With Avengers: Infinity War out in theaters, MCU’s movie count is up to an astounding 19 films. And in the course of those movies, we’ve been introduced to a lot of heroes — and even more villains. One of the critiques that has been launched against the MCU is that their villains tend to be lackluster. It looks like Marvel has taken this critique to heart though, because in their past three movies, Avengers: Infinity War, Black Panther, and Thor: Ragnarok, they’ve given us some of the best MCU villains.
Taking a look back at the first ten years of the MCU, we’ve decided to come up with ten villains we’d love to see again, as well as ten villains we hope never pop up again in the MCU. The list ranges from villains who were able to evade imprisonment for their crimes to villains who met their apparent demise. Of course, if we know anything from reading Marvel comics, it’s that there are a million ways to come back from the dead. Given that, we’ve opted to include the apparently dead baddies and provided our opinion on whether or not they should stay dead. Here are ten MCU villains we want to see again and ten we hope don’t come back.
20. HOPE COMES BACK: ZEMO
Helmut Zemo made his debut in the MCU in Captain America: Civil War, directed by the Russo Brothers. Zemo’s terroristic actions were motivated by the death of his family, which occurred during the battle of Sokovia during the final act of Avengers: Age of Ultron. Blaming the Avengers for the death of his loved ones, Zemo masterminded the events that led to the superhero Civil War in hopes of destroying the Avengers from the inside out. Zemo’s work took place mostly behind the scenes, but he proved to be a formidable threat nonetheless. Among his actions, he framed the Winter Soldier for a bombing, reactivates the Winter Soldier by using Hydra control words, and later reveals to Iron Man that it was the Winter Soldier who killed Stark’s parents. Zemo appears to succeed at the end, although his attempt at taking his own life is stopped by the Black Panther. He’s imprisoned and not killed — which means that there this a high probability that we’ll (hopefully) see him again in the future.
Aside from Thanos, Zemo is the only villain to succeed at his ambitious mission. By the end of the film, Iron Man and Captain America were no longer on speaking terms (to say the least), and several superheroes were on the run from various world governments. We’d be disappointed if Zemo didn’t pop up again in some capacity.
19. HOPE NEVER DOES: SURTUR
Surtur posed the looming threat in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok. The film opened up with Surtur and Thor duking it out, where we learned about an ancient prophecy. Surtur was destined to bring about Ragnarok — the utter destruction of Asgard. Thor escapes from the clutches of Surtur, and the seeming joke of a villain doesn’t reappear until the film’s finale. The bulk of the film is dominated by the presence of two other villains, the Grandmaster and Hela. However, Surtur does return for the final act, and it’s Thor who calls the giant forth. Having difficulty defeating Hela alone, Thor brought in Surtur to lay waste to Asgard and defeat Hela in the process. Thor and the remaining Asgardians escape as Surtur thrusts his blade into Asgard and destroys it.
Having fulfilled his destiny and laid waste to Asgard, Surtur perishes in the final explosion. Seeing as how Surtur had a single mission in life, and he completed that mission, there’s no reason to bring him back. He was a cool villain for the part that he played, but we can’t imagine a good enough reason to bring him back. We’d prefer if Marvel continued to explore Thor’s rogues’ gallery, allowing us to finally see villains like Enchantress or Ulik.
18. HOPE COMES BACK: THE COLLECTOR
The Collector made his MCU debut in a mid-credits scene from Alan Taylor’ Thor: The Dark World, but had a larger role in James Gunn’s The Guardians of the Galaxy. Taneleer Tivan is known as the Collector due to his preoccupation with collecting objects and living things from across the universe. In Thor: The Dark World, the Collector is introduced when Asgardians Sif and Volstagg visit him, bringing along one of the Infinity Stones. They hand the Infinity Stone known as the “Aether” to him, thinking that it would be safe in his hands and safer away from the other Infinity Stone at Asgard. The next we saw him, the Guardians of the Galaxy brought him the Power Stone, but after the Stone destroyed most of his collection, the Guardians left with it.
