This article contains MCU spoilers
Superheroes love their pets. Shortly after Superman debuted the genre in 1938, he and his other tights and capes friends gained their own pet sidekicks, including Beppo the Super-Monkey, Ace the Bat-hound, and Comet the Super-Horse. Although Marvel’s hipper approach in the early 60s precluded pet sidekicks as much as it did teen sidekicks, super-powered animals soon made their way onto Earth 616, including the Inhumans’ transporter Lockjaw, and Brightwind, the Asgardian pegasus of New Mutant Mirage.
While some of these creatures have made their way into live-action, the MCU has been a bit slower to debut super-powered animals, at least as pet sidekicks. As Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 shows, animals with powers deserve their own character arcs, even if it’s as small as Cosmo getting mad at being called a bad dog. These animals aren’t really pets as much as they are members of the team!
But that doesn’t mean that the MCU is lacking in actual pets. And, because they’re in the MCU, these pets have supported the superheroes in their adventures, whether it involves destroying magical kingdoms or causing existential crises. Here are the top ten pets of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – the animals who change the world of heroes and villains for good or for bad.
10. Gus (Moon Knight)
If you watched/listened to Marvel Standom’s Moon Knight recaps, then you might recognize me as the guy who remained a fan of the series, and especially Oscar Isaac’s performance as Steven (with a “v”). But even my love of the show cannot make me believe that Gus is a good MCU pet. Because no matter how much Steven truly loves Gus, he’s just a goldfish.
Okay, Gus isn’t a goldfish. He’s actually two goldfish, as Marc Spector had Gus replaced when, unbeknownst to Steven, he took over their body. Now that I think about it, Gus and his replacement focalize the show’s themes about reality and identity, an animal whose very presence challenges the primacy of existence over essence. But he’s still just a stupid goldfish.
9. Blurp (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3)
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 3 is a lot. A lot of it is good, to be sure. But there is A LOT here, leaving many aspects to be underdeveloped. That includes fan favorite Adam Warlock, who went from cosmic Jesus allegory in the comics to golden buffoon in the movies. And yet, instead of using what little room he could get to further develop Warlock, James Gunn decided to fill that space with a fuzzy sidekick called Blurp.
There’s no denying that Blurp is cute, despite his jagged teeth. He looks like one of those weird and upsetting Muppets from Jim Henson’s more experimental work. And the movie does promise more adventures, as Blurp is seen fighting alongside Warlock and the new Guardians of the Galaxy. But based on the few minutes of screen time he has thus far, it’s hard to justify Blurp taking a higher place on this list.
8. Sparky (WandaVision)
“He is family.” When young Billy Maximoff made that plea to his mother Wanda, urging her to use her powers to save his and twin brother Tommy’s pet Sparky, he was just following the beats of a very special episode sitcom. But Billy’s argument in WandaVision also shows Sparky’s importance, precisely because he’s a creation within the “as seen on tv” world that Wanda designed. Sparky lived so he could die, which in turn taught the Maximoff boys the importance of life and death — Heidegarrian existentialism in the form of a sitcom trope. Of course, we later learn that Sparky died at the hand of Agatha Harkness, who hoped to further manipulate Wanda into using her powers.
All of this would be upsetting, but Sparky has only ever served a larger thematic point. Even in his first appearance as a green synthazoid pooch in Vision by Tom King and Gabriel Hernandez Walta, Sparky was just part of Vision’s attempts to make an ideal family for himself. And, as in WandaVision, Sparky dies in outrageous circumstances, proving Vision’s goals to be unattainable. So while Sparky may indeed be a good dog, he’s less of a pet and more of a thematic metaphor.
7. Ant-Thony (Ant-Man)
Speaking of pets who live to die, it’s Ant-Thony! Like most pet owners, Scott Lang immediately imposed his own anthropocentric perspective onto Ant-Thony in Ant-Man, giving the carpenter ant a name and a mission: moving sugar into a cup of coffee. And Ant-Thony did serve as Scott’s mount, giving him something to ride while infiltrating Darren Cross’s lab to retrieve the Yellowjacket suit. But really, the most important thing Ant-Thony did was die, gunned down by Cross during the invasion.
Ant-Thony’s death does inspire Scott to fully embrace his heroic role. Without Ant-Thony’s sacrifice, we may not have realized that Steve Rogers sits on America’s ass, or ever even met Kang the Conqueror. Yes, all of that inspiration comes from feelings that Scott reads onto Ant-Thony, feelings that are in no way reciprocated by the insect. But that still makes him more interesting than Gus.
6. Alligator Loki (Loki)
Look, I get it. The idea of “Loki but an alligator” is funny. He’s right up there with Throg as a great idea. But where “Thor, but a frog” spawned actual stories and adventures, Alligator Loki didn’t get to do much more than be a joke. He pops up as one of the many Loki Variants in the Void, the nether-region occupied by those trimmed from the sacred timeline by the TVA. In other words, Alligator Loki immediately got overshadowed by other Lokis, especially Richard E. Grant’s glorious Classic Loki. Yeah, he got to bite off the hand of President Loki, but then basically got carried around and commented upon, because Alligator Loki is just a joke.
