DISCLAIMER: The following review contains spoilers for a lot of MCU films. Please read at your own risk.
However, I have to say I TOTALLY disagree with the comments that there are no good MCU villains other than Red Skull and Loki. It can be hard to give villains the same attention as heroes, given that the films are centred around the good guys, but in my opinion there are some great villains in the MCU. And today I’m counting them down.
These are my picks for the Top Five MCU Film Villains – that AREN’T Red Skull and Loki. Sorry Hugo and Tom, I still love you both.
Ok, let’s get started. Please remember that this is in no particular order, just the order I choose to show them in.
The Mandarin AKA Trevor Slattery
Throughout Iron Man 3, The Mandarin sends out videos claiming that he and the Ten Rings will take out the “infidels”, setting him up as a modern day terrorist. His videos are terrifying and actually captured the malicious nature of the Mandarin. But when Tony Stark investigates, he discovers he’s actually an actor called Trevor Slattery, paid by Killian to use as a decoy. And you gotta laugh at this scene, as Ben Kingsley plays it up really well. I just couldn’t help but love his character when I found the reveal.
So I guess you’re probably thinking, well that means Killian was the real Mandarin right? WRONG! In the one-shot film Hail To The King, Trevor is interviewed in prison as he talks about his time as the Mandarin – until it’s revealed that the interviewer is secretly working for the Ten Rings, and apparently, the man whose name he stole is pissed at him. This means that the REAL Mandarin is still out there – waiting to make his move.
Trevor works as both a twist and a precursor to the real villain at large. You could argue that Marvel just did this to appease the angry fans, but even so it’s still a pretty good movement of the story. Plus it shows that the real villain wasn’t in on this and he’s wanting to make a move. And when he does, I know it’s gonna be awesome!
A servant of the Ancient One and trainer to Doctor Strange, they both become allies to stop the threat of Kaecilius and Dormammu. He is a warrior sorcerer that is fiercely loyal to the Ancient One and believes in the old ways. However, when he realises that the Ancient One was drawing her powers from the Dark Dimension, and sees Doctor Strange bend the laws of nature to stop Dormammu, he becomes disillusioned and – in a post-credits scene – decides that Earth has “too many sorcerers.” This hints at a larger role he will play in the future.
This interpretation of Mordo is interesting as you actually see his descent into villainy rather than having it outright explained in exposition. And honestly, I would love to see Mordo in more films – if not to see more of Chiwetel Ejiofor. Despite the fact that I never know how to pronounce his name, Chiwetel is one of the most mesmerising actors I know of. Every time he’s on screen, even for a second, he just eludes charisma and I just can’t take my eyes off him. He’s also played a villain role in Serenity, so we know that he can play great bad guys. But we also know that there are many layers to Mordo’s character, so Chiwetel can easily bring this out in future films.
If given the right push, I reckon that Mordo could become every bit as classic a villain as Loki and Red Skull – perhaps even more so! I am looking forward to seeing him in more movies and just hope Marvel use him right. You could say, I want more Mordo! #MoreMordo!
Darren Cross AKA Yellowjacket
Darren Cross used to be a protégée for Hank Pym, but eventually outsourced him from his company. Cross wants to create his own version of the Ant-Man suit so that he can use it as a military weapon – but just can’t perfect the formula. He’s actually more of a pragmatist than an antagonist really – as he sees the Ant-Man suit as a way of making money. However, his frustrations with being unable to make the formula work, coupled with his inferiority complex against Pym (but also a secret desire to please him) make him take some very dark steps to achieve his goal – even murder. He’s even willing to sell his tech to Hydra – which as we know are not necessarily the good guys.
Cross has a lot of layers to him. On some level he just wants to prove himself to his teacher, on another level he desires power and money. But he’s unable to see the bigger picture and the danger of the shrinking technology, only caring for his own goals. And the lengths he goes through to get these goals is what makes him an interesting villain to watch. He also has one of the best fight scenes in any Marvel film – when he and Ant-man are shrunk down and fight on a train set. Pure genius!
Let’s also not forget he has what is, in my opinion, the most gruesome of all death scenes. Ant-Man has to go sub-atomic to defeat him, shrinking into his suit and damaging his controls. This causes his Yellowjacket suit to shrink and crush Cross. Ouch! That’s gotta hurt!