Lastly, the Collector appeared in Avengers: Infinity War, but only as an illusion created by Thanos with the help of the Reality Stone. It’s unclear if the Collector’s life was spared by Thanos or not. We hope that the Collector is still alive somewhere. Despite having appeared in three MCU movies, he hasn’t done a whole lot. In fact, he’s yet to pose as a threat to any of Marvel’s heroes. The Collector has a rich history in the comics, and we’d like to see his more threatening side explored in a future movie.
17. HOPE NEVER DOES: VULTURE
The Vulture made his MCU debut in John Watts’ Spider-Man: Homecoming. When we first met Adrian Toomes — the man that would become the Vulture — he was working as the owner of the Toomes Salvage Company. He and his team were out working in the aftermath of the battle of New York that took place at the end of Avengers when he came into conflict with the Department of Damage Control. The Department of Damage Control, partly owned by Tony Stark, kicked Toomes and his company out, causing Toomes to miss out on a big contract, and motivating him to take up a life of crime. He and his team managed to salvage some Chitauri technology left behind, and Toomes became the Vulture.
Towards the film’s climax, Vulture discovers Spider-Man’s identity. However, when imprisoned, Toomes tells Mac Gargan (who becomes the Scorpion in the comics) that he doesn’t know Spider-Man’s identity. He feels indebted to Spider-Man for saving his life despite Vulture’s previous attempts at killing the wall-crawler. At this point it would feel unnecessary to bring back Vulture. Had he not defended Spider-Man at the end, we could’ve imagined him coming back in a future movie as a member of the Sinister Six, however his final conversation with Mac Gargan indicates that he’s let go of his hatred for Spider-Man, and perhaps even of the Avengers.
16. HOPE COMES BACK: KINGPIN
Wilson Fisk, aka the Kingpin, made was introduced into the MCU in the first season of Daredevil. The season detailed Kingpin’s rise and fall, first seen as a respectable businessman, but finally exposed by Daredevil to be a crime boss by the season’s end. Fisk grew up in with a violent and ambitious father who often frightened Fisk. His relationship with his father came to a brutal end when Fisk was forced to take his life in order to protect his mother. Fisk then started down a dark path, which resulted in his criminal empire and control over Hell’s Kitchen. After Daredevil puts him away at the end of the first season, Fisk shows up again in the second season, having gained control of his prison from the inside.
The last we see of Fisk, he seems to have come to the suspicion that Matt Murdock is Daredevil. Kingpin is set to return for the third season of Daredevil and we couldn’t be more excited. He’s a villain we’re genuinely terrified of, and he’s captivating every time he appears on the screen. Just knowing he’s involved in the next season of Daredevil tells us that Matt Murdock and company are going to have a rough time.
15. HOPE NEVER DOES: ELEKTRA
Elektra Natchios made her MCU debut in the second season of Daredevil. She was revealed to be a former love interest of Matt Murdock and assassin trained by Matt’s mentor, Stick. Elektra resurfaces years later after her enemy, the Hand, has resurfaced in New York. Daredevil and Elektra work together, first to fight the Yakuza, and then to take down the Hand. In the season’s final battle, Elektra dies at the hands of Nobu Yoshioka, however, Elektra is resurrected and brainwashed by the Hand at the end, leading to her becoming the major threat in The Defenders. After proving to be a handful for the street-level superheroes, Elektra again appears to perish. In the final episode of the series, a building collapses around her and Matt Murdock. Of course, since Matt was revealed to be alive, it’s possible that she could’ve found a way to survive as well.
Elektra has died, come back, and died again. Coming back from the dead twice seems excessive given that there are so many other interesting Daredevil characters to bring to the show. Although she degenerated more into a personality-less terminator in The Defenders, her character was properly explored and developed in Daredevil. At this point, it just seems unnecessary to once again bring her into Matt Murdock’s life.
