For years Marvel has been criticised for its lack of compelling baddies and admittedly outside of Loki and a few others they have been more meh than marvelous. But starting with Ego in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 and culminating in Thanos in the massive Avengers: Infinity War the MCU has been turning that trend around.
So with a huge, and I mean HUGE SPOILER ALERT, for everything before Infinity War let us rank all the main villains of the MCU so far:
#18 Whiplash, Iron Man 2
Mickey Rourke is a great actor. If you don’t believe me watch Sin City or The Wrestler. But he could not do anything with this one dimensional turd of a character. Apparently Tony Stark’s father stole his father’s technology and blah blah blah boring motivation. He spends the majority of the movie asking about some stupid bird, or at least it felt that way. An uninspired villain in the most uninspired of MCU films. Let’s move on.
#17 Malekith, Thor: The Dark World
Like Whiplash, Malekith was pretty boring and one dimensional too. And he was a bit forgettable. He barely ekes his way past Whiplash because at least he had a cool look and was not insufferably annoying.
#16 Baron Zemo, Captain America: Civil War
Oh Baron Zemo. You were like a villain but not really. You had this ridiculously complicated plot to get the Avengers to fight each other. And while you had an interesting motivation you were not really interesting yourself. You were like toast buttered with more toast.
#15 Abomination, The Incredible Hulk
Tim Roth’s Emil Blonksy, while undeveloped, was still a mildly fun, over the top character. And as Abomination he threw down with the Hulk for some nice action scenes. And after the snoozefest of Ang Lee’s Hulk that was much appreciated.
#14 Kaecillius, Dr Strange
I am a huge fan of Mads Mikkelsen and loved him as Hannibal Lecter in the TV series ‘Hannibal’ and as Le Chiffre in Bond flick Casino Royale. And while as Kaecillius he has a decent back story he is just not given much to do other than look odd, magic fight and trade words with Dr Strange and the Ancient One. Very much a waste of potential.
#13 Yellow Jacket/Darren Cross, Ant-Man
I thought Corey Stoll put in a good job as power-hungry Darren Cross. He was a little hammy but I liked his motivation and intensity. And the look of Yellow Jacket and the effects were superb! Cross had some pretty cool scenes with Michael Douglas’ Hank Pym as well.
#12 Aldrich Killian, Iron Man 3
Guy Pearce is another actor I enjoy watching. I liked his nerd-turned-megalomaniac Aldrich Killian and he had a decent power set, dragon breath notwithstanding. He was overshadowed by the whole Mandarin switcheroo, which I thought was clever, and just could not fill the shoes of that vaunted bad guy and Iron Man arch nemesis.
#11 Red Skull, Captain America: The First Avenger
Hugo Weaving’s Red Skull is the best. Well, not the best on this list, but he is so comic-book-scenery-chewing that you have to enjoy it. You just bite into that ham sandwich, diet be damned! And his face prosthetics were pretty cool too.
#10 Ultron, Avengers: Age of Ultron
The MCU certainly has attracted quite the caliber of actors to play its bad guys. For the Avengers sequel we had James Spader as the voice of genocidal AI Ultron. Now the movie was less than impressive and comic book Ultron is way more bad ass than movie Ultron, but Spader imbues the character with wit, charm and venom. If only it was more Age of Ultron and less Ultron’s Super Bad Week.
#9 Ronan the Accuser, Guardians of the Galaxy
Guardians of the Galaxy is one of my favourite MCU movies and I love everything about it, including Lee Pace’s Ronan the Accuser. I loved his aesthetic, bombast and brutality. The guy threatened the Mad Titan Thanos himself. You have to have some big cojones to do that. And watching Star-Lord confuse him with dancing is one of the best scenes in all of the MCU, bar none.
#8 Obadiah Stane, Iron Man
The MCU really hit it out of the gate in 2008 with its first film, Iron Man, and the movie remains one of its best to date. Part of that credit goes to Jeff Bridges’ Obadiah Stane. Cold, calculating, deceptive, malicious and vindictive, Stane ticks all the boxes on the application form for Really Bad Guy. And his final battle with Iron Man in the Iron Monger suit is pretty cool too.
#7 Hela, Thor: Ragnarok
Thor’s sister is literally the Goddess of Death and delivers a whole lot of it in the third outing for the Thunder God. Cate Blanchett brings a grace, poise and wit to this megalomaniac and under a less talented actress she could have been a screeching hamfest. She is also one of the most powerful villains in all of the MCU, probably only bested by Thanos with the fully powered Infinity Gauntlet. Her lost daughter story line was also interesting but sadly not delved into deep enough.
#6 The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Winter Soldier
Just missing out on the top five is the Winter Soldier played by Sebastian Stan. If the Terminator was a brainwashed assassin he would be this guy. Powerful, menacing and with a back story that tugged at the heart strings, The Winter Soldier is easily one of the best MCU villains ever.
#5 Ego, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2
It’s hard not to have a huge ego when you are a living planet but wanting to turn everything in the universe into yourself? Dang dude. Now that is narcissistic! Kurt Russel’s Ego is alternately charming and vile, comedic and menacing and deserves a planet wide applause for his wonderful portrayal.
#4 The Vulture, Spider-Man: Homecoming
Wow, Where did this one come from? Now Michael Keaton is quite a capable actor and is still one of the best to ever portray Batman on the big screen. But his turn as the Vulture was so powerful. That scene with him and Peter in the car is among the most intimidating scenes in any film, superhero and non-superhero alike. And his motivation of simply wanting to provide for his family was a welcome flip on the traditional villain modus operandi.
#3 Thanos, Avengers: Infinity War
Let’s get this out of the way, Thanos’ CGI looks a bit weird. Like bleached-eggplant-weird. But thankfully everything else works. Josh Brolin gives a muted, deep, regal performance with great gravitas. Every word is imbued with thought and power and commands the attention of everyone, including those seated in the theatre. His motivation, which I will not spoil, was interesting and actually has some fans agreeing with him. And that is something rare for any superhero villain.
#2 Killmonger, Black Panther
And speaking of viewers empathising with baddies our silver medal goes to Killmonger played by Michael B. Jordan. And he delivers a master class of a big bad. Firstly he is a sympathetic villain — his father was murdered by T’Chaka and he was alone and abandoned in the US, far away from his true homeland of Wakanda. It would be hard for him NOT to be messed up.
And while he is a swaggering, murderous son of a gun his plan to liberate his embattled fellow Africans around the world is admirable though his methods are not. And when he dies it is a touching scene, testament to how well rounded and layered a villain he was.
#1 Loki, Thor & The Avengers
Fine, nobody is surprised by the number one choice. Hearing that Loki is the best MCU movie villain (some of the Netflix MCU baddies like Kingpin and Kilgrave do give him a run for his money) is like a broken record. But Tom Hiddleston is just fantastic as Thor’s charming, power-hungry adoptive brother and the strained relationship between the two makes for compelling, almost Shakespearean drama.
Loki is so charming and witty and deceptive that you lap up every moment he is on screen like the last drop of maple syrup with your remnant of a buttermilk pancake. He is the best of the worst and that is why he is our number one MCU movie baddie.
For my Black Panther review you can click here.