On April 27, 2018, audiences worldwide will be exposed to the grand culmination of the vast, decade-long Marvel experiment colloquially referred to as the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Avengers: Infinity War will not only be the grand slam home run attempt, it’ll be the live-action debut of some of the most iconic imagery from the humanist comics that inspired the movies. Most notably, the fully-realized version of Thanos, one of the most dangerous villains in Marvel’s expansive repertoire, and the fabled Infinity Gauntlet, one of the single most destructive weapons in all of comic lore. Thanos and the Gauntlet go together like peanut butter and jelly, rarely is one seen without the other.
For the Mad Titan alternately known as the ultimate nihilist, the glove that can harness and regulate the powers of the Infinity Stones must feel like an extension of himself. But the MCU has a strange relationship with its villains, namely that one of its only legitimate cons is that it has an unfortunate habit of producing forgettable or unenjoyable antagonists. But there’s nothing like a proven doomsday device to suddenly make a villain ten times more compelling! That being said, maybe some of them would be better off without god-like powers.
15. WOULD RATHER SEE: WHIPLASH
Of all the MCU villains, Ivan Vanko is perhaps the most driven. He built his own unique weapons, attacked his enemy in broad daylight at a public event, sent an army of military drones to a crowded area, and broke out of prison with no idea of who was helping him. All because his father was unfairly shafted by Howard Stark and now Tony was milking the limelight.
So what if he was wielding the Infinity Gauntlet instead of his whips? Honestly…probably nothing. He’d definitely take down the Stark legacy and dismantle their good names, but then? Maybe he’d open a bird sanctuary, live comfortably for the rest of his life, settle down. We’re never told a lot about him except that he hates the Starks and for a pretty good reason, all things considered.
14. WOULDN’T WANT: LOKI
Loki was one of the breakout characters of Phase One of the MCU, a villain so popular and well-realized that his turn to the side of the angels was all but promised by the end of Avengers. But his eventual face turn only came about when he’d finally relinquished his obsessive desire to eclipse his brother through mad power grabs. During his villain period, Loki was vindictive, ruthless, and cunning.
Now imagine those traits paired with the universe-shattering power of the Infinity Gauntlet. The result wouldn’t have been dissimilar to the “Emperor Joker” story from DC. It’s not hard to picture Loki repeatedly finding new and increasingly savage ways to torture Thor and his pathetic human pets. And while that could be visually compelling, he makes a much better pseudo hero than he would an overpowered villain.
13. WOULD RATHER SEE: OBADIAH STANE
Nobody seems to pay any respect to Jeff Bridges as Obadiah Stane. As the villain in 2008’s Iron Man, he was not only the first antagonist in the MCU, he wasn’t half bad doing it. Stane’s villainy comes mostly from using underhanded and very much illegal tactics to maintain his post-industrial capitalist status. He tried to have his business partner killed, but his ambitions never ascended past “get even richer.” If he got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, he’d probably only use it to control the global, or maybe intergalactic economies.
Worst case scenario: he allows some financial leeway so that some innovators could mount a paltry competition for his own business only so he could enjoy crushing them underfoot. And if the worst thing someone would do with a weapon of mass destruction is make money, that seems fine, all things considered.
12. WOULDN’T WANT: GRANDMASTER
Jeff Goldblum has reached that level of cultural relevancy that he can basically do whatever he wants for the rest of his career and people will sing his praises till the cows come home. So it’s always great to see him bring his A game to a project when his D grade material would do just fine. Such is the case of Thor: Ragnarok’s Grandmaster. He’s delightfully off-kilter, comfortably awkward, and just fun to watch. So why shouldn’t he get his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet?
Because he’s crazy. He’s nuts. He’s Jeff Goldblum. Imagine him with just the Reality Gem alone. He’d make every other person into John Waters because it’s Tuesday and would send entire worlds into alternate dimensions because they block his view of Saturn. His character is a motion-capture performance away from a living cartoon and a Looney Tune shouldn’t be able to play god.
