Top 10 MCU Villains

mcu villains

The films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) are beloved by many but one complaint lodged against the MCU is over its villains. Critics point out that the main flaw with the MCU films are its lightweight villains. This is a valid criticism since many times the MCU films featured forgettable foes that didn’t resonate with viewers. However, there are some truly outstanding villains in the MCU, and some underrated ones, as well, that have broken this mold lately. Here for your consideration are the best MCU villains. Needless to say spoilers will follow.

Thaddeus Ross

10. Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (The Incredible Hulk)

Obsessed and prejudiced against superpowered beings, Thaddeus Ross (William Hurt) has proved to be a hindrance to superheroes in the MCU. First as a general in The Incredible Hulk, Ross played a Javert-type by relentlessly chasing Bruce Banner throughout the Americas. His actions led to the creation of the Abomination and fractured his relationship with his daughter, Betty.

Ross next turned up in Captain America: Civil War as an obtuse Secretary of State determined to bring all the superpowered beings of the world under control by imposing the Sokovia Accords. This truncation of freedom and individual rights put him at odds with Steve Rogers and his teammates, which ultimately led to the Avengers breaking up.

Hela

9. TIE: Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)/Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)

These two are prime examples of villains crazed with world conquest. Hela is the Asgardian Goddess of Death who destroyed Thor’s hammer, conquered Asgard and helped cause its destruction. More than a match for her half brother, Thor, she was portrayed with great gusto by Cate Blanchett.

Born in the fires of World War II, the Red Skull/Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) outgrew the Nazis and formed the Hydra terrorist organization thanks to his severe nihilistic mindset and access to superweapons. While not as layered as other villains on this list, the Red Skull in the first Captain America film was quite memorable and his recent reintroduction into the MCU sparked new interest in him.

8. Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3)

Despite the controversy surrounding the third Iron Man film, it can’t be denied that Aldrich Killian (Guy Pierce) was not only the best Iron Man villain to date but one of the MCU’s top foes. Not only was Killian a notorious business competitor to Tony Stark, but he was the mastermind behind A.I.M. and the Mandarin. His machinations to topple the U.S. government and destroy Tony Stark by implementing the Mandarin’s terrorist campaign are nothing short of genius.

However, it was his vendetta against Stark that made Killian somewhat relatable. Years ago, Killian was a nerdy scientist who was dismissed by a pre-Iron Man Stark. This inspired him to achieve Stark’s level of success and fueled his hatred for Stark. This bit of history also illustrated how Stark’s callous past had caught up to him in Iron Man 3 and nearly undid him.

7. Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

As the U.S. Secretary of Defense (the MCU is a fertile ground for evil politicians, isn’t it?), Alexander Pierce (Robert Redford) developed a S.H.I.E.L.D. project using preemptive strikes that targeted world leaders and important figures like Tony Stark and Stephen Strange.

What is worse is that his actions against Steve Rogers and his supposed friend Nick Fury revealed that Pierce was a Hydra leader who had infiltrated and corrupted S.H.I.E.L.D. to its core. A big factor in his successful infiltration was his charming exterior which hid his cold interior. What made Pierce even more frightening and formidable were his immense resources and clout. He actually had the law on his side, which he used to take out to try to take out Captain America and his allies.

6. The Winter Soldier (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

Nowadays it may be difficult to think of Steve Rogers’ BFF as a villain, but that was not the case in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. In the first Captain America film, James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastain Stan) was Steve’s Depression-era buddy and joined him in World War II before ultimately dying in the line of duty. Or so we thought.

The second Captatin America film resurrected Barnes as a vicious and brainwashed Hydra assassin who was more than a match for Captain America. He even caught Cap’s famed shield in mid-air as it was thrown at him! The level of ruthlessness and deadly skills he displayed was as intimidating for us to watch as it was for the film’s heroes to endure. At the same time we felt for Steve and Bucky because of their past history and the fact that Bucky was forced by Hydra to carry out heinous acts.

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The Pixar Films Ranked

Now that Incredibles 2 has been released, Pixar AnimationStudios has twenty full-length films in its library. This is a good number to rank the Pixar films. Bear in mind that these animated films are among the best films ever made and even those that rank at the bottom have their moments. Be sure to comment below on how you would rank the Pixar films, which are universally considered the gold standard with animated films these days.

20. Brave

It was neck and neck between this and Cars 2 for the bottom spot.  What made Brave earn this spot was that ultimately the story was dull and came off as a generic Disney princess-proves-herself yarn we’ve seen too often. The hair animation was nice, though.

19. Cars 2

This is possibly the most unwanted sequel in Pixar’s history. The only thing going for the first sequel to Cars is its above-average animation, but the story about ‘Mater caught up in a spy caper is strictly aimed at kids who won’t know any better.

