3 MCU characters who definitely won't return to the franchise

The opportunities for returns and comebacks are endless in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but these characters won't be back.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios' LOKI, Season 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL.
Tom Hiddleston as Loki in Marvel Studios' LOKI, Season 2, exclusively on Disney+. Photo courtesy of Marvel Studios. © 2023 MARVEL. /

We're well into the midst of the Marvel Cinematic Universe's Multiverse Saga now. The journey hasn't been as coherent as its acclaimed Infinity Saga was, but we're getting somewhere now with major titles like Loki season 2 and the upcoming Deadpool and Wolverine all exploring the concept with the depth it needs.

We've all said it before, but the beauty of the Multiverse Saga is that it means we have the opportunity to see some of our favorite Marvel actors return to the world of superheroes and bad guys. Look no further than Hugh Jackman's return in the aforementioned Deadpool movie and the returns of the classic Spider-Men in Spider-Man: No Way Home back in 2021.

But that doesn't always mean they'll be playing the same version of the character they once played (the speculation about which version of Logan Jackman is playing is proof of that). Sometimes when a character exits or leaves, that is the end of their story and it just wouldn't be right to bring them back. So, taking that into account, let's take a look at some major MCU characters that definitely won't return to the saga... even if their respective actors do resurface every now and again.

Loki, MCU
Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers (2012) ©Marvel 2012 /

3. The original timeline's Loki

The fate of our current Loki is rather up in the air after the season 2 finale of his Disney Plus series, but there is a pretty high chance we'll see him again at some point before the Multiverse Saga concludes. We can't say the same for the original timeline's Loki, sadly, as he met his end at the hands of Thanos when he nobly sacrificed himself to try and protect his brother Thor.

It was the culmination of a three-phase redemption arc for the character, so it felt like a fitting end to his story. Well, one that protected the character development he experienced at least. But it wasn't the ending that Marvel fans wanted for him, and the MCU itself wasn't done with him either, so a Time Heist in Avengers: Endgame accidentally sent the villainous 2012 Loki back into the timeline, changing his fate in the process. He underwent a new redemption arc throughout the course of that show's two seasons and found a new Glorious Purpose along the way.

The original Loki died a hero and it was one of the most shocking moments of Avengers: Infinity War - an emphatic way to kick off Thanos' arrival. While Marvel Studios found a way to have its cake and eat it by bringing a different version of the character in, the OG Loki's story has come to a close. And thus, while we will likely see Tom Hiddleston back as the newer God of Mischief again, this version of Loki's story is over. No time-travel and multiverse-hopping will undo that.

2. Odin

Odin was a fixture of the first three Thor movies. Played by the incomparable Anthony Hopkins, the King of Asgard ruled over his kingdom, hoping that his son Thor would one day succeed him. That never happened as Thor's calling was to be a hero, and when Asgard fell, Valkyrie took over as King of New Asgard.

Odin's death in Thor: Ragnarok was unexpected and emotional, but it was the end of his story. He bid his sons farewell and found peace soon afterwards - a moment that paved the way for the return of his evil daughter Hela. There would be no reason for the almighty character to return in the future.

That's not to say that we couldn't see him reappear in animated form in another episode of Marvel's What If...? but as the events of that show aren't canon to the movies' main timeline, we're still including him on this list.

Another thing that makes Odin's return extremely unlikely is the fact that Anthony Hopkins wasn't particularly a fan of playing the role, referring to his time spent in front of a green-screen playing the character as "pointless acting".

Marvel, Iron Man
Robert Downey Jr. in The Avengers (2012) ©Marvel 2012 /

1. Iron Man

For a whole decade, Iron Man was one of the two faces of the MCU. Robert Downey Jr.'s portrayal of Tony Stark turned a beloved comic book character into a mainstream icon and it played a large part in helping the franchise evolve into the juggernaut that it is. But the end of the Infinity Saga meant that it was time for some of its staples to bow out, and with that, Iron Man sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos and save the universe from him and his army.

Tony Stark's sacrifice was a genuinely heartbreaking moment that, even though we didn't want it to happen, felt incredibly earned. His arc revolved around his fear of his friends dying by a threat that was too larger-than-life for Iron Man to defeat. And yet, he was the one who ultimately defeated him, choosing to lay down his own life so that his family and friends could live theirs. Bringing him back in any capacity outside of a flashback or cameo would completely undercut the emotional impact - and damage - of that scene.

Robert Downey Jr. recently confirmed that he would be happy to return to the MCU in the future, and in the Multiverse Saga that is more possible than ever. I would definitely love to see it happen, because there would be no MCU without RDJ and his performance. However, it would make far more sense if he returned as a variant of Iron Man from a different universe. Like the alternate timeline God of Mischief in Loki, it would allow him to play any kind of role in the franchise without undoing the poignance of the original Tony's sacrifice.

Anything can happen in the MCU and it's great that Robert Downey Jr. is open to returning, but the original Iron Man's story is over, and for the sake of the MCU's overarching story, it would make total sense to leave it that way.

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