The Marvel Cinematic Universe is known for having great...everything, really. But especially relationships. While I go back and forth on how well-constructed some of the romances are (cough BruceNat cough), I can't deny that the friendships the MCU has given us are something truly incredible.
Everyone knows about the wonders of Steve and Bucky, Tony and Rhodey, and, since "Ragnarok," Thor and Bruce. If you watch the Marvel Netflix shows, then you undoubtedly appreciate Danny and Luke's developing friendship and the banter between Matt and Jessica. When fans of "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." think of bromances, Fitz and Hunter, Daisy and Mack, and Daisy and Jemma most likely spring to mind first.
And yet there are other, lesser-known but equally beautiful friendships to come from the MCU.
1. Valkyrie and Bruce Banner/The Hulk.
While you probably walked away from "Thor: Ragnarok" with a new appreciation for Thor and Bruce's friendship and/or Thor and Loki's brotherhood, Valkyrie and Bruce are the unsung bros of the film.
Her playful relationship with the Hulk is adorable in its own right. She's not scared of the big, green monster, and he enjoys the company of someone who can hold their own around him. While the Hulk is at first mean to Thor, he's kind to Val.
The fondness the Other Guy holds for Valkyrie seeps into Bruce's view of her. He is consistently impressed and awed by her mere existence, and throughout the film, they keep talking about how they feel like they know each other. Give me more, Marvel!
2. Steve Rogers and Thor Odinson.
The iconic and improvised lines in "Infinity War" about the heroes' new haircuts and facial hair mid-battle is Classic SteveThor banter.
Since the first "Avengers," the two have made quick quips to one another, often teasing and sarcastic. During the Battle of New York, Thor asks Steve if he's ready for another bout, and he's quick to fire back, "Why? You getting sleepy?" When Thor asks Ultron if that's the best he can do, and in response Ultron brings out even more robots to defeat, Steve tiredly remarks, "You had to ask."
But their friendship extends beyond banter. Their similarities of superior strength and immortality bond the two together, creating a sense of mutual respect. Thor implies he considers Steve his equal in regards to immortality when he offers him beer from Asgard, a drink he claims is "not meant for mortal men."
3. Bobbi Morse and Jemma Simmons.
After saving her from HYDRA's clutches while they were both undercover, Jemma's admiration for Bobbi is clear. Throughout seasons 2 and 3, the two women go through a couple rough patches in their friendship, but ultimately come out stronger.
Bobbi's deception in season 2 causes a halt to their developing friendship, but as circumstances change and perspectives are better understood, the two mend and continue. Bobbi frequently gives Jemma advice about Fitz, and the two bond over their shared love of science.
Bobbi's exit from the show was too soon, and we severely missed out on more bonding and some quality Fitzsimmons/Huntingbird double dates.
4. Tony Stark and Natasha Romanoff.
Sure, they met while she was technically lying to, but she was just doing her job. Since "Iron Man 2," Tony and Natasha have grown closer as teammates and friends. I know it may not seem that way given the way certain events transpired in "Civil War," but trust. They're truly an iconic pair of friends; the writers have just done them dirty as of late (much like Steve and Tony, but that's a rant for another time).
In "Avengers," Natasha is worried about Tony taking the nuke into the wormhole, quietly pleading with him to make it. He asks her if she missed him, and she's seen on his arm in "Age of Ultron." It's normally small moments for the two, but they get the most screentime in "Civil War."
They continue their usual banter when she surprisingly agrees with him, and the two team up as the Avengers fall apart. They confer with one another, both trying to make sure their friends stay safe. She checks in on him to make sure he's alright after going toe to toe with Bucky, and he helps her up during the airport fight scene. She momentarily switches sides and the two end the film arguing, but that's what friends do.
The Russos just at least better give them a moment or two to resolve things and bond in "Avengers 4" or I swear I'll cry.
5. Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson.
Springing from Anthony Mackie and Sebastian Stan's great chemistry and friendship, Bucky and Sam's dynamic is fascinating.
Sure, Steve and Bucky are best friends, as are Steve and Sam, but Sam and Bucky are as well—they just enjoying bantering and messing with Steve too much to let it show. While they've only had a few moments together on screen, it's been enough to confirm that a beautiful friendship is forming. Sam is understandably a bit bitter about Bucky attacking him during "Winter Soldier," and so their interactions are a bit frosty.
The two fire quips at each other like nobody's business, and yet readily defend each other (see: Bucky jumping in front of Sam when Spider-Man was about to kick him, sending them both to the ground). While Chris Evans' contract is coming to an end by next year, these two are reportedly signed on for many more films. The future of the MCU is unclear, but I'd love to see them teaming up as one of them takes on the mantle of Captain America.
If we get to see them in the Soul World in the fourth Avengers, I need more quips and small moments of kindness. And definitely the actors' relationship with Tom Holland to parallel how they treat Peter Parker.
6. Phil Coulson, Leo Fitz, and Lance Hunter.
Each man's friendship with another is incredible all on its own. Fitz and Hunter are very clearly best friends, the show writers bringing Hunter back for a solo episode with Fitz in season 5. Fitz and Coulson, of course, have a natural father-son dynamic going; Fitz looks up to Coulson, and Coulson is consistently proud of Fitz, both having multiple heart-to-heart conversations. Especially in light of the monster that is Alistair Fitz, Leo Fitz and Coulson are the embodiment of "He may have been your father, but he ain't your daddy." Coulson and Hunter went back and forth between father-son and sarcastic pals.
