MCU Villains | top ten
Who's the best at being bad?
What do you do when your internet is working again, but the post you got ready for Friday has vanished from sight? You drag a pre-written list in to fill the spot of course! Ugh, 2022 sucks so far and I'd really like at least one month without something messing up in my life at some point, but April's already failed that test on Day 1 and then there's a Conservative government doing it's best to drive the population into poverty...
So in the spirit of bad guys winning with no indication that they're going to be beaten soon, it feels pretty appropriate to have a post about villains - at least, it does to me. And despite the Marvel Cinematic Universe's reputation for having poor villains, there have actually been quite a lot of good ones, especially as said universe has continued to expand.
Note: I'm keeping to the primary villains of the piece here, so the likes of Dormammu and Surtur don't count for Doctor Strange or Thor: Ragnarok; nor do the more henchmen-like villains such as the members of the Black Order in Infinity War and Endgame. Group threats such as the Sovereign (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2) and HYDRA (too many to list) don't count either.
10. Ultron | What If...?
Is it cheating to put a character from an animated series in here? I don't think so when it looks like another character from the series may be appearing in live-action soon. Anyway, this particular version of Ultron is arguably the biggest threat the MCU has seen so far, threatening all life across all realities, which is a pretty impressive feat.
9. Mysterio | Spider-Man: Far From Home
Jake Gyllenhaal's performance and the creative interpretation make what could've been a goofy character into something memorable. Bet you didn't notice him unmasked when Peter's class arrived in Venice, did you? Mysterio is a slippery one and his 'battle' with Spider-Man through the use of illusions is one of the best sequences in the MCU.
8. Hela | Thor: Ragnarok
You know, sometimes it's just fun to watch a big star go over the top and chew the scenery into oblivion and that's just what Cate Blanchett does with the role. Hela's so much fun to watch despite the fact that she's essentially unstoppable without deliberately causing the end of Thor's world.
7. Vulture | Spider-Man: Homecoming
There are three moments that cement Michael Keaton's excellent performance as Vulture here: 1) the group sharp intake of breath when it was revealed he was the father of Spidey's love interest; 2) Keaton's brilliantly threatening conversation with Peter in the car; 3) and the fact that he's not an arsehole, protecting Spidey's identity out of respect for saving both his and his daughter's life at separate points in the movie.
6. Agatha Harkness | WandaVision
Now, does Agatha - or Agnes, as she pretended to be for so long - belong here or should it really be Wanda? Considering the reveal of just how much Agatha was screwing with Wanda from the beginning, I think it has to be the newcomer (although technically much, much older than Wanda) - especially thanks to Kathryn Hahn's fantastic performance.
5. Green Goblin | Spider-Man: No Way Home
You know, this Spider-Man fella has got some pretty good enemies - even if some of them do come from other realities/Spider-Man film series. Willem Dafoe is just a fantastic actor and is arguably even better as the Goblin here than he was in the original Spider-Man. A deliciously murderous enemy who is an absolute blast to watch - sometimes a batshit insane villains is what you need.
4. Erik Killmonger | Black Panther
Michael B. Jordan is excellent in the role, as you'd expect from an actor as talented as he is, but it's the fact that there's a hell of a lot of truth to what he says that makes him such a good villain. It's hard to call someone a villain when you can completely understand why he feels the way he does, but his methods of retribution and desiring to become an oppressor himself are what cement him in the 'bad guy' camp.
3. Xu Wenwu | Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings
The most recent entry on this list and mainly here because of Tony Leung's fantastic performance as a control freak driven to villainous ends due to his inability to deal with the loss of his wife. His violent nature and 'ends justifies any means' methods confirm his villain status, but you still feel sympathy for him throughout - a tricky tightrope to walk, but done to near-perfection.
2. Thanos | Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame
There's very few villains who have left audiences in utter shock at the end of a movie, but the Mad Titan is one of them. As a comic book fan, I was fully expecting Infinity War to end with 'the snap' and, as various beloved characters died off at the end to add to those who died earlier in the movie, it was incredible to just people-watch as everyone realised the Avengers had lost.
1. Baron Helmut Zemo | Captain America: Civil War, The Falcon and the Winter Soldier
Yep, it's a guy without any superpowers at the top, because he's easily the most successful villain of the lot. He tore apart the Avengers in Civil War, then eliminated the super-soldiers in his Disney+ showing. Daniel Brühl perfectly plays Zemo as someone who is more than a step ahead of everyone else and willing to do whatever it takes, while resisting all temptations, to achieve his goals. He's basically a villainous Batman for the MCU and he even has a dedicated butler to help him come out on top!