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Every MCU Movie Villain Ranked Worst To Best

Marvel has a lot of villains in its cinematic universe, but which ones stand above the rest when it comes to menacing Earth's Mightiest Heroes?

To answer that increasingly complicated question, we've watched every MCU movie and ranked all of their many bad guys. And we do mean all of them: Loki, Batroc, Justin Hammer, Iron Monger, Hela, Thanos, and everyone in between is here. This list only focuses on tried-and-true villains, so you won't find reformed hero Scarlet Witch (who's since become a bona fide Avenger), her late brother Quicksilver (who died a hero), Yondu, or the Winter Soldier. We're talking 100-percent-criminal baddies here, who are evil (or mostly evil) through and through. 

Looking over the MCU's blockbuster history, it's pretty clear that despite the widespread belief that the franchise has a "villain problem," we've actually seen some fairly compelling criminals cause trouble for our heroes over the years. Without further ado, here are all the villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranked from worst to best.

Kurse (Thor: The Dark World)

Kurse, also known as Algrim, was one of Malekith's top men and sacrificed himself to take on the power of Kurse in The Dark World. He allows Asgardian forces to capture him to get inside Odin's kingdom, and once he makes it to the Asgardian dungeon posing as a regular prisoner, Algrim activates the Kurse stone and turns into the hulking beast we know and love from the comics

Kurse leads a straight-up prison riot in Asgard (with a bit of help from a locked-up Loki providing directions), helps Malekith sack Asgard, and actually kills Thor's mother, Frigga. He also leads the battle against Thor in the film's climax, beating the God of Thunder positively senseless with his brute strength before Loki manages to take Kurse out with some black hole grenades. Despite all that, Kurse is nothing more than a forgettable force of nature with no personality. He's just big and violent, and ultimately an obstacle cleared out of the way for the big finale between Thor and Malekith.

Fenris (Thor: Ragnarok)

Fenris, Hela's enormous wolf seen in Thor: Ragnarok, is a very different beast in the comics. There, Fenris is actually a shapeshifting, genderfluid child of Loki, and is a much more formidable opponent than the undead beast of the MCU, who tries to finish off the Asgardian refugees toward the end of Ragnarok.

To the wolf's credit — or more accurately, to the credit of Ragnarok's visual artists — Fenris looks cool. "Giant, menacing, green-eyed wolf" is a great concept, and the execution follows through. But sadly, Fenris really doesn't do much in the movie. After Hela animates her beloved familiar, Fenris just sort of hangs out and looks mean while the death goddess interrogates a crowd of scared Asgardians. In the final battle, Fenris tries and fails to kill the Hulk. On the one hand, it's nice to see another bad guy from Thor's mythos fit into the film. On the other hand, it seems like the only reason Fenris is included is because someone realized the Hulk needed something to tussle with during the climactic finale battle.

Laufey (Thor)

Laufey is a powerful force in Thor's corner of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but we never get to see a lot of him in action. King of the Frost Giants and biological father to Loki, he has super-strength and ice powers, but it turns out he's still no match for the sneakiness of his own son. Loki manipulates events to get Laufey to attack Asgard in Thor, but just as Laufey is about to kill Odin, Loki takes out Laufey instead—simultaneously killing the Frost Giant king and making himself look like a hero. Certainly an unceremonious end.

Brandt and Savin (Iron Man 3)

Aldrich Killian turned out to be the A-list bad guy in Iron Man 3, with Brandt and Savin shaping up as little more than B-list versions with the same power set. Both Brandt and Savin are given their super-heating and healing powers by the Extremis virus, and they both attack Tony Stark throughout the film, but neither is a match for Iron Man, even when he doesn't have his suit. Brandt is best known for jumping Stark in a dive bar, where he outmaneuvered her and managed to blow her up with a gas leak. Savin hung around a little longer, even stealing the Iron Patriot armor at one point, but he was still outsmarted by Iron Man and defeated with an energy blast.

Batroc the Leaper (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

It's easy to forget, but yes, Batroc the Leaper is part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. We meet the French mercenary during the action sequence that opens Captain America: The Winter Soldier, during the hijacking of the ship the Lemurian Star. We get a breathless fight scene between Batroc and Cap, with the First Avenger accepting the challenge for a hand to hand fight without his shield. Batroc manages to hold his own—he's a beast when it comes to parkour—though Cap eventually knocks him out.

