I keep thinking about this latest deleted scene, the one where Odin put Gungnir down and Malekith killed Frigga instead. It’s nothing new in theory, we’ve known about that for awhile, but actually seeing it was so much more intense and painful than I expected from it and it’s made me consider this movie all over again.
I defend a lot of what this movie had–that scene on the skiff in Svartalfheim, the conversation between Frigga and Loki, the awesome use of Thor’s powers, etc.–but I’m thinking of what was cut that we eventually got to see:
- Further context of the Frigga & Loki conversation, with Loki’s play acting as Thor - Frigga talking with Thor about how Loki felt outshone by Odin and Thor, showing that she really was talking with her son - Jane doing stuff in the Hall of Science, the toy she wanted to take apart and steal back to Earth - And now the scene of Odin putting Gungnir down so Malekith wouldn’t kill Frigga, which goes to explain a lot of why he was so ready to let Asgard throw itself against the Dark Elves
It’s always been obvious that Marvel/Feige/etc. seemed to really cling to the idea that the Thor movies needed to be tied to Earth, so we got things like Jane’s date or Selvig being in a home, meanwhile all these epic happenings are going on over in Asgard, and it’s really frustrating because all the pieces are here, all the things to make this a stronger movie were right there, they just deliberately chose to cut them out.
I’m still really fond of the movie, what they did right, they did really right for me and I find half of that movie to be super rewatchable. But the strength of TDW isn’t as a whole, it’s that the pieces that were there were good enough to make me love it, rather than that I think that it’s a movie that hangs well together as a movie. This latest deleted scene that we got to see (and if we ever get that scene where Thor and Jane break up, I’m pretty sure it’s going to be similarly a strong scene that carries through the themes and threads of the movie’s plot) just further evidences that.
I can still see what this movie was supposed to be, but goddamn some days it gets hard not to be pissed about what it should have been.
All of Marvel’s villains, ranked from worst to best
Marvel is pretty much the number one name in film right now, but one thing that people seem to agree about is that they’re not very good at making villains. While some of their villains are great, a lot of them tend to be one-note destruction-machines. So here’s a list of the twenty-two villains from Marvel’s films and TV shows, ranked from worst to best. For this list, I’ve excluded henchmen (i.e. Nebula from Guardians), sidekicks (like Wesley from Daredevil), and one-shot villains (like Marcus Daniels from Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.), and only focused on villains who served as the main enemy from the movie they were in, or had a distinct character arc in the film they were in. And without further ado, here’s my ranking for the villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (spoilers below).
#22 Malekith (Christopher Ecclecston, Thor: The Dark World)
It’s no secret that 2014’s Thor: The Dark World is the weak link of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It’s hardly without redeeming features–Chris Hemsworth has grown comfortable in the character of Thor, and much of the business with Kat Dennings’s character was amusing, not to mention Chris Evans’s hilarious cameo–but when observed objectively, the movie has more holes than a Massachusetts roadway and feels as relevant as a mid-season bottle episode. And possibly the biggest offender in the film is the character of Malekith.
Exactly. In a movie whose only real point was to introduce an Infinity Stone and foreshadow Guardians of the Galaxy, the actual villain of the film is one of the least interesting in the universe. Malekith is the single most forgettable aspect of any film in the universe, with a clichéd motivation, a bland design, and less personality than wet tissue paper. If he had at least posed some sort of insurmountable threat to Thor, he might have been redeemable, but he doesn’t even have that. Nothing about the character stands out, he was never referenced before, nor has he ever been referenced again. And by no means is that supposed to be taken as a cry for a reappearance of Malekith, because why would anyone even care if he did?
And the worst part of all of this is the actor they got to play him. Christopher Ecclecston is a fantastic character actor, best known as one of the shortest-lived but most memorably played Doctors on Doctor Who. Somehow, they managed to take a lively, talented actor and make him essentially a prop for the plot. It’s like hiring Johnny Depp to hold the soundboard. Malekith is by far the worst villain the MCU has ever had, with only one character coming close to his level of blandness.
#21 Whiplash/Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke, Iron Man 2)
Iron Man 2 itself was a trainwreck, in much the same way that Amazing Spider-Man 2 was a trainwreck. The film is far more concerned with building an extended universe than it is with making an interesting plot, and although it succeeded in building the MCU. And then there’s this asshole.
