The Marvel Cinematic Universe may be filled with colorful heroes, but the sprawling franchise has some big problems with its villains. It’s no secret that the antagonists for numerous MCU films are generic and dull, with only a few exceptions like Loki and Ultron.
Compared to the Dark Knight Trilogy’s antagonists, the MCU pales in comparison as the Dark Knight Trilogy shows their villains to be multi-layered and complex individuals. Whereas, the MCU primarily has two-dimensional, underdeveloped, generic villains.
Here below are 5 Ways the MCU can mend their Villain problem:
[Beware spoilers below]
1. Give Villains A Reason For Their Actions
No one in their right mind would just blow up a building, set fire to a library or even use an infinity stone to commit mass genocide (that’s right, Malekith and Ronan, I’m talking about you guys) without a reason, justified or otherwise.
However, if the antagonist does have a genuinely good reason but simply failed to showcase and/or further develop it, then the MCU should have simply elaborated upon them further so as to show another shade of the characte. For example, Thor: The Dark World's Malekith is driven by the loss of his wife and child, and Iron Man 2's Ivan Vanko is motivated by the wrongful deeds done to his father — but that doesn't come across well in either film.
2. More Relatable Villains
The reason we all love Loki and Zemo is because they were pretty relatable. Loki was basically the spoiled rich kid who throws a tantrum whenever things don’t fall his way. Top that with a British accent and you, sir, are on your way to becoming one epic villain. In Zemo’s case, he was basically the grief-stricken guy avenging his lost family. Fans could understand their actions, so we wanted to see what they did next.
3. More Cunning And Smart Villains
Zemo was more akin to a Mission Impossible (MI) villain than a Marvel villain to be honest, which is what made him super cool to me. He was cunning, shrewd, manipulative and downright crafty. Like so many MI villains and unlike most MCU villains, Zemo made good use of his smarts rather than his brute strength, if any.
In the film, Civil War, Zemo was the guy behind it all: the death of Black Panther’s father and the instigator for the Avengers’ collapse. He accomplished all these via well-planned schemes.
Now, imagine if the villains in Thor 2, Iron Man 2 and so on had been more cunning and smart, we may have been given even better versions of the films.
4. No more armies, please!
What’s worse than a one-off supervillain? One-off faceless armies, CGI or otherwise. Guys like Thanos, Zemo and Loki kind of prove that working alone, with the occasional henchman/woman, makes you even more incredible and menacing than using a massive army to take on your enemies.
Sure, the whole army thing worked for Loki in the Avengers back in 2012, but with films like Iron Man 2, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers: Age of Ultron and Iron Man 3 all employing similar massive armies it gets kind of tiring. Marvel needs to do something new.
5. Make Villains Darker and Less Comedic
Those who watched the Avengers: Age of Ultron know what I’m talking about. Had the titular villain said less quips and been more ominous and frightening like in the trailers, he could have actually surpassed Loki as the MCU’S finest. But, what’s done is done I suppose.
As a result of the character’s unfortunate penchant for witty quips and one-liners, we got a villain whom a lot of people finds as lame and threatening as a stand-up comedian with jokes as stale as old popcorn (Joker was a comedian, so what happened Marvel?). Kudos to Joss Whedon though for trying his best to make the sequel as good as it can be, but he could have made it better had he been allowed creative freedom by the studio executives (whom I personally suspect is Isaac Perlmutter).
Bonus Way: Stop Killing Them Off, Marvel!
Villains like Ultron, Ivan, Ronan and so forth had potential to be great villains if only they weren’t killed. Keeping them alive would have given the studio chance to expand on their characters in future films and therefore shed further light on their dark, twisted selves.
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