The Good vs The Bad: MCU Villains

GoodvBad

The Good vs. The Bad is a simple concept. I take a particular film, franchise, or potentially any movie-related subject and break down the three best things about it (the good) and the three worst (the bad). Like I said, simple but hopefully fun.

With “Avengers: Endgame” fresh on everyone’s mind and still blistering the box office I thought it to be the perfect time to kick off the GvB series. Today I’m looking at the best and worst of the MCU villains. You could argue that Marvel has had a tough time giving us good worthwhile antagonists. But there are a couple of instances where they definitely got it right (I should mention that Winter Soldier would without question be among the best, but there’s a little too much gray area with him). So let’s get going.

THE GOOD

1. Loki

LOKI

He’s been around for a while now, but the mischievous Loki has never worn out his welcome. What makes Loki such a great villain is his utter unpredictability. One minute he sickens you with his sneaky, vile and self-serving acts. The next minute he’s standing side-by-side with Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. It also helps that he was played to perfection by Tom Hiddleston. I love me some Loki.

2. Thanos

Thanos

I still get tickled at seeing Josh Brolin’s face among the heavy prosthetics and CGI. But there is no denying the impression Thanos has left on the MCU. Hints of Thanos have been tossed out for years but in “Infinity War” and “Endgame” he shows up in full force. He’s a fascinating character who I think is best described as a megalomaniacal idealist. He’s far from shallow and he is certainly unforgettable.

3. Killmonger

Killmonger

“Black Panther” can be praised for a number of things. High on that list would be Michael B. Jordan as Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. He’s not a galactic threat nor does he seek universal domination. His motivations are emotionally grounded and deeply personal which makes him all the more compelling. It also helps that Jordan gives such a strong performance.

THE BAD

1. Aldrich Killian

Killian

“Iron Man 3” had a number of issues but none were bigger than its villain. Things looked promising out of the gate with the casting of the always good Guy Pearce. But director Shane Black makes some bizarre choices in regards to his antagonist. He destroys a classic Marvel villain and exchanges him for a jacked-up, fire-breathing Killian. Such a disappointing misdirection resulting in an utterly ridiculous bad guy.

2. Yellowjacket

YELLOW

Here’s another case of a good actor giving a good performance but the material just isn’t there. The first “Ant-Man” was full of weird decisions that veered far away from the comics, but their version of Yellowjacket was probably the biggest. It looks really cool and Cory Stoll gives it his all, but you can only do so much with a villain who militarizes a suit of armor and offers to sell it to terrorists for what amounts to nothing more than daddy issues.

3. Ronan the Accuser

Ronan

Ronan is a really cool Marvel baddie who was terribly shortchanged in 2014’s “Guardians of the Galaxy”. In fact, it’s funny how many people can’t even remember the villain from that film. Actor Lee Pace is a good fit for the role (notice the trend) but he’s mostly just an aimless bad guy with a personal axe to ground. There is still hope for Ronan. This year’s hit “Captain Marvel” seems to indicate that the MCU isn’t quite done with him yet. Fingers crossed.

23 thoughts on “The Good vs The Bad: MCU Villains

  1. I guess I don’t get the love for Killmonger . To me he was very one dimensional and uninteresting to me but I did not like Black Panther as much as most . Thanos has been my fav by a country mile but I’m waiting for Galactus and Dr.Doom.

    • Personally I love how Killmonger is a mixture of personal hurt and angst. He has an ax to grind with his family, with his country, but also a sense of entitlement. I like how all of that comes together in the character. For me Loki is easily my favorite. Obviously I’m big on Thanos although I do think he becomes more of a traditional baddie in “Endgame”. But when you say Galactus and Dr. Doom you have my FULL attention. Two of my very favorites from the comics!

  2. I don’t really see Loki as a villain but more of an anti-hero. Yes, he does bad things only because he was trying to get out of the shadow of his brother and win his father’s approval. In Ragnarok, we see more of a balanced side as someone that is unable to deal with the idea of his brother becoming indifferent to him as well as becoming way too predictable. Loki would redeem himself in Ragnarok but also showed a side unexpected in Infinity War.

    The best villain is clearly Thanos because he’s such a brutal force who believes deep down that he’s doing the right thing to save the universe. Even if his reasoning is flawed but you can’t help but admire his determination.

