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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Captain America: Civil War Teaser Trailer!

civil war

The world is going to hell in a handbasket with all the recent calamities but at least we have some cool movies to look forward to next year (that and picking a new president). After months of anticipation, at last the trailer for Captain America: Civil War is out.

Frankly, I was expecting this new entry of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) to come out next month with all that Star Wars hoopla, but hey I’m more than happy to be viewing this over and over this Thanksgiving while everyone else is glued to their football games!

First impressions: Love it! It hit all the right notes and got me instantly pumped to see Captain America and Iron Man duking it out. One thing I appreciated is that even though there are many superheroes in the trailer it still felt like a Captain America movie not Avengers 2.5. The story is focused on Steve Rogers’ place in the modern world and how he doesn’t quite fit in. Also there are some hints of tragedy and hurt scattered here and there with it centering on the lost friendship between Captain America and Iron Man, with Tony Stark seeming a bit jealous of Steve Rogers’ friendship with Bucky Barnes. It’s interesting they went that route because I saw the two as more at being at odds with each other in the last two Avengers films. But it’s a good angle and sells the point that it’s a House Divided among superheroes.

civil war poster

Speaking of superheroes we got our first quick look at Black Panther and man does he look lethal and rockin’! The only ones that weren’t present and missed were Ant-Man and Spider-Man. I suppose we’ll see them around the time of the Super Bowl. The final shot of Captain America and Winter Soldier taking on Iron Man together is sure to cheer the hearts of anyone who wants to see Tony Stark taken down a peg or two. From the looks of it, Captain America: Civil War is another winner for the MCU.

Don’t know about the rest of you but I’m going back to watching this trailer for Captain America: Civil War again. May 2016 can’t come soon enough. 🙂

José Soto

 

The First Dozen Marvel (MCU) Films Ranked

With the release of Ant-Man, Phase Two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) films has concluded. Before Phase Three begins with Captain America: Civil War, now would be a good time to rank the twelve MCU films released so far.

1. The Avengers (2012) – As the culmination of years of careful seeding by previous MCU films The Avengers was a bold, energetic triumph. Director Joss Whedon accomplished the impossible by bringing together completely different characters and molding them into a superhero team just like in the comic books.

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As the most successful superhero film of all time, The Avengers excited numerous viewers and changed the landscape of superhero films. Before this film, the usual superhero films operated in their own realities without any indication of a rich universe as seen in comic books. But The Avengers embraced the richness of its comic book lore and it paid off. Now, shared cinematic universes are the rage. However, The Avengers is the best of the MCU films because it was so energetic, witty, and snappy, and had the novelty of our favorite heroes meeting for the first time. It all led to one of the most exciting finales presented on film that still reverberates with viewers.

2. Guardians of the Galaxy (2014) – Marvel Studios showed they were willing to take a chance with this quirky and exciting space adventure yarn. Who would’ve imagined that a sci-fi movie about a bumbling space pirate, violent green aliens, a foul-mouthed raccoon and a walking tree would strike a chord with audiences?

gotg

Technically, Guardians of the Galaxy isn’t a superhero film, but this demonstrates how this MCU entry is quite different from its standard superhero repertoire. What made it special wasn’t just the premise, beautiful visuals or production design, but a toe-tapping soundtrack that ingeniously used ’70s pop songs. It was a unique signature for this space opera tale about a group of space losers who banded together to save the galaxy. Chris Pratt became a star thanks to his silly, but good-hearted role as Star-Lord, the self-proclaimed legendary outlaw.

3. Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014) – The best MCU solo superhero film and one of the greatest superhero films ever made. More importantly, this was arguably the most volatile entry in the MCU because by the time the film ended, the cinematic universe was forever changed by the film’s events.

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Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers has demonstrated how he has grown in stature in these films. As a man out of time, Steve Rogers faced his greatest threats from a former friend (one of the deadliest and most frightening supervillains on film) and a shocking global conspiracy that rocked the MCU to its roots. Adding to the film’s specialness were a tightly written script, well-executed and riveting fight scenes and terrific performances from the cast.

4. Ant-Man (2015) – The final Phase Two film is known for its numerous behind-the-scenes hurdles where the original director quit after having developed the film for years. Yet, in spite of that and the titular character’s obscurity, Ant-Man was an unexpectedly great superhero film that’s full of panache.

antman in your face

As one of the more humorous MCU films, Ant-Man quickly won over viewers with its outlandish premise: a man who can shrink and communicate with ants. Wrapped around that was a swift-paced heist story that deftly integrated itself into the larger MCU in a natural way that eluded other films that attempted this. Adding to the film’s enjoyment were many winning performances, fantastic special effects and unlike other MCU films, Ant-Man was able to deliver an astonishing final act that helped pave the future for the MCU.