The Shocker(s) (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

The recent Spider-Man: Homecoming didn't just give us our first solo Spidey flick in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it also dug into the wall-crawler's deep bench of rogues, including not just one, but two Shockers. We first meet Jackson Brice (Logan Marshall-Green) wielding a Shocker gauntlet, but after the Vulture kills him, the trademark weapon is passed down to Herman Schultz (Bokeem Woodbine). 

Schultz looks to be our "main" Shocker in the MCU, and he gets one epic fight against Spidey before being sidelined. The Shocker jumps Peter as he leaves the school dance attempting to follow the Vulture, and sends him flying through a school bus (and he loses his web-shooters, to boot). So why does Shocker rank so low? Because it wasn't even Spidey who took him out—it was Pete's pal Ned, who grabs the web-shooter and hits Shocker, distracting him long enough for Spidey to web him to a school bus, gift-wrapping him for the cops. Maybe next time, Shocker. Maybe next time.

Baron Von Strucker (Avengers: Age Of Ultron)

Strucker's lasting legacy in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is leading the experiments on Loki's scepter that created Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch, so he's definitely an important player, but all anyone really remembers is his immediate surrender to the Avengers during the opening of Age of Ultron. It's a funny gag, as Strucker gives a pep talk to his Hydra soldiers urging them to never give up—then he immediately surrenders, though he admittedly does so in a failed a attempt to hide his research. He also gets a few callouts on the companion series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. during that show's Hydra arc, but nothing much of substance. In the end, Strucker was just another upper-level Hydra goon. Cut off his head, and nobody really noticed.

The Destroyer (Thor)

It doesn't get a ton of screen time in Thor, but when the Destroyer shows up, it sure makes full use of every moment. Basically an enchanted Asgardian automaton you can point at an enemy, its giant, powerful arms and legs can crush or stomp just about any opponent—and if they don't kill you, its laser blasts probably will. In Thor, we saw the Destroyer kill a few Frost Giants, then lay waste to a small town in New Mexico when Loki sent it to Earth hunting Thor. Still, it was finally no match for Thor: the God of Thunder regained his power and overcharged the Destroyer, ending the attack.

Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)

Credit Sam Rockwell's unending charisma for Justin Hammer not showing up at the very bottom of this list—or even further down, if we could find a way to put him there. As far as credible villains are concerned, Justin Hammer is an absolute joke—he runs an arms manufacturer that's a rival to Stark Industries, except literally everything Hammer builds falls apart. The first version of the War Machine armor is basically a bare-bones Iron Man suit outfitted with a ton of Hammer weapons, which works about as well as gluing and duct taping accessories to a car. 

In Iron Man 2, Hammer cuts a deal with Ivan Vanko that lands him in jail, and that's pretty much the last we see of him until the Marvel One-Shot "All Hail the King," in which Hammer gets a brief cameo in prison, showing some resentment for the fame Trevor Slattery (a.k.a. the fake Mandarin from Iron Man 3) has garnered at Seagate Prison.

The Leader (Incredible Hulk)

Dr. Samuel Sterns doesn't actually ever call himself the Leader, which is his villainous moniker in the comics. But The Incredible Hulk isn't exactly subtle about the eccentric scientist's destiny. The last we see of him, he's on the ground as the Hulk-ified blood he just pumped into Emil Blonsky drips into an open wound on his head. If a Hulk sequel had come to pass, we would almost certainly have seen Tim Blake Nelson return as the psychic and super-intelligent Leader.

Nelson is perfect as an obsessed scientist who doesn't care much about the consequences of pursuing his goals across ethical lines. While he never actually turns green on screen, he shows plenty of signs of a moral compass in need of some fine tuning. He clones a whole room full of Banner's blood without Bruce's knowledge or consent, and he has no problem with the notion of turning Blonsky into Abomination. And of course, in his final moments in the movie — while Banner's blood begins to change him and Abomination starts his deadly rampage — he is seen smiling, when any sane person would be horrified.

We should note that even without an Incredible Hulk sequel, Kevin Feige has made it clear that "never say never" is the correct attitude to take, when it comes to Nelson possibly returning as the Leader. Fingers crossed!

