Ten years of the Marvel Cinematic Universe has brought a wealth of superpowered and non-superpowered characters from the pages of Marvel comics to the big screen; some good, some bad and others that are somewhere in-between. Superheroes are nothing without supervillains to fight, and though the likes of heavy-hitters like Magneto and Doctor Doom have been out of Marvel Studios’ reach, there's still a deep bench of colorful antagonists.
While we love watching villains, filmmakers are usually careful not to let the bad guy(s) pull too much focus away from the hero(es). So, while they may leave a lasting impression on us, it might be surprising to find out just how little time we actually spend with them. In the case of the MCU, the existence of this exhaustive IMDb list means we’ve got the exact numbers for every main Marvel villain from Iron Man to Ant-Man and the Wasp, which we'll be listing in ascending order below.
To save time, only major villains will be included here, so don’t expect to see the likes of Crossbones, Ulysses Klaw or Armin Zola, etc. We will, however, make an exception for a particularly powerful or prominent henchman.
Dormammu is a primordial being of incredible cosmic power who rules over the Dark Dimension. He's one of the biggest threats still lurking in the Marvel Universe. In Doctor Strange, he uses his inter-dimensional influence to poison the minds of his followers in order to consume Earth. Using the Time Stone, the Sorcerer Supreme ends up making him several deals he couldn’t refuse, cutting his screen time down to just two minutes.
The war-hungry Kree commander was entrusted by Thanos to retrieve the Power Stone under the watchful eye of Gamora and Nebula. Having achieved his mission, however, Ronan decided the Stone was too useful to leave his possession. Luckily, the Guardians of the Galaxy grew enough of a collective conscience to challenge him to a fatal dance-off in their first movie. His screen time totals about seven minutes, though that’s set to increase in Captain Marvel.
Like Ronan, Malekith, one of the last remaining Dark Elves in the universe, sought to harness the power of an Infinity Stone: Reality, with which he planned to plunge the universe into darkness. The object’s fluid nature -- known as the Aether -- infected Thor’s then-love interest, Jane Foster, pulling the Asgardian into Malekith’s crosshairs. He received eight minutes of screen time in Thor: The Dark World.
In the fallout of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the Avengers unwittingly made a very powerful enemy. In Captain America: Civil War, Helmut Zemo -- mourning the loss of his family -- quietly escalated the rift forming between the team by manipulating Bucky into returning to his murderous, Winter Soldier days, hoping to cause the Avengers to self-destruct. He only needed about ten minutes of screen time to pull it all off.
In the late ‘90s, Tony Stark made the mistake of ignoring a rooftop appointment with an eccentric scientist and, because we’re talking about comic book movies, that snub turned Aldrich Killian into a President-kidnapping, technological terrorist by Iron Man 3. Killian's Extremis virus nearly killed Pepper Potts, but he met his own end instead after 12 minutes on screen.
Considering Hela’s godliness, it might be surprising to see her this low on the list. The secret first child of Odin was banished to the underworld after her father decided to turn over a new, more peaceful leaf. Once he passed, she returned with a vengeance in Thor: Ragnarok to claim the throne (and her brother’s eye.) Only the fire demon, Surtur, and the destruction of Asgard itself could stop her. Her warpath got 12 minutes and 30 seconds of screen time.
ALEXANDER PIERCE, KAECILIUS & AVA STARR/GHOST
It seems that 12 minutes and 45 seconds is the sweet spot for MCU villains, as we have a tie between Alexander Pierce from Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Kaecilius from Doctor Strange and Ghost from Ant-Man and the Wasp here.
Alexander Pierce was an old friend of Nick Fury’s and one of S.H.I.E.L.D’s top brass. His distrust of Steve Rogers turned out to be motivated by his secret allegiance to HYDRA, who had been festering within the organization for decades.
Kaecilius was once The Ancient One’s best student. However, his interest in the darker corners of the mystic arts and criticism of his mistress’ hypocrisy turned him away from the path towards the Sorcerer Supreme title and instead towards Dormammu.
An experiment-gone-wrong with the Quantum Realm left Ava Starr with a strange condition that causes her body to phase in-and-out of our dimension. Hank Pym’s old colleague, Bill Foster, attempted to help her, but her frustration turned her into the antagonist known as Ghost. Unlike most MCU baddies, she was given something of a redemptive climax.
Darren Cross took over Hank Pym’s company before the events of Ant-Man. Skeptical of his protege’s intentions, Pym tasked his daughter Hope van Dyne with a little industrial espionage, where she learned of Cross’ obsession with perfecting the shrinking tech Pym pioneered to sell it to the wrong hands. Cross eventually cracked the code to become Yellowjacket but was thwarted by the second Ant-Man. His screen time totals fourteen minutes.
Justin Hammer of Hammer Industries hoped to dethrone Tony Stark as the kingpin of the tech industry in Iron Man 2. He tried to achieve this by replicating the sought-after Iron Man suit for the US military. Nowhere close to managing this, he instead sought the help of the only men who could figure it out for him: Ivan Vanko. Vanko then predictably betrayed the slimy businessman. His screen time clocks in at sixteen minutes.
The Ultron programme started life as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner’s "peace in our time" initiative in a post-alien invasion world. It didn’t take long for the A.I to go rogue, consume J.A.R.V.I.S and hijack an Iron Legion drone to become Ultron in the cybernetic flesh, leaving the Avengers trying to contain an armored robo-genius hellbent on taking the lives of a few for the sake of many. Ultron racked up sixteen minutes and 45 seconds on-screen.
JOHANN SCHMIDT/RED SKULL/STONEKEEPER
Once a loyal member of the Nazi regime, Johann Schmidt felt that Hitler wasn’t quite hardcore enough for his occult tastes, and struck out on his own, amassing a following in the process that would come to be known as HYDRA. Schmidt also attempted to replicate the American Super Soldier serum but was left hideously deformed instead in Captain America: The First Avenger. Decades later, he was revealed to have become the Soul Stone’s keeper, taking his screen time total to just under seventeen minutes.
Abomination was once Emil Blonsky, an ambitious foot soldier for the Hulk-hating Thunderbolt Ross. While on Bruce Banner’s trail, Ross offered Blonsky the chance to become stronger via an offshoot of the defunct Super Soldier programme that had accidentally created the Hulk. At first, it was successful. Then, Blonsky got greedy and mutated himself into a huge, unstoppable monster. The Hulk put an end to his destruction after eighteen minutes in The Incredible Hulk.
In the aftermath of the Chitauri attack on New York, Adrian Toomes managed to get his hands on some leftover alien technology. He repurposed the tech to help he and his crew run a successful black market operation until his winged Vulture suit flew him into Spider-Man’s web. After learning of his plan to steal from the Avengers in Spider-Man: Homecoming, Peter put Vulture behind bars, leaving him at nineteen minutes of screen time.