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People are making a big deal out of Ms. Marvel being the first explicit depiction of Muslim characters in the MCU, but it occurred to me that it's actually unusual to see characters who are explicitly followers of any real-world current religion (not counting aliens or fictional cults) in the franchise.

I posted the ones I know about in a self-answer, but I'm hoping to find some more concrete examples. Are there any better ones that I'm missing?

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    Cap is Christian, Marc Spectre is Jewish.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 16:20
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    Regarding X-Men I'm not sure they really count as MCU... yet, anyway.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 16:20
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    Ben Grimm is Jewish. Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 16:26
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    Well, that's part of the dominant status of Christianity in the United States in a certain sense, isn't it? Christians kind of get to assume that a character without explicit signifiers is Christian, whereas Muslims, Jews, Hindus, atheists, and so forth can't really take it for granted.
    – Adamant
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 16:36
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    Cap has his line in Avengers “There’s only one god, ma’am”. He doesn’t specify much about that god though, so although it rules out Cap being Hindu, it’s not strictly definitive about his religion. Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 17:33

2 Answers 2

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Only exceptions I can think of are all borderline cases:

MCU Films

  • Captain America (Steve Rogers): Based on his "There's only one God, ma'am" line, he's at least a monotheist, most likely Christian or possibly Jewish, but it's never specified beyond that.
  • Thor, Loki, Odin et al.: Okay, they're literally Norse gods. But 1.) The Norse religion isn't exactly "current", and 2.) They aren't so much followers of the religion as the actual subjects of it. I'd classify the Egyptian gods in the Moon Knight series the same way. Also, even if these religions were still widely practiced, their depiction in the MCU bears only a passing resemblance to the actual religions, it's a highly fictionalized version of them at best.
  • Black Panther: The various factions in Wakanda appear to be a hodge-podge of multiple real-world African religions, with some fictionalized elements thrown in. Not sure I know enough about these to say how much is based on reality and how much is completely made up.
  • Dr. Strange: His order operate out of what appear to be Buddhist temples and monasteries. Not sure that this means they're actually Buddhist though, or if that's just something of a front to hide the fact that they're actually a bunch of mystical sorcerers. Even if they are actually Buddhist, they're at best a fictionalized version of Buddhists who have actual demonstrable magical powers. This would be akin to claiming that the Scarlet Witch is an actual Wiccan...
  • Shang-Chi: His family appears to be more real-world Buddhist, though Shang-Chi himself doesn't seem to be that big into it. (Not counting the ones in that fantasy realm for the same reason as Dr. Strange's sorcerers.)

Television

  • Ms. Marvel: Kamala Khan's whole family (and almost everyone else on the show) are Muslim, as mentioned in the original question.
  • Marc Spector: We see him at a funeral a couple of times in flashbacks, and his family appears to be Jewish, based mostly on the men wearing yarmulkes. No indication that he is still practicing though. Even non-practicing Jews (or sometimes even people who aren't Jewish at all) tend to wear them at formal events such as weddings or funerals if the people involved are Jewish. (Given that he's the literal avatar for an Egyptian god, it might be a bit of a conflict of faith for him, but "being conflicted" is basically his whole character, so that doesn't rule it out necessarily.)
  • Daredevil: If we're including the Netflix shows, Daredevil is definitely Catholic, though this aspect is a bit downplayed in the show, compared to the Ben Affleck movie, where it's much more prominent (much of the movie takes place in a cathedral which he uses as a hideout, his confidante is an actual priest, etc.) The 3rd season does bring it up a bit more, revealing that his mother is a nun, and he's hiding out in a church, much like the film.
  • Luke Cage: Well, his dad is a minister of some sort, I want to say Baptist, but I don't know if they ever get that specific. Luke himself does not seem to be all that into it, and his father is something of an antagonist. Also from the Netflix shows, so borderline canon with the main MCU.
  • Yo-Yo Rodriguez: From Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., openly discusses her belief in God. She's not specific about her faith, but given her upbringing in Colombia and her habit of performing the cross gesture on herself, she's probably Catholic.
  • Daisy's mom: (has got it going on?) Also operates her faction of Inhumans out of what appears to be a Buddhist monastery. Though much like Dr. Strange, this does not mean they are necessarily actually Buddhist, since they come from all over the world. She did grow up in China though, so she might be even if the other Inhumans are not. The Inhumans from the show of that name would definitely not count - they live on the moon, any faith they have would be fictional by definition.
  • Assorted Hawaiian natives: Speaking of Inhumans, much of the show takes place in Hawaii, and many of the characters are native Hawaiians, several of them explicitly followers of the Hawaiian religion. Canonicity is a bit thin - Inhumans as a concept were introduced in Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but no characters cross over between them. We did however see Black Bolt (played by the same actor) in Multiverse of Madness though.

