Superheroes are valiant, responsible, resilient, and motivated, but on almost every occasion, these gifted individuals were regular citizens at one point or another before they were chosen to become much more than mere bystanders. As such, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has seen plentiful moments that required these self-made superheroes to dig deep and find an inner strength that only few possess.
Since its creation in 1939, Marvel has been teaching its readers that everyone has a superhero deep down inside of them, if only they take the time to look. As such, Marvel and its ensemble of extraordinary beings have produced some memorable and inspirational quotes to awaken that dormant do-gooder in all of us.
1. “I know my value, anyone else’s opinion doesn’t really matter.” – Peggy Carter (Agent Carter)
Marvel’s Agent Carter promotes all things feminist, particularly with badass broad Peggy Carter claiming the spotlight. Hayley Atwell first donned the pantsuit in Captain America: The First Avenger, wherein she received a brief cameo and became Steve Rogers’ love interest.
Peggy graced our screens again in 2015 with her solo series Agent Carter, an origin story that packed plenty of punch and proved that there is some truth to the phrase “the future is female.” Peggy Carter made it evident that she knows her worth as a woman in a man’s world and a discredited spy in a male-dominated industry.
2. “The real world is not about happy endings. It’s about taking the life you have, and fighting like hell to keep it.” – Jeri Hogarth (Jessica Jones)
Jessica Jones has many memorable quotes — though not all of them are particularly inspirational — and Krysten Ritter leads the pack in a female-led crime noir thriller that delves into some mature themes and tests the limits of its characters. Above all, Jessica Jones never backs down from sharing the cold, hard truth. There are moments within the series that sees characters with their backs against the wall just trying to fight for what they believe in. For some, they are merely fighting to survive, like the Prada-wearing python and incomparable defense attorney Jeri Hogarth.
Portrayed by Carrie-Anne Moss, Jeri Hogarth is a cynical, deceptive and stubborn woman who always puts her own needs before others. Granted, she’s not exactly “hero” material, but Jeri represents the common crowd that lives among the gifted and struggles with everyday problems.
3. “We never lose our demons. We only learn to live above them.” – Ancient One (Doctor Strange)
Considering her reputation as the “Ancient One,” it should come as little surprise that Tilda Swinton’s Sorcerer Supreme has imparted a fair amount of wisdom to those she encounters, particularly her prodigy, Stephen Strange. Although some of her quotes sound like they were taken right off a teen mom’s Facebook page, her words ring true.
In the Marvel universe, many characters battle supervillains, but others are fighting their own demons. As the Ancient One would attest, one’s mind can be their own worst enemy. Stephen Strange is a prime example of this statement, since he struggles to find himself after the horrific incident that renders him deformed. When the Ancient One says “we never lose our demons,” therein lies the inspiration to overcome what we cannot change.
4. “Compromise where you can. Where you can’t, don’t. Even if everyone is telling you that something wrong is something right. Even if the whole world is telling you to move, it is your duty to plant yourself like a tree, look them in the eye, and say, ‘No, you move.'” – Peggy Carter (via Sharon Carter, Captain America: Civil War)
Another Peggy Carter entry should be expected, since Peggy has experienced many generations and outlived the fresh-faced heroes. Unfortunately, Carter met her untimely end in Captain America: Civil War and broke the hearts of many viewers. At her funeral, Sharon Carter gives a touching eulogy and simultaneously relays one of the most powerful quotes in Marvel history.
If nothing else, the main takeaway is that you should always be yourself, support your beliefs, and do what you think is right regardless of who or what opposes you. Peggy Carter truly was a wise soul beyond her years. Granted, “plant yourself like a tree” is an odd metaphor, but we all knew what she meant.
5. “I would rather be a good man than a great king.” – Thor Odinson (Thor: The Dark World)
Thor Odinson is the living embodiment of righteousness, especially when it comes to helping others. Throughout the Thor trilogy, Odin, Frigga, Sif, and others are constantly encouraging Thor to assume the Asgardian throne and become a respectable monarch. In the beginning, Thor is overconfident, brutish, and insensitive, purely focused on gaining power and glory and nothing more. As the films progress, Thor — after meeting the Avengers — learns the true value of manhood and comes to understand that it is better to be loved than feared.
