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Marvel Legacy Heroes We've Seen In The MCU Ranked Worst To Best

The best superheroes don't just save lives — they inspire others to be better versions of themselves. In a few instances, this can actually mean inspiring a person to take up the hero's mantle when the original champions can no longer fulfill their duties and continue their mission. In a best-case scenario, the successors become great heroes themselves who enrich the legacy that came before them, and may end up passing the hero mantle on to a new generation when their time is up.

But there's a dark side to all this. Sometimes the person charged with being the superhero's successor isn't up for the challenge. Sometimes their actions — however well-intentioned — can stain that hero's name and reputation irrevocably.

In the Marvel Cinematic Universe, we've already seen several new heroes continue the legacies of their predecessors, with varying degrees of success. From a troubled soldier to a good-hearted counselor, here are the legacy heroes of the MCU ranked from worst to best.

John Walker/Captain America

Audiences were shocked when Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) chose to travel back to the 1940s in the final moments of "Avengers: Endgame" (2019) to be with his soulmate Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). Too old to continue as Captain America when he made it back to the 21st century, Steve passed his shield and mantle on to his friend and partner Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie).

Only Sam didn't think he was worthy of the shield. Instead, he chose to retire it in the first episode of "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and continue serving as the superhero Falcon. This gave the U.S. military an opening to create their own Captain America in John Walker (Wyatt Russell), a highly-decorated soldier who served as a Captain of the U.S. Army's 75th Rangers Regiment.

The problem was, John wasn't the right person to carry the shield. Already suffering from PTSD thanks to some morally-questionable missions, John developed a massive inferiority complex when he found he couldn't measure up to super-powered opponents. This led him to inject himself with a Super Soldier Serum that amplified his strength and aggression to dangerous levels. John ended up bludgeoning a terrorist to death with the iconic shield in front of the world, forever tarnishing a cherished symbol of liberty.

Sharon Carter/Agent 13/The Power Broker

During World War II, Agent Peggy Carter worked hard to distinguish herself in the Strategic Scientific Reserve at a time when women were usually relegated to the secretarial pool. Later, she helped found S.H.I.E.L.D with Howard Stark, and played many pivotal roles in a period without many superheroes.

Agent Carter's actions greatly inspired her niece Sharon (Emily VanCamp), who joined S.H.I.E.L.D and became "Agent 13." Shortly after her aunt's death, Sharon went rogue to help Cap and other Avengers during "Captain America: Civil War" (2016), an act that disgraced her in the eyes of her government and forced her to go into hiding.

Things went south for Sharon after that. She settled in the lawless island of Madripoor and became the "Power Broker," a faceless crime lord who empowered criminals and terrorists. Although many fans hoped Sharon was just working undercover, by the end of "Captain America and the Winter Soldier," Sharon was reinstated into S.H.I.E.L.D and chose to use her old connections to supply her Power Broker clients with new weapons and tech. Could she still secretly be one of the good guys? Perhaps, but it's not looking good.

Yelena Belova/Black Widow

For many MCU fans, Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) was the heart and soul of the Avengers. A former Russian spy and assassin forged in "The Red Room," Natasha chose to use her unique skill set to defect from her masters and help others. Although not as physically powerful as her other teammates, the Black Widow more than held her own and proved a pivotal player on the battlefield.

Sadly, Natasha died in "Avengers: Endgame," when she sacrificed her life to retrieve the Soul Stone and bring half the universe back from the dead. Her selfless act easily wiped out all the "red from her ledger" ... but a new Black Widow may not be as noble.

In "Black Widow" (2021), we learn Natasha isn't the only Black Widow. Over the years, the Red Room has trained hundreds of female spies and saboteurs, all dubbed "Widows." One of these includes Natasha's "sister" Yelena (Florence Pugh), a traumatized young woman just as deadly.

Although Yelena displays both courage and compassion in "Black Widow," she falls under the influence of Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (Julia Louis-Dreyfus) post-"Endgame." A manipulative woman who may be assembling her own team of "Dark Avengers," Val sets Yelena up against Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) claiming he's responsible for her sister's death. Will Yelena see through this deception and fight on the side of the angels like the original Black Widow? Only time will tell.

Hope Van Dyne/Wasp

The Cold War had its own unique hero in Hank Pym (Michael Douglas), the original Ant-Man. Using his "Pym Particles," Hank could grow or shrink to any size, and used his abilities to help S.H.I.E.L.D. stop many threats to the United States. He even built another size-changing suit for his wife Janet (Michelle Pfeiffer), who assisted him as "The Wasp."

Tragically, Janet was lost to the Quantum Realm, a submicroscopic universe, causing Hank to retire his superhero identity. Years later, a change of heart led him to reconnect with his estranged daughter Hope (Evangeline Lilly), and outfit her with an updated model of the suit, making her the new Wasp.