14. HOPE COMES BACK: DORMAMMU
Dormammu, the ruler of the Dark Dimension, was introduced into the MCU in Doctor Strange. Dormammu poses as the true villain of the movie, working behind the scenes. The inter-dimensional being, Dormammu, enlisted the disillusioned member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts, Kaecilius, to help Dormammu to come to Earth. However, before Earth could be swallowed up by the Dark Dimension, Doctor Strange interfered to bargain with Dormammu. Dormammu repeatedly defeated Strange, only for the latter to reappear again, unscathed. Strange then revealed that he’d used the Time Stone hidden in the Eye of Agamotto to trap Dormammu in an infinite time loop. Unless Dormammu and his forces left Earth alone, Dormammu would be stuck killing Strange for eternity. Having realized this, Dormammu agreed to Strange’s demands and left Earth.
In the comics, Dormammu has been around for a long time. He first appeared in Strange Tales #126 and has proved to be a major villain for Doctor Strange and the rest of the Marvel universe ever since. In other words, there’s a lot of story potential with someone like Dormammu. Add that to the fact that Dormammu was hardly in Doctor Strange, and we have good reason to want more of him in a future MCU flick.
13. HOPE NEVER DOES: SHOCKER
Shocker made his MCU debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming — actually, two Shockers made their debut in that movie. The first man to play the role was Jackson Brice, a former employee of Toomes Salvage Company, who then joined Toomes in his criminal ventures. Another baddie in the group, the Tinkerer, used a gauntlet taken from Crossbones to make the Shocker’s gauntlet. Brice wielded this weapon in a brief fight with Spider-Man before getting away. Later, after an argument breaks out between Toomes and Brice, and Brice threatens to turn in Toomes to the authorities, Toomes vaporized him with a Chitauri gun. In Brice’s place, another man on the crew, Herman Schultz, becomes Shocker. Schultz has several run-ins with the wall-crawler throughout the movie. That last we see of him, he’s been webbed to the side of a school bus, soon to be arrested.
Shocker’s never been a top-tier Spider-Man villain. We liked how he was portrayed Spider-Man: Homecoming, and we think he received just the right amount of screentime. If they did decide to bring him back, it would have to be as a member of the Sinister Six, but even then, we’d prefer if the Sinister Six found an A-lister instead of Shocker.
12. HOPE COMES BACK: ARNIM ZOLA
Arnim Zola made his MCU debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Zola, one of the Nazi’s top scientists, was recruited by the Red Skull to work for HYDRA. When Hydra stumbled upon the Tesseract, it was Zola who was charged with studying the artifact in order to find a way to harness its energy. After some experimentation, Zola successfully discovered a way to transform its energy into a form of laser ammunition. Later, while aboard a HYDRA train, Zola was captured by Captain America and his howling commandos. In the aftermath of WWII, Zola was recruited by S.H.I.E.L.D. where he set to work rebuilding HYDRA from within. This led to the events of Captain America: The Winter Soldier, where it was also revealed that Zola had uploaded his consciousness into a computer. Zola appeared to meet his end when his mainframe was destroyed in an explosion.
It’a hardly a stretch for Marvel to reveal that Zola had backed up his consciousness onto another computer if Marvel decided to bring him back. And we hope they do. Like the Red Skull, Zola is a classic Captain America baddie, an evil scientist with tons of story potential. We hope they bring him back for at least one more flick.
11. HOPE NEVER DOES: KAECILIUS
Kaecilius made his MCU debut in Doctor Strange. As the primary villain of the movie, Kaecilius was a former member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts who’d gone rogue. Kaecilius had originally sought the Ancient One after his wife and son had died. He wanted answers, and after spending years with the Masters, Kaecilius gradually became disillusioned with the Ancient One. He felt that she had failed to provide the answers he’d sought. Kaecilius and his followers made a plan to bring Dormammu to Earth, believing that they could become immortal if they could make it into the Dark Dimension. Eventually, Kaecilius’ wish was granted. However, the eternity he’d have in the Dark Dimension would not be a pleasant one.
