Marvel is full of fathers and on this Father’s Day, they stand in judgment. Today we rank the Dads of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Let us begin.
So this guy steals a kid, kills her parents and half her planet. He brainwashes her and calls her his daughter, training her to fight other stolen girls. She tends to win, which results in Thanos replacing the body parts of the loser. The upside? Thanos does actually love this daughter, just not enough to refrain from killing her to get the power needed to murder half the universe. His kids eventually want to kill him in return, which is quite the indictment of his parenting style.
Ego was a cosmic absentee father with a homicidal twist. He impregnated women and left them to later kidnap their offspring. If the kid doesn’t share his power, he’s dead. If the kid does share his power, in the case of Peter Quill, he tries to kill all his friends. You can’t get much worse than this piece of work. In fact, I can think of only one (see number 10).
With a name like Allfather you’ve got a lot to live up to, but Odin falls very short. His first try at parenting gave us Hela who went on a daddy-daughter spree of violence until Odin thought…”y’know what? She is A LOT.” Odin banished her, setting the stage for the fall of Asgard. Odin then set up a destructive rivalry between sons Thor and Loki which only compounded when Loki found out that he was secretly adopted. Two of the biggest threats to the MCU are the results of Odin’s A+ parenting.
7. Adrian Toomes
When Peter Parker comes to Adrian’s home to take his surprisingly well-adjusted daughter, Liz, to the Homecoming Dance, we see a healthy family dynamic. Adrian is a father who provides for his family well, only losing points for how he provides. He’s the Vulture and is willing to kill innocents to get what he wants.
6. Howard Stark
Howard has most of Tony’s worst qualities. He is self-centered, emotionally distant, and had a drinking problem. Tony implies that his dad was too hard on him and that he never felt loved. These feelings even contributed to Tony’s tension with Steve Rogers, who his dad had a very high opinion of. Some of us can probably relate to negative feelings about our childhood, but ‘Avenger’s: Endgame’ suggests that it might not have been as bad as Tony remembers. Tony’s time travel adventure allows him to interact with a young version of his father who seems determined to be a good dad. Even if Howard fell short, the intentions were there.
5. Hank Pym
Like other heroes on this list, part of what made Hank a hero made him a less-than-ideal father. He lost the mother of his child in the line of duty and then sent away his daughter for most of her childhood in a failed attempt to bring his wife back. His daughter, Hope, turned out okay, but we should credit her boarding school with this result and not Hank Pym. Hank’s first protégé, that one could argue was a son-like figure, turned into a supervillain. His second protégé, Scott Lang, was manipulated into stealing again before becoming the second Ant-Man. After all this, Hank’s family still likes him, and for that reason alone he can’t be too low on this list.
4. King T’Chaka
All appearances suggest that King T’Chaka loves his son T’Challa and the relationships of Wakanda’s First Family imply that the King deserves credit for a stable home. T’Challa’s first move after his father died was to lash out at the Winter Soldier, damning the consequences. As with Hawkeye, we can take Black Panther’s rage as a sign of his love. Unfortunately, we end on a low point which costs T’Chaka father-of-the-year. It comes to light that the King’s actions against his brother endanger his kingdom and his last interaction with his son in the Ancestor Realm suffers for it.
3. Scott Lang
On paper, Scott might not look like the best dad. He was repeatedly in trouble with the law, divorced from his wife, and was the reason his daughter was kidnapped. In context, however, post-fatherhood run-ins with the law have been for a good cause, specifically Captain America’s cause in ‘Civil War.’ And he did rescue his daughter after she was kidnapped…so, there’s that.
2. Clint Barton
Clint put his superheroing on the back burner for his family so much so that when Thanos dusted his wife and kids, he was taken completely by surprise. He returns to his violent ways not as Hawkeye, but as Ronin. Like Drax when his family was killed, Clint wanted to avenge the loss but lacked a clear target. So he killed who he could. Clint’s rage is the flip side of the love he had for his family and is perhaps even better proof of his commitment than the brief scenes we see of him happy.
1. Tony Stark
Who knew Tony would be a good father? A selfish arms dealer turned rockstar celebrity with a drinking problem, Tony grew from both traumatic experience and positive influence. He nearly sacrificed himself to save New York fighting alongside heroes he knew would do the same. Processing that trauma made him come to terms with the fact that Iron Man may not be quite so invincible. He found a kind of state-dependent humility that allowed him to love Pepper as she needed and open himself up to Peter Parker. Pete, quickly taking on the role of an adopted son, was taken away before Tony could realize his fatherhood, but it was enough that he wanted to give it another shot. Tony gave up a big part of his identity to love his new daughter 3000.
And there you have it! Our list of the Dads of the Marvel Cinematic Universe! Is there a dad that was overlooked and deserves to be in this list? Let us know and tell us why in the comments below.