    I would put Kilmonger, Hela, Obidiah Stane, Red Skull, Alexander Pierce, Ego, and Ultron in that list of great villains of the MCU!!!!!

    The worst can go to Emil Blonsky from The Incredible Hulk, Adrian Killich because he got his ass kicked badly by Mrs. Stark, and Malekith.

    Other than that, I don’t have much complaints. God bless the MCU.

    • Loki definitely has that element to him but I think his track record speaks volumes. He has caused some pretty catastrophic events. But again, this isn’t necessarily a list of where they are right now but how their villainy has impacted the MCU.

      Thanos is great but not a clear winner for me mainly because I felt in “Endgame” he lost a little of what made him so intriguing. He became much more of a traditional bad guy. But I don’t knock him too much because you have to take IW and Endgame together as a whole.

      I loved Red Skull and he was close to making the list. Not as high on Ultron or Ego. Malekith was close to making the bad list.

      • Oh, there’s one villain I did forget about. Helmut Zemo from Civil War. The one man to do the impossible and that was to destroy the Avengers w/o any real powers. He hurt them badly but not for very long. I kind of hope he returns soon because I love that character as I think he’s one of the best villains in the MCU!!!!!

      • Their take on Baron Zemo was pretty interesting. There were moments where I wasn’t sure about him but overall he’s pretty solid.

  3. Ronan is such a bitch lol. I laughed pretty hard at him nope’ing away from Captain Marvel in her movie.

    I agree with this list. My top 5 villains are easily Thanos, Killmonger, Loki, Ultron, and Hela. My worst list would look like yours too.

    • Yep. They haven’t done Ronan justice yet but I’m holding out hope. He has a rich comics background to pull from. Was a little mixed on Ultron but Hela was cool!

  4. The problem with a lot of the MCU villains is that there one-dimensional. Not everyone fits the bill (not Thanos or Loki), but majority are thinly written. Of course, the actors behind them elevate the character from being a cliché, but even their talents can’t alter the flat villainy.

    • So, so, so true. It’s as if so much early effort went into the heroes at the expensive of the villain. But there are signs of that changing. Cross your fingers!

    • LOL! I think Loki has definitely….evolved. But he was very much a villain for several films. He was the guy who killed Coulson and brought the attack on New York. He’s got a rough path to where he is now. 😁

  5. If you’d ask me coming right out of Iron Man 3, I’d totally agree with you about Aldrich Killian. Now, The Mandarin fake-out has kind of grown on me, and the same could be said of the film. I respect the twist because there’s simply no escaping the broad “yellow peril” racism drawn in the caricature of The Mandarin. Hell, wielding an Asian dialect as a villain identity is freaking tone-deaf.

    How this escaped me as a respective Asian who, too, was looking forward to a faithful rendering of one of Iron Man’s greatest foes is still something I’m reckoning with. It took time but I came to madly appreciate Shane Black’s decision, though I do understand it’s still not a popular one among fans.

    As for the good on this list, I expected to see Killmonger and I got Killmonger. This is a good list lol

    • I know exactly what your saying. I guess for me it still comes down to completely ruining The Mandarin whether from a bad caricature or surprise twist. And when your alternative is the angry fire-breathing scientist with an axe to grind… it still frustrates me! LOL!

  6. Couldn’t agree more with your picks! The bad guy has always been the one thing Marvel seems to struggle with but it’s not always that way. I’d throw in Vulture into my own list – I loved his motives.

    • It’s funny that you mention Vulture. I liked what we got of the character and Michael Keaton was his usual superb self. But one of my big beefs with that movie is how he just vanishes for huge chunks of it.

  7. The Dark Elf from Thor: The Dark World was the worst for me. Talk about bland, forgettable and dragging the film down with it. The rest is fine but I will always consider Jordan’s acting to be overrated, I just don’t like this guy as an actor and don’t know what people see in him

    • Elfie just missed my Bad list. Yep, bland and utterly forgettable. It’s a shame too because he looks pretty cool. But he’s to shallow for me to invest in.

  8. Great listing here Keith. My brother-in-law and I sat for about an hour trying to trace where Ronan initially came into the MCU after watching Captain Marvel. He seems like such a religious nut case that I hope they will give him better material in the future!

    • Thank you! His first role in Guardians didn’t really do the character justice. Hopefully another Captain Marvel movie will explore more with him before he became Thanos’ lackey.

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