The MCU mostly works because of the characters in it. These characters work because of the material written for them and the performances of the actors embodying the characters. Today, we take a look at the actors and performers that really stole the year for us.

Vincent D’Onofrio

Vincent D’Onofrio beautifully built on what he’d already established and brought the character of Wilson Fisk to new levels of villainy. In the first season we saw his origins, but this year we got to see Fisk truly become The Kingpin. And I loved every minute of it! – Alex Lurie, Feature Writer

Michael B. Jordan

Despite some overhype and CGI issues, Black Panther was awesome. While the film is filled with great characters portrayed by a great cast, there is one that stands out chief among them, and it’s not even the title hero. In fact, it’s the villain. Michael B. Jordan absolutely killed it as Killmonger. While you stop agreeing with his actions at some point in the film, he helped construct a villain that is very relatable and understandable. You can not only see, but FEEL his emotions, his anger that has been boiling since he found his daddy with panther claws in his chest. Killmonger was a masterpiece of a villain. And it’s not like this is the Joker or the Green Goblin we’re talking about here. Killmonger was a D-List character who nobody knew about, and now he is one of the MCU’s best villains. Bravo. – Curtis Johnson, Feature Writer

Josh Brolin did a great job as Thanos, but Michael B Jordan gave the MCU its best villain to date, one that many argued were not entirely wrong. When the audience questions the heroes stance and nearly sides with the villain, you know you’re witnessing the finest example of what an antagonist can be, and that takes an incredible amount of talent and effort from the actor. Jordan gave us a lot more than we expected, so his position as the best performance is more than justified. – Tiago Fiszbejn, News Writer

I have to pick Michael B. Jordan as Killmonger in Black Panther just for the sheer amount of anger and resentment that seeps through the role. In his very first scene, he seems to take immense satisfaction in poisoning the British gallery director and such frustration when kicking T’Challa while he’s down as he shouts and asks the people of Wakanda if this weak man is their king. His tragic death as he looks upon the Sun his father told him about, likely many times, and remarking its beauty. It was just such an engaging performance that propelling him up on many people’s “best villain” lists – it sure did for me. – Pierre Chanliau, Editor

Josh Brolin

Josh Brolin was truly a standout this year. He had to give us a wide range of emotions on a character we believed was just a homicidal maniac while being in a grey spandex suit. Never did I think I would feel bad for Thanos as a character but he certainly proved me wrong. It was a close fight between him and Charlie Cox‘s always amazing Matt Murdock. – Joseph Aberl, Editor

Charlie Cox

I can’t give out my awards without a nod to Daredevil, so I’ll give it to Charlie Cox. He really nailed his portrayal of the titular character at rock bottom in its final season and set an impossibly high bar for future portrayals. Despite going out on such a somber note, we’re extremely fortunate for getting what we did out of Daredevil. – KJ Callahan, Feature Writer

Chadwick Boseman

Chadwick Boseman also wins my pick for best performance as T’Challa. Echoing everything I said about him before as my MVP of the year, this character was a cultural earthquake. Boseman IS the Black Panther, and everything from his mannerisms, regal nature, accent, emotional baggage, all of it comes across perfectly. I would have liked to see a little more development in his relationship with Nakia, but that is literally the only nitpick I have in this character. – Kevin Carter, Editor

Markus and McFeely

I have to go with an off-screen pick for this one. Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely have consistently been the lynchpin of the MCU, having penned all three Captain America films and both Infinity War and Endgame. Both are masters of the craft as they continue to flawlessly blend emotional character work and high-stakes conflict. Avengers: Infinity War was never meant to be a film that worked smoothly (heck Starlin’s comic is pretty convoluted at its core) but thanks the writing duo and the guidance of Kevin Feige and the Russos, we got a pretty fantastic film that checks all the marks we need. – Charles Villanueva, Editor-in-Chief