Cross is one of the more underrated Marvel villains, he’s actually not evil in the same way as other Marvel villains – he just wanted a chance to prove himself. He’s an example of what Hank Pym could have been like if he didn’t have a moral conscience. In fact, Hank Pym himself said he saw too much of himself in Cross. The fact that that was able to scare Pym shows how potentially dangerous Darren Cross was.
Ego is a Celestial – a Living Planet if you will – who came to Earth and fell in love with Peter Quill’s mother. Coming back to pick up Peter years later (after Yondu was supposed to bring him back to him) he first appears as a doting father that wants to make up for years of neglect. And at first we want to believe him – he seems like everything Peter could want in a father – and even teaches him how to use his Celestial powers. He seems like a nice guy.
But then, as the old saying goes, never judge a book by its cover.
It’s quickly discovered that Quill isn’t Ego’s only child. He’s been impregnating females across the galaxy as part of a plan to terraform himself onto other worlds. But he needs two Celestials for this to work, so he had Yondu pick up the children for him and bring him to him. When they failed to show any signs of power, Ego killed them, leaving a mass graveyard under the planet. Considering that he has lived for millions of years – there is about a million years worth of bodies there. And if that’s not enough, HE gave Quill’s mother the tumour that killed her, believing that keeping her alive distracted her from his goal.
So let’s get this straight – Ego is not only a mass murderer, of CHILDREN no less – but he also killed the woman he supposedly loved. Now you tell me that this doesn’t make Ego one of the most heinous in the MCU!
The fact he’s willing to murder innocents just for his own goals make Ego one of the most repulsive villains in the MCU. And it’s actually kinda heartbreaking given that we’re led to believe he wanted Quill back as a son. Kurt Russell’s performance switches between a loving father to full on angry god, making the change hurt that more. We fell Quill’s pain when he realises that the father he wished he had was a monster. But that just makes us appreciated everything that Yondu did for Quill.
(Oh Yondu… why? WHY?)
Ahem… Anyway, Ego’s name is rightfully attributed to him as his ego is planet sized. He cares nothing for the lives of others, seeing them just as pawns for his own existence. Hell, even Loki cared for his adoptive mother and showed signs of sadness when she died. I’d like to think that that’s the last we’ll see of Ego – but somehow I doubt Celestials can be killed that easily…
Zemo is a criminal mastermind that sets in motion the actions in Civil War, resulting in Winter Soldier coming back, T’Chaka being killed in a bomb blast, and the Avengers fighting amongst themselves – leading to a final heartbreaking battle between Iron Man and Captain America. He’s always one step ahead of the heroes and has planned his mission out to every single detail. And why, I hear you ask? Revenge.
Zemo is actually unique amongst Avenger villains. Loki fought the Avengers because he considered himself a god amongst mortals, Ultron believed that humanity was a disease that needed to be wiped out – but Zemo had a personal reason for wanting to defeat the Avengers. During the Sokovia event, he lost his family and he hated the Avengers (supposedly the “good guys”) for taking away everything. But he knew that he couldn’t actually defeat the Avengers, so he did the next best thing – he tore them apart from the inside. Everything he did he did so he could cause the most devastating blow against the Avengers.
One thing I loved about Civil War was that it showed the consequences of the Avengers actions. Yes, they saved the world from threats, but how many lives did they also destroy in the process? Zemo was just a normal guy before the Avengers came along – and thanks to them he lost his entire family. How many other “Zemo’s” could be out there, waiting to rise. We understand why Zemo is doing this – it’s a very human reason for wanting revenge.
But not only that, unlike other MCU villains, Zemo actually succeeds in his mission. Yes, that’s right, he did what no other MCU villain (even Loki) could do! He wanted to break up the Avengers and he did just that. Yes he got captured in the end, but the Avengers were broken apart. He got what he wanted, and that makes him possibly the greatest MCU villain on this list.
Let’s hope Zemo does come back in a future film – I’d actually love to know more about his character and see what other schemes he has planned. Because knowing how clever Zemo is, he most likely has an escape plan.
And that’s my list. Hope you enjoyed reading. Leave a comment if you want to let me know which villains you enjoyed the most.
Until next time!