Non-MCU Films

(included only because they may be considered connected to the MCU thanks to Prof. X's recent cameo in Multiverse of Madness)

  • Magneto: Eric Lensherr, who is a holocaust survivor, thus at least raised Jewish. But I don't think we've ever seen him practicing the religion. Also, he's almost always the villain, so... that's not great.
  • Nightcrawler: Also explicitly Catholic, so I'll give them that one.
  • The kids in Logan: Well, when he dies at the end, they put a cross over his grave, so some sort of Christian faith is implied? But then Laura turns it to make it an X, which is really more appropriate for him anyhow. This barely counts.
  • Ben Grimm: (Per @Giacomo1968's answer) Playing very loose with canonicity on this one, since the only connection the MCU has to the Fantastic Four so far is Reed Richards, played by a different actor than in all the FF films, appearing in Multiverse of Madness. But in Fant4stic, we do see a menorah and a Mezuzzah in his childhood home in a flashback, which would imply he was raised Jewish. No indication in any of the films including this one that he's still practicing, though it's more explicit in the comics.
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    What religion is Thor (and the rest of the Norse gods? I doubt that they would worship themselves. Maybe they worship Odin, but the dynamic between Thor and Odin is wrong for that.
    – NomadMaker
    Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 21:07
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    @NomadMaker Someone's already asked that question, though it wouldn't apply to this question, as in the MCU, Asgardians are aliens from another planet, thus any religion they practice (if they have one at all) would be a fictional one. Commented Jul 5, 2022 at 21:12
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    It doesn't appear that any of the Marvel characters besides Nightcrawler are really practicing their religion. I admit I'm not 100% familiar with every Marvel comic, but have seen most, and no real evidence of religious practice. P.S. FYI: Jewish converts often find the phrase "ethnically Jewish" offensive. "Jew by birth" would be more accurate and inoffensive. Not bashing, just informing.
    – Jeffiekins
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 4:34
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    Maybe I'm misremembering, but doesn't quite a lot of the Daredevil Netflix show revolve around Matt trying to reconcile his superhero responsibilities with his Catholic belief & upbringing?
    – Yann
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 6:41
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    I don't know that I'd agree that the Catholic angle is downplayed in the Netflix version of Daredevil - Murdock frequently seeks Father Paul Lantom's counsel, and (spoilers)....................................................at the start of season 3, he's pretty much residing in a hostel or something run by nuns out of a church while recovering from an injury that affected his hearing. And then of course (more spoilers)..........................................................he finally finds out he's actually the son of the nun who's caring for him (she conceived him in a moment of weakness).
    – Deepak
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 10:30
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The Thing (Ben Grimm) is Jewish

NOTE: After posting this I was reminded in the comments that this question is about the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe) and not Mavel comics in general. Leaving this up here anyway as a reference.


As this article on CBR explains:

“In Fantastic Four (Vol 3) #56, Grimm returns to his old neighborhood and reunites with Mr. Sheckerberg, a pawn shop owner he knew as a child. Flashbacks during this story reveal his Jewish heritage. Grimm even recites the Shema for a dying Mr Sheckerberg, as it's traditional for Jews to say that prayer as their last words.”

“After thirteen years as Thing, he has a Bar Mitzvah. The comics show him at a synagogue reading from the Torah, one of the most overt displays of Judaism in comic book history. Not only does he reclaim his Jewish heritage, but the Bar Mitzvah ceremony draws an astute parallel between becoming an adult in the religion and his transformation.”

More details on Fantastic Four, Volume 3, Number 56 can be found here.

“Checking on Hiram, Ben begins to think that he is dead and begins reciting a Jewish Kaddish over his body. However Hiram wakes up very much alive. Hiram is impressed that Ben hasn't forgotten what he learned in Temple over the years. This follows into a discussion about Ben's faith and how he doesn't talk about how he is Jewish to the press.”

Even before this explicit explanation of Ben Grimm’s Jewish roots, the creator of the Thing (Jack Kirby) sent out Hanukkah cards like this:

Jack Kirby Hanukkah card featuring the Thing himself.

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    The Thing is not (yet) in the MCU though so this isn't really an answer to the question imo.
    – TheLethalCarrot
    Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 15:15
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    @TheLethalCarrot And even in the movies where he does appear, I don't recall this ever being brought up (mind you I'm trying to forget having seen any of those movies). But so far it seems to be comics-only? Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 15:18
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    @FuzzyBoots Can you find a clip? Not even sure which movie you mean, but I know there was one that showed them all as kids, so it's probably that one? That might be enough for a positive ID, though it's the biggest stretch so far in that it'd be a background prop that is not acknowledged by any of the characters. (At least with Marc Spector, the main character was actually wearing the identifying object.) Commented Jul 6, 2022 at 19:53
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    @Giacomo1968 :-D No, not yet. The only X-Man or FF hero we've seen in the MCU (outside of a few outliers like Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch) are Mr. Fantastic and Professor X.
    – FuzzyBoots
    Commented Jul 7, 2022 at 2:57
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    I just realized, based on that picture, that Ben Grimm is basically an actual Golem. Dude made of rocks, with that Hebrew text across his collar (okay so it's not on his forehead, close enough) - it's almost like they were trying to imply that... Commented Jul 8, 2022 at 15:53

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