The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s Secret History of Amputations

Since “Iron Man 3,” a character in nearly every Marvel Cinematic Universe film has gotten an arm chopped off.

Kevin Feige, the president of Marvel Studios and producer of every MCU movie, is a major Star Wars fan and started the amputation trend as an homage to “The Empire Strikes Back,” where Darth Vader cuts off Luke Skywalker’s hand before delivering the iconic “I am your father” line. Feige confirmed the theory in an interview with Cinema Blend four years ago.

The “Star Wars” franchise is no stranger to amputations, seeing as lightsabers are the perfect weapons for simultaneously slicing off appendages and cauterizing the wound. Every main entry, except “The Phantom Menace,” has someone lose an arm or hand. In addition to Luke, Anakin Skywalker, Darth Vader, Mace Windu, Count Dooku and General Grievous all lose an arm or two. (For true “Star Wars” fans, bounty hunter Zam Wesell in “Attack of the Clones” and Ponda Baba, the alien who harasses Luke in the Mos Eisley Cantina in “A New Hope,” both lose upper appendages to lightsabers.)

Swords, lasers, portals and other weapons sever arms in almost all the MCU movie since 2013. With “Captain Marvel” and “Avengers: Endgame” on the horizon, keep an eye out for all the new limbs lost. Here are some clips of memorable amputation moments.

Iron Man 3

The first MCU arm removal occurs in the final battle between Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.) and Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce), who’s hopped up on Extremis, a self-regenerative formula that gives him super strength. Before the evil scientist can land a deadly blow, Iron Man unsheathes a metal blade from his armor that slices off Killian’s hand.

Thor: The Dark World

The trickster god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) cuts off his half-brother Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) hand as he reaches for his trusty hammer Mjolnir in one of the MCU’s more forgettable adventures. However, it all turns out to be a magical distraction as Thor’s hand reappears and he teams up with Loki to defeat the army of Dark Elves threatening the Nine Realms of existence.

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), Captain America’s (Chris Evans) former partner thought to be lost during World War II, was revealed to be the deadly Winter Soldier targeting S.H.I.E.L.D. agents in this spy-thriller sequel. In a flashback sequence, fans see how the evil HYDRA organization brainwashed Barnes and gave him a metal arm, becoming the MCU’s most iconic amputee.

Guardians of the Galaxy

In the MCU’s first space adventure, the Guardians of the Galaxy members first meet each other while battling for an expensive bounty. The green-skinned assassin Gamora (Zoe Saldana) fights her soon-to-be teammates over a mysterious orb and chops off the hands of the tree-like creature Groot (voiced by Vin Diesel). Luckily, Groot’s hands grow back and the team puts aside their squabbles to band together.

Avengers: Age of Ultron

To add to their non-stop superhero action, both “Avengers” sequels feature two amputation scenes. In the first, the black-market weapons dealer Ulysses Klaue (Andy Serkis) mistakenly compares the evil robot Ultron (voiced by James Spader) to Iron Man, and in a fit of rage Ultron slices through the puny human’s arm with his metal hand. A villain of “Black Panther,” Klaue reappears seven movies later with a sonic-pulse-blasting robot appendage to cause trouble for the Wakandan kingdom.

Iron Man soon finds himself on the wrong side of a fight with a hypnotized Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and must debut his massive Hulkbuster armor to pacify the green behemoth. While destroying several blocks of Johannesburg streets, Hulk jams a pole through Iron Man’s arm, causing the limb to break apart. Iron Man then calls down replacement parts from a drone to quickly rebuild the arm and continue the duel against his furious teammate.


Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) and Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll) shrink and grow while engaging in a final battle in a girl’s bedroom, but Ant-Man must become dangerously tiny to sabotage Yellowjacket’s suit. As the villain’s particles start to disappear uncontrollably into the subatomic realm, the first body part to shrink out of existence is his arm.

Captain America: Civil War

In the climactic friend-versus-friend battle, Iron Man has to fend off Captain America and the Winter Soldier as they try to rip apart his armor with their super-soldier strength. He blasts the Winter Soldier with a unibeam chest laser, turning his metal arm into a singed stump. Salt in the wound for Bucky Barnes, it seems.

Black Panther

Klaue makes his brief villainous return in the first MCU movie to ever win an Oscar, but quickly lands in an interrogation room, separated from his new robotic arm. In the post-credits scene, the one-armed Winter Soldier also appears to have recuperated from the gruesome injury sustained in his last appearance.

Avengers: Infinity War

The first of two amputations occur at the end of the opening battle pitting Iron Man, Spider-Man (Tom Holland), Dr. Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Wong (Benedict Wong) against members of the supervillain Thanos’ (voiced by Josh Brolin) Black Order. After destroying several blocks in New York, Wong uses his mystical powers to teleport one of the big alien baddies into a snowy tundra, severing his hand in the process.

Looking for a way to defeat Thanos, Thor and Groot travel to a faraway planet where the dwarven blacksmith who created Thor’s hammer Mjolnir resides. They forge the powerful Stormbreaker hammer from the heart of a dying star, but the weapon still needs a hilt before taking on the purple supervillain. Groot picks up the smoldering pieces of the axe’s head, wraps his vine tendrils around them and cuts off his own arm to create the handle for the weapon.

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