Why is he ranked so high, you might ask? Well, because Alligator Loki is a pretty good joke. Also, his Marvel Comics run is some of the best and cutest stuff they’ve ever produced. Read it if you get a chance!
5. Señor Scratchy (WandaVision)
While poor, doomed Sparky gets dropped to the bottom half of the list, his bunny co-star from WandaVision Señor Scratchy gets to kick off the top half. This might strike you as a controversial decision, given what Scratchy actually does in the series — sit there and be cute. Yeah, he does get to hop out of Vision’s hat when the synthezoid’s magic trick goes awry, and yeah, he does eat a bug tossed into his mouth during Agatha’s big reveal, but really the bunny just does bunny things.
At least, that’s what he wants you to think! In the same way that Agatha/Agnes appeared to be an irritating neighbor straight out of cheesy sitcoms but was, in fact, a powerful witch, Señor Scratchy is not the innocent fur ball he appears to be. After all, look at his name: why would you use the name “Scratchy” to describe something that nibbles? It makes no sense for a bunny, but it does for the prince of evil himself, Mr. Scratch aka Lucifer aka the Devil. That’s right, Señor Scratchy earns this higher position because he is, in fact, the Devil, or at least the MCU version of Mephisto! Well, that’s my theory, anyway.
4. Fenris (Thor: Ragnarok)
A classic Hollywood screenwriting adage teaches us that saving the cat immediately proves a character’s likability, which suggests that most pet owners would be good guys. But that theory is easily disputed by the existence of Blofield’s ever-present kitty or the twin eels surrounding Ursula. So we shouldn’t be surprised to see one of the most intimidating pets in the MCU at the side of one of its most dangerous villains, Fenris the Wolf with Asgardian terror Hela.
Like most of the animals on this list, Fenris spends most of Thor: Ragnarok sitting around. But when you’re a massive wolf, sitting around is enough to intimidate Asgardians into doing Hela’s bidding. When Fenris does actually get into the action, it’s even more impressive, first charging at Asgardian refugees on the rainbow bridge and then going into battle with the Hulk. Of course, the Hulk defeats Fenris, sending her over the waterfall into space, but she manages to pierce ol’ Jade Jaws’s hide, which is more than silly Alligator Loki can say.
3. Morris (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
Ah, finally! A pet who immediately impacts the plot of its movie, Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings! As a magical citizen of the mythical city Ta Lo, Morris helps Shang-Chi, Xailing, and Katy warn the citizens about the coming attack by their father Wenwu. Of course, Morris followed the lead of his newest master Trevor Slattery and played dead instead of helping the heroes during their climactic battle against Wenwu. But Morris knows that discretion is the better part of valor, something he surely learned from Slattery, whose other Shakespeare performance was the toast of Croydon.
Really though, Morris’s appeal lies mostly in his look. As a dijiang, Morris resembles nothing so much as a fuzzy pillow with two pairs of eagle wings. He flitters around and nuzzles his buddy Trevor, who respects his sensitivity about not having a mouth. Even if Shang-Chi and Katy are initially disturbed by Morris’s visuals, no one else can deny his cuteness.
2. Lucky the Pizza Dog (Hawkeye)
Thus far, the top four have featured pets who directly impact the plot of their stories. But why does Lucky make it all the way to number two, you might ask? After all, while he does indeed help Kate Bishop fight off a member of the Tracksuit Mafia, he mostly just stays alongside the Hawkeyes and eats pizza. But when you’re a very good dog like Lucky, that’s enough.
Lucky’s presence underscores the grounded, street-level nature of the Hawkeye series. Where previous entries made a virtue out of the fact that Clint Barton was just a normal guy with a bow and arrows amidst gods and alien invaders, Hawkeye put the Avenging Archer down on the streets of New York City, amidst the dirty brown and yellow snow. Every time Lucky munched down on a slice of pizza, he reminded viewers of the central appeal of Marvel heroes: superpowered beings living in the real world.
1. Goose (Captain Marvel)
I’m a cat guy, so of course Captain Marvel’s Goose goes at the top. But here’s the thing. Goose isn’t a cat — she’s a flerken. So while she might be cute enough to reduce the hardened Nick Fury to a pile of coos, Goose terrifies the sympathetic Skrull Talos. And with good reason, as Goose releases her full flerken abilities when she rescues Fury and Maria Rambeau from Kree attackers by capturing them in her tentacles and swallowing them. And if the tentacles weren’t scary enough, Goose proves that she’s like a cat in attitude as well as look, clawing out Fury’s eye just because she can.
Yeah, I’ll admit, that’s a lot of cool stuff. And if you’re a Marvel Snap! player, you probably have strong feelings for or against Goose. But there’s no denying that no other pet has won battles for its owner like Goose. No other pet has decided the fate of the universe like Goose. And if the trailers for The Marvels are to be believed, she’s going to do the same for Ms. Marvel, resulting in a charming power duo. At least until she swallows a whole platoon with her tentacles.