Vanko’s scenes are a giant tumor waiting to be removed from the body of the film, and it actually would have been better for it. There is really no need for Vanko in Iron Man 2, except so that Tony Stark can have a battle in the climax. Beyond that, the real villain, honestly, is Justin Hammer, a character who is genuinely entertaining and provides an interesting parallel with Tony Stark, but who remains in the shadow of the physically powered Whiplash. The sad part is, that could have been a good basis for the characters in itself; one villain with the physicality to fight Iron Man, and one with the brain to beat Tony Stark; but that’s not what the movie gave us. Instead, Vanko is awkward and his scenes are consistently boring, saved only by Sam Rockwell’s acting.
And the real killer is, Mickey Rourke knew it the entire time. He actually had ideas on how to flesh out his character, which were reportedly rejected or ignored by Marvel Studios. Instead, he was given a weird obsession with a bird by way of character quirk. There’s no way of knowing whether Rourke’s suggestions would make his character more memorable or not; all we know is that it doesn’t get much worse than a thuggish Russian Iron Monger rip-off who’s obsessed with a cockatoo. (Unless you’re Malekith.)
#20 Aldrich Killian/The Mandarin (Guy Pearce, Iron Man 3)
I don’t mean to trash on the Iron Man movies, but Iron Man 3 was a mess. Taking what could be considered the best Tony Stark storylines of all time, the one that cemented what made Tony Stark great before Robert Downey Jr. showed up to add his personality to the mix, and they didn’t use a single thing from the story? Worst of all, Pepper Potts gets injected with Extremis, when the best part of the story arc was that Tony Stark injected himself with it in order to learn how to create an antidote. And the villain was botched in much the same way as the story was. Killian is not quite as bad as Whiplash–he had some personality to him, he had a story arc and a motivation, and his place in the story was pretty well cemented, but he still fell short of the rest of the story. His role in the arc of the film is established not unlike a foil in a romantic comedy, until it’s revealed that he is, in fact, the actual villain; a surprise that no-one could have been surprised by, if for no other reason than the fact that he was already set up like a foil in a romantic comedy.
But the reason Aldrich Killian is so low on the list is not because of his own traits, but because of what he represents. The film was billed as featuring the Mandarin–the only member of Iron Man’s rogues gallery that the average comics fan could name–only for “the Mandarin” to actually have nothing in common whatsoever with the original character! Admittedly, the Mandarin is a character that, without modification, couldn’t fly in modern society, but even the character of Trevor Slattery (prior to being revealed as Trevor Slattery) made a better Mandarin. Sure, the twist was unexpected, but at the cost of an iconic character, is it really worth it?
At the very least, the bonus short from Winter Soldier saved the character of the Mandarin by establishing that an actual terrorist by that name exists somewhere in the universe, and Killian and Slattery were just borrowing the identity. Not that anything was ever done with that…
#19 Ronan the Accuser (Lee Pace, Guardians of the Galaxy)
Anyone on the Internet who badmouths Guardians of the Galaxy is wrong, and needs to reassess their opinions, their standards, and possibly their relationship with their mother. While this is a gross exaggeration, it can’t be denied that Guardians was a fantastic film. It was fun from start to finish, its entire cast had great chemistry and witty banter, and above all, the soundtrack was phenomenal in ways that superhero movies have never achieved before. (A particular shout-out to David Bowie’s “Moonage Daydream”, my favorite song in the film). But if the movie had a flaw, it was Ronan the Accuser.
Ronan isn’t an awful villain. He’s got all the right parts. He’s angry, he’s powerful, he has a cool design, and he even almost has a personality. But somehow, his scenes tend to slow down the film and distract us from what we really want to see, which is the Guardians of the Galaxy yelling at each other to the sounds of the 70s. Ronan could have been an interesting character if the writers and directors had approached him with the same care that they had approached their versions of Peter Quill or Groot.
Imagine, for a second, if the film had played with him a little bit. Made him blustery and short-tempered, irrational and unable to express himself. Imagine if he had hated Thanos with the same blind one-track mind that Drax hated him? Ronan might have been harder to take seriously as a villain *coughcoughKylo Ren* but he would have been much more fun to see in scenes. But that, of course, is just a “what if“.
#18 Johann Fennhoff (Ralph Brown, Agent Carter, season one)
I loved Agent Carter, and everything that it represented. That said, I have a hard time recalling the plot. I remember some fun 1940s pulp action, some great commentary on feminism, and some fantastic characterization from Hayley Atwell and James D’Arcy, as well as the rest of the ridiculously talented cast. And, of course, there was a beautiful fight scene set against the voice of Peggy Lee. But the plot? Something about spies with electrolarynxes?