Although Hope has shown she can be a capable superhero, she just hasn't been around long enough in the MCU to establish herself. Moreover, her mother recently returned from the Quantum Realm in "Ant-Man and the Wasp" (2018), sporting amazing new healing and energy powers. While all the elements are there for Hope to eventually distinguish herself as her own version of the Wasp, at this point, it simply hasn't happened yet.

James Rhodes/War Machine

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) may have invented the Iron Man armor, but his friend James "Rhodey" Rhodes holds just as much claim to the Iron Man legacy. Played first by Terrence Howard and then by Don Cheadle, Rhodey initially donned the Mark II Iron Man armor to break up an out-of-control party at Stark's mansion. This made him come to blows with Stark, leading Rhodey to turn the armor over to the U.S. government, retrofitting it into his "War Machine" suit in "Iron Man 2" (2010).

Stark and Rhodey eventually made up, and Stark even upgraded the War Machine armor multiple times. Unfortunately, by "Captain America: Civil War," Rhodey's armor was damaged by the Vision (Paul Bettany) and he suffered a near-fatal fall that left him paralyzed. Still unwilling to abandon his superhero duties, Rhodey used special exo-suit leg braces to walk and continue on as War Machine.

While he may be seen as "Iron Man-light" by some people, War Machine is a powerful superhero with a distinguished service record as an officer in the United States Air Force. He may have had a few bad breaks, but this is one superhero who doesn't give up easily.

Baby/Teen Groot

Few people expected a talking tree with a very limited vocabulary to be the breakout star of the MCU, but that's what happened when audiences met Groot (Vin Diesel), a massive tree-man with a heart of gold in "Guardians of the Galaxy" (2014). Despite only being able to say, "I am Groot," Groot's ability to emote earned him many fans, who were crushed when he sacrificed himself to save his friends, letting them know, "We. Are. Groot."

Thankfully, that wasn't the end of Groot's story. A fragment of Groot's destroyed body regenerated into a new miniature Groot dubbed "Baby Groot." This Groot is his own separate being who formed different relationships with the Guardians and Rocket Raccoon (Bradley Cooper), whom he regards as his father. Unlike the mature Groot, this "tree-tot" displays a wide-eyed innocence that shifted into a surlier demeanor when he grew into the video-game-obsessed "Teen Groot."

Still, the new Groot shows he's just as willing to make big sacrifices as the original — as shown when he literally chops off his arm to provide a handle for the newly created Stormbreaker axe in "Avengers: Endgame," providing a dying Thor (Chris Hemsworth) with the energy to save his life. He may still be a bit foul-mouthed at this point, but at least he's growing in the right direction.

Wanda's Vision

Audiences wept along with Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen) when she was forced to destroy her soulmate Vision in "Avengers: Endgame" to keep the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) from using Vision's Mind Stone to destroy half the universe. They cried even harder when Thanos resurrected Vision with the Time Stone, just so he could rip the Mind Stone from his forehead and kill him again.

So, it came as a shock when Vision returned, alive and healthy, in the Disney+ series "WandaVision," living happily with Wanda in an alternate reality inspired by TV sitcoms. Over time, however, we learned this wasn't the original Vision, but a facsimile Wanda created to live the life she always wanted. As she puts it:

"You, Vision, are the piece of the Mind Stone that lives in me. You are a body of wires and blood and bone that I created. You are my sadness and my hope. But mostly, you're my love."

Although this Vision isn't an Avenger, he proves he's just as noble as the original when he defends Wanda against a resurrected amnesiac "White Vision" created by the government organization S.W.O.R.D. Using the thought experiment "The Ship of Theseus," to explain they are both the "real" Vision, Wanda's Vision restores the original's memories, giving him a chance at new life even as he sacrifices his own to liberate a town Wanda accidentally mind-controlled.

Doctor Strange

Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) may be the MCU's preeminent wizard, but he's only the latest in a long line of magic-users that have held the title "Sorcerer Supreme." In fact, it's very possible Strange hasn't taken up this mantle yet in the MCU, unlike his comic book counterpart. Although he's a gifted master of the mystic arts with the equivalent of possibly thousands of years of experience thanks to his use of the Time Stone, Strange admits he still has much to learn.

But when Doctor Strange does attain the level of Sorcerer Supreme, his importance to this reality will be considerable. As his former teacher the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) explained to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in "Avengers: Endgame," "Strange was meant to be the best of us." Given that the Ancient One has already glimpsed the many possibilities of Stephen Strange's life in "Doctor Strange" (2016), it's likely this student will someday surpass his master.