So naturally the three's team up in season 2 was a thing of beauty. It was really the start of Coulson and Fitz's individual bonds with Hunter. While they had had moments before, this is when Fitz and Hunter truly became close and when Coulson's adoption of Hunter became official. Appreciation for this team-up is so scarce that I could hardly find any quality gifs of the three of them.
While a rogue faction within S.H.I.E.L.D. starts a coup and causes major drama, Coulson, Fitz, and Hunter team up to resolve things and find Daisy (then known as Skye). Their bond and casual attitude with each other gets to the point where Fitz and Hunter make offhand comments to the Director that are exceedingly informal, causing Coulson to tell them that the three of them have been "hanging out too much."
We never quite get the same dynamic or team-up between the three of them again—just a couple short exchanges in future episodes—but those few episodes in season 2 were a dream. Plus, their individual friendships continued to thrive.
7. Jessica Jones and Danny Rand.
I can't think of a single other duo that acts more like a big sister and little brother in the MCU, even with the Maximoff twins on the table (OK, that might be a bit of an exaggeration).
They fight, protect, and look up to each other like siblings. Jessica pokes fun at Danny's name, purposefully calling him Ironclad when she knows it's Iron Fist, and constantly sasses him, especially when he talks about ch'i, the Hand, and people being resurrected. He tries to shield her with his body at one point, only to get shoved off, and she knocks him out and helps tie him up to protect him from himself. Danny is consistently impressed with Jessica's strength, fawning over her in the Chinese restaurant and when she's keeping the elevator containing him and Luke from falling.
Their interactions aren't as obvious as the ones between Danny and Luke or Matt and Jessica, but their friendship is just as wonderful. I wish we could somehow see more of it. Maybe "Jessica Jones" season 3?
8. Mantis and Drax.
Both Mantis and Drax are slightly unaware of what's socially appropriate, making their dynamic one of the most amusing ones.
They first meet in "Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2," and Drax is quickly insulting her looks and how she smiles. In other words, they become friends as he teaches her how the world does (not) work. Their similar sense of humor and naiveté causes them to tease their teammates together on more than one occasion. Like the rest of the Guardians, Drax and Mantis have a bond and easy back and forth by "Infinity War" that makes them seem like best friends.
Legend has it that if you don't agree that they have a cool friendship, they'll bust into your house to take your name and kick your butt.
9. Daisy Johnson and Lance Hunter.
Before Bobbi showed up, back when Daisy didn't know her real name and was going by Skye, these two had a lot of moments. They're both similar and different enough so that they get along and can have small disagreements. The first few episodes of season 2 shows them constantly bantering over missions, first jumps out of airplanes, and whether or not it's offensive to call him "Trainspotting" since he's not Scottish. But they don't just make fun of each other all the time—they have a heart to heart about friends they've lost and their futures with S.H.I.E.L.D..
Their storylines start to diverge as Hunter finds his place in S.H.I.E.L.D. and with Bobbi and Skye/Daisy learns of her identity as an Inhuman and partners up with Mack. Their dynamic remains the same, though often in the background. It comes to the forefront a few times in season 3, like when she has to coach him through seeming like a hacker and he turns out to be the world's official slowest typist, and when he tags along with her and Mack to see if someone is actually a bloodthirsty Inhuman or not.
After the losses Daisy has experienced since Hunter's departure, I'd be very interested in seeing how she would interact with Hunter now, more on his level in regards to being jaded and cynical. Basically @ Marvel there are a thousand reasons to bring Lance Hunter back to "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D." so just do it already you cowards.
10. Shuri and Everett Ross.
Another broken white boy to fix, Shuri healed Everett Ross—and thus began a beautiful friendship. Turning the stereotype of "the white man teaching the native new things" on its head, Shuri instead is more of a guide for Ross.
The two have a great first meeting filled with banter, amazement, and science talk. Ross quickly joins Shuri, her mother, and Nakia when they have to escape Wakanda, and volunteers to join them in fighting Killmonger and reclaiming the throne. Both Shuri and Ross acknowledge each other's strengths and respect them for it.
He expressed how much he liked T'Challa and got told off by Okoye, but the person he interacts with most in this film is Shuri. They both seem to feel comfortable around each other, and it's a pity that this is probably the only time in the MCU that we'll see their friendship featured. (Though that doesn't stop me and my headcanons from imagining that they Skype every now and then so she can show him her new inventions.)
11. Maria Hill and Nick Fury
There are very few people Nick Fury trusts, and Maria Hill always seems to be one of them. She was chosen as his second-in-command before "Avengers," and they both greatly respect and trust each other. When it's all hitting the fan in "Winter Soldier," the first person he tries to contact is Maria. He fakes his death, deceiving both Cap and Natasha, but who's the one person who knows the truth? Maria.
Even after the HYDRA reveal when Maria goes to work for Tony in "Age of Ultron," she still has things up and running with Fury. Because of Coulson and Theta Protocol, they appear in Sokovia with a helicarrier to help save the day. It's never clear if she quits Stark Industries, but by "Infinity War," she's back at Fury's side. Don't even try to tell me these two aren't best friends.
PROPHETIC BONUS: Clint Barton and Scott Lang.
We only got a few exchanges between them during "Civil War," but I'm hoping either an "Ant-Man and the Wasp" post-credit scene or "Avengers 4" will show us more of their dynamic. In many ways, MCU!Scott possesses a lot of comics!Clint's characteristics, so I assume the two will be fast friends (after a lot of snark and sarcasm).
I'd love to see all of these friendships make a comeback or continue to thrive, but Marvel has never been kind to me. At least we'll always have rewatches to catch interactions and moments previously missed.