The plot actually all goes back to this guy. I can use his name, but more likely than not you won’t recognize it. Dr. Fennhoff was actually a fairly formidable villain, who managed to infiltrate the SSR as a seemingly helpful victim and had the ability to essentially control minds. He fit very well into the pulp world of Agent Carter, and when up against a group of normal humans, he did a great job of setting the stakes high and making the audience wonder how in the hell Peggy Carter was going to solve this. And yet I had to look up his name.
There’s a reason villains and heroes have such corny names; they’re supposed to be memorable. And it’s not just the name, everything about Johann Fennhoff makes him hard to remember, makes him fade into the background. Arguably, that’s exactly what’s great about him. But in the end, he wasn’t able to make his presence known. Maybe season two’s villain will make his mark a little better.
#17 Werner Reinhardt/Daniel Whitehall (Reed Diamond, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season two)
Remember this guy? He was essentially the villain for the first half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season two, and was played by the infinitely talented Reed Diamond (seriously, watch Dollhouse; he’s one of the best characters in the whole show). Unfortunately, they didn’t make much use out of Diamond’s ability, as Whitehall isn’t all that fascinating. He has an interesting backstory, and he serves to set up the Inhumans well, but besides that, his personality isn’t all that fascinating.
Whitehall’s main purpose is to get us to the real villain of the series–Calvin, and through him, Jiaying–so he doesn’t quite merit “big bad” status. His age, his history, all set up a character who could have been fantastic, but the only really memorable thing about him is that Coulson cold-bloodedly killed him before Calvin could.
I will be the first to say that the Incredible Hulk was a great movie. And, a lot of the time, I will also be the last to say it, because no one seems to agree with me on this. That said, the character of Emil Blonsky, a.k.a. the Abomination, is hardly the film’s strong point. The most interesting thing about him is his bull-headedness. Most movies have the odds stacked against the heroes; it’s unusual to see the odds stacked against the villains.
Blonsky doesn’t feel like he adds to the plot; he feels like a necessity. The question of “what happens when someone sees what the Hulk can do and likes it” needed to be answered, and the Abomination is that answer. Is he particularly fun and entertaining? Not really. Is he something that we want to see again in future films? Probably not. But he did exactly what he needed to do, and then he left, and for that, I respect him.
#15 Darren Cross/Yellowjacket (Corey Stoll, Ant-Man)
Ant-Man wasn’t a perfect film. The reason for this was because Edgar Wright didn’t direct it; if he had, then it would have been a perfect film. But he didn’t, so they really dropped the ball on that one. That aside, while Ant-Man isn’t a perfect film, it is a very fun heist film, and truly makes use of Marvel’s new policy of treating superheroes as a secondary genre. And like many of Marvel’s films, Darren Cross is essentially a device more than a character.
He exists so that Scott Lang has someone to steal from. However, unlike certain other characters on this list, Cross is a character. He has motivations beyond simple revenge or greed, as evidenced by his relationship with Hank Pym, and his desperation to prove himself to him. He does have a handful of “mwahaha evil” moments–his treatment of goats in general–but his character actually gets some fleshing out.
This is also a case of the actor managing to inject some personality into his character. Like Tim Roth with Blonsky, Corey Stoll manages to play Yellowjacket with more than a bit of sleaze, but as a person, and that makes all the difference towards not becoming a Malekith.
#14 Jiaying (Dichen Lachman, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season two)
You may have thought S.H.I.E.L.D. would be left out of this list, if for no other reason than there’s a bunch of villains to work with in this. And while the S.H.I.E.L.D. villains do provide quite a bit of padding to this list, I feel that they deserve some recognition/revile. And Jiaying, the main source of conflict for the end of season two, is one of those villains.
Now, seeing Dichen Lachman in any Joss Whedon work after Dollhouse is a treat on its own, almost as good as seeing Enver Gjokaj in Agent Carter, but better than seeing him in Avengers, where he’s a frustratingly good actor playing an extra. And her role as Jiaying is very nuanced and intriguing. She’s not completely evil. She’s doing the best she can for her people, in the way she believes it’s the best. And, of course, her relationship to Skye/Daisy makes her all the more complex. Add to that an interesting character design–again, I point to Dichen Lachman–and she becomes a mildly memorable character.