It seems that we’ve gotten about as much as we can expect from Kaecilius. He served his purpose as a fun threat that introduced audiences to the magical abilities of Doctor Strange, but with future Strange movies, it looks like we’ll be moving on to bigger and better things. Besides, Kaecilius will be rotting for eternity in the Dark Dimension, and there just doesn’t seem to be a compelling reason to bring him out of that. Instead, we hope Mordo will be gearing up to take on the Sorcerer Supreme…
10. HOPE COMES BACK: BARON MORDO
Baron Mordo made his MCU debut in Doctor Strange. Mordo was a long-time member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts and an invaluable ally of Doctor Strange’s throughout the movie. Mordo is introduced to Strange when the latter is seeking the Kamar-Taj. Strange, surrounded by muggers, is rescued by Mordo and then taken to the Kamar-Taj where Strange begins his initiation into the Masters of the Mystic Arts. Later, Strange discovers that the Ancient One is harnessing power from the Dark Dimension to the disbelief of Mordo. Mordo eventually discovers for himself that what Strange said was true, sowing seeds of disillusionment in Mordo — disillusionment that is only reinforced by Strange’s actions later in the film.
The full extent of Mordo’s disillusionment is revealed in a mid-credits scene when Mordo is shown to be going around draining the Magic from Sorcerers in order to right an imbalance. The final scene with Mordo certainly seemed to be setting him up to be the main antagonist in the sequel to Doctor Strange. Just as Doctor Strange showed us Stephen Strange’s turn into a hero, it also showed us the reasons for Mordo’s eventual descent. A clash between the two sorcerers is all but guaranteed to happen in a future movie.
9. HOPE NEVER DOES: JUSTIN HAMMER
Justin Hammer made his MCU debut in Iron Man 2. As the CEO of Hammer Industries and a rival of Tony Stark and Stark Industries, Hammer felt his company be under threat once Stark revealed himself to be Iron Man. Hammer set out to discredit Stark and turn the public against him — but the plan backfired, and Hammer’s own reputation start to head downhill. Growing more desperate and vengeful, Hammer recruits Ivan Vanko, aka Whiplash, to help him put down Stark. Again, Hammer’s plan backfires. This time it’s due to Whiplash, who betrays Hammer. After it’s discovered that Hammer’s been helping Whiplash, the former CEO is imprisoned for his crimes.
As goofy and entertaining as Justin Hammer was in Iron Man 2, we see no reason for him to appear in a future MCU instalment. The guy is a competitive businessman who crosses the line on some occasions, but he’s hardly a supervillain. He doesn’t exactly make us fear for Tony Stark’s life. And that’s probably the reason he’s such a forgettable villain. Despite having a great actor play him, Hammer was a pretty disappointing character. If we are to get another Iron Man film anytime soon, we’d rather see Marvel bring in a villain that’s yet to make it to the big screen.
8. HOPE COMES BACK: ULTRON
Ultron made his MCU debut in Avengers: Age of Ultron. The Ultron Program was created by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner as a peacekeeping AI that would eventually replace the Avengers. Suddenly, Ultron became sentient, and it didn’t take him long to come to the conclusion that the Avengers and humanity, in general, were way too destructive, and needed to be eliminated. Ultron found a body and quickly got to work on his plan for world peace — which included genocide. Ultron’s plan involved lifting up the city of Novi Grad and turning it into an asteroid, which would hurdle back down onto Earth and cause an extinction level event. Luckily, the Avengers don’t let this happen and Ultron and his army are wiped out by the Avengers, with Vision taking out what appears to be Ultron’s last body.
Ultron is way too important of a villain to be one and done. The evil A.I. is a classic Avengers baddie that constantly finds new ways to evolve in the comics. It wouldn’t be much of a stretch for Marvel to reveal that Ultron didn’t totally perish at the end of Avengers: Age of Ultron, so that they could bring him back in a new form, more terrifying than ever.
