- Release Date
- April 26th
After 10 years and 21 films, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has delivered its fair share of villainous characters. While some have been unmemorable and downright disappointing, others have proven to be formidable foes for their Avenger adversaries. Here are our choices for the top ten best major villains in the MCU.
(WARNING: SPOILERS BELOW)
- The Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
- Ghost (Ant-Man & The Wasp)
- Yon-Rogg (Captain Marvel)
10. Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)
An unconventional pick considering some of the other villains in the MCU, Rockwell’s performance makes Iron Man 2 manageable. As Justin Hammer, he brings subtle comedy to this story in a delightful look at a character who makes Iron Man face the consequences of his actions. Without him, this film becomes a boring CGI-heavy firefight with no real purpose or growth for its main character.
9. Obadiah Stane (Iron Man)
The man who inadvertently started this whole situation was Tony’s mentor and friend Obadiah played by Jeff Bridges. This character is a strong antagonist for Tony showing him all the qualities he despises in himself in order to come out of his origin story a changed man. Without him, Tony would have never gotten captured and created the Iron Man suit so thanks Obadiah for the MCU.
8. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)
Apparently when a planet manifests itself as a person the go-to look is Kurt Russell and we’re not mad at that. In this sequel, Ego plays to Star Lord’s humanity and tries to convince him to join him on his evil quest to take over the universe. This brings a lot of character growth for Star Lord in particular as well as other Guardians including a certain green alien with her own daddy issues. Without him, the Guardians wouldn’t have found themselves brought closer together while bringing a few new addition in along the way.
7. Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers: Infinity War)
How do you make a Nazi look more sinister? Peel off his face and replace it with an all-red devil one. That is the physical appearance of Captain America’s first nemesis Red Skull, but it’s more than the outside of this character that makes him such a good villain. In typically Nazi fashion, this man is a ruthless, ambitious soldier who will do anything to achieve his goals. This cutthroat attitude is portrayed viciously by Hugo Weaving giving a truly menacing adversary for the First Avenger. Without him, Captain America and the Tesseract would have been lost forever at the end of World War 2.
6. Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)
It took a while for the Thor franchise to find itself another proper villain as they had to keep it in the family again. Cate Blanchett’s Hela is cold, ruthless, but seems somewhat justified in her actions with her tragic backstory involving their dear father Odin. This pairs nicely with the badass persona she has, taking on the entire Asgardian army to claim what is rightfully hers. Without her, Thor would still have an eye and would not have been tested to unleash his untapped powers.
5. Helmut Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)
A surprisingly high addition to this list is a character that does little more than let a video play on a screen, but it gets the job done. Daniel Bruhl’s Zemo is meticulous and calculated in his destruction of the Avengers, waiting until the perfect opportunity to deliver the final blow. He may not seem like much, but his cool demeanor and motivations after the fallout of Sokovia make for a strong revenge story. Without him, the Avengers would have never broken up and perhaps may have stood more of a chance against Thanos.
4. Adrian Toomes (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
While this one may not be high up on other people’s lists, it was a great and surprising antagonist for Spider-Man. Rather than give another rendition of some CGI monster or the Green Goblin, the filmmakers went with a more relatable, human villain that would hit closer to home. Michael Keaton beautifully portrays that with a reserved, yet powerful performance that creates a deeply layered person who will do anything for his family. Without him, Peter Parker would have never learned that sometimes the enemy is a lot closer than they appear.
3. Killmonger (Black Panther)
Killmonger was the first great villain to enter the MCU since Loki and this is all thanks to his character and the person behind it. As a man recently discovering his true heritage, Killmonger has justifiable motivations for his actions. This pairs with the strong, dynamic and scene-stealing performance by Michael B. Jordan who is easily seen as a rival of T’Challa for the throne of Wakanda. The empathy for this character and the performance of it makes it really hard not to see and understand his situation blurring the line between hero and villain. Without him, T’Challa would have never proven himself worthy of the throne and united the clans of Wakanda.
2. Thanos (The Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy franchises)
At the runnerup spot is the big adversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Thanos took a long time to appear onscreen, but when he did, this character made his mark. After a few CGI changes, Josh Brolin’s motion capture was put into place and this allows him to not only show off his physical power, but some emotional vulnerability as well. The entire story of Infinity War deals with Thanos, his backstory and his motivations setting him up as almost an anti-hero with the somewhat realistic ideologies he hopes to enact. Without him, the invasion of New York, the Guardians forming and the Decimation would have never occurred.
1. Loki (The Avengers and Thor franchises)
And to top this list is of course the most memorable, and used, villain in the MCU. Loki stole the show in many of the films he has been in and that is thanks to the phenomenal, chameleon-like performance of Tom Hiddleston. As the God of Mischief, he brings us on a rollercoaster of emotions watching him go from a genocide-crazed madman to a sympathetic lost soul with one of the strongest redemption arcs of any anti-hero. Without him, Thor would have been lost and most likely killed numerous times and the Avengers would have never had a reason to form in the first place.
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