Marvel is still having a golden age at the box office, no matter what Steven Spielberg thinks of the genre. It does have a problem though. And it’s a big one…
Marvel has, thus far, put out a dozen movies in its interconnected cinematic universe. You’d imagine that it would have the better part of a dozen memorable villains in its rogue’s gallery. It doesn’t, it’s got Loki.
Red Skull, Ultron, Malekeith, Iron Monger, Whiplash, and the rest of the gang have been met with a muted reception and are often derided for being one-dimensional. Only Loki gets any love from the fan base and that’s probably because Tom Hiddleston’s performance is basically flawless. Even (or perhaps especially) as a bad guy, his charm and charisma is hypnotic.
With literally thousands of iconic villains in the pages of the comics, the question of why the movies continually fail to develop the villains remains a mystery. However, looking at the next ten years Marvel has a very busy schedule ahead of them. The key to their survival in phase three and beyond will be the villains. If Spielberg is to be proved wrong, Marvel needs a Darth Vader. An iconic villain so great that it transcends the movie. A villain at least as recognisable as the hero.
Here are ten Marvel villains that NEED to be seen on the big screen before too long.
Mysterio is a character that could, if handled right, be orders of magnitude better on screen than on paper. His skill set is basically that of a top-grade Scooby Doo villain. It’s all visual effects and death traps. On paper, goldfish bowl helmet notwithstanding, he’s always been impressive. On a big screen, he could be the greatest visual treat the MCU has to offer. He could even be the first Marvel villain to make me want to watch a 3D movie.
The Iron Man movies have been the most criticised for the lack of villain development. The Iron Monger was pretty good, but subsequent villains have been very weak. For most of Iron Man 2, Stark isn’t even aware that he’s coming after him. The Mandarin in Iron Man 3 still makes the blood boil in countless fans.
M.O.D.O.K could be amazing though. Visually, he’s like nothing we’ve seen before and could easily grow out of the A.I.M group that was teased in Iron Man 3. Because of his grotesque appearance, he could even become a villain that could garner some sympathy from the audience. Something the often two-dimensional villains often lack.
8. The Enchantress (And Skurge)
Two of the first Villains The Avengers ever faced in the comics, these classic villains have made very few appearances of late. It’s possible Marvel will avoid using The Enchantress due to her powers being too similar to The Scarlett Witch’s mind warping, but seeing Thor face off with Skurge would be fun. As Natalie Portman has displayed a lack of affection for her role as Jane Foster, a new love-interest, especially an unwanted one like Amora The Enchantress, could be a welcome change of pace for the much-maligned Thor series.
7. The Hood
During the Brian Michael Bendis era of Avengers and New Avengers comics, The Hood rose to be an interesting villain. Recruiting every street-level bad guy in America to form a criminal empire and strike out at the Avengers and get rich while doing it earned him some serious credibility. If the second generation of Avengers (after Cap, Iron Man and company leave) are to get past the ‘face-less horde of identical bad guys’ battle that the first two Avengers movies have faced, this could be the way to go.
Another skull-faced bad guy, but not cut from the same cloth as The Red Skull. Taskmaster could prove a physical match for Captain America and could be a recurring sidekick for any master villain able to pay him. Seeing him crop up across the entire MCU facing different heroes could prove to be very interesting.
We saw a version of him pop up in Blade: Trinity, but as that’s not technically part of the current MCU we could get a better, more interesting, version appear yet. Probably a good fit for Doctor Strange sequels, a mystical vampire lord could be a fun change of direction for Marvel.
4. The Serpent Society
Teased by Kevin Feige, before admitting he was hoaxing the actual title of Captain America Civil War, The Serpent Society are a classic set of villains that could prove to be interesting foils for the second-gen Captain America once Sebastian Stan or Anthony Mackie end up taking on the role.
Possible rights issues may mean Fox owns Kang due to his original ties to the Fantastic Four. However, if anyone needs to pop up in the MCU it’s Kang. Nobody has been the threat to the Avengers that he has. Not even Thanos. Kang is a master manipulator, combatant, and strategist. Assuming the Avengers defeat Thanos at the end of phase 3, the natural enemy to take his place as the ultimate bad guy is Kang.
2. Sunset Bain
If the female heroes are having a hard time getting seen, the villains have no chance. This has to change and there’s nobody better placed than Sunset Bain. A female industrialist and rival of Tony Stark, handled correctly, she could be the Marvel equivalent to Lex Luthor on screen. Another character than could cross over and menace multiple heroes, Sunset is alluring and often ambiguous. If the MCU is going to look for less two dimensional villains, she could be just what they need.
Ideally a physical foil for Thor, Ares is The God Of War and could take on just about anyone and everyone in the MCU. His physical prowess is close to The Hulk, and his tactical mind is an equal to Captain America. Given that we’ve already seen the Norse pantheon, the Greeks could just as easily show up.
With Doctor Doom, Magneto, Apocalypse, The Skrulls etc. Owned by other studios, Marvel have lost some of their best bad guys. But there's still plenty of room for them to expand the characters they do still own.