The Marvel Cinematic Universe is not just about the superheroes but also the supervillains who bring about the best in our beloved characters. With the 10-year journey ending with the release of Avengers: Endgame, we make a list of the top 5 villains in all of the 21 films of the MCU.
You cannot make a list of Villains in MCU without having Loki in it. He is the only villain who has got as much screen time as our mighty Avengers. There is a reason to it, as he is not exactly the villain we all thought him to be at first. We first see him in Asgard fighting against his brother Thor. If we look at the reason why he fights, it is basically the same reason why every other pair of siblings fight- attention. His anger increases when he gets to know about his true parentage and why he never was worthy of being the Heir to the throne in Asgard. Later, we see him destroying New York in search of the Tesseract to give it to Thanos. Here, Loki is so important to the timeline, as he is the reason why the Avengers come together. We also get to see how uses deception and mischief to his advantage. All these traits do make him special. However, it is the emotional transformation that he undergoes that makes him one of the best characters in MCU. He is in fact the only anti-hero in the MCU.
Helmut Zemo was a Sokovian citizen who was the commanding officer of the EKO Scorpion Unit, a highly trained paramilitary intelligence death squad. His path crosses that of the Avengers when he loses his family during the Battle of Sokovia and blames the Avengers for his loss. Even though he is just a normal human being, he makes this list solely because he is the reason for the fall of the Avengers for the first time. Throughout the events of Captain America: Civil War, we get to see how brilliantly Zemo plans each of his moves. He first tortures a member of Hydra to get details of the Winter Soldier, Bucky Barnes. He is able to reactivate the Winter Soldier Program and manipulate Bucky to work for him. He frames Bucky for the death of T’Chaka, the former Black Panther, at a UN convention. This happens simultaneously when the Sokovian Accords is being signed, leading to a dispute between Captain America and Tony Stark. However, Cap knows that his friend Bucky cannot do all this. He and Falcon back Bucky while the others are against him.
Zemo later releases the video of Bucky killing Tony Stark’s parents to Tony to instigate him even further. This is when Iron Man completely loses it and goes to an all-out war against Cap and his team, with his own little superhero team. Zemo is able to disassemble the Avengers and make them lose each other’s trust. Zemo managed to do what no other villain did. He waits for the Avengers to kill each other but Black Panther finds him in the end. Zemo attempts to commit suicide but Black Panther does not allow it. Black Panther arrests Zemo and puts him in a Joint Counter Terrorist Centre. When asked about how his plan failed, Zemo just chuckles and says, “Did it?”, and that is the last we see of Zemo.
Ultron is the brainchild of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner. When Tony and Bruce intend to build an AI strong enough to make its own choices and fight against the enemies, they create Ultron. What makes him special is that he is the product of Avengers and an infinity stone, giving him special characteristics.
However, Ultron turns against its creators and humans in general. He believes that the extinction of humans is the only way to restore peace on this planet. He manages to manipulate Scarlett Witch and Quick Silver to work for him. He uses Scarlett to get into the minds of the Avengers and disassemble them for a while. He almost manages to make himself a better body to fit in using the cradle and the mind stone. However, he fails to achieve that. Nonetheless, Ultron is still ruthless and brutal in all his ways. He would not stop until he achieved what he believed is right. He believes that he is the next God- like thing that the planet deserves. He even declares that he would build a church of his on top of the decimated rocks of Earth. This narcissistic approach is what makes him the quintessential villain in the MCU.
Killmonger is one villain who has a lot of righteousness in him. He is not a villain by choice and is as good an Antihero as Loki is. In fact, Killmonger is better than Loki is in this regard, as he remains the same throughout his journey. He wants to help Africans all over the world with the Wakandan Technology. He wants to follow his father N’Jobu’s ideals in helping out the oppressed but the way he approaches the issue is not one that everyone would appreciate. When Killmonger reaches the Wakandan Borders with Klaue, he asks for a fight against T’Challa. He tells them about who he is and how he has a right to the throne. He defeats T’Challa in the head-to-head fight, showing us how has been preparing for this day all his life. He then orders his troops to send the Wakandan weapons and technology to the Wakandan operatives around the world to help people who have been oppressed all their lives. This shows that Killmonger just has good intentions. He is more of a revolutionary than a villain. He is more of a freedom fighter than a ruler. Even in his dying moments, he declines the offer to be saved and instead chooses to die as a free man. Killmonger is undoubtedly one of the best well-written characters in the MCU, if not the best.
Thanos is the one villain whom everyone was waiting for right from the moment we first see him in a post credits scene in Avengers. What makes him the biggest villain of the MCU is that he has been the root cause of everything happening in the MCU timeline, directly or indirectly. Thanos sends Loki with the Mind Stone to Earth to get the Tesseract. Some theories suggest that Thanos manipulates Loki’s mind before sending him to Earth. This would mean that Thanos had a direct role in the Battle of New York. Even before that, he had sent Ronan to collect the Tesseract from ship of Mar-Vell when Captain Marvel finds it. He then sends Ronan to get the power stone from the Guardians and sends his daughters Gamora and Nebula to get the soul stone. It just shows how Thanos has been following the infinity stones from decades.
The most important thing we can take away from his nature is that he is ready to go to all lengths to do what he thinks is right. Thanos wants to wipe out half the universe to bring back balance in it. This is exactly what makes him the greatest villain of all. He does not want anything for himself, no throne, no power and no rewards. In his eyes, he is truly doing the right thing by killing half the population from the entire universe.