Mildly. She lacks the quirks that make a character fun. Her story is more interesting than Ronan the Accuser, but her flaw is the same as his, a lack of playfulness with the character. Maybe she should have gotten a bird.
#13 Agent John Garrett (Bill Paxton, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season one)
And following season two’s villain is season one’s villain, Agent Garrett. I think I have a bit of a soft spot for Garrett, because his entrance into the series coincided with the upward curve in quality, as the series went from mostly mediocre to actually thrilling. So I can’t badmouth Garrett too badly.
But let’s look at him as an individual. He’s very unapologetically corrupt, but he seems to be having fun with it, which is a big thing that’s missing from a lot of these characters. He’s not angry all the time, he actually cares about what he’s doing. In particular, he cares about Grant Ward, his right-hand mole. And, of course, there’s the added bonus of his being involved in a twist, who to be fair, anyone who saw him probably saw coming–Bill Paxton’s portrayal doesn’t exactly scream trustworthy–but at least there’s a bit of intrigue in it. Plus the finale, the use of Nick Fury, and especially the jokes as to his motivation (“A part! A part of something bigger! If you told me this whole Hydra path thing you took is because you misheard my damn “one man” speech…”)
And then there’s his final scene. Can you imagine how annoying it would have been if they had just rehashed him for season two? The tease of that makes the fact that they didn’t go with it all the better
#12 Iron Monger/Jebediah Stain (Jeff Bridges, Iron Man)
The MCU’s first villain, Jebediah Stain, sets the stage for what every film has done since. Be it Red Skull, Loki, Abomination, Yellowjacket, whatever–each of the villains tends to be a counterpart to the hero in some direct way. And that’s a shame, because Iron Monger was included in the first film because this idea, in 2008, was unusual and felt like a good starting point for Iron Man and for the franchise.
And it is a good starting point, which is why it has been revisited so often. It solves the common superhero problem of “how do we justify that these two characters are inexplicably gaining powers and have to fight each other at the same point in time?” (See 2002’s Spider-Man for a case that just straight up ignored said problem). It’s true that Marvel needs to branch out and stop beating the Iron Monger horse, but you can’t fault them for sticking to something that works and makes sense.
But on to the character himself; you can’t cast Jeff Bridges and expect a boring character. (Although, to be fair, the same should be said about Christopher Ecclecston). In the final product, you can tell that he has dedicated himself to the character, to the point of shaving his head and growing a goatee just to make sure he looks like the character did in the comics. And you have to respect what he does for the Iron Man story, too. I consider Iron Man to be one of the best superhero origin adaptations since Spider-Man, and it’s in part due to the inclusion of Zebediah Stain. He presents a clear example of what Tony’s life has been up until this point, and what he is turning away from. And the best part is, while he had his shady dealings on his own, he never tried to steal the company from Tony, until he tried to turn it away from weapons dealings. He was fully committed to working side by side with Tony until one of them keeled over, as long as the company stayed above water.
#11 Red Skull/Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving, Captain America: The First Avenger)
You know how that phrase “one of those faces”, which is usually used to say that the person is automatically trustworthy? Well, poor, kind Hugo Weaving must have been born with the opposite of those faces, because no-one gets type-casted as a villain like he does. Even an arguably benevolent role in Lord of the Rings wasn’t enough to shake that severe look on his face. This man could make the late, great Alan Rickman hand over his Snape robes and put on a Gryffindor scarf.
So that’s probably why The First Avenger has the Red Skull wearing a Hugo Weaving mask for the first half of the film. Between Weaving’s perfect Nazi look and the faithfulness with which the costume designers represented the Red Skull from the comics (instead of trying to make it look more skull-like or more creepy, they simply transposed the original design onto the screen, and I find that refreshing), Weaving’s character was perfectly, mustache-twirlingly villainous. I have my problems with The First Avenger, but Weaving’s portrayal is not one of them.
And yet, I was left wanting more. A part of me always hoped that the Red Skull did not die when he got a hold of the Tesseract, but that he would later return, warped through time in a way similar to Captain America would be. The encounters between Cap and the Skull fail to set up how far the film could take their relationship. The Red Skull should be Captain America’s arch nemesis, but they meet maybe three times in the movie, and while Schmidt is established as a foil to Captain America, he still never quite reaches what should have been his potential.
