Marvel, throughout its decade long run, have had some memorable villains and then some rather lackluster antagonists at the same time. Unfortunately, Marvel is more known for having terrible bad guys with one-dimensional agendas rather than having enticing antagonists that really push these heroes to the test. Thankfully, after the last few films the villains in Marvel are getting a better wrap than they once did but there’s still work to be done. So, on that note, I’m going to provide you my ranking of the seventeen Marvel villains so far.
Malekith is definitely the worst Marvel villain. When I watched Thor: The Dark World I was flabbergasted by how laughable his ideals and his plan for universe domination was. Malekith was 100% corny and I have nothing more to say.
16. Ronan the Accuser
I literally just watched Guardians of the Galaxy yesterday after not having seen it for quite a while and Ronan was definitely not a great villain. He was powerful, nothing more, but his corny aspect was perfect for the film and at least he was a rather formidable foe.
15. Yellow Jacket
Yellow Jacket was laughable. He was cynical, wanted to become the hero of humanity, and everything that a cliché villain is. Yellow Jacket is as forgettable as they come and that’s why he’s so low on this list.
14. General “Thunderbolt” Ross
This Hulk abomination was definitely a little intimidating and could’ve been so much scarier if the movie had been better but alas, it wasn’t.
13. Obadiah Stane
When I watched Iron Man it was definitely an enjoyable film but it made me appreciate how much better the Marvel films have become. The villain in this movie, Obadiah Stane, was definitely a worthy antagonist and he presented a serious threat to Tony Stark. Unfortunately, a lot of times I forget he ever even existed in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and that’s a shame.
When the first teasers for Avengers: Age of Ultron came out I distinctly remember the imposing presence that Ultron provided. He was menacing, threatening, and I felt that he was going to be a much bigger threat to The Avengers than Loki had been. Then I watched the movie and come to find out he was just this sarcastic, cynical robot with a plan to make the human race extinct and make the world a robot-led planet. Boring. As the years pass Ultron has become less and less interesting and the only good thing that spawned from the AI robot was Vision so I guess I can thank him for that. *shrug*
It was a shocking twist when I found out Peter’s immortal dad, Ego, was actually the villain of the film. It was a surprise I definitely didn’t see coming that added some much-needed weight to the movie but, unfortunately, the surprise still couldn’t revive the highly anticipated sequel from the murky depths it resided in.
10. Ivan Vanko
I like Iron Man 2. It’s a fun movie with plenty of action, interesting character development, and an exciting debut for Black Widow. The antagonist for this film was also a worthy villain for the sequel. His motivations weren’t corny and his threatening meter was high. He brought a sense of seriousness to the movie that the film needed and I appreciate that.
9. The Mandarin
The Mandarin was really intimidating as he spoke terrorism and death to the people of the West but when I found out Ben Kingsley’s version of the character was just a facade and the real villain was Guy Pearce’s Killian I was stunned. It was an interesting twist that made the movie feel that much more weighted and it really made Iron Man have to prove himself as a hero. The Mandarin was the perfect villain for Iron Man 3 but, like most Marvel villains, he didn’t last long and he had a rather one-dimensional objective; revenge.
Kaecilius was a compelling villain in Doctor Strange. He had an interesting agenda as he tried to provide humans immortality so that no one could die and he was very powerful, making him a worthy adversary for Doctor Strange and his friends, but he still is an antagonist that I could easily forget and that’s why he’s so low on this list.
7. Red Skull
One thing Red Skull has that a lot of other Marvel villains don’t possess is a creepy appearance. I remember when I saw Red Skull for the first time. I was instantly taken aback by his red skeletal appearance. Hugo Weaving is a fantastic actor and he brought a Nazi-ish fervor to this character that made him ideal for the debut Captain America film. People are saying that he might make a surprise return in Avengers: Infinity War and if that were to happen that would be pretty exciting indeed.
Zemo isn’t a memorable villain by appearance. In fact, he’s very lackluster in that department. But what makes him one of the best Marvel villains is the incredible concoction of his plan. He planted the bomb that would kill King T’Chaka dressed as Bucky Barnes, a sensitive matter that he knew would lure both Captain America and the Task Force. Then he brainwashed Bucky for information concerning where he had been trained as the Winter Soldier. Then, because he knew Captain America wouldn’t be able to resist the bait and he figured Iron Man would end up showing up as well, he had the secret tape revealing Bucky as the murderer of Tony’s parents primed and ready. His vengeful plan to destroy The Avengers worked perfectly and it was terrifyingly stunning.
