With the Marvel Netflix stable of shows finally laid to rest with Jessica Jones Season 3, it's time to look back on the highlights of the platform's line-up of MCU shows. While the MCU movies sometimes struggle to craft incredible villains, the Netflix shows had much more success with The Kingpin from Daredevil, Luke Cage's Cottonmouth and Mariah Dillard and of course, Jessica Jones' Kevin "Kilgrave" Thompson.
Not only was Kilgrave the best of these villains in our opinion, but he was also the best villain the MCU has ever had. Let's dig into exactly why that's the case.
10 JESSICA STILLS FEELS THE PAIN
Many villains in the MCU are defeated in one movie and then are forgotten about. Did The Abomination really leave much of an impact on Bruce Banner? When was the last time Tony Stark spoke about Ivan Vanko? Never, because those villains barely made a dent on the heroes.
Kilgrave, on the other hand, has left a mark on Jones that will never go away. Obviously, the main part of this point would be the fact that Kilgrave controlled her mind (and her body) for months. But even once Jones kills this fiend, he returns in Season 2 as the devil on her shoulder, constantly injecting her with self-doubt and pushing her to embrace her brutal nature. Unfortunately, this is something Jessica has to live with for the rest of her days but it certainly marks a villain of the highest caliber.
9 HE IS POTENTIALLY THE MOST POWERFUL
This isn't the most important point on the list but there's a fair bit of truth to this. With the power to control anybody's mind simply by speaking to them, Kilgrave's sole power puts him in the top tier of MCU villains in terms of abilities.
Kilgrave vs. Kingpin? Kilgrave can simply tell the big man's henchmen to fire on their boss. Kilgrave vs. The Avengers? He could make Civil War look like Breakfast At Tiffany's for Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It's an unanswered question whether Kilgrave's powers would work on other-worldly beings like Thanos and Hela, but if it did, Kilgrave could have the most powerful beings in the universe at his fingertips.
8 HE TRIES TO CHANGE
In his toxic and misguided quest to get Jessica Jones to fall in love with him "for real", Kilgrave does actually make an attempt to use his powers for good in season 1 of the Netflix show. In Episode 8, "AKA WWJD?", Jones and Kilgrave team up to stop a man from committing suicide. Although it takes some negotiating on Jones' part to get Kilgrave to save the man's life, he does do it and saves the day, just for once in his life.
However, the change doesn't stick. Kilgrave is simply incapable of caring for other people as he is a true villain who doesn't see the value in human life. He helped that man simply because he thought Jones would like him for it. Even when doing something good, Kilgrave manages to be despicable.
7 He Is A Pure Sociopath
It's easy to get the terms psychopath and sociopath confused. While they do share some elements, sociopaths commonly are impulsive, lacking in empathy, and are impossible to form healthy relationships with others. Sound like a certain purple-suit-wearing monster?
Many times, Kilgrave has told somebody to harm themselves for the slightest injustice against him, such as when he told somebody to throw hot coffee in their face for telling him to stop loitering. He cares not for anyone else's pain and even views what he does to Jones and the other women he harms as simply giving them what they want. This is a warped mind not often seen in the MCU.
6 HE IS COMPLEX, BUT NOT SYMPATHETIC
It can be hard for writers to craft complex villains without making them sympathetic. Villains like Magneto are unrepenting murderers, but there are vision and method to their madness. You understand why they do the things they do and perhaps even sympathize with them. However, Kilgrave elicits no such sympathy from the audience.
Sure, what happened to him as a child was terrible, but it was done to save his life from a brain disease. It doesn't come close to justifying the awful things he's done and the way he commands others like they're his playthings. Through a combination of smart writing and tremendous acting, there's a lot going on with this evil man.
5 HE IS A CHILD WITH SUPERPOWERS
Just by reading the headline, you may think we're just talking about when he was an actual child and bossed his parents around. But no, we mean that despite being in his 30s, Kilgrave still acts like a petulant and problematic child.
At his core, Kilgrave is a teenager who has the world as his toybox. He can change the world with just a few words but instead is focused narrowly on material wealth, luxury and carnal cravings. If Foolkiller from Jessica Jones Season 3 thought Jones didn't deserve her powers, imagine if he got a load of Kilgrave.
4 HE IS DARN FRIGHTENING
Because of his erratic personality and incredible superpower, Kilgrave is the most terrifying villain Marvel has ever put on screen. This is impressive for a character with a voice like David Tennant, who, if we're being honest, doesn't sound scary. But it all comes down to how the show frames him.
Every time he's on the screen (and sometimes even when he's off), a real sense of dread grabs the audience and the fictional characters by the throat and doesn't let go. From when he had an entire police station at his mercy to when Jones' childhood neighbor joined them for breakfast, the audience is on the edge of their seat for every scene featuring Kilgrave. This is something that can't be said for many Marvel villains.
3 DAVID TENNANT'S PERFORMANCE IS BRILLIANT
Kilgrave is an incredibly difficult role for an actor to play. You have to be childish, scary and a bit pathetic all at the same time. Luckily, David Tennant is more than up for the task, as he seemingly does it all with ease.
The fact that the former Doctor Who star didn't receive any form of Emmy for his work in Jessica Jones Season 1 is a travesty. Tennant is appropriately over the top when he should be in a comic book show, but he also knows when to flex his dramatic muscle for the big moments. A round of applause for this talented Scotsman.
2 He Makes You Root For Our Hero
It's a myth that the MCU is filled with bad villains. While this may have been true for parts of Phase 1 and 2, Marvel got their act together and crafted great villains like Kilmonger and Thanos. But with those villains, there are large sections of the fandom that think those 'bad guys' genuinely have a point and are doing the right thing. They're low-key cheering for the villain against the heroes. This NEVER happens once with Kilgrave.
The entire 13 episode run of Jessica Jones Season 1, the audience wants to see Jones put this villain's head on a pike and put an end to his terror. Every time he slips away, the audience is craving the next encounter where Jones finally puts his butt in prison or in the dirt (preferably the later). That's classic villainy that is often lost nowadays.
1 He Is Strong Without His Powers
It is true that Kilgrave is a fearsome foe when at the peak of his powers, but in Season 1 of Jessica Jones, we see Jones successfully capture the villain in a soundproof prison. She can even knock him out on command, but he isn't defeated yet.
In a tactical error on Trish Walker's part, she lets morally bankrupt lawyer Jeri Hogarth take care of Kilgrave for a bit. Seeing his power as very alluring, Kilgrave is able to convince her --without the use of his powers-- to cut the electricity to his cell so he can't be knocked out on command anymore. To out-manipulate a lawyer who manipulates everyone in her life, that is a scary thought.