Marvel has had a pretty good run of films with the MCU, and I know I am certainly keeping my fingers crossed that 2017 proves to be just as successful as years past, especially since I really want to see ‘Spider-Man: Homecoming‘ do well, not to mention see ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2′ and ‘Thor: Ragnarok‘ be successful with audiences, especially after all the build up and all the cool things I know they are trying to do with those films. However, if there has been one criticism with the MCU films, it is that they have yet to deliver memorable villains, hell, rarely do they even deliver villains that manage to survive the film, with the exception really being Loki.
From the outset with ‘Iron Man’ and Obadiah Stane who was basically just an older, darker version of Tony Stark (even down to building a suit of armor to mimic Tony’s) and then dying in the film’s climax, almost every MCU villain has followed a similar path, being a kind of dark reflection of the hero who is ultimately defeated by said hero in the climax when they finally overcome their own personal demons. Red Skull was created using the same serum that made Captain America, so yep, dark Cap, Yellowjacket was clearly just the dark version of Ant-Man, Kaecilius was just Doctor Strange if he had chosen a dark path, hell, even in a way you could say Ultron was just a dark version of Tony Stark.
And even when the villain does not follow this mold, they are not terribly interesting nonetheless, which is somewhat of a problem as heroes are classically defined by how good their villains are. Which is a shame because in the Marvel comics these villains can really carry a story and come across as just as interesting as the heroes.
When speaking with Screen Rant and other members of the press while promoting ‘Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2’ last April, Marvel exec Kevin Feige had the following to say about the MCU villains and what goes into creating them:
“Well, I mean, it always varies, but it always starts with what serves the story the most and what serves the hero the most. We’ve been criticized, if a big criticism of ours is that we focus on the heroes more than the villains, I think that’s probably true. I don’t think it will always be true and I think some of you spoke to Chris and Steve at the Civil War junket. When the heck was that, yesterday? Last week? And they talked about, in appropriately oblique terms, Thanos. Thanos in Infinity War is, you know, in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say he is the main character, and that’s a bit of a, that’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called Infinity War.”
And of course, one could say that the beginnings of the MCU were all about building the world and the heroes, and focusing on the arcs of the villains was not a top priority, which means that now some villainous arcs are currently happening (such as Thanos) that could not happen before. I hope that’s true because if Marvel wants to stay ahead of the competition (which admittedly, is not that hard considering how Warner Bros/DC seems unable to help screwing up their own films. But even then they are bound to get it right eventually), they are going to have to find a way to get those villains right.
Do you disagree about villains in the MCU? Was there a villain that you found particularly engaging? Share your thoughts in the comments below!