One of the biggest complaints that Marvel has had is the quality of the villains in MCU. More often than not, MCU villains have been called uninspired, monotopic or forgettable. However, that has changed recently, and Marvel has the small screen side of MCU to thank for it. Though there have been some effective villains in movies too, it is the smaller screen who will dominate the top 10 list for me.
10. Alexander Pierce:
Pierce is one of the quieter villains that Marvel has created but that doesn’t make him a bad villain. Hydra has many heads, and in MCU, all the heads are working different angles, with different objectives of their own. Pierce is the chess player that moves everything in the hidden arm of Hydra inside S.H.I.E.L.D. For decades, he has been fooling everyone about his real objective, even GORRAM Nick Fury. He decides when to use hidden Hydra resources to thwart S.H.I.E.L.D. He is the one who ensured the corrosion of upper level of S.H.I.E.L.D. by Hydra.
And he is the worst kind of villain in a way – a bureaucrat. He does everything legally and in front of you. But he is so smart that not only no one ever realized his true side , even Nick fury trusted him implicitly. He is the epitome of a double agent. You see him fighting no one in the movie, but at the end of the day, he almost ended S.H.I.E.L.D. AND he almost killed the ones on whom Earth’s future might very well be hanging on, and that is no small feat!
9. Gideon Mallick :
Another villain that got introduced to us in Cap 2 : TWS, but we don’t see him in his full form till Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. s03. Like I said, each head of Hydra has different priorities, and Gideon is the one who follows Hydra’s most ANCIENT aims. ( SPOILERS!!!!!)
He is utterly ruthless and single minded in his actions, willing to sacrifice everything and everyone to ensure what he considers his legacy and his prophecy to fulfill. Manipulative, cunning and resourceful, he managed to do what no one else had been able to in THOUSANDS OF YEAR and fulfilled his mission. One of the reasons I love him is how quietly terrifying he is. Had he not been concentrating too much on this ONE thing, and had he been on the fore front of Hydra, S.H.I.E.L.D. might not have survived. His only fault is that he literally put all his eggs in one basket and what hatched, he could not deal with!
8. Will Simpson:
Known in comics as Nuke,( a crazy ultra “patriotic” guy, with delusions of grandeur and full of psuedo-nationalism) this character was heavily modified for Jessica Jones. Jessica Jones was heavily praised for asking the unpopular questions about power and consent. And while Kilgrave is the more apparent villain carrying the message, Will is MORE REAL.
He starts as a good guy, but when things don’t go his way, he starts to lose control of his own sanity. His obsessive behavior and his attempts to “protect” the woman he supposedly likes, cross limits and end up hurting everyone around them. In the end, he loses it so bad, he almost ends up killing her, willingly. His conviction in the thought that he is right and his inability to see anyone else’s side is one of the more grounded and real world villainy that Marvel has shown. He is the ugly face of male psyche hiding behind behavior that on the face of it is accepted by society and harms women a lot. Jessica Jones scored big on Feminism front, and this character had a lot to do with it.
One more reason to have him on this list is his potential. He has been already established as a crazed psychotic and can very well be tured into the main antagonist of JJ s02 with a good story. Something that takes him closer to his comics roots!
7. Helmut Zemo :
Yeah, I know. This raise a few eye brows, but facts are facts. Yeah, he is not the Baron Zemo you read in comics, but
- He is THAT Baron Zemo’s son.
- Alternate universe version.
The point is though, despite being just a simple mercenary, he was smart and persistent enough to do what way more powerful people before could not do and break up the Avengers. It might not have happened just as he wanted, but he succeeded, no doubt. More over, Marvel has confirmed that his journey is just beginning so we will be seeing more of this vilely villain and I am sure he is only going to get better. Unlike most Marvel movie villains, he was not monotonic and his character had a purpose other than just greed or being evil. He had a story that you can empathize with.
While I found him very well crafted as a character and brilliantly portrayed, I gotta deduct some points for his overly complicated plan. That is the reason that despite being one of the most impactful villain on this list, (probably second only to Loki) I can’t put him on top 5.(bot to mention the fact there are better candidtae , depth wise too!)
6. Mariah Dillard :
The first woman on the list is Cottonmouth’s politician sister in Luke cage, played Alfre Woodard. I don’t want to spoil anything so close to Luke Cage’s release, but Mariah’s character is one of the deepest female character that Marvel has created. Just like Fisk, she has good motives and unlike Fisk, she even wants to take the right way to do it. She is willing to put in the hard work to realize her dreams and her goals. However, without spoiling anything, when circumstances force the hidden sides of her, we see the real her. Netflix has nailed the darker side of human nature with this character!