He played The Avengers like he was playing a game of chess and the fact that his plan fractured The Avengers to the point of, it seems, no return is impressive.
The fact that Hela is the first female villain out of sixteen others is laughably absurd but I’m glad she at least was one of the better antagonists of the bunch. Unfortunately, while she was undoubtedly very powerful and menacing, she was also yet another one-dimensional villain and that was only elevated because she was played by the stunning actress, Cate Blanchett. Hopefully she will have paved the way for more female villains in the near future. 🙂
4. The Vulture
What made Spider-Man: Homecoming so enjoyable was the fact that it presented a villain I could really get behind and didn’t feel like your typical Marvel antagonist. He was a family man, a hustler, and even though he was dabbling in illegal weapon dealing you couldn’t really blame him. Iron Man had upended his city-cleaning business from underneath him and he wanted to get back at those who hurt him. He had such a compelling argument he sometimes made me want to root for him but because Spider-Man is so cool, well, of course I’m going to root for Peter Parker. The Vulture, however, was a nice breath of fresh air compared to the Marvel villains before him and that was a relief.
Loki is the only antagonist who has appeared in more than one film and that alone makes him one of the greatest Marvel villains. In Thor he was a spoiled and betrayed brat of an individual who just wanted to rule Asgard. When he returned in The Avengers he was a lot more cynical and calculating, deciding to hurt Thor even more by trying to take over and rule Earth. Of course, that didn’t work and he was taken back to Asgard where he was imprisoned. In Thor: The Dark World he became a brief ally of Thor’s before “dying” just to actually return to Asgard, send Odin packing, and taking over the throne once more. And then in Thor: Ragnarok he was part mischievous villain part benevolent hero and that was my favorite version of Loki yet.
Now he’s set to return in Avengers: Infinity War and judging from the trailers it looks like he’s going to be a villain again…or is he? And that’s exactly why Loki is one of my favorite antagonists. He’s complex, jumping back and forth between evil villain and caring hero and it’s nice to see at least one Marvel villain written with as much imagination and care as the heroes of the films.
2. Secretary Pierce
Pierce used to be my favorite Marvel villain because he was such an unsuspecting villain. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier it seemed that the main antagonist was, well, the Winter Soldier but come to find out it was the old man, Secretary Pierce! I was shocked. And he was intimidating simply because he was at the head of S.H.I.E.L.D, was concocting a plan to take over the world in the name of HYDRA, and no one knew, except for Captain America and co. He helped elevate the movie’s already complex and fascinating story and that’s why he’s second favorite villain.
1. Erik Killmonger
Unlike the previous sixteen Marvel villains he didn’t roar into the movie at the beginning of the film. Instead he mostly resided in the background, briefly making an appearance as a sidekick to Ulysses Klaue in the first thirty minutes of the film, but when he showed up in the film he showed up! Things turned upside down so quickly when he arrived literally swinging into the film that I was just stunned by what was happening.
SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t seen this movie I’m about to delve into some serious spoiler territory so beware this next section if you want to avoid spoilers. Thank you for heeding my warning and enjoy the rest of the post. 🙂
First of all, he defeated T’Challa in that rites of passage duel by the waterfalls which was legitimately horrifying.
Secondly, he destroyed all of the Black Panther flowers which was the second most horrifying development in the movie.
Third, he was T’Challa’s cousin! WHATTT!!!!
Fourth, he wanted to use Wakanda’s immensely powerful resources to rage war on the rest of the world which would’ve been TERRIBLE! All in all, Killmonger was not only intimidating in every department but he was the first Marvel villain who I felt had a serious chance of winning against the heroes of the film.
Fortunately he didn’t but I will admit, when he “died” at the end of the movie I almost cried. He had such a heartbreaking story as the American cousin who had been forgotten and left to fend for himself even though he was newly orphaned young King T’Chaka killed his father and I felt for him. His impact on the film was so great that I momentarily forgot about T’Challa and his struggles as the new king of Wakanda. Michael B. Jordan did such a marvelous portraying the raged character and I’m really hoping that he actually didn’t die because he was so amazing and for him to only appear in one film, actually half a movie for that matter, feels unfair.
Erik Killmonger showed that there can be extremely complex Marvel villains and I’m hoping that’ll be the new trend for Marvel movies going forward.
Well, this is my ranking of the seventeen Marvel villains. I thank you for reading this extensive post and I hope you have a great day.