Scott Lang/Ant Man

At first, Scott Lang (Paul Rudd) seemed a like weird successor for the Ant-Man mantle. The original Ant-Man, Hank Pym, was a brilliant scientist who discovered the size-changing "Pym Particle," went on Cold War missions, and started his own company; Scott was a small-time burglar when we met him in "Ant-Man" (2015). Scott even realized that part of the reason Hank chose him to wear the Ant-Man suit was because he was "expendable."

But don't underestimate Scott Lang. Not only does this size-changing superhero have a degree in electrical engineering, he's also quick on his feet and great at improvising his way out of tough situations. Moreover, thanks to Pym's tutelage, Scott has familiarized himself with how much of the advanced Pym technology works, and even has a working knowledge of quantum physics thanks to his very up-close-and-familiar encounter with the Quantum Realm.

Still, Scott's greatest asset doesn't lie in his head but in his heart. Where other heroes may have donned a costume for fame or revenge, Scott became Ant-Man for the chance to be with his young daughter Cassie (Abby Ryder Fortson). Cassie motivates Scott to make the world a safer place for her generation — and he's gone to some pretty extreme lengths, including helping the Avengers reverse a universe-wide apocalypse, to accomplish this. It just goes to show you can never overlook the little guy.

Monica Rambeau

Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) may be the MCU's answer to DC's Superman, but Monica Rambeau (Teyonah Parris) may be even more heroic. First introduced as the young daughter of Carol Danvers' best friend Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), Monica (then played by Akira Akbar) displayed a willful attitude that inspired the fledgling Captain Marvel to engage in super heroics.

By the time "WandaVision" reached Disney+, Monica had grown into an adult who yearned to travel to the stars but stayed on Earth to investigate the fake sitcom world Wanda Maximoff manifested to deal with her trauma. Monica's compassion helped Wanda retain her humanity as repeated exposure to Wanda's magic imbued Monica with incredible energy-based powers. While the true extent of her abilities remains unknown, Monica is more than willing to use them to protect innocent people — as seen when she puts her own life in danger to shield Wanda's kids from a hail of bullets.

In the comics, Monica Rambeau becomes one of the successors to the Captain Marvel mantle and also goes by the names Photon, Pulsar, and Spectrum. With Monica Rambeau slated to appear in "The Marvels" (2022), there's every possibility that she will match — or even exceed — the bar set by MCU's first Captain Marvel.

King T'Challa/Black Panther

In both Marvel Comics and the MCU, "Black Panther" is a title held by the warrior-kings of Wakanda. As such, there have been many Black Panthers over the generations — but none like King T'Challa (Chadwick Boseman), the star of "Black Panther" (2018). Like those before him, T'Challa studied and trained all his life to be the guardian of Wakanda before ingesting the heart-shaped herb that granted him his superpowers.

But whereas previous Black Panthers upheld Wakanda's isolationism policy to keep them safe from outsiders, T'Challa realized Wakanda could not remain in hiding forever. After seeing how intolerance and racism had warped the mind of his cousin Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), T'Challa adopted a more progressive stance by establishing outreach programs to share Wakanda's technology and philosophy with underserved communities. This Black Panther is not only interested in fighting Wakanda's enemies, but is also committed to building something beneficial for the rest of the world.

With Boseman's tragic passing, the mantle of Black Panther will likely be passed on to a different character in the upcoming "Black Panther: Wakanda Forever" MCU film (scheduled to be released in 2022). While the new Black Panther will undoubtedly add something new to the tradition, they'll have to work hard to match T'Challa's legacy — as well as the real-life one of Chadwick Boseman.

Sam Wilson/Captain America

While many consider Captain America to be the ultimate superhero, his friend Sam Wilson initially refused to become the living legend after an elderly Steve Rogers passed his shield on to him. Realizing the racial issues that a black man becoming Captain America could cause, Sam walked away from his destiny, choosing to remain the Falcon.

Which was a mistake. Not only did giving up the shield allow the U.S. government to create a distorted version of Captain America in John Walker, Sam truly is the best person to carry on Steve's work. An athletically-gifted but otherwise normal man, Sam refuses to enhance his body with the potentially dangerous Super Soldier Serum (although he wisely protects himself in a Wakandan suit of Vibranium armor). Although no one can replace Steve Rogers, Sam's heart and decency make him a worthy successor ... and he even shares Steve's gift for delivering off-the-cuff inspirational speeches.

In fact, when you think about it, Steve Rogers was trying to live up to Sam's legacy long before the Falcon became Captain America. In "Avengers: Endgame," we see Steve working as a support group mediator for people whose lives were shattered by Thanos' snap — essentially taking over Sam's role as a trauma counselor. Steve may be the Avengers' "Mr. Rogers," but thanks to his two young nephews, Sam Wilson has literally become the MCU's "Uncle Sam."