The Terror of Ten: The Biggest Villains of the MCU
The accumulation of billions of dollars has further proven the obvious – we are downright obsessed with Marvel movies.
In all the films of the MCU’s various phases, the villains are a large part of that success, and they’ve grown just as popular as the heroes and are strangely beloved by fans who alternate between cheering for them and condemning their evil.
Here, we’re taking a look at a list of villains who could be considered among the best the MCU has to offer. For the sake of brevity, the list is narrowed down to ten, but trust us when we say there are a host of other on-screen MCU villains who could’ve also made the cut.
10. Ronan the Accuser
Ronan the Accuser was an enemy to both the Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain Marvel. His people, the Kree, signed a treaty with the enemy Xandarian people, and this caused him to leave the Kree Empire because he hated the Xandarians with a passion.
He became very powerful while wielding the Orb, which contained the Power Infinity Stone. He had recovered the Orb to give to Thanos, who promised to help Ronan wipe out Xandar. However, the Kree zealot backed out of this and instead decided to keep the Orb for himself until Star-Lord and the Guardians used it to finally destroy him.
In Captain Marvel, which took place years before Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan is sent to destroy the Skrulls who have landed on Earth. Carol Danvers (Captain Marvel) forces him to retreat.
9. Aldrich Killian
Aldrich Killian was a highly intelligent scientist who pulled the strings in Iron Man 3. He worked with the Extremis virus, which gave him and his henchmen superhuman strength – Killian could actually destroy Iron Man’s many suits.
He also claimed to be the Mandarin, the leader of a group Iron Man had fought in the past, the Ten Rings. This was just a cover for his Extremis experiments, which would cause test subjects to explode in public – what were thought to be bombings were actually people whose bodies rejected the Extremis treatment.
Killian tried to manipulate Tony Stark into providing him with a better version of the Extremis virus, even capturing Stark’s lover, Pepper Potts, and subjecting her to the virus. The virus was very unstable, and Killian was using Potts so that Iron Man would develop a way to stabilize it.
Thankfully, Potts managed to kill Killian with her own temporarily-granted superhuman abilities.
8. Winter Soldier
Steve Rogers, AKA Captain America, had a best friend growing up named James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes. In decades of comic lore, before the Winter Soldier idea, Bucky had been a faithful sidekick to Captain America. The characters even served in the Army together, so Rogers could never have guessed that Barnes would one day become a formidable enemy – especially since Barnes was thought to have died during a mission many years before.
Inspired by spy and war fiction of the mid 20th century, the Winter Soldier as a character is similar to Captain America in that he is a genetically enhanced super soldier. Unfortunately, he became a villain for a time, and it makes for some interesting drama between Barnes and Rogers in the films. Bucky was brainwashed by the HYDRA organization to be an assassin, and his kill count was scarily impressive, even taking responsibility for the assassination of Howard and Maria Stark.
Later on, Rogers helped him remember his identity, and the people of Wakanda removed his bionic arm and HYDRA programming. He then became the White Wolf. Of course, the Snap eventually put an end (?) to his new life as a hero during Avengers: Infinity War.
A memorable villain, Ultron is a sophisticated machine created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. As with many sci-fi stories, he represents technology created for good that can end up going very badly for the world.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, Ultron was designed to assist the Avengers, and his artificial intelligence was boosted by elements from Loki’s Scepter. Even after being physically destroyed, Ultron’s intelligence was able to exist through the internet, and he was capable of building new bodies for himself as well as his own personal army of robots. His ultimate goal was humanity’s annihilation.
The most interesting aspect of this character is the fact that he is very similar to his creator, Tony Stark.
Hela was portrayed by Cate Blanchett in Thor: Ragnarok. Based on the Norse goddess of death (Hel), she is the first born child of Odin. She once commanded Asgard’s armies, leading to the brutal conquest of billions. Her savage fighting style and intimidating looks make her a force to be reckoned with, which meant bad news for the universe when Odin’s death released her from imprisonment.
The combined might of Thor, Hulk, Scrapper 142 (Valkyrie), and many others wasn’t enough to stop Hela. Thankfully though, the resurrection of Surtur brought about Ragnarok, the end of Asgard. Though the kingdom was destroyed, Surtur did put an end to Hela’s reign. The citizens of Asgard survived for the most part, hopeful for a new future elsewhere.
5. Red Skull
First appearing in Captain America Comics #7, Red Skull was welcomed onto the screen in Captain America: The First Avenger by millions of comic fans. To this day, these Marvel fans see him as one of the most terrifying of all villains, at least in his grotesque appearance.
