/Answers: Our Favorite Marvel Cinematic Universe Characters

Every week in /Answers, we answer a new pop culture-related question. In this edition, we celebrate the release of Avengers: Infinity War by asking "Who is your favorite character in the Marvel Cinematic Universe?"

Ben Pearson: Spider-Man

My favorite MCU character has only been a part of the MCU for about two years. It's Tom Holland's Spider-Man, who is unquestionably the best Spider-Man ever committed to film thus far. Age certainly has a lot to do with it (both Tobey Maguire and Andrew Garfield were far too old to play Peter Parker), but Holland's temperament precisely matches the version of the character I know from the comics. He's an awkward, kind of shy kid when not wearing the suit and a quippy smart-ass when inside it, and he's proven to be the MCU character most likely to put a smile on my face. Plus, after so many years of watching Spider-Man fight his own battles in Sony's solo movies, it's just plain cool to see him interact with The Avengers in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Holland's Spidey is also one of the best parts of Avengers: Infinity War, lending his boyish innocence and leaning heavily on his surrogate father/surrogate son relationship with Tony Stark's Iron Man. I wouldn't dare spoil what happens, but there's one scene in the film when my eyes welled up and I nearly lost my composure, and it was almost all due to Holland's heartbreakingly genuine performance. It'll be very interesting to see what Marvel does with him moving forward, and I can't wait to spend more time with this version of the friendly neighborhood web-slinger.

Ethan Anderton: Thor

Marvel's Thor and the sequel Thor: The Dark World are at the lower end of my personal ranking of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While the first gave us a proper introduction to Thor and the star that would be Chris Hemsworth, the second film only offered an exciting third act that didn't make up for the rest of the movie featuring arguably the dullest, most forgettable villain in Marvel's history. But it's the character of Thor who has remained interesting throughout, especially when teaming up with The Avengers, and with his recent turns in Thor: Ragnarok and Avengers: Infinity War, I can't help but full-on love the demigod.

Personally, what I love most about Thor is how he's evolved from this arrogant, spoiled, confident but clueless hero from another realm into a clever, sarcastic, still arrogant but significantly more cool comic book character. Chris Hemsworth has played the role pitch perfectly, and he's become one of the funniest characters in the MCU and also one of the most charming. His role in Thor: Ragnarok alone is enough to make him a favorite, with Hemswoth showing off his impeccable comedic timing along with his perfectly chiseled body and face. Without spoiling anything, he's also quite the MVP in Avengers: Infinity War.

With Chris Hemsworth's contract being up after Avengers 4, it would be a shame to lose Thor just as he was truly coming into his own, but I'm glad that we got to see the character become the Avenger who has grown the most over the years to become a beloved superhero with some impressive range.

Vanessa Bogart: Iron Man

Trying to pick a favorite MCU character gives me the same anxiety I had as a child deciding which of my many stuffed animals would get the top spot and which would be at the foot of my bed. I loved them all and I was afraid that praising would hurt their feelings or diminish my love for the rest. However, in both cases, there is a certain loyalty to the one that you loved first, and when it comes to the MCU, that will always be Iron Man.

I will never forget the feeling of walking out of the first Iron Man movie in 2008 and knowing that I had just witnessed something very special, but beyond that I think I had fallen hopelessly in love with a character that I previously knew very little about. He was a scientist. An innovator. An Elon Musk. He was wealthy and cocky, but also reformed. He has a character arc not unlike that of Han Solo, the bad boy that discovers his heart of gold...or you know, his arc reactor of gold. His faults are glaring, and yet he is indispensable to the team. I may have sided with Captain America in Civil War, but without Iron Man, would there even be an MCU? Nope.

Hoai-Tran Bui: Hawkeye

Hawkeye gets ragged on a lot. He's the power-less Avenger, the useless Avenger, the Avenger who can't even be bothered to show up for the biggest Avengers movie of all time. But all those descriptors miss the point of Hawkeye: He's the heart of the Avengers.

Clint Barton's biggest power is not the number of arrows he can shoot nor how great his arms look (and they look pretty good). It's in the way that he quietly urges on his teammates or offers them safe haven at his secret farmhouse. It's the way that he's just a normal dude surrounded by gods, super soldiers, and billionaire philanthropists, who joins the fight because he wants to do good. I absolutely adore the Hawkeye from the comics — a philandering hot mess of a man who can't help but try to do the right thing. On the surface, the "family man" Clint Barton of the Marvel Cinematic Universe is completely different, except for one thing: he can't stop trying to save people.

It's always about the little guy for Clint Barton, and the little moments. He is the one to run back onto the floating mass that was once Sokovia to save a child who was left behind, not caring about his own life. He's the one to comfort Wanda Maximoff through a panic attack, as she wrestles with the guilt of helping the Big Bad in Age of Ultron. As the Avengers get weighed down by lofty concerns like clashing with the United Nations over accountability or freedom versus security, Clint Barton only wanders back into the fight to protect Wanda and her well-being — with the rest of the team forgetting that she is the one who is most vulnerable to being exploited and targeted.

But best of all, Clint is aware of his shaky place in the team. He has his insecurities, he knows they can find someone stronger, faster, someone who has a larger supply of arrows. In Age of Ultron he asks his wife Laura if she thinks they need him, but she replies. "I think they do. Which is a lot scarier." We need Hawkeyes in our superhero teams. To remind us that what's important is not saving the world, but the people in it. And that anyone can be a hero, as long as they have enough heart.

