings. However, we're not exactly sure what happened to Slattery. We know this MCU bad guy is alive somewhere, and hopefully the drunken, old actor will return one day.

Melinda May became the Cavalry

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. saw Phil Coulson come back to life, but the show also introduced a brand new character who would go on to become beloved by fans. Melinda May is an absolute force to be reckoned with in the seriesShe's a weapons expert who earned herself the nickname "the Cavalry" thanks to her participation in many important battles in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s history. She may not have superpowers, but she can beat up as many bad guys as anyone on the Avengers. 

Melinda May is one of the most complex characters in the series. Her allegiances change as often as Iron Man's armor, as at one point she's leading the team and then the next she defects to take control of an entirely different agency. However, one thing remains constant. She's always looking out for her friend, Phil Coulson. With such an engaging backstory, it only makes sense that Melinda would eventually make her way into the comics. She's one of the most dangerous agents around, and even when the show is over, we wouldn't be surprised to see Melinda pop up elsewhere in this universe.

Darcy Lewis showed up in the MCU just for school credit

Jane Foster is well-known in comic book lore. But in Thor, she has a couple of original companions in the form of Erik Selvig and Darcy Lewis. While Erik is an expert at astrophysics, Darcy is just an intern. She's actually a political science student who was the only applicant for the job, which turned out to be one of the best things she could've done as she got to meet a real-life Asgardian. Sure, she ended up tasering Thor when they first met, but it's all water under the Bifrost Bridge at this point.

She would appear again in Thor: The Dark World, this time playing a more active role and helping Thor in his battle against Malekith and the Dark Elves. It's unclear if she'll return to the MCU one day, especially seeing how Thor: Ragnarok effectively rebooted the franchise. But since Jane Foster will return in Thor: Love and Thunder, it may not be outside the realm of possibility to see Darcy return as well. 

Senator Stern is a thorn in several heroes' sides

Senator Stern makes his grand MCU debut in Iron Man 2. His goal in this first appearance is to make Tony Stark surrender his Iron Man armor to the United States government. While he may think of himself as a significant threat to Iron Man, he's mostly played off as a joke, as evidenced by the fact that Jon Favreau named the character after radio personality Howard Stern

He shows up again in Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and this time, it's revealed that he's actually working as an operative of HYDRA. Naturally, Captain America brings down HYDRA and stops their evil plan, sending Stern to prison in the process. Sadly, Garry Shandling, the actor who played Stern, passed away in 2016, so it seems as though this character will be retired from future Marvel properties. Still, we have a handful of performances to remember the great Shandling from in the MCU, and that's more than enough.

President Matthew Ellis served his country and the MCU

It gets a little tricky trying to decipher the timeline of who precisely is president of the United States in the MCU at what time. After all, Barack Obama was name-dropped on Luke Cage, so was he president in the MCU at some point? The only executive confirmation we have is that the fictional and cinematically original Matthew Ellis was definitely president around 2013 because he's the one Tony Stark has to save in Iron Man 3

It isn't just Iron Man who saves the president's life, either. Matthew Ellis is targeted by HYDRA as part of Project Insight during The Winter Soldier, but luckily, Captain America is there to save the day. He's been absent from the movies ever since, but he's popped up on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. here and there. It's thanks to Ellis that S.H.I.E.L.D. regained some credibility and was able to continue functioning as a special-ops unit. He also becomes a major proponent of the Sokovia Accords to keep superheroes in check.

Raina is an original character who makes trouble for S.H.I.E.L.D.

Raina is one of the few superpowered individuals unique to the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Although she's an Inhuman scientist, she looks perfectly normal during the beginning of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. During this time, she conducts various nefarious experiments on behalf of HYDRA, often manipulating people to agree to be altered into super soldiers. 

She becomes even more of a threat when she gets a hold of a Diviner. After she unlocks the Terrigen Crystals located within the device, she's able to begin her Inhuman transformation, turning her into a monstrous-looking creature. This transformation also gives her the ability to have visions of the future. She's a manipulative individual who makes trouble for S.H.I.E.L.D. for many years. Fans really took an interest in the character, which is why it makes sense she would later pop up in the video game Marvel: Future Fight

Gideon Malick is a shadowy figure invented for the MCU

While fans of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. may be well-acquainted with Gideon Malick, he actually got his start in the MCU in the movies. More specifically, he appears in The Avengers, but he's only credited as "World Security Council." However, we finally got a proper name for the shadowy character when he appeared on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. It was here we learned that he was actually a member of HYDRA who infiltrated the World Security Council, but he later defected when the evil organization went bust. 

From there, he became one of President Matthew Ellis's advisors. He played an instrumental role in developing the Advanced Threat Containment Unit and steered the agency to collect Inhumans and create Hive's army. He only appeared in 11 episodes on the series, but he made quite the impact during his relatively short tenure, as he switched allegiances just one more time to help S.H.I.E.L.D. take down HYDRA once and for all.

Phil Coulson was an original character who helped create the Avengers

The Marvel Cinematic Universe just wouldn't have been the same if Phil Coulson wasn't in it, but believe it or not, this stalwart of S.H.I.E.L.D. wasn't a comic book creation. Instead, he was invented for the film. Even more remarkably, the most famous original character in the MCU isn't a new superhero. He's just an average guy who's stoked to show Captain America his card collection. He may have bitten the dust in The Avengers, but after becoming a fan-favorite character, he didn't stay dead for long. 

Phil Coulson would go on to lead his own task force in the television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. His team faces unique challenges within this world of superheroes, and he's gone through quite the journey unbeknownst to the Avengers, including being possessed by the Spirit of Vengeance (aka Ghost Rider) in season fourIt's incredible to see how far a bit character in Iron Man has come. He's certainly proven himself to be a hero in his own right and has more than earned a spot in the pantheon of heroes next to Tony Stark.