His real name is Johann Schmidt, and he was a Nazi officer and scientist who led a part of the Third Reich called HYDRA. He studied occult magic, believing it to be a great tool for his army. He forced a man named Erskine to make a potion that would give him superhuman abilities. However, the potion severely scarred Schmidt, changing him into the hideous Red Skull – his outside now matched his inside.
After separating from the Third Reich, Red Skull fought with Captain America before touching the Tesseract with his bare hands and disappearing. He was thought to have died, but was later seen as the Stonekeeper in Avengers: Infinity War, guiding Thanos and Gamora to the Soul Stone on the planet Vormir.
Loki, the God of Mischief, is an enigmatic character who teeters between sensitive brother and ruthless conqueror. Adopted brother to Thor, he was always jealous of the God of Thunder, and he caused mayhem for him, Asgardians, and Earthlings on several occasions.
Generally, he was a playful trickster, but he also had a strong desire for domination. He wasn’t truly an Asgardian, and he hated his father for lying to him about it. This led to him trying to take over the kingdom and incite war.
When that failed, he fell through the abyss created by the destruction of the Bifrost Bridge, and eventually made a deal with Thanos. He would take the Tesseract, an energy cube being studied by S.H.I.E.L.D., and give it to the Mad Titan. In exchange for this, Earth was promised to be under Loki’s rule. This led to furious battles between Loki and the Avengers. Eventually, Loki was killed while trying to betray Thanos.
The back and forth between good and bad makes Loki a very entertaining, engaging villain.
The people of Wakanda were once living a wonderful life of comfort and technology, separated from the horrors of the outside world by an invisible shield. That all changed when N’Jadaka, also known as Erik Stevens, came along to usurp the throne of his cousin King T’Challa, the Black Panther.
N’Jadaka wanted revenge, for the Panther’s father had killed his own father years beforehand. Growing up, N’Jadaka was filled with hatred. He publicly defeated his cousin, later ingesting the Heart Shaped Herb to receive the powers of the Black Panther for himself. Of course, he wanted Wakanda to conquer the world rather than live peacefully in isolation.
He was eventually defeated by the rightful king, wishing to die free rather than be given another chance in captivity as he breathed his last and enjoyed the Wakandan sunset.
The death of his father and the righteous anger he felt at atrocities he had witnessed befall his race make Killmonger a very bitter, very interesting villain.
Ego, the father of Peter Quill, was a Celestial, one of the very most powerful beings in existence. He could manipulate matter and energy almost infinitely, and was able to form a whole planet where his humanoid form could reside. Technically, he and the planet were one.
He had many children with many mortals across the galaxy, hoping to create someone in his likeness who could help him take over the universe. The power of another Celestial was needed to power up the seeds that Ego had planted on numerous worlds, and these saplings would consume each planet and make it a part of Ego himself.
Ego was about to succeed at his merciless plot, but Quill was able to stop himself from being used, severing their connection upon learning that Ego had killed his mother.
Ego’s sheer might puts him high on the villain ranking, and his personality is fun and sinister at the same time.
Thanos may be the most frightening of all the MCU villains, precisely because of his resolve. Though he’s definitely dangerous, suffers from a serious god complex, and always acts on his plans, his motivations are produced by a warped sense of righteousness.
Many years ago, his planet fell into a devastation due to overpopulation. Therefore, his reasoning is that if he collects all the Infinity Stones, he can use the power to wipe out half of all life in existence, thereby creating a balance of resources and life to consume them. It’s an undeniably evil plan, but Thanos truly sees it as a good thing for the cosmos – some will suffer, and many will fade away for the “benefit” of the survivors.
The most frustrating scene involving Thanos was undoubtedly when Iron Man, Doctor Strange, Spider Man, and half of the Guardians were fighting him out on Titan. The heroes were very close to defeating him, but Star-Lord’s emotions got in the way, distracting Thanos from his Mantis-induced hypnosis. The Titan was then able to get the upper hand in the fight leading very quickly to the collection of the remaining Infinity Stones.
This unfortunate event led up to the darkest of finales – the Snap consumed half of all life, including some of our favorite heroes. We can only hope that Avengers: Endgame will right all wrongs and bring our beloved supers back from the brink of nothingness.
Who is your favorite MCU villain? And are you excited for Avengers: Endgame? Let us know in the comments, and don’t forget to Let Your Geek Sideshow!