5: Cornell “Cottonmouth” Stokes:
Cottonmouth is one of the best villains Marvel has written and frankly speaking, Mahershala Ali was beyond awesome in this role. ( trying to avoid any spoilers, again) Just like the show itself,this antagonist of Luke Cage has SOUL. His character maybe a ruthless, cruel SOB, but he is not without code or honor. His character has better layers and depth than most characters that you would see in comics inspired shows or movies. Even though he is the antagonist, you end up feeling for him. A serious contender for the top 3 positions actually, he alone is enough of a reason to check out Luke cage.
Another stand out character from Jessica Jones, Kilgrave was PURE evil. he is different than his comics version, but still great. He is “a terrible man who doesn’t see himself as terrible” . He literally doesn’t get that what he is doing is wrong. There are villains with evil morality. But this guy is someone whose morality is so non existent that not only does he not understand that what he does is immoral, it is impossible to even explain to him that.
Armed with a nightmarish power of mind control, this is the villain that could have taken out anyone in MCU. You thought Wanda caused havok on the Avnegers in AoS? If this guy was left lose on them, Avengers would have wiped off a few cities and then ended each other. He is such a big threat, that the way he is neutralized in both comics and TV series is just “too convenient”. I personally rank him as the most terrifying guy to come across on this list.
NOW, WE ARE ENTERING THE VERY CLOSE PART OF THE RACE. The next three guys ,for me, are the tippity-top of the crop. And they all are brilliant in their own way. Everyone will ( if they have seen all of them in action, will see them in different order. Hell, even I change my mind about this order. I am gonna write them in the order that I personally like them NOW, lol. At the end of the day, they all are great characters!
3. Loki :
I am already hearing the outrage pouring though the cracks in time and space over this. SO I am not gonna write why he is so awesome. Instead, I will write why I pushed him a bit bellow. Yeah, he is probably the most impactful villain that Marvel has made. And I agree, he is one of THE VERY BEST villains in comics movie genre.And he is incredibly resourceful, and always finds a way to get back to the top even after his defeats. And Tom Hiddleston has done a wonderful job with him. However, sometimes he does come across a little monotonic. And I feel he should be better than what he is, after so much screen time.
Not saying he is not great. I am just saying he should be better than what it is. I also feel that lackluster writing of Thor movies have done him some harm too. So, I am gonna keep him at 3. But by a small margin only!
2. Grant ward :
“Sacriledge”, ” Kill this moron who thinks this guys belongs there with Loki and You-know-who-is-coming-next” “Where is my pitchfork and torch”. yeah, yeah, I am already hearing it. I bet though that most those who have actually seen agents of Shield till the season 3 will agree that he is without doubt one of the best characters Marvel has created.
Mind you, When Agents of Shield started, I considered Ward THE most useless guy on the cast, which is saying a lot because AoS floundered a lot initially. But his character is one of THE MOST WELL DEVELOPED character in MCU. he is the perfect example of “looks can be deceiving” He is an utterly ruthless charming bastard who will always find a way to hurt you in ways you didn’t even know was possible. He is psychotically dogged in whatever his current mission is.
If he and you are on the opposite sides, this is never gonna end well for you. he is probably the villain who has been explored more than anyone else, psychologically speaking. Master in all sort of battles and cunning beyond almost everyone else, he is a true survivor. Even death did not free the AoS team from him. In fact, it made everything worse for them. Brett Dalton nailed this character so well, I am sure all AoS fan are equally happy and sad to see his end in season 3. He is probably the most villain that received most development in MCU too.
1. And the best of the MCU villains is… Wilson Fisk / Kingpin:
TBH, I honestly did not think that Kingpin could ever be done right on screen. But Vincent D’Onofrio just blew me away. Daredevil season 1 was just as much his origin story as Dardevil’s. And the writers did a fantastic job on his character. He is such a good character, that almost everyone I know loved him the most in DD s01. Even in season 2, his cameo was wildly appreciated. He is another character whose side of story can make you rethink where you stand.
And the best part is, his story is JUST starting! I would LOVE to see Daredevil: reborn story arc done with DD s04! I can see him destroying Daredevil and Murdoch in every sense of the word like an art form! He is also someone who truly believes that he is doing the right thing, and that makes him dangerous. ( To quote Spider-man in civil war) He is such a fascinating and charismatic character though that many of us found themselves routing for him! I feel that his character was just perfection and in the upcoming stories, he will be even more impressive! Marvel might not be using someone who has the perfect body for this role. But D’Onofrio channels Kingpin so well that it does not even matter!
This is MY list, what about yours? Please comment and let us know!