Moreover, Thor undergoes one of the biggest character arcs of all the Avengers. He loses Odin and Frigga, feuds with his half-brother Loki, and balances the responsibilities of a kingdom with those of protecting the Midgardian mortals. In Thor: The Dark World, Thor invents the mantra that it would be far better to be a good, honest man than it would to be selfish royalty.
6. “But in times of crisis the wise build bridges, while the foolish build barriers. We must find a way to look after one another, as if we were one single tribe.” – T’Challa (Black Panther)
Chadwick Boseman — may he rest in peace — breathed life into T’Challa, the original Black Panther. As a natural-born leader and fearsome warrior, T’Challa taught us to lead with love, not authority. Not only that, but Black Panther demonstrates why legacies are important and reminds us that women have always been destined for greatness. In Wakanda, the tribes operate as one unit rather than individual groups with separate beliefs.
T’Challa, above all, always believed in communion and companionship, especially in regards to Wakandians. With all the wisdom of an elder, T’Challa reminds his tribe to help others in need, for not everyone is as fortunate with an abundance of resources as Wakanda natives would be. In times of distress, T’Challa reminds us that fighting as a collective is more effective than fighting alone.
7. “This is why you were chosen. Because a strong man, who has known power all his life, will lose respect for that power. But a weak man knows the value of strength and knows compassion.” – Dr. Abraham Erskine (Captain America: The First Avenger)
Marvel, despite focusing on its central heroes, does give a fair share of screen time to its supporting characters now and then. While not all of them are relevant, some of them have acted as a moral compass for the protagonists. For Tony Stark, it was Pepper Potts. For Thor, it was Odin and Frigga. For Captain America, it was Dr. Abraham Erskine, the attending doctor at the research facility where Steve was experimented on to become the very first super soldier prototype.
Before Steve became Captain America, he was a small-town goody-two-shoes hoping to make a difference. When he met Dr. Erskine, everything changed. Despite some conflicting moral viewpoints, Dr. Erskine was a revolutionary genius, but never allowed himself to be blinded by the scientific possibilities. When Steve was preparing to undergo the experimentation, Abraham reassured him that the serum would alter his physique, but underneath it all, Rogers should remain a humble and remember where his strength came from.
8. “Everyone fails at who they’re supposed to be, Thor. The measure of a person, of a hero, is how well they succeed at being who they are.” – Frigga (Avengers: Endgame)
Frigga, dearly missed by many, taught us to be ourselves — one of the most important life lessons that anyone can learn. We can all find ourselves drowning in the expectations of others, especially when we take the inevitable journey of self-discovery that leads to us becoming who we were meant to be. During that time, it can be an easy mistake to pursue other opinions besides our own, but ultimately, ours is the only one that matters.
When Thor becomes overwhelmed by expectations to rule Asgard, Frigga offers some valuable advice. She reassures him that everyone fails at who they should be because it rarely ever is who they are, but the value of heroism is marked by the ability to unashamedly be who they are despite everyone else telling them to be something else. By being ourselves, we unlock hidden traits in ourselves that are kept at bay by crippling expectations.
9. “The price of freedom’s high. Always has been. It’s a price I’m willing to pay.” – Steve Rogers (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Anyone who knows Captain America knows that he stands for freedom. In his eyes, without freedom, humanity is doomed. After all, every superhero has that driving force that veers them toward the virtuous path. Whenever discussing wars, there are always sacrifices that have been made. When we look throughout history, countless lives have been lost in the name of freedom and prosperity. Steve Rogers lives by these virtues and would be more than willing to die for them, as iterated by one of his most famous quotes.
Most times, the Avengers rarely see eye-to-eye, but Steve Rogers acts as the voice of reason more often than not. Arguably, Rogers is the definition of a “hero” in every sense of the word.