11. WOULD RATHER SEE: KAECILIUS
Overall, Kaecilius is possibly the most benevolent of the Marvel villains. This may seem strange seeing as his first introduction to audiences involved him beheading a librarian. But it’s revealed that his ultimate goal is to make every man, woman, and child on Earth immortal. His way of going about this is to summon Dormammu and to drag Earth into a dimension beyond time which is unfortunately where his evil comes out. If he were given the Infinity Gauntlet, he wouldn’t need to rely on the extra-dimensional demon to accomplish his goal.
With the Time Gem alone, he could prevent everyone from aging and make mankind a race of immortals, preventing anyone else from dying as his family had. Come to think of it, why didn’t the Ancient One do that? She had the Time Gem on a pedestal for years! She really was the villain of that movie huh?
10. WOULDN’T WANT: KILGRAVE
One of the many reasons why Jessica Jones is regarded as one of the best of the Marvel Netflix series is the manipulative villain Kilgrave. Played by the incomparable David Tennant, Kilgrave was a terrifying villain whose dominating powers were legitimately hard to watch. He was already so powerful that he might not even have needed the Infinity Gauntlet, but he could have used it to prevent his defeat in the MCU and gone on to not only control every being in New York, not only everyone on Earth, but could feasibly force the entire universe to submit to his will.
What he would do with this kind of power is hard to say, but he’s already been shown to use his abilities for some of the most despicable acts a human is capable of so don’t think for a moment that he’d be a kindly demi-god.
9. WOULD RATHER SEE: RONAN
In the MCU so far, only one person has had the sheer stupidity and/or audacity to directly stand up to Thanos: Ronan the Accuser. The Kree warlord was the main villain in Guardians of the Galaxy and played a perfect, serious foil to the goofy, lovable group. When the Kree empire and Xandar made peace, Ronan chose to separate from his people, believing that true peace and justice could only come from absolute victory.
That may sound bad, but it definitely shows he has a sense of righteousness. He even wielded an Infinity Stone himself for a while! And he was beaten by Peter Quill dancing to The Five Stairsteps’ ‘Ooh Child.’ Worst case scenario: he has all the Gauntlet, is threatening to destroy the universe, and is beaten by a sick rave party.
8. WOULDN’T WANT: KINGPIN
Basically the best part of the Daredevil Netflix series, Wilson Fisk aka the Kingpin, is one of the best villains the MCU ever produced. Sure he was a violent, sociopathic ganglord, but he was also cultured, respectful, anxious, and generally pretty sympathetic, especially where his tender romance with Vanessa was concerned. But don’t let his dorky, nervous energy fool you. He is, in a word, unbalanced and giving him a weapon like the Infinity Gauntlet would be catastrophic at best.
First things first, he’d probably blow up New York just to make sure he’d killed all his local enemies and rivals. Then, he’s blow up the east coast to make sure he got all their contacts and allies as well. Finally, he’d probably shrug, make sure Vanessa was safe, and then blow up the Earth just so he could be sure he didn’t miss anyone.
7. WOULD RATHER SEE: VULTURE
Spider-Man: Homecoming’s Vulture was a surprisingly sympathetic version of the classic villain. He was a simple, blue-collar worker who wanted to provide a comfortable life for his family by working an honest living. Then bureaucracy got in the way and he had to turn to super crime to give his wife and daughter the lifestyle he felt they deserved. So what would he do with an all-powerful Infinity Gauntlet?
Probably make a giant mansion for himself and his family, create a legion of attentive and well-compensated servants, and then hang the Gauntlet over his mantle so he could use it to intimidate his daughter’s future boyfriends. Maybe he’d take his revenge on the bureaucrats who cost him a high-paying job for good measure, but Toomes didn’t seem like one to let power go to his head and wouldn’t have sought more than that.
6. WOULDN’T WANT: MALEKITH
Arguably the worst villain the MCU has ever produced, Thor: The Dark World’s Malekith earned such an accolade by being the most boring thing in a film where “Natalie Portman starts dating again” was a major plot point. From what audiences could tell, his motivation was…vengeance? For the death of his realm? Or was he trying to restore it…with the convergence? Does anybody care?
