Top 7 Super Villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe
The heroes often get all the attention in these superhero blockbusters; their names get plastered on walls and screens everywhere, and their deeds are celebrated the world over. But for the heroes to succeed and be beloved, they must first overcome the challenge of a great villain. While the villains of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe certainly have room for becoming much more than proverbial punching bags, there have definitely been standouts amongst their silver screen rogues gallery. Below we present the MCU’s Top 7 Super Villains, as voted by our readers.
In case you need a refresher: With Phase Two of Marvel’s Cinematic Universe wrapping up after this summer’s Avengers: Age of Ultron and Ant-Man, we decided it was a good time to take a look back at some of the best moments Marvel Studios has brought to the silver screen. Between now and Age of Ultron’s release we’ll be counting down several Top 7 lists that celebrate many of the greatest moments from the MCU so far. For reference, this includes every movie released to date (Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, The Avengers, Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and Guardians of the Galaxy), as well as all the straight-to-video Marvel One-Shots (“The Consultant”, “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Thor’s Hammer”, “Item 47″, “Agent Carter”, and “All Hail the King”), and also Marvel’s ongoing foray into television (as of print date: 16 episodes into Agents of SHIELD’s second season, the entire first season of Agent Carter, and without yet considering Netflix’s just-released Daredevil). Finally, this should go without saying, but you’ve been warned: SPOILERS AHEAD!
She took somewhat of a backseat in a very crowded movie, but when she did show up, Nebula was a force to be reckoned with. Thanos’ cyborg daughter is one of few MCU villains that has actually survived their first appearance and lived to develop a more nuanced, evolving rivalry with our heroes. Her relationship with the Mad Titan as well as Guardian Gamora make her an interesting renegade, much like Loki’s turn in The Dark World. We can only hope that Guardians 2 affords Karen Gillan more screentime as the deadly assassin.
6) CALVIN ZABO aka MR. HYDE
One of the very first Inhumans we ever met in the MCU, Kyle McLachlan’s unhinged Calvin Zabo has been an electrifying presence on-screen. His manic behavior and obsession with his daughter are a welcome wrinkle to a conflict that more typically consists of serious espionage types. “Mr. Hyde” hasn’t really proven to be a true threat to Coulson and company just yet, but he’s a fun wild card, especially considering even his own people have all but disowned him. A man with nothing to lose is always dangerous and there seems to be plenty more to come from Cal.
Agent Carter was great for many reasons, but one of its cooler moments was giving us a peak at the early stages of the “Red Room” program that later chisels Natasha Romanoff into a lethal superspy. Dottie was a lethal, evil version of Scarlett Johansson’s character, and she definitely brought weight to the threat that Leviathan posed in the postwar era. It was fun seeing Black Widow’s skillset being applied in a different manner, and if Dottie’s nebulous fate at the end of Agent Carter’s first season is any indication, we haven’t seen the last of her or Leviathan.
3) (Tie) RONAN THE ACCUSER
As Guardians of the Galaxy‘s big bad and our first major exposure to Marvel’s militaristic Kree aliens, Lee Pace’s Ronan was a formidable, if somewhat hollow antagonist in the franchise. Ronan certainly showed off his ruthlessness in his very first scene and proved his ambition and fearlessness in his willingness to go against the mighty Thanos. The ease with which he dispatched Drax was also a great moment for the villain; his pathological hatred made him a uniquely fearsome manifestation of evil. It’s just too bad he ended up being a one-off.
3) (Tie) RED SKULL
Captain America’s legendary nemesis–portrayed in the MCU by the equally legendary Hugo Weaving–may be considered the first true super villain in the MCU continuity. Given that he physically has similar capabilities to Captain America, it’s hard to rule out another appearance entirely, but the events of The First Avenger suggest it is unlikely that the Red Skull will get an encore. Instead, his legacy is bound to be tied to the fate of Hydra, which has undergone a resurgence in the wake of The Winter Soldier. With Inhumans popping up, factions of SHIELD chasing each other around, and an army of killer robots looming, it seems that even a recently-weakened Hydra has an opportunity to grow a few more heads.
2) THE WINTER SOLDIER
He may not have been much more than Alexander Pierce’s brainwashed lapdog in The Winter Soldier, but he still has some of the best action scenes of any MCU villain so far. The freeway fight against Cap was particularly memorable and well-choreographed, and the Russo brothers did a great job creating a visually distinct villain. How ole Bucky fits into the MCU tapestry going forward is unclear, but now that he is starting to remember some things about his past, it’s probably a safe bet that future appearances from the Winter Soldier could include his own agenda.
Was there really ever any doubt about who would top this list? Loki has been the clear standout of the MCU’s rogues gallery through two phases, though expectations do remain high for Ultron this summer. No matter how formidable of a villain Ultron makes, however, there’s no way he can match three entire movies’ worth of Tom Hiddleston’s brilliance. Loki has been a shining example of what really makes this universe feel like a cohesive entity as he’s been a persistent antagonistic presence that has exceeded the boundaries of his origin franchise. He’s been smart, dangerous, and empathetic, a villain with more complex motivations than simply taking over the world for the sake of doing so. Marvel’s done a great job establishing and cross-pollinating its heroes, but for the universe to continue to grow cohesively, we need more high-quality recurring villains like Loki.
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