7. HOPE NEVER DOES: ABOMINATION
Emil Blonsky, aka the Abomination, made his MCU debut in The Incredible Hulk. Blonsky, a born warrior and career soldier, is charged by General Thaddeus Ross with the task of hunting down the Hulk. Blonsky is injected with a version of the Super Soldier serum that gifts him with enhanced speed and strength. The boost isn’t enough though, and Blonsky is hospitalized after a run-in with the Hulk. Blonsky received another injection of the Super Soldier serum, which ends up leaving him with some mild mutations. Blonsky’s transformation into the Abomination becomes complete after he receives an injection of Banner’s blood. This leads to a clash between the Abomination and the Hulk in New York. After a brutal battle, the Hulk comes out on top and Blonsky is imprisoned.
The Abomination was essentially just a giant monster that could actually compete with the Hulk. Past his ability to challenge the Green Goliath, there wasn’t much to his character. We’d be fine if he didn’t ever pop up in the MCU again. There are plenty of other interesting threats that Marvel can pull in and throw at the Hulk. And if they were to do another Hulk movie, we’d love it if Marvel finally followed up on the origin of the Leader, which occurred near the end of The Incredible Hulk.
6. HOPE COMES BACK: JIGSAW
Billy Russo, aka Jigsaw, made his MCU debut in the first season of The Punisher. Russo was the best friend of Frank Castle and worked alongside him on a secret U.S. Special Forces Unit in the middle east. They worked together on Operation Cerebus, the consequences of which served as the focal point for the season. After returning from the Middle East, Russo founded Anvil, a private military company. Working with Agent Orange, and using his company’s resources, Russo worked behind the scenes to eliminate Castle. Eventually, Castle discovered that his friend had betrayed him, and even known about the deaths of Castle’s family. Castle’s and Russo’s feud came to a head when the two met at the Central Park carousel. Castle came out on top, leaving Russo barely alive and with a terrible facial scar.
Seeing as how season one of The Punisher told the tale of Jigsaw’s origin, it’s a sure bet that he’ll return for the next season, worse than ever. Now that Russo’s good looks and his reputation are done, we can expect a more brutal and evil Russo for season two. If The Punisher has proved anything, it’s that vengeance is a strong incentive — and Russo now has plenty of reason to seek revenge.
5. HOPE NEVER DOES: THE TINKERER
Phineas Mason, aka the Tinkerer, made his MCU debut in Spider-Man: Homecoming. Like both of the Shockers, Tinkerer worked for Toomes even before they took up a life of crime for Toomes Salvage Company. Once Stark’s company unjustly kicked Toomes out of a big contract, Tinkerer followed Toomes and worked for him in his criminal enterprises. It was Tinkerer’s responsibility to toy around with the salvaged weapons, re-work them, and make them functional. He was to thank for providing Toomes with the Vulture Exo-Suit and creating the Shocker Gauntlet. In the final showdown between Spider-Man and Vulture, the Tinkerer assists Toomes from afar. After Toomes is apprehended, the Tinkerer goes into hiding.
Throwing the Tinkerer into the movie was a nice gift for the hardcore fans, although the small-time baddie has never been begged for by fans. Like Shocker, we feel that we got enough of him in this flick. Of course, the fact that he got away strongly suggests that he’ll appear in another Spider-Man movie. His skill set makes him a highly valuable asset for future enemies of Spider-Man. We just wouldn’t be heartbroken if he didn’t show up again and would prefer if the franchise focused on other baddies.
4. HOPE COMES BACK: RED SKULL
Johann Schmidt, aka the Red Skull, made his MCU debut in Captain America: The First Avenger. Schmidt was a member of Germany’s SS during WWII and formed his own branch within, named HYDRA. After kidnapping Abraham Erskine, Schmidt gains access to the Super Soldier serum. He’s injected with it, giving him super strength, but also gained a red deformed face, thus making him the Red Skull. Later, the Red Skull discovers the Tesseract and hopes to harness its power. In his final confrontation with Captain America, the Red Skull is sucked through a portal created by the Tesseract. After a long absence in the MCU, the Red Skull returned for Avengers: Infinity War. When Thanos and Gamora arrive at Volmir, in search of the Soul Stone, they are greeted by the Stonekeeper: the Red Skull.