18. Cars 3

The third film in the Cars trilogy has some good moments about making comebacks and passing the torch for the next generation. Although the animation is up to Pixar’s loftiest standards, Cars 3 cannot shake the stigma of being an unwanted sequel to one of Pixar’s lesser efforts.

17. The Good Dinosaur

It seems as if Disney (and Pixar) has a hard time coming up with a memorable dinosaur film. How hard can it be? This film about a dinosaur and his pet human boy was interesting to watch but it lacked the special Pixar touch. What’s worse is that there isn’t anything remarkable about this film.

16. Cars

This can be considered Pixar’s first misfire, but that is unfair. Cars is not a bad movie, it’s just that it didn’t knock it out of the park as previous Pixar films have done. It’s an enjoyable film though its underwhelming plot about a hotshot racecar finding himself in a backwater town was lifted straight from Doc Hollywood.

15. Monsters University

The prequel to Monsters, Inc. (and the first Pixar prequel ever done) presents the unasked for tale of how the leads Mike and Sully first met as college roommates. It’s a fun watch, and much of the humor was aimed at children, but its message about accepting your limitations in life came off as a downer.

13. Finding Dory

The sequel to Finding Nemo is a worthy followup that further explores the enchanting underwater world and the popular characters from the first film. We also meet great new characters, and overall it’s a fun film with some tender moments, though its message about animal captivity is a bit too-on-the-nose.

13. Monsters, Inc.

The fourth Pixar film introduced a fascinating world of monsters that was quite hysterical at times. The highlights of the film were the voice acting by John Goodman and Billy Crystal who had great chemistry and timing. The relationship between Sully and the human girl “Boo” was simply adorable and would melt any cynic’s heart.

12. A Bug’s Life

The sophomore effort from Pixar kind of got lost among all of Pixar’s other offerings. This is because the animation is a bit rough by today’s standards and other films better captured fans’ hearts. Still, A Bug’s Life is a splendid tribute to Seven Samurai (or The Magnificent Seven) with a great score.

11. Ratatouille

This animated film stood out from the others with its ode to the art of cooking. It’s an unusual tale about a rat that wants to become a great chef which may not resonate as well as other Pixar films. But it’s beautifully animated and the themes about perception and artistry are well executed.

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10 MCU Films To See Before Avengers: Infinity War

We’re all excited to see Avengers: Infinity War, the culmination of the ten-year-old Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU). But some of us haven’t seen all the films, or are dragging along a significant other to the theater who doesn’t know Iron Man from Captain America.

The dilemma? There are 18 MCU films and so little time to see them all before Avengers: Infinity War premieres. So which films do we need to watch before seeing Avengers: Infinity War? After all, not all the MCU films are relevant to the coming epic film.

collector and stones

Listed below in alphabetical order are ten MCU films to see before Avengers: Infinity War that are essential for understanding the film-spanning saga. Keep in mind that not all the films are the best in quality but have important ties to the Infinity War saga. Some spoilers follow.

Avengers

The Avengers (2012):

It makes sense to see the very first Avengers film. The superhero team gathers together for the first time to combat Loki, who threatened the world. The Avengers has the first appearance of the Mind Stone, one of the Infinity Stones, which was used by Loki. It also prominently features the Tesseract, aka the Space Stone, also used by Loki to transport invading alien armies to Earth.

More importantly, the post-credits scene of The Avengers introduces us to Thanos, the looming threat throughout the MCU from that point on. Overall, the first Avengers film takes the first steps to set up Phase Two and Three of the MCU, which culminates with Avengers: Infinity War.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015):

The sequel to The Avengers was somewhat disappointing with one of its flaws being its shoehorned tie-ins to the Infinity War saga. Two of the Avengers (Thor and Iron Man) have prophetic visions about the Infinity Stones and Earth being imperiled.

This leads to Thor leaving the team (and Earth) to learn more about the Stones while Iron Man becomes even more obsessed with protecting the world. His actions from that point are responsible for creating the film’s villain, Ultron, and the newest Avenger, Vision, one of the major characters in the third Avengers film. The Mind Stone, which was in Loki’s staff from The Avengers, is later imbedded into Vision.

black panther at wakanda

Black Panther (2018):

No Infinity Stones are seen or mentioned in the recent box-office phenomenon, but Black Panther properly introduces audiences to the wondrous African kingdom of Wakanda, a major setting in Avengers: Infinity War. As we have seen in the trailers for the film, it appears that the climax takes place in Wakanda as our heroes take a last stand against Thanos and his forces.

Black Panther also introduces us to major players in Avengers: Infinity War, namely Shuri and Okoye. Shuri with her technical prowess and Okoye being a mighty warrior have been shown in the trailers to being essential to the film’s story.