General Ross (The Incredible Hulk)

General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross, father of Bruce Banner's love interest Betty Ross, is put in charge of trying to capture the Hulk after he goes rogue in The Incredible Hulk. Ross' project originally started as an attempt to recreate the Super Soldier Serum that created Captain America, but it went sideways and turned poor Bruce Banner into an unstoppable anger machine. Ross has a vendetta against the Hulk because Betty was injured during the Hulk's creation, so he blames Banner for putting her in a coma (though she eventually came out of it unscathed). Ross was also the catalyst in creating the Abomination, one of the more boring one-note villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Ross spends the entire film chasing Banner, and tries and fails to kill him a few times along the way (though those sonic cannons were admittedly pretty cool). For much of the film, he's a relatively one-dimensional "Military Bad Guy," and falls into most of the attendant clichés.

Interestingly enough, Ross is one of the few characters from The Incredible Hulk to resurface onscreen later in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In fact, he remains a major player in the MCU: he becomes the U.S. Secretary of State in Captain America: Civil War, pushes for the adoption of the Sokovia Accords, and was actually in charge of the secret prison where Captain America's rogue team was being held in Civil War before Cap freed them.

Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)

The early Marvel Studios films tended to lean into the old cliché of a hero facing an evil version of their own power set (Iron Man vs. Iron Monger, etc.), and former soldier Emil Blonsky pretty much fits the bill. In an effort to capture the Hulk after Banner's alter ego punches him through a tree, he hits himself with an experimental version of the same gamma MacGuffin ... except it doesn't turn him into a burly green guy. Instead, he becomes the Abomination, a monstrous creature that looks like a rotting troll. 

Sure, he's formidable, but he's also relatively one-note. He's mean because he's mean and his only real character trait is that he loves to be a soldier. He was a forgettable baddie in an even more forgettable movie. He lived through the end of The Incredible Hulk and is apparently rotting away in a jail cell somewhere — but who cares? He's Abomination.

Malekith (Thor: The Dark World)

Signing Doctor Who alum Christopher Eccleston to play the Dark Elf Malekith looked like a match made in casting heaven, what with Eccleston's intensity and unique facial features, but it sadly ended up producing one of the least memorable baddies in the MCU. Malekith had virtually no personality, and basically existed as a freaky-looking dude trying to get an Infinity Stone—nothing more, nothing less.

It's a shame, because on the surface, Malekith is extremely formidable. He's been around for millennia, and seeks to harness the power of the Infinity Stone known as the Aether. He even stages a surprise assault on Asgard itself, managing to breach the city's defenses, and later sets his sights on Earth. He put up a heck of a fight against Thor in the final act of The Dark World, though the God of Thunder still prevails.

Taserface (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

As Rocket points out more than a few times, Taserface's name is pretty dumb—but he still has enough wits to lead a mutiny among Yondu's crew of Ravagers. He's big, mean, ruthless, and conniving, and brokers an uneasy alliance with Nebula to take Yondu's ship. He isn't all that bright, but hey, those other four traits go a long way—for awhile, anyway.

Whiplash (Iron Man 2)

Mickey Rourke rocking an Iron Man-style outfit with Arc Reactor-powered super-whips? How could it go wrong? Sadly, in a lot of ways. Rourke's Whiplash was one of many problems in the bloated, messy Iron Man 2, despite some admittedly awesome action scenes along the way. (Seriously, most of his body is exposed while fighting. How is he so hard to defeat?) Whiplash never feels all that intimidating, at least after that epic attack at the Monaco Grand Prix. He's motivated by a backstory involving the invention of the arc reactor technology (his father assisted the elder Stark in its creation), and teams up with the silly Justin Hammer, which only works to make him less terrifying. Not to mention his odd obsession with that bird.

The Collector (Thor: The Dark World, Guardians of the Galaxy)

Taneleer Tivan, better known as the Collector, has a remarkably low-key career as an MCU villain. He doesn't really do a whole lot on screen, to the point that you might understandably question whether he's really a villain at all.