10. “Do you know what is the greatest gift anyone can receive in his lifetime? The greatest gift we can receive is to have the chance, just once in our lives, to make a difference.” – Stephen Strange (Doctor Strange)
As previously mentioned, superheroes want to make a difference. Their sole purpose is to positively impact the lives of others in any way they can. Stephen Strange, after suffering a car accident that left him deformed and unable to perform life-saving surgeries, decided to look inward and reinvent himself to discover a new purpose. After some soul-searching, Strange masters the art of ancestry magic, passed down through generations to keep the multiverse secure.
From then on, Strange becomes Doctor Strange and pledges to keep otherworldly beings at bay by protecting the regional sanctums — the prime locations for other dimensions to overlap. Similar to Steve Rogers valuing his freedom most of all, Strange values the second chance he was given after surviving a near-fatal incident.
11. “And you think life takes more than it gives, but not today. Today it’s giving us something. It’s giving us a chance.” – Peter Quill (Guardians of the Galaxy)
At some point in our lives, we all feel defeated by life and all its trials and tribulations. We all feel that life takes a lot more than it gives, especially for those less fortunate than others. After the Guardians of the Galaxy face the odds stacked against them, Peter Quill, the self-appointed leader, finds solace in the knowledge that the universe is not done with them yet. Upon reflection, the Guardians realize that in order to live happy, fulfilling lives, they must first fulfill their purpose of saving the galaxy.
Peter Quill is an acquired taste, and admittedly, you either love him or you hate him. Either way, there can be no denying that while he does have his moments of idiocy, there is a persistent mortal underneath who has faced plenty of hardships and knows the struggles that life throws at us.
12. “The hardest choices require the strongest wills.” – Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War)
In Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos made some questionable choices, to say the least. Strangely, as much as he can be held responsible for genocide, he made some strong arguments as far as personal goals go. Obviously, Thanos represents the “you can do anything if you put your mind to it” mindset, especially since eradicating half the known population is not an easy feat.
Life will throw hard curveballs at us, but if we have a strong will, our choices will be easier to make. Do with this information what you will ⏤ Thanos said it, not us. Whether we agree with his actions or not, Thanos gains props for teaching us to follow our dreams, though in a more psychopathic manner than your average Disney princess might.
13. “You never know. You hope for the best and make do with what you get. – Nick Fury (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
Nick Fury is a stone-cold overseer if ever there was one. It helps that Samuel L. Jackson brings a “no-nonsense” attitude to Fury’s character that may not have been so prominent without his acting chops to back it up. Regardless, Fury is an average man, not gifted nor chosen to become unstoppable, and operates from ground-level, ensuring that missions run smoothly.
As the saying goes, “Hope for the best but expect the worst.” It can be assumed that Fury follows that same principle, especially as he accepts, like many of us might, that the worst case scenario isn’t a favorable one, but if we get dealt a rubbish hand, we bluff it and make it work. All in all, solid advice for anyone that feels disconnected from a sense of gratitude and motivation.
14. “I know you were only doing what you believe in, and that’s all any of us can do, it’s all any of us should. So no matter what, I promise if you — if you need us, if you need me, I’ll be there.” – Steve Rogers (Captain America: Civil War)
Surprise, surprise. Steve Rogers makes the list yet again. As America’s symbol of hope and freedom, it should be written in the fine print that a bold leader gives motivational speeches from time to time. For Captain America, that task is not a strenuous one. At any given opportunity, Rogers is ready to rouse his comrades and charge head-first into battle.
In Captain America: Civil War, Steve Rogers and Tony Stark have a small disagreement when it comes to the Sokovian accords. Rogers bickers with Stark incessantly, even to the brink of flat-out war, but when the dust settles, Rogers reassures Stark that all anyone can do is fight for what they believe in. As a freedom fighter himself, it would be expected of him to make such a heartwarming statement.
15. “No man can win every battle, but no man should fall without a struggle.” – Peter Parker (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Out of all the Avengers, you would least expect Peter Parker to be the first port of call for life advice, but as it turns out, Parker is more knowledgable than he looks. If the science nerd get-up didn’t give it away, then nothing will. Most inspirational quotes follow the trend of “If you get knocked down, you get up again,” which is actually Spider-Man’s motto: “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Peter Parker lays it out as simply and honestly as possible. Not every battle can be won, but if you fail, you should go out fighting. That, above all, is one of the biggest lessons that life can teach.