The Marvel films are loved and enjoyed all over the world and consistently provide box office and critical hits. One of the only weaknesses of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has routinely been it’s its villains. They’re not particular deep or even remotely interesting for the most part and given how many films they’ve made, it’s now running joke that all of Marvel’s villains are completely lackluster and uninteresting. So as we await the release of the latest film in the MCU, Ant-Man and the Wasp, let’s take a look back at the top 10 major Marvel movie villains to date ranked from worst to best.
Note: I only included major villains in this article as there are plenty of side characters with depth but they don’t receive nearly as much screen time or acknowledgement. So while a Crossbones is in the MCU, it’s unfair to compare the character’s extremely minimal screen time with that of other major villains. Also we’ve exluded all of the Fox properties while I’d love to see Magneto, Juggernaut or William Styker on this list.
10. Hela – Thor Ragnarok – Cate Blanchett does a great job capturing the rage of Thor’s forgotten sister, the wannabe Queen of Asgard. While Hela isn’t expanded very much and not too much history is provided throughout the context of the film, what’s not to love about watching Thor face off with his over-powered sister.
9. Bucky Barnes/The Winter Soldier – Captain America: Winter Soldier – Bucky Barnes has had some of the best close combat scenes in the Marvel Comics Universe so to include him on the list only sounds right. With a strong connection to Captain America and an ever expanding story, The Winter Soldier was once one of the most formidable villains in the MCU.
8. Ultron – Avengers : Age of Ultron – To Be honest, Avengers: Age of Ultron was my least favorite film in the series as the exploration of both Vision and Ultron didn’t really appeal to me. I wasn’t a fan at all of Vision’s cheesy CGI scenes but Ultron’s scenes are much improved visually over those of Vision. The final scene in which Ultron and Vision face off is an iconic MCU moment and the threat of Ultron was real so that’s why we’re including Ultron on this list.
7. Obadiah Stane/ Iron Monger – One of the original villains in the MCU, Obadiah Stane was portrayed by Jeff Bridges and served as a menacing villain. The scenes in which Stane interacts with Pepper are brought to life by Jeff Bridge’s portrayal of the villain making him one of the best early MCU villains.
6. Red Skull – Captain America: The First Avenger – Hugo Weaving brought the iconic Red Skull to life in a way that makes him one of the most stand out villains in the MCU to date. The Nazi scientist is a perfect fit for the Captain America: The First Avenger film and his reprising the character in Avengers: Infinity War was a nice flash back to the iconic Avengers villain.
5. Ego – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 – Ego the Living Planet has one of the most interesting character developments in the MCU. Throughout the movie, viewers are uncertain whether Ego is good or bad and his connection to Starlord makes viewers want for him to be a good character but Ego is a complex villain with emotional stakes in his mission making him a stand out villain.
4. The Vulture/Adrian Toomes – Spider-Man Homecoming – Once a scavenger, and a city contractor, Adrian Toomes was left behind after Tony Stark took over the cleaning up of the results of the impact of the Civil War film, Roomes utilized some alien technology and begun creating weapons that he can sell on the street. The relationship between Peter Parker and Adrian Toomes is explored as Peter courts Toome’s daughter, making this one of the MCU films with a deep emphasis on the relationship between the hero and the villain. Michael Keaton’s portrayal of the Vulture is iconic.
3. Thanos – Avengers: Infinity War – Leading into Infinity War, Thanos is one of the most teased villains ever in the MCU. Josh Brolin’s portrayal of the Mad Titan makes the titan very menacing yet slightly human. Watching Thanos turn on his daughter Gamora was one of the saddest moments of Infinity War but it added to the depth and character of Thanos allowing crowds to better understand the Mad Titan and exactly how far he will go to fix the universe’s “overpopulation”
2. Loki – Thor – The Marvel Comics Universe won’t be the same without Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal of Loki. After his death in Infinity War, it’s very difficult for fans to envision Loki returning. Watching Loki struggle with loving his brother yet hating being “second best”, makes Loki’s character arc and development one of the most well-thought in the entire MCU. Long Live Loki!
1. Killmonger/Erik Stevens – Black Panther – Black Panther is probably the best MCU film released to date thanks to the direction of Ryan Coogler and Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal of Erik “Killmonger” Stevens. The inclusion of Killmonger allows the film to explore the African-American experience and Killmonger’s status as an outsider helps him to be relatable to most viewers. In fact, it’s difficult at times to even call Killmonger a villain thanks to his character being so well written. While Loki probably should fill the number 1 slot of this list just due to his many run-ins with the Avengers members and strong presence in the MCU, Erik Killmonger stole the show from the moment he was introduced and almost made viewers disinterested in the actual Black Panther T’Challa.