Well, first off, he's definitely a villain in the comics. But even within the MCU, the Collector's brief appearances make it clear that, whether or not he's wrestling with superheroes, he's pretty darn evil. As early as his first appearance in a Thor: The Dark World mid-credits scene, we learn that, like Thanos, one of his goals is to collect all of the Infinity Stones. Unlike the Mad Titan, the Collector probably wants them for bragging rights alone — but a closer look at his expansive collection reveals a whole lot of unwilling prisoners within it, including at least one slave who's there for not being diligent enough about cleaning. 

We're fairly certain that if the Collector were ever given a more active role in the MCU, he'd earn a higher spot on this list. But the fact that he doesn't take center stage is part of what makes him a good character: There's something deliciously intriguing about the way he's been on the periphery of the narrative's most cataclysmic events. Mystery surrounds Tivan, including the mystery of whether or not he's still alive.

Raza (Iron Man)

When Obadiah Stane decides to take out Tony Stark while Stark's on an overseas tour, he contracts with the terrorist organization the Ten Rings, led by Faran Tahir's Raza, to make it happen. Raza keeps Stark captive and proves to be an intimidating villain—at least until Stark secretly builds his first version of the Iron Man suit and manages to make short work of Raza's soldiers. 

Raza was savvy enough to survive—even if his face did get burned in the process—and he tracked down stray bits of Stark's armor and tried to cut another deal with Stane. The only problem? Stane was a bit more tech-savvy than Raza, and used a sonic taser to paralyze him and kill his men. Despite his unceremonious ending, Raza is still technically the first villain we met in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and a throwback to the simple days of regular ol' terrorists in the MCU.

Korath the Pursuer (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel)

Djimon Hounsou has popped up in everything from Gladiator to Wayward Pines, but for Marvel Cinematic Universe fans, he'll always be the guy who had no idea who "Star-Lord" is, or why he should care. 

Hounsou's Korath has a small but memorable role in Guardians of the Galaxy that finds him tracking Star-Lord as he pursues the Infinity Stone. Though Star-Lord does get the better of him in the end, Korath still puts up a heck of a fight. He also manages to reacquire the Infinity Stone along with Nebula, which sets up Ronan the Accuser's near-world-ending attack on Xandar. Without Korath, Ronan would've never had the Infinity Stone to begin with for the assault, so he certainly served a purpose. He even holds his own against Drax the Destroyer for awhile—at least until Drax rips out the cybernetic implant in his head, killing him. Hey, at least he went out fighting.

Ulysses Klaue (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther)

The weirdest thing about Klaue is that the vast majority of his most important character moments happen offscreen. We get to see his introduction in Age of Ultron, where he loses his arm to a killer robot, and he's a pretty strong presence in the first half of Black Panther, but beyond that, we don't get much. His history with Wakanda, his acquisition of the piece of mining equipment that becomes his Vibranium arm-cannon, and even his death at the hands of Killmonger are completely absent from films.  

On the bright side, Andy Serkis actually does an extremely entertaining job with him, which might be surprising considering that he's mostly known as the mo-cap actor for CGI characters that tend to stray a little further from human. That gives us the a nicely believable version of the Klaw we know from the comics, who still has the potential to come back after his "death" as a dude made of hot-pink sound waves. Plus, that sonic cannon was rad.

It's just weird that so many major events in his life happen while we're watching something else that's more interesting. Unless they happened during the events of Thor: The Dark World, that is. There's not much that's less interesting than that.

Sonny Burch (Ant-Man and the Wasp)

Walton Goggins is a genuine delight every time he shows up on screen no matter what he's in, and his appearance in Ant-Man and the Wasp is no exception. Admittedly, he doesn't do much compared to the likes of Killmonger or Thanos, but he makes the most of what is there, and it actually makes him one of the MCU's most "comic booky" villains ever.

As a dealer in illicit technology, Sonny Burch is a character that, like the Vulture before him, operates on the fringes of a universe filled with magic hammers, vibranium shields, and alien technology. The difference is that while the Vulture's operation was as low-key as you can be while still having a personal jetpack, Burch is the kind of sleazy mastermind who rolls around in a white-and-gold SUV, conducts his illegal business in broad daylight, gets information by dosing his enemies with truth serum, and commands a seemingly endless army of nameless henchmen who are prepared to launch an all-out motorcycle crime spree at a moment's notice. He's like one of the villains from the '60s Batman show transplanted directly into the MCU.

