WARNING: The following article contains spoilers for Captain Marvel, in theaters now.
Over the last few years, Marvel Studios has improved one of its biggest flaws: its villains. While Loki managed to stand out, he got a bit repetitive and -- coupled with by-the-numbers villains like Malekith, Kaecilius, Whiplash and the Mandarin -- it simply felt like the Marvel Cinematic Universe lacked intense tyrants like Heath Ledger's Joker or Michael Shannon's Zod.
Then came the likes of the Winter Soldier, Ghost and Killmonger, and it finally felt like the MCU course-corrected this problem. These villains were somewhat sympathetic and resonated emotionally, while still proving to be formidable threats. Of course, the one that combines all these factors and stands head and shoulders above the rest is Josh Brolin's Thanos. But in Captain Marvel, not even the Mad Titan himself stacks up against the cerebral Yon-Rogg.
This is a pleasant surprise because, let's be real, no one assumed Jude Law's military commander could hold a candle to what Thanos accomplished in Avengers: Infinity War. Sure, the Mad Titan was slightly stoic and intimidating and, yes, he beat the Hulk to a pulp, instilling dread at every turn. But given his powers, with or without the Infinity Stones, that was kind of expected. He held an advantage no one else did, as he was already a godlike entity trying to enforce population control on the universe.
Yon-Rogg, though, is way more relatable and brings galactic genocide down to our level. His schemes are closer to what we read in everyday news, with nations and world powers pitted against each other in nuclear and political games. The way he brainwashes Brie Larson's Carol Danvers, infects her with his own blood and mind-controls her is shocking and goes beyond the mental conditioning Thanos placed on Gamora. Gamora had a choice but Carol doesn't, as her memory loss allows Yon-Rogg to corrupt and gaslight his protege so the Supreme Intelligence can turn her into a killer.
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