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The MCU Villain That Fans Agree With Most

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has its share of despicable MCU villains who kill and destroy ruthlessly in the name of power. However, there's also a good number of evildoers in the MCU who have convincing motivations behind their cruel deeds, sometimes casting shades of moral gray and making it unclear which side we should be rooting for. In order to find out which MCU baddie's philosophy audiences related to the most, we conducted a survey among 536 United States participants to determine which villains garnered the most sympathy, and many of the results are surprising.

Choosing among Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan), Thanos (Josh Brolin), Zemo (Daniel Brühl), Mysterio (Jake Gyllenhaal), Flag Smasher aka Karli Morgenthau (Indya Bussey), and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from various films and shows across the Marvel Cinematic Universe, these are the MCU villains who Looper readers believe had the best motivations, even if we can't fully agree with their acts.

Fans are least sympathetic to Falcon and the Winter Soldier's Flag Smasher

With just 7.46% of the vote, the MCU's most recently debuted villain at the time of the survey, Flag Smasher-Karli Morgenthau, was also the least supported, which is surprising, considering how hard "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" attempts to cast Karli as having benevolent motivations; Sam Wilson aka Falcon (Anthony Mackie) in particular empathized with the character and shari her message of not wanting to displace those who found new homes during "the Blip." Still, she killed a lot of innocent people in getting her message across.

Even more shocking, Erik Killmonger from "Black Panther" was ranked just above the Flag Smasher at 10.45% of the vote, despite our prior ranking of the character as the third best villain in the MCU. Although the character kills enough people to have that detail become part of his nickname, he does so for heartbreaking reasons, wanting to claim the Wakandan throne in order to use the country's secret Vibranium technology to liberate people of African descent from oppression across the world.

A few more fans view Mysterio and Zemo as having better motivations

The villain with the next-lowest rank is Mysterio from 2019's "Spider-Man: Far From Home," pulling in 15.67% of votes. Initially believed to be a hero from another dimension, Mysterio's real identity is that of Quentin Beck, Tony Stark's (Robert Downey Jr.) former employee who invented startlingly real hologram technology, which Stark then childishly named "B.A.R.F." and used to replay earlier events in one's life for therapeutic purposes, which Quentin viewed as a waste of the technology's potential. Following Stark's death in "Avengers: Endgame," Quentin saw an opportunity to become the new Iron Man in his stead, creating the illusion of the invading elementals and subsequently stopping them, much like Syndrome in "The Incredibles." Although it's understandable that Quentin would be insulted after how Stark treated him, we're a bit confused how these mostly selfish goals inspired more support than the two villains below him, but perhaps that's just due to the irresistible charm of Jake Gyllenhaal.

Up next — with 17.16% of the vote — is Zemo, who framed Bucky Barnes (aka the Winter Soldier) for killing King T'Chaka and thus instigating the fracture of the Avengers in "Captain America: Civil War." He did this out of a personal philosophy that the mere existence of super-soldiers is dangerous and gives rise to supremacist ideals and that the Avengers should be disbanded, a belief that was solidified when his entire family was killed due to collateral damage from the fight between the Avengers and Ultron. Thanks to his reappearance in "The Falcon and the Winter Soldier" and his path toward redemption as he helped the title characters put a stop to the Flag Smashers, it's easier to understand why more people agreed with him the most.

Fans say Thanos and Loki have the best personal philosophies

It's less surprising to see either of these villains at the top, since they both have compelling stories and are among the most popular in the MCU. Thanos — who arguably was the star of "Avengers: Infinity War," delving into his motivations and loss — takes second place with 24.44%. After his home planet died out when they refused to follow his suggestion of killing half the population to save the other half, he made it his mission to collect all the Infinity Stones and wipe out half the universe, in the genuine hope that the remaining half would have more resources and live in less suffering. Although most ethicists would argue that these ends don't justify the means, it's a compelling argument and motivation that seem to have struck a chord with audiences.

Loki, however, beats Thanos out by under half a percent, with 24.81% of the vote. The longest-running villain of the entire group, first appearing in 2011's "Thor" and now starring in his own show on Disney+, Loki, the god of mischief has had the most screentime of all these villains, and thus has had the most time to win fans over. Although it's indisputable that he's killed lots of people in his escapades, he's also teamed up with his brother Thor and company when facing larger threats, and his new series is delving into what makes him tick and whether he can truly be redeemed.