The MCU has had many great films over the years. They have generated much success for Marvel Studios and Disney. While many of the films in the MCU are critically acclaimed many of them tend to follow the same trend of having lackluster villains. While being interviewed on the set of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Kevin Feige had this to say:
“A big criticism of ours is that we focus on the heroes more than the villains, I think that’s probably true…Yeah, we focus on the heroes. We don’t mind that. We like that.”
While there is nothing wrong with having a story focus on the hero, there is a problem with having the hero do battle with a lackluster villain. The issue with many of the villains in the MCU is not that the film isn’t focused on them. it’s more so that they are, for all intensive purposes, clones of the heroes. The use the exact same technology or powers in the exact same way. Sure there may be minor aesthetic differences in their costumes, but it’s not enough to cause the hero to think outside of the box to defeat them. Below I have compiled a list of 12 villains in the MCU that were essentially clones of the hero they fought against.
(Beware as this list will contain minor spoilers.)
The Incredible Hulk is a great film and along with Iron Man, helped kickstart the MCU. The film was moderately successful at the box office and has gained a cult following. Abomination is one of the only MCU villains to survive his encounter with a hero during their film. This super strong brute is a lighter colored spikier clone of the Hulk. Abomination has yet to reappear in the MCU along with Samuel Sterns who was hinted at appearing in future films as The Leader. At least we get some of the storyline from Planet Hulk in Thor: Ragnarok.
Iron Monger and Whiplash
Iron Man is another great film and along with The Incredible Hulk, helped start the MCU. Iron Man 2 is the film responsible for setting up The Avengers. While both films did financially well they had one key issue. The villains Iron Monger and Whiplash are basically Iron Man clones. Iron Monger is practically the same suit of armor only bigger. This makes sense considering he modeled after Tony’s Mark I design. Iron Man has a wide array of villains in the comics to choose from, so they didn’t have to double down on the armored villain in the films. At least they decided to add the plasma whips to the Whiplash armor.
Red Skull and Winter Soldier
Captain America: The First Avenger and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are two thematically different films. The former is a period piece set during WWII and the latter is a political thriller set in modern day. It can be argued that these are two of the best films that Marvel Studios has released. Yet, even with such great films, they have a villain flaw. It’s not that Red Skull and Winter Soldier are bad villains (that’s a funny statement) but that they are also super soldiers like Captain America. Red Skull stole the original formula from Abraham Erskine while he was working with him and Winter Soldier was given a similar formula by Arnim Zola after he was captured by Soviet HYDRA agents. At least Bucky got that kick-ass metal arm during his tenure as a brainwashed killing machine.
Loki, Malekith, and Hela
The Thor franchise has been the dark horse of the MCU since the original Thor was released back in 2011. Fans generally find these films the least interesting out of the MCU. However, many fans do praise Loki as the best villain in the MCU. This does not change the fact that each of the films’ main villains has been a powerful alien just like Thor. Loki is an Asgardian/Frost Giant, Malekith is a Dark Elf, and during a recent interview with Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo, it was revealed that Hela is Thor and Loki’s sister, thus making her also an Asgardian.I understand that this setback is hard to get around, but I’m sure the writers could have figured out something.
Many fans would agree that Guardians of the Galaxy reinvigorated the MCU. This relatively unknown property is now one of the most popular in the MCU. I will admit that this one is a stretch, but Ego is technically a clone of Star-Lord. Or Star-Lord is a clone of Ego — since Ego is his father this probably makes more sense. You can say that since the Guardians of the Galaxy are a team it doesn’t count, but by the final third of the film it was a battle between two Celestials with the exact same powers. I guess it’s better than them fighting another team of misfit aliens.
Like Captain America: The Winter Soldier before it Ant-Man allowed Marvel Studios to explore a new genre. This was the MCU’s first heist film and it didn’t disappoint. At least it didn’t completely disappoint. The villain, Yellowjacket, was very much underdeveloped and operated an updated version of the Wasp outfit. Also like many other villains in the MCU, he did not survive the events of the film. Gladly we’re shying away from shrinking villains with Ghost appearing in the sequel Ant-Man and the Wasp next year!
Doctor Strange is as close to a horror film as Marvel Studios will get. Clearly not going as far as 20th Century Fox’s New Mutants is going into the genre but still pretty good. This film offered up some horrific and strange imagery. (pun intended) One of these horrific and strange things belonged to the film’s villain Kaecilius. His eyes looked like something out of a nightmare. This feature came from his drawing power from the Dark Dimension and it’s leader Dormammu. Having Doctor Strange fight another sorcerer was fine, but it would have been more interesting if the main villain was an extradimensional being, like Dormammu for example.
Black Panther is shaping up to be the most interesting film in the MCU. It is the last film we get before Avengers: Infinity War hits theaters on May 4, 2018. While the new trailer did offer a bunch of new information about the film there is one thing that sticks out. Erik Killmonger, portrayed by Michael B. Jordan, is spotted wearing a suit very similar to the one Black Panther wears. Hasbro toy information about this film has dubbed Killmonger’s suit the Golden Jaguar and it is made from the same vibranium Nanotech as T’Challa’s suit. Once again Marvel Studios has essentially cloned their hero to make their villain. Aesthetically it would have been more pleasing if they modeled his suit closer to the one he wore in the comics.
Exploring more complex and diverse villains is something Marvel Studios needs to work on for the films in the MCU. They have done this very well in some of their films and more so in their Netflix shows, so it shouldn’t be that hard to accomplish. We got a great portrayal of Wilson Fisk/Kingpin in Daredevil and fans loved Cottonmouth in Luke Cage. Hopefully, Marvel Studios eventually learns from this and starts putting better villains in their films. I wouldn’t hold my breath as Thanos’ Black Order is set to appear in Avengers: InfinityWar and are pretty much his version of the Avengers.
Do you think the MCU has a problem with its villains? Who do you think is the worst villain to appear in an MCU film? Leave your comments below!