5. Thor (2011) – What sets Marvel Studios apart with their MCU films is its willingness to remain faithful to the comic book source material. At the same time, Marvel Studios has the ability to make organic changes and updates to its characters and situations. Thor is a perfect example. The film wisely eschewed its magic-based comic book roots that Thor and his ilk were actual gods and cleverly used science fiction tropes instead.

THOR

Thor followed the winning formula of MCU films by having an egotistical, flawed character learn some humility and become a hero. Thanks to director Kenneth Branagh, Thor also had a sense of grandeur that evoked a Shakespearean family drama. In this case, that involved otherworldly aliens mistaken for gods. It was also noted for its humorous fish-out-of-water scenario and Tom Hiddleston’s star-making performance as Loki, the MCU’s best villain.

6. Iron Man (2008) – The one that started the MCU phenomenon still holds up as a well-made origin story. Robert Downey, Jr. shined as he made a personal and professional comeback in the role of a lifetime. His trend-setting Tony Stark/Iron Man was a self-centered narcissist who learned to become something more.

iron man flying

The first part of Iron Man was engrossing, particularly during the moments when Tony Stark first faced his mortality and was forced to construct a crude armored suit. However, the film faltered a bit in the second half. The pace dragged as we waited for him to construct a proper Iron Man suit. Things weren’t helped by the final battle that looked like something out of the Transformers and was just as cartoony. But Iron Man’s successful formula set the tone for the rest of the MCU. Continue reading

Iron Man’s Best Armor

iron gallery

This month marks the 50th birthday of everyone’s favorite Armored Avenger, Iron Man. One thing that made Shellhead so unique among the superheroes is that until recent years he was one of the very few superheroes to sport a new look.

Often, the change in suits was necessary since Iron Man faced constantly changing threats and situations. This upgrading of his armor is one way to showcase how Iron Man keeps up with technology and the times. It is hard to imagine Iron Man being the popular hero that he is if he still wore that clunky Mark II armor seen in the early Avengers comic books.

There are many variations of his armor, while some were best left forgotten, others were very captivating and quite cool.

stealthStealth Armor Mark I (Iron Man # 152, Vol. 1)

One thing that stood out about this armor was its jet black color scheme, which lent itself to its stealth capabilities that made Iron Man electronically invisible.

Hydro Armor (Iron Man # 218, Vol. 1)

As its name suggests, this particular oversized armor was used for underwater missions, namely deep-sea salvages.

Hulkbuster Armor (Iron Man # 304, Vol. 4)Hulk buster

This large-framed armor boosted Iron Man’s strength to allow hand-to-hand fighting with the powerful Hulk. This concept led to other variants like the Asgardian Armor for fighting Thor and Spider-Man’s Iron Spider suit seen in the Civil War mini-series. The Hulkbuster armor apparently makes an appearance in the new Iron Man 3 movie as seen at the end of the latest trailer.

 

extemisExtremis Armor (Iron Man #5, Vol. 4) & Bleeding Edge Armor (Iron Man # 25, Vol. 5)

What made this armor so radically different was that it was actually part of its wearer Tony Stark. He was critically ill and injected himself with a techno organic virus, which bonded the suit to his body. Stark was able to store the armor in his bones and controlled it with his brain impulses. For all intents and purposes, this armor turned Stark into a cyborg, a true Iron Man. This wasn’t a state-of-the art armor, it was simply futuristic. The next stage of his armor was the so-called Bleeding Edge Armor. However, Stark had the armor surgically removed later on.  

Mark I (Tales Of Suspense # 39) tales of suspense

Sometimes retro is the way to go. Yes, its clunky and not aesthetically pleasing but it did a most important thing. It was the first armor to save Tony Stark’s life. Using raw materials and under life-or-death pressure, Stark demonstrated his genius with this creation. While funky in its inelegant, steampunk-like design, the armor would be replaced in the next issue of Tales Of Suspense by a more advanced golden armor. The basic grey look made a comeback of sorts in Iron Man # 191 (Vol. I) when Stark was forced to cobble together a makeshift suit when his regular armor wasn’t available to him.

classic armorMark III (Tales Of Suspense # 48)

The iconic, modern look of the red-and-gold armor was introduced in this issue and it set the design template for all future Iron Man armor. The Mark III differed from the first two designs in that it had a sleeker look and was more versatile. The design became a mainstay for Iron Man’s look (except for bulky alternates like the Hulkbuster or his Space Armor). The armor looked even sleeker and more formidable with the debut of the more modern Mark IV (Tales Of Suspense # 66) with the famous repulsor rays and the Mark V (Iron Man # 85, Vol. 1). This two-color, dynamic motif culminated, with his current Black and Gold Armor (Iron Man # 1, Vol. 5), which is made of a fluidic “smart metal”, mentally controlled by Stark and is a testbed for new tech.

black and gold

*Note: The above art was done by John Romita, Jr., Bob Layton, Kevin Hopgood, Adi Granov, Jack Kirby, Don Heck and Greg Land

Waldermann Rivera

Special thanks to GEO