And that right there is the problem in a nutshell. If he got his hands on the Infinity Gauntlet, he’d probably use it to destroy Asgard and recreate his realm. It’d possibly make him a terrifying villain that we could be legitimately be afraid of. But so long as he’s still the vaguely defined and nebulous character that was seen in Dark World, nobody could possibly care any less. Save the Gauntlet for someone who deserves it.
5. WOULD RATHER SEE: HELMUT ZEMO
Captain America: Civil War didn’t really need a villain, but it had a really good one anyway. Helmut Zemo was not only surprisingly compelling, but his tragic story and clever manipulations helped cover up some significant plot holes in the film. Would giving him the Infinity Gauntlet close those plot holes for good? Probably, but that’s not why he should have ultimate power. Zemo’s a soldier and is shown to be unwaveringly loyal and wears his convictions on his sleeve.
He’s motivated primarily by a righteous sense of vengeance. And while that doesn’t justify his actions, it says a lot about who he is as a person that he put time, effort, and a ridiculous amount of unrealistic planning into getting revenge for his dead family. You can only imagine that such a motivated person would be a force for a good if he had god-like abilities.
4. WOULDN’T WANT: EGO
Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, in spite of its own title and premise, is probably the most heartfelt of the MCU movies. It’s themes of familial disconnection and exploration of Freudian theories connected with audiences on an emotional level that the other movies hadn’t. And a big reason for this was the film’s antagonist, a living, narcissistic planet named Ego. Because subtlety is optional. Ego’s relationship with Star-Lord forms one of the emotional cruxes of the film while his goal, assimilating the rest of the universe into himself, makes up most of the actual narrative.
He’s only barely stopped, and even one Infinity Stone would be enough for him to tip the tides in his favor. Not only would this mean he would destroy all life in the universe, it’d also mean he wouldn’t need Peter to help him, effectively writing Star-Lord out of existence. And nobody wants that.
3. WOULD RATHER SEE: HELA
Would Thor’s older sister be a devastating force for evil with the Infinity Gauntlet? Yes. Would she wipe out most of the Nine Realms on a whim? Definitely. Would she be so unstoppably powerful that she could and would destroy the entirety of the Marvel Cinematic Universe? Absolutely. So why should she 100 percent get her greedy mitts on the golden glove? Because it’d be super, super fun.
Thor: Ragnarok was the most enjoyable of the Thor movies and Hela was a major contributing factor. From the throne of Asgard, she reigned with an iron fist and a perpetual smirk. Just imagine her witty repartee with Skurge except instead of fearing for his own life, he’s constantly aware that one wrong move could wipe entire galaxies from existence.
2. WOULDN’T WANT: RED SKULL
He’s a Nazi. Full stop. Red Skull, the most iconic Captain America villain of all-time and the perfect foil for his MCU debut, might be the leader of Hydra, but Hydra itself is a subsidiary of the Nazi army. And Skull bought in full-heartedly to the fascist ideology. This is the guy so evil that even the Joker was too patriotic to team up with him. So just image in him in possession of the Infinity Gauntlet.
Remember that perfect Nazi utopia that was briefly seen at the end of Secret Empire? It would be that except no deus ex machina to set things right at the last minute. Keep in mind that Skull’s already gotten his hands on an Infinity Stone in the MCU cannon and then almost won WWII, he only lost basically due to sheer bad luck.
1. WOULD RATHER SEE: KILLMONGER
The character who almost single handedly reversed the criticisms of Marvel’s ‘villain problem,’ Erik Killmonger is perhaps the most compelling villain in the entirety of the superhero film genre. Why? Because while his actions are definitively villainous, his motivations are completely airtight. He’s mostly bitter from the unfair death of his father and jaded over the systemic racial oppression he’s grown up with.
If he were given the limitless power to reverse the lasting effects of colonialism, he’d absolutely do so. It would involve reversing history, violent uprisings, and effectively reversing the effects of oppression back on the former beneficiaries of such systems, but it would still definitely solve a significant amount of world problems. Does that justify his violent methods? He certainly has good reasons for his actions, both philosophical and personal, but the only way to see if it would be worth it is to see the results.
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