During a set visit in April 2016, io9 and other outlets got the chance to talk to Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige about one of the recurring criticisms of the Marvel film universe. When presented with the statement that Marvel's stable of movie villains is not particularly memorable, Feige largely agreed with it.
"I think that’s probably true," Feige said.
He traced the studio's focus on the heroes, rather than their adversaries, all the way back to 2008's "Iron Man," Marvel Studios' first film. "In 2008, two superhero movies that came out. One focused on the villain," he said, referencing Warner Brothers' and DC's acclaimed "Dark Knight" film, "[and] one focused on the hero, and we at Marvel looked at them, like 'Yeah, we focus on the heroes. We don’t mind that. We like that.'"
Feige quickly clarified that he was not taking a shot at DC. "Please don’t start a flame war. Nobody wants that. We don’t do that."
"It always starts with what serves the story the most," Feige said, "and what serves the hero the most." He then cited Ronan, the villain of the first "Guardians of the Galaxy," as an example of this model. "Lee Pace did an awesome job," he said, "absolutely serves it, but certainly [Ronan] was there to go up against our heroes and to give our heroes a reason for coming together. Loki, a great character, serves, in a lot of ways, Thor. Zemo served that conflict between Cap and Iron Man [in 'Captain America: Civil War']."
The upcoming "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" will have villains in the same mold, even if they're a little less ambitious. "Taserface and Ayesha are less grandiose in their ambitions than Ronan was...Ayesha just wants to kill them for slighting her, and Taserface wants to lead the Ravagers and thinks that Yondu got soft."
"Avengers: Infinity War," however, will mix things up. Speaking about the villain, Thanos, Feige said, "in a movie that has a lot of characters, you could almost go so far as to say [Thanos] is the main character. That’s a bit of a departure from what we’ve done before, but that was appropriate for a movie called 'Infinity War.'"
Written and directed by James Gunn, "Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2" opens in theaters on May 5. Written by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier"), and directed by Joe and Anthony Russo ("Captain America: The Winter Soldier", "Captain America: Civil War"), "Avengers: Infinity War" arrives in theaters on May 4, 2018.