Not unlike a train containing both Denzel Washington and Chris Pine, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is unstoppable. Part of what makes these movies such colossal successes is the illusion that they are all part of one cohesive reality, thanks to repeat appearances by familiar characters like Iron Man, Nick Fury and that strangely polite rock monster with a New Zealand accent. But the MCU has also introduced characters who, though they seemed destined for great importance, were casually discarded like your average Jeremy Renner CD.

Everyone (including The Hulk) Forgot About Betty Ross

Short of chauffeuring Edward Norton to the middle of the woods and leaving him for dead, Marvel Studios have done almost everything else to make us forget about 2008’s The Incredible Hulk. Sure it’s retained some elements from the green-headed step-child of the MCU; like Bruce Banner himself (albeit played by a less Norton-y actor) and Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross, the mustachioed military hard-ass who nearly killed Banner, pushed the Sokovia Accords, hunted Black Widow, and somehow still managed to snag an invite to Tony Stark’s funeral.

But as for his daughter Betty, she was never seen again. Yup, despite the fact that she’s played by legit movie star Liv Tyler, Bruce Banner’s main love interest from the comics is relegated just to that one movie. Bruce and Betty aren’t even able to consummate their relationship in the film, either because arousal causes Bruce to Hulk out, or he’s lying and massive amounts of gamma radiation are no friend to his virility. 

They couldn’t have given Tyler a brief cameo at some point in any of the other films? The only time Betty was included in the post-Incredible Hulk narrative (apart from a brief role in an episode of the animated series What If…?) happened offscreen when Avengers: Infinity War directors Joe and Anthony Russo briefly mentioned in an interview that she happened to have died during Thanos’ famous snap. But no one, not even Bruce, thought this was worth mentioning at any point apparently. 

Then there’s also The Incredible Hulk’s Samuel Sterns -- we briefly see him get the enlarged, Kelsey Grammer-like noggin that will presumably lead to him becoming the villainous Leader. But apart from a lone tie-in comic book, he’s never heard from again either. While fans are hopeful that Betty might show up in the upcoming She-Hulk series on Disney+, if not maybe her and Sterns will eventually be brought back alongside ‘70s TV movie Thor and Lea Thompson’s character from Howard the Duck in the next Spider-Man movie.

Helen Cho Invents God Technology, Promptly Vamooses

Before they were travelling through time in an effort to save trillions of lives, the Avengers merely had to contend with the villainous machinations of the Spader-bot 3000, AKA Ultron. And while it’s easy to forget much of what happened in that movie, one loose thread that was oddly left dangling in the sequels is the character of Helen Cho, the geneticist who is miraculously able to synthesize human tissue at a moment’s notice.

We also find out that her “Regeneration Cradle” is capable of creating entire synthetic bodies, which leads to the creation of Vision. 

All of which seems pretty amazing. Naturally Cho returned to -- wait, no, she’s never been brought up since. Age of Ultron introduced the greatest invention in the history of medical science, but in the world of the MCU, it was immediately forgotten. Even if we overlook the part where she made spare full-sized human bodies, you’d think that at least her fancy skin laser contraption would be useful once and a while. None of the Avengers get so much as a scraped knee post-2015? You’d think that a straight-up scientific genius who makes house calls would be an asset, instead she was sent to live on Marvel’s upstate farm with the Quicksilver no one liked. 

Donald Glover Shows Up, Gets Stuck to a Car, is Never Mentioned Again

Famously, actor, comedian, musician and alternate TV theme song composer Donald Glover was famously the subject of a 2010 internet fan campaign urging producers to cast the Community star as the next Spider-Man. But because the internet is basically that subterranean river of slimy psychic awfulness from Ghostbusters II, there was a massive racist backlash to the idea of a Black Spider-Man -- so the producers just cast the least-hated white guy from The Social Network instead. But the incident helped lead the way for Marvel to introduce Miles Morales, who happened to be a Black Spider-Man ... and who also happened to spark a giant racist backlash because, again, sewer slime. 

All this led to a brief appearance from Donald Glover in the following iteration of Spider-Man -- not as Spidey himself, but as Aaron Davis, who is also Prowler in the comics and the uncle of Miles Morales. While Spider-Man: Homecoming hints at the connection, Glover shows up in two scenes and gets webbed to the trunk of his car.

Despite the fact that Glover’s scene-stealing cameo seemed explicitly calibrated to tee-up future appearances from the character (and his nephew) he still has yet to show up again. And even though the upcoming Spider-Man: No Way Home is basically a retirement home for Spider-Man villains, there’s no indication that Davis will be included. The writers of Spider-Man: Far From Home were originally planning to bring Davis back for the sequel, but had to abandon the idea because the story spends “such little time in Queens.” 

The MCU Cast Two Prestigious Actors Only to Kill Their Characters Offscreen

It’s no secret that Marvel movies have boasted a number of prestigious actors over the years; from Cate Blanchett to Forest Whitaker to Robert Redford to a bunch of other people who were once honored with Academy Awards and still showed up to deliver lines to, say, a wisecracking alien raccoon. 

But two of the franchise’s most impressive hires appeared for a weirdly brief amount of time, in retrospect. In Guardians of the Galaxy we are introduced to Nova Corps, basically the space-police that protect the Nova Empire, including the planet Xandar. Who was commanding this intergalactic cop army? Irani Rael, played by friggin’ Glenn Close. As in Cruella DeVil, Alex from Fatal Attraction and the unfortunately named Albert Nobbs -- that Glenn Close. Nova Corps also includes Rhomann Dey, played by John C. Reilly from acclaimed works like Boogie Nights, Magnolia, and Check It Out! With Dr. Steve Brule.

Those are two fantastic actors -- but they never show up again. After the much-sought-after Power Stone is safely tucked away on Xandar at the end of Guardians, somehow Thanos has it at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War -- meaning that he probably slaughtered everyone on Xandar and the Nova Corps protecting them. Which very likely means that Close and Reilly’s characters were horribly killed offscreen. It also kind of deflates Rocket’s triumphant Han Solo-like turn towards selflessness, considering that the same people the Guardians of the Galaxy bravely saved all died like a few years later. 

The Chitauri Got Purely Overshadowed by the Skrulls

Even casual Marvel fans are familiar with the Chitauri, those freaky space goblins who fought alongside villains like Loki and Thanos, most memorably at the end of the first Avengers movie. Forget TV’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., give us a spin-off about the NYC Parks Department cleaning all the smoldering Chitauri corpses out of midtown Manhattan.

But despite the fact that they appeared in the climactic battle of Avengers: Endgame, it seems like the Chitauri are being phased out, paving the way for the shapeshifting Skrulls, first introduced in Captain Marvel, to take center alien stage in the new Secret Invasion Disney+ series

Which is kind of weird because the Chitauri, in the comics, are also shapeshifters and were introduced in Marvel’s The Ultimates, designed to be the “Skrulls for the Ultimate Universe.” The Skrulls, on the other hand, date back to 1962, first appearing in just the second issue of The Fantastic Four. Given that they’re so similar, why wouldn’t Marvel Studios just use the Skrulls from the jump? Probably due to rights issues; since the Skrulls were co-owned by Marvel and 20th Century Fox, it seems likely that Marvel sought to sidestep any potential intellectual property complications by simply focusing on the Chitauri instead. But since that’s obviously no longer a problem, the Skrulls are in, and the Chitauri are about as likely to resurface in a Marvel movie as Stellan Skarsgard’s junk. 

You (yes, you) should follow JM on Twitter! And check out the podcast Rewatchability.

Top Image: Marvel

 

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