Captain america civil war team cap

Captain America: Civil War (2016):

As with Black Panther, the third Captain America film does not feature the Infinity Stones, but is very important to the Infinity War saga. Chiefly, it sets up the characters’ situations for Avengers: Infinity War. The Avengers break apart due to the events in Captain America: Civil War, which leaves the team(s) weakened and Earth vulnerable.

The third Captain America film (sometimes described as Avengers 2.5 with all the appearances of the Avengers) also introduces two important characters in the MCU and the Infinity War saga, Black Panther and Spider-Man. These new breakout heroes could also be seen as the ones to carry the torch for new versions of the Avengers after the dust settles in Avengers: Infinity War.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011):

The first solo film of the MCU’s most popular superhero not only introduces the star-spangled Avenger, but the first Infinity Stone onscreen: the Space Stone, which is inside the cubical Tesseract. Technically, the Tesseract was first seen briefly in a post-credit scene in Thor, but here the object is fully fleshed out.

It was used by the Red Skull to wreck havoc in Europe during World War II. In the first appearance of an Infinity Stone, it was also the first time that these stones were weaponized. Its true power was barely tapped in Captain America: The First Avenger as its full potential was shown in The Avengers.

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Top 10 Ready Player One Easter Eggs & References

To try to list all the Easter eggs and references in Steven Spielberg’s latest classic Ready Player One is an impossible task. No matter what other websites and videos claim no one has discovered all the minute and obscure references in Ready Player One. Until the film comes out on Blu-ray and digital streaming/download we’re going to settle for the top 10 Ready Player One Easter eggs and references. Oh yeah, spoilers down below!

10. Superhero Cameos: Being this is a Warner Bros. film, it was a given that the noticeable superheros and villains that are seen are from DC. These include several versions of Batman, the Joker, Harley Quinn, and Deathstroke. Others such as Spawn and Marvel superheroes are mentioned, though some have pointed out that Marvel heroes make blink-and-you-miss-it appearances.

Overwatch Tracer and Chun Li

9. Video Game Cameos: Nearly every shot in the film was stuffed to the brim with video game characters, whether they’re famous or obscure. Most were just quick cameo appearances and the standouts includes Tracer from Overwatch, Lara Croft, Blanka, Sonic the Hedgehog, Chun-Li, Ryu, Goro, the Spartans from Halo, Goro and we’ll be here all day trying to go on!

serenity

8. Classic Spaceships: Ready Player One has many brief appearances from iconic spaceships from film and cinema. The standout was the Serenity from Firefly, others include rad ships from Battlestar Galactica, the Enterprise, the Valley Forge from Silent Running, and somewhere in the film there is allegedly an X-Wing fighter. The greatest film spaceship the Millennium Falcon is mentioned and the roar of a TIE fighter can be heard in one scene. Anyone else who spotted anything else please drop a comment.

7. Gundam vs MechaGodzilla: A big highlight in Ready Player One’s epic final battle was the throwdown between the bad guy MechaGodzilla avatar and good guy Gundam from Mobile Suit Gundam. MechaGodzilla tore the scene up as he should have, while Gundam was the robotic cavalry that helped save the day. Seeing the behemoths tearing into each other was a terrific tip of the hat to the great kaiju and giant robot battles in Japanese kaiju films that we geeks love!

6. Rexie and King Kong As Racing Obstacles: Director Steven Spielberg went out of his way not to include references to his own great works. However, his film works are so vast and influential that it would have been a crime if there wasn’t any kind of shoutout. The choice of including Rexie, the Tyrannosaurus Rex from the Jurassic Park films was inspired as the dinosaur ripped apart the racing cars. The now-famous opening car race in Ready Player One featured unique racing obstacles like Rexie and one of the greatest movie monsters of all time: the mighty King Kong.

zemeckis cube

5. The Zemeckis Cube: There are so many droolworthy gadgets and weapons scattered and used in Ready Player One. Some of them were critical and saved the hides of Parzival and friends like the Madball. The best one of these gadgets, however, was the Zemeckis Cube, which was clearly inspired by director Bob Zemeckis and his masterpiece Back to the Future and the real-life Rubik’s Cube. The gadget certainly came in handy as it allowed the film’s heroes to turn back time by sixty seconds and escape the IOI evil thugs. Are there any other gadgets or weapons that you think are worth mentioning? Leave a comment!