#10 Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Alexander Pierce is another character who isn’t spectacular, but god damn it if he isn’t a decent villain. Maybe it’s because he’s Robert Redford, who has done some of the best movies I’ve ever seen, but his character is legitimately fun to watch. Sure, it’s not a fantastic performance, but he’s actually a villain that makes you think.
The twist that he’s the villain doesn’t come as a surprise. No-one was particularly blown away by the revelation, because he did sort of scream “villain” the moment he came onscreen–hell, the moment you see him on the poster. And Marvel has a habit of casting well-established actors as their villains (Guy Pierce, Tim Roth, Jeff Bridges, Vincent D‘Onofrio…see the pattern?), so seeing Robert Redford in the cast as Nick Fury’s boss was a huge red flag. But what makes his character interesting is actually just a single line.
“…You got to get Iron Man to stop by my niece’s birthday party.”
This changes the character for the rest of the movie. He’s not some unstoppable, power-hungry, vengeance-seeking creature of destruction, he’s a man with a family, he’s a friend of Fury’s, and when he’s not corrupting the world’s government, he’s trying to make his niece happy. It’s something we really don’t see in a lot of villains, Marvel or not. There’s a smidge more of that down on the list, but it’s pretty rare.
#9 Thanos (Josh Brolin, Avengers and Guardians of the Galaxy)
Now, you couldn’t tell from looking at me, but I’m actually not a big Marvel comics buff. Or, to clarify, (because I should hope I’ve already proven my chops), I’m very specifically a classic Marvel buff. I can give you details on the original lineup of the Avengers and the first two decades of the Fantastic Four, but I’ve never read Secret Invasion, or Dark Reign, or Superior Spider-Man. So when I saw Avengers, and everyone in the theater lost their shit when Thanos showed up in the secret ending, I couldn’t remember if his name was “Thanos” or “Darkseid”, because I only knew of him because one character was the other company’s equivalent to the first.
So, I considered actively excluding Thanos from this list. He technically hasn’t done much to be considered a villain, except for having conversations with Guardians’s big bad and making ominous comments to the guy who used to be Wesley Windham-Pryce on Angel. But he has a very strong following despite having barely three scenes that feature him, and that’s worth something.
Furthermore, if the movies take the storyline the character has in the comics, he will be a genuinely interesting character. He’s not just a less effeminate version of Frieza, he’s actually in love with the personification of Death, and doesn’t know how to take “no” for an answer. (The tie-in with Deadpool makes it so much better). This is the kind of character quirk that we need in villains; things that separate them from being villains, and turn them into people. And Thanos might end up being just that.
#8 James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes/Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
I almost didn’t include Bucky on this list, not because I don’t like his character, but because he so loosely fits the definition of villain that I didn’t think he should be lumped in. After all, he gets only one movie as an actual villain; besides that, we see him as a pre-villain in First Avenger and a victim in Ant-Man and the upcoming Civil War. But as one of the most popular characters in the fandom, he deserves some goddamn recognition.
Bucky is the recipe for a good villain. A lot of stories fall into the mistake of giving all the action to the villains, and making the hero essentially just pulled along by them. It’s hard to avoid that; in general, villains act, and heroes react. But it always shakes things up and makes them interesting when the hero and the villain know and care about each other. And with Winter Soldier, we get something even better. Steve knows Bucky and he loves him (take that as you will) and doesn’t want to fight him. But Bucky has to fight him, and he doesn’t know what’s at stake. Even better, Steve gets through to him, and then you see the inner turmoil of Bucky as he rejects his programming and regains his consciousness.
My own problems with the adaptation of Winter Soldier aside (we never got a chance to mourn Bucky because we never, for even a second, believed that he was dead), he’s a great villain, and definitely deserves a spot in the top ten.
#7 Calvin Zabo (Kyle MacLachlan, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., season two)
You probably thought the S.H.I.E.L.D. villains were done, but this is one of my personal favorites. Kyle McLachlan is a great actor, who I recognize from one of the strangest movies I’ve ever seen, Blue Velvet, and his character has gotten considerably more interesting as his role continues.
When Calvin first enters the scene, he’s little more than the answer to a mystery. When he establishes himself as a villain, he’s still doesn’t stand out from any other murderous, obsessive psychopath. But as his character progresses, as he turns himself into a monster, he becomes more likable and, ironically, more sympathetic. More human.