Lindsey Romain: Peggy Carter

I'll admit it: I'm not a huge Marvel person. I've seen the movies, I've liked a handful of them, but I've always had a hard time staying engaged or feeling truly invested. The lack of stakes kills the emotionality for me, which I realize is sort of the whole point of comic books, but just doesn't resonate with me. That's probably why my favorite character in the MCU is a human with zero powers, zero super-strength, and who ages through the series before dying with a satisfying, melancholy finality. That's Peggy Carter, whom I've adored since her introduction in Captain America: The First Avenger.

Peggy is spunky and resolute, tough but tender, and greatly important to the history of the Avengers. She's underrated, is all I'm saying. And even though I'm not fully onboard her romance with Cap – Marvel has a problem with romance in general – I love that she both services his arc but has a life of her own beyond that. Her TV series, Agent Carter, was a little undercooked but still a fun look at the character, and the way she was integrated into other Cap movies was nearly flawless. I love her character for who she is and what she represents, but also because the MCU let her be human and knew when to let her go. Her final moment, on her deathbed with Cap at her side, is one of the MCU's emotional high-points.

Jacob Hall: Captain America

What does it mean to be a patriot? What does it mean to love your country? Captain America, who should be a symbol of blind propaganda if his name and costume are anything to by, is the ideal example of both. Steve Rogers doesn't stand for the America that is – he stands for what America could be. He is the reminder that we can all do better, and that we do better by questioning orders, challenging authority, and refusing to budge in the face of evil. Steve has lived a harder life than most the of the Avengers (which is saying a lot) because he'll never stop standing up for what is right. He carries the weight of our hopes and dreams on his shoulders, a good, decent man who has taken on an impossible burden.

Plus, he can punch stuff real good.

Matt Donato: Rocket

"Ain't no thing like me 'cept me!"

Yes, my favorite Marvel superhero is an anthropomorphic raccoon with itchy trigger fingers and a short fuse. Bradley Cooper voices the marksman varmint, while Sean Gunn (who also portrays Yondu's right-hand Ravager) provides mo-cap movements. Together – along with Marvel's detail-oriented animation team – Rocket Raccoon burst into the MCU as far more than an adorable talking critter who loves big, oversized blasters. Rocket proves himself a narcissistic self-saboteur, loyal companion to Groot and sarcastic science project plagued by the fundamental horrors that granted him a life he never asked for.

Translation: one of the most human arcs of the entire MCU belongs to Rocket freakin' Raccoon.

In Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 1, we meet Rocket the bounty hunter and soon-to-be fugitive. With a Napoleon complex bigger than Drax's mass of muscles, he uses humor and anger to mask painful memories that leak out during a drunken barroom rant. On the surface he's chasing money – and detachable body parts – but being an outcast is easier when you're surrounded by equals. The daughter of Thanos, a bastard cowboy, a vengeful warrior – Rocket finds comfort with the Guardians that can't be outsnarked. Fast forward to Rocket holding what's left of Groot, a tiny twig, and Drax stroking his head like a pet as a form of comfort. No bitten hands or snarls.

Then comes Guardians Of The Galaxy Vol. 2, the meat and potatoes of Rocket's character development. He's bitter and resentful, jousting with Star-Lord over who's the best pilot and constantly negging characters at the slightest glimmer of hope (Peter Quill and his father Ego, especially). Even Yondu thinks Rocket's sour grapes push a step too far, as he asks, "You like a professional a**hole or what?" "Pretty much a pro," Rocket assures. This is, of course, before he breaks down in front of Yondu and admits his orphan status at the hands of scientists who don't "give a rat's ass" left a gaping emptiness behind. One he fills with overcompensation and doubts and a constant fear that's just easier to ignore. Now knowing he's loved, dysfunctional space pirate family and all.

Rocket Raccoon is constantly at war with himself and perception. He's the smallest physical body, spent life fending for himself and doesn't stack up with his hero companions at first glance. Like anyone would in his situation, Rocket instinctually runs from feelings of loneliness or abandon – but his arc is all about realizing the warmth around him. Egomaniacs are a dime a dozen in the MCU, but James Gunn handles Rocket's insecurities with such a heartfelt swell that builds walls and smashes them down ALL WHILE giving us the comedies we so desire ("Trash Panda" insults, Mantis snaps, cackles). That, my friends, is how you treat a character arc.

Chris Evangelista: Michelle "MJ" Jones

If I had to pick one single character from the glut of MCU characters to praise, I'd probably zero-in on Zendaya as Michelle "MJ" Jones in Spider-Man: Homecoming. To be clear, she doesn't do much in the movie, and I honestly wish there had been more of her on screen. But the blah, droll, detached way the character reacts to pretty much everything very much speaks to me. She's chill, she's calm, she really doesn't feel like speaking to anyone. This is a hero I can definitely support. And while I certainly don't consider myself chill or calm, I can 100% relate to the whole "doesn't feel like speaking to anyone" angle. When I was in high school, my general attitude was, "I really hope I don't have to talk to anyone today." Give me more Zendaya in the MCU, please. Give me more scenes where she's merely chilling in the background as a bunch of action is happening; where she calmly flips through a book while a bunch of explosions are happening off camera.