4. Chucky: The killer doll from the Child’s Play films could be considered a gadget or a weapon with the way he is used. He is used by Parzival and Art3mis as a deadly distraction for the IOI soldiers trying to prevent them from reaching the final challenge. The way the doll just cuts through the soldiers like a mad cartoon character is hysterical! “It’s f#@**ing Chucky!” is one of the immortal lines from this film and quite funny, too.

the shining revisited

3. Revisiting The Shining: The second challenge in the virtual quest in Ready Player One was a visit to the terrifying Overlook Hotel as seen in Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining. Sure, novelist Stephen King hates this film adaptation but The Shining is one of the greatest horror films and it is well used in Ready Player One. It is amazing how Steven Spielberg was able to recreate the look and feel of The Shining and integrate it with his own film as Parzival and his allies confront the ghostly horrors in the hotel.

2. The DeLorean: The film was bumper-to-bumper with iconic movie cars like the Batmobile, the Mach V from Speed Racer, the Bigfoot muscle car, the Akira motorcycle, and so on. The one car that blows the rest of them away is the DeLorean as seen from Back to the Future. It was pure joy seeing that famous car racing across the silver screen again and brought back many fond memories from Back to the Future. The only drawback is that it did not fly. Oh, well. Maybe next time.

1. The Iron Giant: Of all the many Easter eggs and references featured in Ready Player One, the one that literally stands above them all is the Iron Giant. After The Iron Giant flopped in theaters back in ’99, it seemed as if the gentle metal Goliath would never be seen again. Thankfully, the animated film has become a cult classic and it was only a matter of time before the Iron Giant returned to film. Thankfully it was in Ready Player One that he made his triumphant return. Hopefully his prominence in Ready Player One will draw more attention to The Iron Giant and will lead to more appearances somewhere.

Any of you have your own top 10 Easter eggs and references from Ready Player One? Jot them down below!

The Black Mirror Episodes Ranked

Black Mirror poster

Black Mirror has caught on with many viewers thanks to its disturbing stories about the encroaching dangers and drawbacks of technology in our lives. Each episode in the sci-fi anthology series always points out the challenges and impact that new tech will bring. This superb series only consists of 19 episodes, but hopefully more episodes will be commissioned by Netflix. After all, not only is Black Mirror growing in popularity, but one of its episodes (“San Junipero”) won an Emmy award for Outstanding Television Movie  What follows is how each episode ranks; keep in mind that the lower-ranking episodes of Black Mirror are not bad, it’s just that the higher-ranked ones are extremely special. Needless, to say spoilers will be revealed.

19. “Men Against Fire”

A distraught soldier finds out there is more to the deadly mutated humans he and his team are hunting down and exterminating. By itself, this is not a bad episode, it’s just that by the time this one came out, the concept felt too familiar and the twist was too easy to guess.

hated in the nation

18. “Hated in the Nation”

Again, an enjoyable if unremarkable story that repeats themes from previous episodes. A detective investigates a series of deaths that are connected by the victims’ negative social media status. The payoff here is the means of how the killings are carried out.

playtest

17. “Playtest”

A stranded American tourist in the UK participates in a playtest of an experimental AR game. What he experiences in his artificial hell is chilling and the entire “is this real or not” scenario for the most part works. Unfortunately, it was obvious to viewers how the story would end.

16. “The National Anthem”

The very first Black Mirror episode is one of the most disturbing  and revolting stories and has the least amount of sci-fi elements, if any. The prime minister of the UK is forced to have sex with a pig on live TV to prevent the death of a kidnapped member of the Royal Family. Enough said.

15. “Arkangel”

Jodie Foster directed this unsettling story of an over-protective mother who has her young daughter implanted with a tracking device that functions as a censor to the dangers and violence in the real world. The consequences are just sad and the episode is a valid lesson for all parents.

14. “Crocodile”

A successful architect’s attempts to cover up an old murder are imperiled thanks to a device that recalls a person’s memories. This Black Mirror episode is more like a a murder mystery with a sci-fi device thrown in, but it’s well done. What stands out is its disheartening final act as the murders pile up.

13. “The Waldo Moment”

A vulgar animated bear that lampoons politicians becomes unexpectedly popular when on a lark the character is used to run for office. The implications of the outlandish campaign from the fictional character and the people behind the scenes are well explored. But what made “The Waldo Moment” so relevant is that it turned out to be an eerie foreshadowing of the Trump campaign.

White Bear

12. “White Bear”

A woman wakes up to find herself being hunted and videotaped by strangers. This was one of those Black Mirror episodes that kept you guessing until the final moments when we learn why she was being chased. This revelation completely changed our feelings towards the tortured woman.

11. “Black Museum”

A trio of stories rounds up the final (to date) episode of Black Mirror. A British tourist visits a remote museum in the American Southwest. The museum’s owner reveals the stories behind some artifacts (numerous props from other episodes are also seen, which tie together the entire series). The three stories themselves are well done and the payoff at the end was quite satisfying. Continue reading