Now that we are no longer “in the endgame” and approaching Marvel’s Phase 4 films, it’s time to take what we’ve learned and speculate on who could fill Thanos’ sizable shoes as the next reigning villain. Here are our proposed candidates, complete with odds of them becoming the big bad. Spoilers for ‘Avengers: Endgame’ follow.
The Masters of Evil – 4-1 Odds
The Masters of Evil is a fun concept: you take the villains from each hero’s solo movie and gather them together to become the anti-Avengers. DC sowed the seeds for their Injustice Gang during the post-credits of ‘Justice League’, but after the recasting of many of those characters, that’s unlikely to come to pass. It’s up to Marvel. The Masters’ leader is typically a Zemo. If you remember that name, you are probably thinking of Helmut Zemo, the manipulator of heroes in ‘Captain America: Civil War’. He survived that film, a rare fate for a villain. Could there be a reason?
What’s going against them? There’s currently a lack of compelling villains who are both established and alive. Only count on this if future films end with their antagonists still in play.
Namor – 6-1 Odds
Marvel Studios finds value in making their already huge universe larger. They opened up space to the potential of cosmic heroes in ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’, they introduced magic realms with ‘Doctor Strange’, and they could explore the oceans by bringing in Namor the Sub-Mariner. Namor is Marvel’s more aggressive Aquaman, and he has a lot going for him as a villain. He has an army and armies play great in giant battles as we just witnessed. He can fly and is strong enough to go toe-to-toe against anyone this side of Captain Marvel. He even bridges the current MCU with the future MCU in that he has mutant origins that tie him the X-Men and many stories that intertwine him with the Fantastic Four, both new Disney acquisitions. There are even odd, aquatic references in Endgame that suggest Atlantis will soon be in play.
What’s going against him? He isn’t epic enough to compare to Thanos and isn’t evil enough to want to end the universe.
Mephisto – 6-1 Odds
Mephisto is a magic demon who could be the MCU’s devil. The odds tip in his favor now that Doctor Strange will likely be more an Avengers headliner with Tony Stark and others out of the picture. Mephisto is a Strange villain, but powerful enough to pose a Thanos-like threat. Tie in Wanda’s magic connection and the character moments possible as Mephisto tempts the heroes with their darkest wishes and we have a contender.
What’s going against him? There isn’t a clear path for non-magic users to effectively fight Mephisto and sidelining most of the Avengers would be anti-climatic.
Galactus – 10-1 Odds
Need a cosmic threat that Captain Marvel can’t fly through? Need an alien that looks sufficiently different from the last guy? Try Galactus! He’s so big and powerful that heroes can barely interact with him, much less battle him. Most character moments and conflict would be through the eyes of his herald, the Silver Surfer, who is about as cinematic as a person on a flying surfboard can be.
What’s going against him? The stink of history. Galactus appeared in a bad Fantastic Four film as a cloud. Marvel will have to reboot the hell out of that now that Mister Fantastic and company are owned by their studio.
Doctor Doom – 10-1 Odds
Doom is smart enough to compete with Banner, Pym, and the inevitable Reed Richards. He is magical enough to thwart Doctor Strange. He’s strong enough to fight Hulk. He looks scary, monologues, and can make an army of robots which is a nice change of pace from aliens. Doom checks all the boxes. There’s even comic book precedent for him to be a multiversal threat.
What’s going against him? Like others on this list, he’s been done poorly in the past and would need a full reboot into the MCU. We’d need some perfect casting to make this work.
The Skrulls – 15-1 Odds
Shapeshifting aliens like those seen in ‘Captain Marvel’ are very cinematic and add potential mystery to the story. The Skulls have invaded Earth in the comics and that ‘Secret Invasion’ easily be adapted for another reason for cosmic heroes to return to earth.
What’s going against them? We see in ‘Captain Marvel’ that the Skull population is small and passive these days…not really in an invading mood. That said, it’s been at least five years and things change…but why attack the people you have to thank for returning half your friends and family?
Kang – 15-1 Odds
Kang is a classic Avenger’s villain who should be at the top of this list to headline an individual Marvel film a la Ultron, if not take on the archnemesis mantle.
What’s going against him? The MCU just played with Kang’s main weapon: time travel. It’s too soon for more ‘Back to the Future’ references.
Annihilus – 20-1 Odds
Annihilus was the subject of numerous fan theories as an additional villain in ‘Avengers: Endgame’. We know now that didn’t happen. He’s another alien wanting to subject his will on the universe from a new realm called the Negative Zone. He’s certainly a big enough threat to warrant bringing the whole team together again, but…why?
What’s going against him? Annihilus just isn’t as compelling as Thanos and, as a Fantastic Four villain primarily, would require the same groundwork as Doom or Galactus without having the name recognition.
Magneto – 50-1 Odds
The MCU is largely built on Marvel’s Ultimate Comics, a line that introduces a universe with a black Nick Fury and more modern sensibilities. In that Universe, Magneto causes worldwide disasters in a major crossover event called Ultimatum. Now that Magneto is owned by Disney/Marvel Studios, this adapted story would thrust Magneto into the spotlight as the new major threat.
What’s going against him? Michael Fassbender’s Magneto is one of the more liked characters that will have to be rebooted and recast for this to happen. This could easily be a “too soon” situation, especially considering that another X-Men with Fassbender has yet to be released. This is a long shot. I’d pencil him in as a Phase 6 villain after the new Disney X-Men are established and their space friends from the Shi’ar Empire have a presence in the cosmic MCU.
Marvel has plenty of options. Who do you think will be the next major threat? Let us know in the comments!