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.


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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In Defense of Iron Men & Mandarins

 Iron Man

EDITOR’S NOTE: The following will contain major SPOILERS about Iron Man 3. If you haven’t seen the film and don’t want to learn what happens, do not read anymore!

Despite the somewhat mixed reaction to Iron Man 3, the reviews still remained on the positive. I know our fellow Starloggers colleague José Soto enjoyed the film. But there is a vocal base out there of people who loathe Iron Man 3, including our one of our other colleagues Jim McLernon. Much of that dislike has to do with some perceived flaws with the film and the Mandarin (Ben Kingsley).

iron armorsWe’ll be the first to admit that a minor quibble has to do with the high-speed action near the end of Iron Man 3.  At that point, Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Iron Patriot/James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) have a final confrontation with the main villain Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) at an oil tanker. Needing help against the super-powered Killian and his Extremis army, Stark calls for back up and a cavalry of remote controlled Iron Man armors arrive. We don’t really get enough time within the dizzying action sequences to view these great Iron Man armors. Sure, we’ll see it in toy stores and production stills, but for a moment, the final fight suffered the same syndrome that plagued Transformers 2–too much blurry metal and things happening so fast that it was hard to follow which armor was which. The final battle takes place at night, so that doesn’t help either.

The rest of the film had clear storytelling and it was great to watch. Shane Black co-wrote and directed this entry with guidance from producer Kevin Feige and original director Jon Farvreau. Iron Man 3 is a solid entry in the Marvel movie universe. Better than the second film and about as enjoyable as the first one.

???????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????We liked how Marvel is treating this film as a conclusion of sorts, yet leaves an opening for future films–hopefully with Robert Downey, Jr. (RDJ), who for many people is Tony Stark. Along with him, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cheadle, and Favreau perform at their expected best and are able to walk that fine line between action, comedy and drama. Pearce and James Badge Dale as the heat-based villain Eric Savin are terrific new additions to the cast and standout as villains. But RDJ carried the film. Just as Christopher Reeve personified Superman perfectly, so does RDJ as Iron Man. His character is suffering from the events of The Avengers and we see the personal impact that those events created on a person. RDJ showed a vulnerability that hasn’t been seen before. It was refreshing and made him more human and identifiable.

The final minutes of Iron Man 3 seemed like a conclusion to a larger story arc about Stark’s life and to the film trilogy. Iron buddiesIt seems as if Stark is done with being Iron Man, he’s purged his inner hang ups (and his armors), grown and no longer has the need to use the armors as crutches. But he concludes his narration by stating “I am Iron Man”,  so hopefully Marvel and RDJ can reach an agreement for him to reprise the role. After all the end credits do reveal that Tony Stark will return.

We liked how this Iron Man film is very self contained without any Avengers appearing during the film (emphasis on the word during :D), yet the film expands on the general Marvel movie universe that Iron Man gets involved with. We see competitor industries like A.I.M. (Killian’s company) and Roxxon, two villainous corporate entities seen in the comic books.

Now on to the Mandarin. His role in the film is very controversial. Supposedly he is considered to be the main Iron Man villain in the comic books but bringing that character to the big screen is problematic.


In the comic books, he is this Chinese warlord who possesses ten alien rings with different kinds of powers and was created in a less politically correct time. The Mandarin as he is in the comic books is considered to be a negative stereotypical portrayal of Asians. To bring that character into a big budget film would have created a public relations firestorm. There isn’t any way in today’s climate where the U.S. owes China so much money and seems largely content with being indebted to that nation, will a stereotype like the  Mandarin appear on film. Putting politics aside, the film studios will lose a ton of revenue in Asia if they used the traditional Mandarin super villain. Family-friendly Disney (Marvel’s owner) want to expand their appeal with China, not close it. The creative minds at Disney/Marvel wouldn’t allow the Mandarin to be portrayed as in the comic books, so the Mandarin had to be politically correct.

????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????????Black and the producers made an acceptable alternative. They had it that the Mandarin was just a British actor hired by Killian to portray a super terrorist. The Mandarin would claim credit for Killian’s terror attacks and Killian gets to manipulate the public and gain more control behind the scenes. In effect, Killian is the Mandarin; he even claims at one point that he is that person.

The bottom line is that the Mandarin doesn’t exist in this film. But honestly, he isn’t a famous villain like Dr. Doom or the Joker so drastically changing the villain wouldn’t turn off the general public. It was a calculated risk that the people behind Iron Man 3 took. We think it was a rather brilliant and daring plot twist but it turned off some vocal fans. That is understandable but they have to be realistic and for now this is the best solution.

But enough with this controversy. Iron Man 3 is still a joyous and energetic film thanks to its many merits. And the recent box office receipts confirm that the appealing combo of Iron Man and RDJ continues to be invincible.

GEO and Waldermann Rivera