The Marvel Cinematic Universe is amazing and Marvel Studios has become the Pixar of superhero movies!. They have been running strong ever since 2008, and show no signs of slowing down. In fact, they’ve been increasing the amount of content they release – with several television shows being produced, as well as their incredibly popular Netflix shows. Marvel Studios really only rivals Twentieth Century Fox, for the longest running cinematic continuity – as far as these superhero movies go. And we have only now just entered into Phase 3 for Marvel Studios.
So far, we have seen Hugo Weaving portraying an evil German (Red Skull) hellbent on ruling the world, Tim Roth as The Abomination and countless other villains. And if we were included the Marvel TV universe in this list, James D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk and David Tennant as Kilgrave would be the absolutely greatest, most sadistic and powerful villains in this entire continuity. But the movies themselves have some pretty strong bad guys, as well, played by some very fantastic and talented actors. Even the likes of Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaue, Mads Mikkelsen (no one knows who yet) and Daniel Bruhl as Baron Zemo in future Marvel movies.
There were plenty of other smaller villains, henchmen and bad guys, not on this list, who are spread throughout all of the movies. Those include Karen Gillan as Nebula in Guardians of the Galaxy; Frank Grillo as Brock Rumlow (Crossbones) in the Captain America films; Corey Stoll as Darren Cross (Yellowjacket) in Ant-Man; Faran Tahir as Faza in Iron Man and many others.
The Dark Elf Malekith, portrayed by Christopher Eccleston in Thor: The Dark World. The actor was able to describe his character quite nicely: “There is a kind of tragic quality to his quest. Because he’s lost his wife, he’s lost his children. He’s lost everything.” Unfortunately, all of that happens off screen and we don’t really get a strong sense of that. Of this list of 10 villains, Malekith is the weakest one. He intends to throw the entire universe into darkness, using the Aether, so at least you know he had high aspirations. Though to his credit, Malekith was able to murder Frigga, Thor and Loki’s mother. Malekith was able to do something to tick off Loki and that’s gotta be worth something (and it is!…the 10th spot on the list).
9. Iron Monger
Obadiah Stane was really the first villain to be introduced into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and was wonderfully played by Jeff Bridges. Stane was somewhat of a mentor and father figure to Tony Stark, helping him with his enterprise manufacturing weapons. Little does he know, that he’s been scheming behind his back throughout the entire film, and decides to steal Tony’s tech to build his own “Iron Man” – Iron Monger. Bridges is an incredible actor so the character had that going for him. Although, he still isn’t quite as interesting or dynamic than the next villain introduced in Stark’s life.
Mickey Rourke was just coming off of his Oscar nomination for The Wrestler when he signed on to play Ivan Vanko/Whiplash in Iron Man 2. The character was a combination of Whiplash (Anton Vanko) as well as the Crimson Dynamo. Vanko was another ruthless scientific genius who had a grudge against Stark, viewing him as a false idol. If he could just hurt Iron Man, even once, he could prove that he is not invincible. Also, his electrified whips in the movie were pretty cool to watch in action. And it was nice to actually see a villain appear in the first act, rather than just popping up at the end of the movie. If only they didn’t push him to the side during the second act.
7. The Mandarin
Some people sure got upset with the old switcheroo Marvel pulled with Iron Man 3. Instead of Ben Kingsley portraying the classic Iron Man villain The Mandarin, it was revealed that he was just an actor and imposter. Guy Pearce then emerged as the true Mandarin, who was able to breathe fire, along with having has superhuman strength and the ability to generate extreme heat. As silly as that sounds, it does give him a lot of power. Of the three Iron Man villains, he posed the greatest threat to Tony, as well as to humanity. He took no shame in sending helicopters to go blow up Tony’s home, although admittedly, Tony should not have announced his address on television so freely.
Everybody mentions the first Marvel Studios movie that came out in 2008, Iron Man. But they also forget to mention their second movie that came out that same year, The Incredible Hulk. The movie isn’t all that memorable for a lot of people it seems, though the final battle between Hulk and Abomination was pretty fun. Abomination is just as strong and powerful as the Hulk and he even seemed to be able to avoid speaking in broken English like the Green Goliath does. Abomination has to be on the list purely for his giant size and strength alone. Plus, he didn’t die at the end of the movie, so if Marvel is still keeping him around…he could be a fun addition to throw into a future film.
Lee Pace portrayed Ronan the Accuser in Guardians of the Galaxy. Ronan was a genocidal terrorist in the film, who was going to wipe out an entire planet – with the help of one of the Infinity Stones, of course. Ronan could be described as a pretty powerful villain, in the sense that he was literally slaughtering families and children to reach his goal. It would seem that the stakes are certainly high. Also, he got to ride in a pretty sweet spaceship, which was called The Dark Aster – grim and terrifying indeed. Though it is too bad that he didn’t get very much to do in the film, as his presence as an evil alien dictator could have been established in a more satisfying way.
4. The Winter Soldier
Bucky Barnes is no longer a villain within the Marvel Cinematic Universe, seeing as he and Cap are going to be working together according to the trailers for Captain America: Civil War. But even so, he was a villain in The Winter Soldier and a pretty lethal one at that. He doesn’t have any magical or supernatural powers unlike some of the other villains on this list, but the man has been around for decades, pulling off a large number of assassinations and murders. Not to mention that he’s been shot up with a serum similar to what Steve Rogers got, so he’s got reflexes, stamina and strength that rivals Cap’s. The fact that he was once friends with Steve just made him a more interesting villain, if nothing else.
Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki became the favorite villain to a lot of people at the end of the first Thor. But it was his villainous role in The Avengers that ultimately made him the best villain in the whole MCU – at the time. It’s probably fair to say that the character was used best in this film, as opposed to the first or second Thor film. Loki managed to use his tricksterous powers to get the Avengers to fight one another, as he idly stood by and watched. And though he is often defeated, Loki is much smarter and much more clever than he is given credit for. He hasn’t officially been announced to be part of Thor: Ragnarok, but Marvel Studios would be doing themselves a great disservice if they don’t include him. Especially considering how The Dark World ended.
Ultron made his introduction into the Marvel Cinematic Universe with the second Avengers film, though it may have been better to introduce him earlier. James Spader, being the incredible actor that he is, was able to make the character menacing at times. While Joss Whedon made sure to include his trademark humor and wit with the villain, Ultron still managed to be one of the most threatening and power villains in this MCU. And if you paid very close attention to the third act of Age of Ultron, the sentient robot may not necessarily be dead. Whedon himself said he wouldn’t be surprised if he saw Ultron pop up in another film.
Thanos has yet to fully emerge as the villain of one of these movies, but he’s always been in the background ever since The Avengers. He’s seen an opportunity to take them on and has been trying to assemble the Infinity Stones. But once Thanos gets his hands on all six, with the Infinity Gauntlet, he is going to be the most powerful Marvel movie villain. He’ll have the power to control reality, space and time, and just with those three alone, the results will be unlike anything we have ever seen. We’re going to see Josh Brolin fully embody the role in Avengers: Infinity War Part 1 & 2. And this should end Marvel’s Phase 3 with quite a bang.