What started out as a vaguely intriguing character who you could neither trust nor like, grows into easily one of the most interesting tertiary characters in the show. Towards the end of S.H.I.E.L.D., Calvin grows a sense of humor, and becomes almost childlike in his devotion and obsession with Daisy/Skye. His being written off the show is one of the most disappointing and satisfying ends to a character that I’ve seen in any Marvel work. And to top it all off, he’s not an original S.H.I.E.L.D. creation; he is based on the one-note Daredevil villain, Mr. Hyde!
#6 Ultron (James Spader, Avengers: Age of Ultron)
I’ve seen Ultron criticized as being Loki 2.0, but I disagree with that. To be brief, as I will still speak more in depth on Loki, Loki’s character recognizes his villainy, while Ultron seems to simply believe his actions to be the natural progression of his existence. That said, Ultron is just a really fun character to watch. He’s one of the few villains whose scenes are actually enjoyable, and that is entirely because of Spader’s voice acting. James Spader’s voice commands a presence that he made great use of in Boston Legal, and it works perfectly for Ultron. He is sinister, yes, and he is authoritative, but he never condescends. He seems to be very aware that he’s surrounded by people whose intelligence is beneath his, but he doesn’t resent it, he isn’t frustrated by it, if anything he pities them for it.
I also like the human moments that Ultron sneaks in. Forgetting the word for “children”, and his reaction when he remembers it; it’s all very cute, and turns him from a typical destructive badguy, which Marvel clearly has enough of, to a character who is actually fun to watch. There are definitely some flaws in his plan, as there are with all villains (by necessity, so that the heroes are able to beat them) but I was genuinely sad when Vision killed off the last of him, erasing him from the planet.
#5 Grant Ward (Brett Dalton, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., seasons one and two)
I had the pleasure of meeting Brett Dalton in person when he attended Boston ComicCon, and I found him to be a delightful and very funny person. This is something that you don’t get when you watch the first half of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season one, because his portrayal of Ward was, by necessity, very stiff and boring. I didn’t hate Ward, but I really wasn’t into his character, and didn’t understand why a romance between him and Skye was being set up. It wasn’t until the reveal–spoiler alert–that he was a member of H.Y.D.R.A. that he became an interesting character.
Brett Dalton has a sarcastic sense of humor, he is witty and clever, and he’s a bit of a trickster. In episode one, Ward…actually is this, with his little “veritaserum” trick on Skye, but for the most part, he doesn’t show this side of him much until he switches sides, at which point he shows his many layers. There’s his abusive past, and what he did to his family, the whole business with the dog and how that connected to Fitzsimmons (some brilliant writing and directing there). Then there’s his relationship with Agent 13, and what ended up happening to her, and how that affected him.
Grant Ward went from an okay supporting cast member to a fascinating villain, and someone who I eagerly await to see on the screen. He’s not quite “unpredictable”, and that’s sort of what I like about him. Unpredictable, “Joker-like” villains are good, but they get so much better when you find out what makes them tick, what drives them. Then you can predict how they’ll react, but you can understand why they’re going to act that way.
I loved Jessica Jones. I loved her as a character, but I loved Kilgrave as a villain as well. Kilgrave is one of the most despicable villains in the series, played by the excellent character actor, David Tennant, who doubles as the second Doctor to be listed on here (and in almost the exact opposite place; again, my apologies to Ecclecston).
What makes Kilgrave interesting can be broken up into three categories. First is his power; he is virtually unbeatable. Sure, if you punch him he bleeds, and with Jessica-level strength, he’ll do more than that, but as long as he’s out of range, he’s virtually unbeatable. Second, he is really, really bad. There’s no overlooking his villainy here; even if he is David Tennant, Kilgrave is still a horrible, horrible person, the kind of person that most Who fans would despise. He is a rapist, the first of his kind in an MCU work, and possibly the first in any Marvel movie since Daredevil’s one-note Quesada. Out of all of the villains on this list, Kilgrave is the most set up to be irredeemable.
Is he, though? A single episode in the series reveals that Kilgrave has the potential to be good. He’s not good at heart, really, but if Jessica were to guide him, maybe he could use his powers to help people. And the best part is, Jessica doesn’t go with it. That’s what makes him a truly good villain. His own character development is minimal. At the end of the series, he hasn’t learned anything, nothing has made him different from the beginning, but he provides Jessica with character development. He makes her explore herself, face her fears, and overcome her flaws.
God, Jessica Jones was good.
