Over the years, while the MCU has certainly done well in translating their heroes to the big screen, they haven’t always done well in doing the same for their villains. Performance-wise they’re mostly fine but they aren’t always the most compelling. Heck it got to the point where sometimes I’d just call them disposable MCU number X. Even Samuel L. Jackson admitted that DC does villains better. And for the most part I am inclined to agree with that. But sometimes Marvel does truly step up with a great villain that can truly make a movie. This article takes a look at the top 5 MCU villains.
Honorable mentions: Hela-Thor Ragnarok and Quentin Beck aka Mysterio-Spider-Man: Far From Home
Cate Blanchett definitely seemed to be having fun in portraying this character but sadly she’s largely one-dimensional and the movie, while good, could have done without a few scenes of her ruling Asgard. Overall though her performance is done well enough to keep her from becoming immensely hammy and keeps her from becoming your average MCU baddie.
Mysterio definitely has an interesting motivation with a good quote to back it up (“These days, you can be the smartest guy in the room, the most qualified, and no one cares. Unless you’re flying around with a cape, or shooting lasers with your hands, no one will even listen”). Jake Gyllenhaal’s performance does do well in passing himself off as a genuine ally to Peter even knowing he’s supposed to be a villain (albeit to a fault) as well as the unstable and ruthless part of him as well. And Marvel did moderately well to lift his look (particularly with the fish bowl head) and expertise in illusions and special effects from the comics and translate it to the big screen. The only problem? That whole reveal scene is downright goofy almost on a Raimi level and really undermines so much of him.
5. The Winter Soldier-Captain America: The Winter Soldier
This guy is lowest on the list because technically he’s not even a bad guy as much he was just brainwashed. While it’s not a big mystery as to who this guy is, not only does he offer some impressive combat scenes but also his connection to our main hero plays an important role in challenging Cap’s moral compass to do what’s right even if it means doing what’s wrong. While he is like most Marvel villains, a physical obstacle, his connection to Captain America is an emotional core of his and Cap’s journey to the end of the line.
4. Adrian Toomes aka Vulture-Spider-Man: Homecoming
I’ve gone into this guy quite a few times so I will try to keep it brief. But Michael Keaton was a fantastic casting and brings an incredible aura of charm, charisma, and menace to his character that no Spider-Man villain had ever done before. He’s not a man bent on ruling the world with his weapons but just a blue-collar guy screwed by the system and is trying his best to provide for his family. And we see the ways he genuinely cares for them. He doesn’t need weapons or powers to be frightening. He just has to be him.
3. Eric Killmonger-Black Panther
Thank god Michael B. Jordan redeemed himself from the Human Torch in Fant4stic (should we even call him that the movie certainly didn’t). He has a legitimately depressing backstory of his father being killed right in front of him and being denied his royal heritage. And While his methods were definitely extreme his intentions to share Wakandan technology to help the oppressed of African descent around the world are noble. And his idea to dominate as opposed to lead is something reflected in the ideals of him and T’Challa respectively. The only downside is that he doesn’t appear until halfway through the movie. He may have been a villain but he does ultimately convince T’Challa to open Wakanda to the world.
2. Loki-The Thor movies and The Avengers
The story of Loki the god of mischief is one of tragedy. Having been ignored in favor of his brother, turned to a life of villainy to get his family’s attention. And Tom Hiddleston’s performance does well to bring that perfect balance of pathos and comic book charm to his character. In a time where some may find Marvel movies predictable, Loki proved to be capable of keeping an audience on their toes with his allegiances and motives over the course of the movies. While he mostly became an anti-hero as the movies progressed, he still has many of the qualities that made him likable throughout each one. And while he was killed off in Infinity War, thanks to the time traveling shenanigans of Endgame he’s now set for a new series on Disney+ starting from the events of the first Avengers. And hopefully the best of Loki can still shine through that even if the development from subsequent movies is gone.
While I’m sure no one’s surprised by this, I’m specifically going with the Infinity War because the Thanos in Endgame was far more simplified version of what this one stood for. Thanos was a hyped villain from the get-go to the point fans were almost skeptical. But Infinity War is practically a Thanos movie to the point the Avengers almost take a back seat. But the movie is strong in making a frightening image of this guy with his twisted relationship with his daughters, his well-meaning yet disturbingly misguided motivation to snap away half of life in the universe to conserve the universe’s resources, how powerful he is with and without the gauntlet, what he cares about, and how he executes his actions. The whole scene where he converses with Dr. Strange is a highlight of a lot of this and true to his word does not rule over the confused population but retires to a quiet life. It’s fascinatingly disturbing.
It took a while for Marvel to step up in villains but even at their best some mistakes of the past still remain. What are your top 5 MCU villains? Are there any villains you think deserve a spot up here? Any you disagree with? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!