Just like snarky quips and killer needle drops, “daddy issues” are a hallmark of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Many of the franchise’s most beloved characters grew up with less-than-stellar father figures who either directly or indirectly shaped them into the heroes — or villains — seen on screen.
While there are some dad of the year candidates in the MCU, there are many more who are quite the opposite. Instead of a ranking of the best Marvel dads, it would be more accurate to rate them from most to least awful, starting with the worst of the worst.
Ego had the most children (by far) of anyone on this list, but he is a prime example of the idea that more does not necessarily equal better. The only reason he even had thousands of kids was because he needed another Celestial being to remake the universe so he (and by necessity, said offspring) would be the only ones to exist. As for his kids that didn’t have Celestial DNA? He straight-up killed them.
Thankfully, the one child of his who was able to carry out his plan alongside him — none other than Peter Quill himself — ended up being the one to finally end it, and him, once and for all.
Second from the bottom of the list with the second-highest number of children (six, including Gamora, Nebula, and the four members of the Black Order), Thanos gets some obligatory points for going the adoption route with his kids (bringing all those children into the world himself would conflict with his concerns of overpopulation, after all).
However, that goodwill disappears quickly considering how he got his children (killing Gamora’s mother only to take her as his own, for one) and how he forced them to commit despicable acts. Let's not forget how he physically-modified Nebula with the twisted goal of trying to perfect her. Oh, and the rivalry he brewed between his two aforementioned daughters doesn't help either.
There's also that little moment in Avengers: Infinity War when he throws Gamora to her death in order to obtain the Soul Stone.
He may not have killed as many kids as Ego, but this single act is arguably worse seeing that he appeared to have a stronger bond with the daughter he quite literally threw away.
Howard Stark has been cut a lot of slack from Marvel fans after Avengers: Endgame , but looking back at how he came across in previous MCU movies, his words certainly didn’t line up with his actions.
While he clearly provided for his son in a financial sense, Howard was otherwise neglectful at best and borderline abusive at worst. He may have believed that he was doing what was best for Tony by treating him coldly and focusing his attention on Stark Industries, but claiming his son to be his “greatest creation” after shooing him away off camera just moments earlier shows exactly why this isn’t a good plan for parenting.
Ultimately, while Howard claimed to care about his child, it was a too little, too late situation (or possibly too early in the case of the 1970s scene in Endgame ).
In some ways Odin is probably worse than Howard, but he earns a spot just higher than him on the list because he managed to let his children know he loved them before he died...well, two out of three, at least.
Odin certainly had a problem with favoritism fueled by the idea that his children should be a certain way. If they weren’t, he wasn’t willing to put in the effort for them. When Hela went bad, he didn’t even try to turn her back to the light and instead simply banished her to Hel. The banishment didn't stop there, as he did a similar thing with his eldest son in 2011's Thor.
Then, of course, when Loki explains his actions after being deceived by Odin about his heritage for years, Odin turned him away and allowed him to simply fall into a black hole, presumably never to be seen again. When Loki eventually returned to Asgard, Odin had him imprisoned, intending a far worse fate for Loki had Frigga not stepped in.
While Odin’s words to Thor and Loki at the end of his life were a nice gesture, they couldn’t entirely make up for all he did to them beforehand.
While it’s debatable whether Hank Pym had Howard Stark bested when it came to their technological rivalry, he was definitely the better father of the two. That said, he’s far from the best in the MCU.
Pym's style of parenting is closer to Howard’s than he’d probably like to admit. Both neglected their children and sent them off to boarding school. It’s no wonder that his daughter Hope voted to oust him from Pym Tech when she grew up and joined the company.
Even though his reasons were much more understandable than Howard’s, they certainly weren’t excusable. Hope lost her mother at a young age, and Hank’s resulting neglect essentially meant she lost her father as well.
Unlike Howard, Hank was eventually able to reconcile with his daughter. After choosing the far less-experienced Scott Lang over her to go on dangerous missions, the two were soon able to come to an understanding about his action after the loss of Janet, and he even made her a suit of her own.
After working for Ego by bringing him children which were subsequently murdered, Yondu took a liking to Peter Quill and decided to adopt him as his own. While he was another MCU dad who avoided actually showing his child affection, this life-saving act does put him a cut above the others that have been mentioned on this list so far.
Despite the rather intense conflict between the two over the Power Stone in Guardians of the Galaxy , Yondu’s sacrifice to save Peter in Vol. 2 proves that he ultimately viewed Peter as his son and wanting to protect him in the end.
Much like Hank Pym and Howard Stark have quite a bit in common, there are some serious parallels between T’Chaka and Odin. Both are kings dedicated to their land. Both carried dark secrets for many years, hiding them from their children.
In T’Chaka’s case, he killed his brother, N'Jobu, leaving his son — T’Chaka’s nephew — alone to fend for himself for fear of what would happen if he took a child who was not of pure Wakandan blood back home with him.
This may actually make him seem like a worse father than Odin, who took in an abandoned child of non-Asgardian blood, but when it comes to the way T’Chaka treated the children he raised, there’s no contest as to who comes out on top. It has been made clear that both T’Challa and Shuri were close with their father. Even after his passing, T’Chaka provided some solid nuggets of wisdom to his son and successor as king from the afterlife.
Vision is actually the only MCU father seen actually taking care of a baby (two, in fact!) and he has proven to be very attentive to his twins, even before they were born.
While most of Billy and Tommy’s scenes in WandaVision are with their mom, it’s clear that their father is caring towards them (though he didn’t exactly stick his neck out when he realized they would be destroyed along with the Hex).
Clint is a family man through and through, spending as much time with his three children as possible. Throughout his time in the MCU, he has frequently tried to retire from that superhero life to be able to be a present father for his family. That said, sometimes suiting up to protect the world is the best thing for his family, and Clint is willing to do that when needed.
As of Avengers: Endgame , it seemed like Clint may finally be able to settle down with his family, but the upcoming Hawkeye series appears to have other plans for him.
A good chunk of Tony’s screen time in the MCU focuses on him working to break the cycle of bad parenting and be better than his own, specifically, his father.
While Tony doesn’t seem to desire children of his own in his early MCU appearances, he does display an affinity towards them. The first notable comes in Harley Keener, who he spent quite a bit of time with and helped out in Iron Man 3 .
Of course, the most prominent storyline Tony has in this vein is with Peter Parker, whom he takes under his wing (even though he doesn’t want to show affection at first). He keeps a close eye on Peter and becomes a mentor to him as he develops as Spider-Man.
Tony eventually expresses a desire to have children of his own, and eventually welcomes a daughter in Morgan. He ends up doing the exact opposite of what his own father did and retires to be a stay-at-home father for her, but eventually is drawn back into the avenging world (largely because of Peter).
Of course, Tony ends up giving his life so Morgan (and the rest of the universe) can have a good one, but not before ensuring Hulk’s snap doesn’t erase her existence. This means all of Tony’s kids — including Harley — survive to carry on his legacy after he is gone.
There are solid arguments for a few of the MCU’s dads to take this coveted number one spot, but Scott gets it because his drive to be a good father is his predominant personality trait.
Scott has a cordial relationship with his ex-wife and co-parents their daughter with her, even when on house arrest. He has been forced apart from Cassie for extended periods multiple times (first being his three-year incarceration), but she has always been his first priority upon entering back into the “real world.”
Cassie adores her father, and he adores her. Their relationship is one of the closest and “purest” in the entire MCU.
In conclusion, Scott Lang isn’t just the top MCU father, he’s the world’s greatest grandma.