#3 Wilson Fisk/Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio, Daredevil, season one)
I read somewhere that Daredevil and Jessica Jones are counterparts. In Jessica Jones we’re presented with a villain who is unquestionably bad, and someone who is still working on becoming a hero. In Daredevil, however, Matt Murdock is a pretty straightforward hero. Not flat, of course, but you can’t deny that he’s a good person–hell, he even goes to church. But Wilson Fisk is a little less cut and dried. Sure, he’s onscreen for barely ten minutes before he brutally decapitates a man with his car door, but we see him fall in love, we learn about his abusive father, and everything he does is for the good of Hell’s Kitchen.
Fisk is brutal, but he is also awkward. Something tells me that he may be somewhere on the autism spectrum. When we learn his history, and what his father used to do, who could really fault him? His first onscreen murder makes us afraid of him, because he seems so off-kilter, but when we see his first chronological murder…well, hell, I was on his side. It was an act of anger, of desperation, years of pent-up abuse coming out for the first time. I don’t doubt that Wilson Fisk loved his father, but at the same time, he hated him. It’s such a complicated relationship that is only brushed upon, but we get all the setup for them in that one 40 minute episode.
And then there’s Fisk’s weird relationship with Vanessa, someone who knows just how bad he is, but accepts it, even supports it. She has the shades of a Lady Macbeth in her, giving Fisk the incentive to push himself all the way, to be a better man. I personally would have defaulted to a Kingpin more like Michael Clarke Duncan’s portrayal; a cool, collected man, brutal and evil, and exuding power (and black, as the Kingpin was originally designed to be), but D’Onofrio surprised me by making a Kingpin I could care about.
#2 Loki (Tom Hiddleston, Thor and The Avengers)
There he is! The fan-favorite villain for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, Loki. Let me start by saying that I love that they used Loki as the villain of The Avengers, because he was originally the villain who the Avengers formed to combat in the comics. They updated his motives and the methods in which the team gets together, but the fact that they preserved the original villain means a lot to me. It’s been a thorn in my side for almost four years that Hawkeye and Black Widow were put on the team instead of Hank Pym and the Wasp, but the fact that they kept Loki as the villain makes up for it.
With all that said, Loki is one of the villains who goes through the most character development, possibly because he has three movies to do so. Thor presented him as a sweet, if misguided, young man with every reason to be angry and hurt. Throughout the film, his actions become more and more villainous, but you can’t help but feel for him. And, of course, we feel Thor’s pain as he is forced to fight and eventually banish his own brother. Then, when Loki reappears in The Avengers, he’s changed. He’s no longer sad, he’s power-hungry. According to the people who worked on both films, including Hiddleston himself, Loki spent years lost in space before finding a way to go to Earth, or Midgard, and in that time, he realized that if he is going to be treated as a villain, he’s going to act the part.
When we see Loki in Thor 2, he gives the impression of someone who has nothing left, and his eventual victory becomes so much sweeter. Anyone who watches the film will know that Loki is easily the best part of it, and there’s something to be said for a villain who cemented himself as the most popular character in his film. Prior to The Avengers, Loki was a classic villain from the comics who had little role in the modern Marvel Universe, and really didn’t have much of a fan following. Nowadays, Loki is one of the A-listers, up there with Magneto and Doctor Doom, when Marvel acknowledges that they exist.
Now, you’re probably asking, if Loki is #2, who could possibly beat him? Well…
#1 Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr., Captain America: Civil War)
Although Crossbones has been confirmed as filling some sort of important role in Civil War, all the advertising has focused on the fact that this is a result of Steve and Tony’s relationship coming to a head. We have now seen six films with Tony Stark (including Incredible Hulk) and we’ve followed his character’s journey from a selfish weapons dealer to an egotistical superhero to a man who wants his friends, the Avengers, to be able to retire and live to their old age. Clint’s injury, the discovery of his family, and even the probably reversible death of Quicksilver, all set up Tony’s realization that they are doomed lead very short lives.
In Avengers: Age of Ultron, we see Tony and Steve starting to butt heads. They’re still friends, they agree that an elevator can’t be worthy of ruling Asgard, but when it comes down to the big issues, they’re at each other’s throats, which they’ve been at since they first met. Tony’s role as “villain” to Captain America is such a good way to conclude both his personal character arc, and the arc of his relationship with Steve. And if you still don’t see why he should be number one on the list, I turn you to their exchange from the trailer;
Don’t agree with my list? How would you arrange these characters? Reblog this post or message me to let me know what you think!