Seeing Red Skull pop up in Avengers: Infinity War was one of the movie’s many surprises. Having been absent from the MCU, we’d begun to think that the Red Skull would never come back. But now that he has, we want to see even more of him — it doesn’t seem too difficult to do story-wise. The Red Skull was the keeper of the Soul Stone, which was taken by Thanos. So, now what does the Red Skull do?
3. HOPE NEVER DOES: MALEKITH
Malekith made his MCU debut in Thor: The Dark World as the leader of the Dark Elves and the primary antagonist in the film. After many of his people died in a battle against the Asgardians thousands of years ago, Malekith resurfaced to have his revenge. Malekith, with the help of his weapon called the Aether, tries to bring an end to the Nine Realms. After a lengthy battle with Thor on Earth, Malekith is crushed by his own ship.
Thor: The Dark World is largely regarded to be one of the worst MCU instalments, if not the worst, and Malekith definitely had a hand in that result. As far as supervillains go, Malekith ranks among the most forgettable. It didn’t help that, despite having next to no personality, Malekith had a fairly complicated backstory that bored audiences. We’re glad that he met his end in the movie’s conclusion, but of course, Malekith has risen from the dead before, and it is a comic book movie, so Marvel could bring him back if they wanted to. But why would they? We’re stunned he even won the role of the main antagonist in the first place. There were plenty of other Thor villains and stories that should’ve made it to the big screen before Malekith ever did. Enchantress, for instance, is a major Thor antagonist that would’ve been vastly more interesting than Malekith. At least they made up for Malekith and the mess he made with Thor: Ragnarok.
2. HOPE COMES BACK: THE MANDARIN
The Mandarin (sort of) made his MCU debut in Iron Man 3. It’s tricky to talk about the MCU’s Mandarin because there are three people that can be called the Mandarin. First, there was Trevor Slattery, an actor hired to play the Mandarin, and the person who Tony Stark thought was the Mandarin. Then there was Aldrich Killian, the man who’d hired Slattery, and the man who claimed to be the Mandarin during his final fight with Iron Man. Lastly, there’s the mysterious entity that’s regarded as being the true Mandarin. This person has yet to be seen in a Marvel movie but has been mentioned in both Iron Man 3 and in the Marvel One-Shot, All Hail The King. In the One-Shot, Slattery was interviewed by a filmmaker while he’s in prison. It was revealed that the filmmaker worked for the true Mandarin and had been sent there to eliminate Slattery for mocking the Mandarin.
When we say that we want the Mandarin to come back, we’re talking about the one we’ve never seen in the flesh — the true Mandarin. It’s kind of ridiculous that a villain that’s been so built up hasn’t actually appeared on-screen yet, but it’s something to look forward to.
1. HOPE NEVER DOES: LOKI
Loki made his MCU debut in Thor and has appeared in more films than any other MCU baddie. In both Thor and The Avengers, Loki played the main antagonist and was responsible for the conflict at the heart of each movie. In Thor: The Dark World, Loki appeared to be turning a new leaf and helped out Thor against a new threat. Of course, it was revealed at the end of the flick that Loki was still up to his old ways. Once again, in Thor: Ragnarok, played with being a hero, although he couldn’t help but fall back into old patterns here and there. However, Loki seemed to seal his fate as a villain turned hero with his brief appearance at the beginning of Avengers: Infinity War. The God of Mischief dies a hero after attempting to assassinate Thanos.
Of course, this isn’t the first time that Loki has apparently died. But it does feel like it’s the last time. Loki’s played villain, anti-hero, and hero. His character arc has gone as far as it can go, and we can’t see a role for him in the future of the MCU. While he was around, he was great, but we think Marvel would be best to let him stay dead this time around.
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