The best thing about the Ant-Man movies is that, while they're undeniably connected to the larger universe, their tighter focus allows them to tell smaller stories — no pun intended. Burch is the perfect character to have around to reinforce the idea that there's more to this world than Shakespearean gods and magic space rocks.

Ayesha (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

She might not have been the big bad in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, but the golden goddess Ayesha (played by Elizabeth Debicki) was able to cause more than enough trouble for Star-Lord and his team. The leader of the powerful Sovereign, she commands a fleet of remote-controlled warships which come within one shot of taking out the Milano following an extensive chase. As if all that wasn't enough, the post-credit scene revealed Ayesha is actually the person responsible for birthing Adam Warlock, a major player in Marvel's cosmic universe and someone we expect to meet in Guardians Vol. 3. If nothing else, that portion of her legacy makes her more than worthy of a slot on this list.

The Chitauri (The Avengers)

They basically served as cannon fodder for Earth's Mightiest Heroes in the final hour of The Avengers, but they're still a massive alien army, led by those positively terrifying gigantic dragon-like ships that tore through downtown Manhattan. Their eventual humiliation notwithstanding, the Chitauri were more than formidable enough to push the Avengers to the brink in their first big screen team-up.

Arnim Zola (Captain America: The First Avenger)

In The First Avenger, Arnim Zola's appearance is basically just an Easter egg for fans in a movie that's full of them. He's a Nazi scientist that's seen through a weird lens for a moment, a callback to what is unquestionably one of Jack Kirby's weirdest designs. Beyond the nudge and wink, though, he could have honestly had any name without changing the plot at all.

When we pick back up in Winter Soldier, though, the setup of having Zola around for the first movie pays off in a pretty cool way. He might not be a robot with a camera for a head and his face on a giant TV screen built into his torso like the Bio-Fanatic of the comics, but what Winter Soldier's big reveal lacks in robot bodies, it more than makes up for by making him genuinely creepy.

Recasting Zola as the architect of Hydra's secret survival instantly makes him one of the most sinister enemies that Captain America has ever faced. On top of that, his synthesized voice and the way the camera tracks Cap and Black Widow's movements when they find the computer mainframe that he uploaded his consciousness into is the closest the MCU has ever gotten to a horror movie. Admittedly, both movies treat Zola as less of a villain and more of a plot device, but who's to say that there's not a backup of his programming somewhere just waiting to come back and make more trouble — and maybe next time, they'll upload it into a weird robot body.

Ghost (Ant-Man and the Wasp)

Ghost, Ant-Man and the Wasp's super-powered villain, has a lot going for her. From a visual standpoint, the flickering effect and phasing through objects (and people) are some of the coolest-looking powers we've seen, especially when her trailing after-images veer off into doing different things. It's even better in the fight scenes — the shrinking and growing action that we saw in the first Ant-Man movie was fun, but pitting that stuff with a completely different set of powers makes for some pretty compelling action.

Unfortunately, she's also a prime example of being able to see the seams in the storytelling. Since she seemingly reforms at the end of the film, we're obviously meant to like her. She has to have a sympathetic backstory and motivation, so she winds up as a victim of Hank Pym's egotistical past. At the same time, we're already supposed to like Hank since he's one of our protagonists, so his part in Ava's backstory still involves him ultimately being right.

None of this is too surprising — the Marvel movies, like the comics, are full of bad guys doing the wrong thing for the right reasons — but it does make it seem pretty clear that the filmmakers worked backwards to fit Ghost into their story rather than building it more organically. Still, the effects are great, and Hannah John-Kamen's performance captures Ava's understandable bitterness and desperation in a way that pulls it off.

The Scorpion (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

In the comics, Mac Gargan has a long villainous history, including tenures as the Scorpion, Venom, and even an brief period where he was the official Spider-Man of the United States government. In Homecoming, on the other hand, not so much.

His most notable actions in that movie are complete failures, first when an arms deal is interrupted by Spider-Man, and then later when he tries to get the Sinister Six going in prison before being shut down by the Vulture. Basically, he's just there to make Adrian Toomes look cooler by comparison, and when you're not as cool as the Vulture, it's safe to say that you screwed up pretty bad somewhere along the way.  

Mordo (Doctor Strange)

Anyone familiar with Marvel Comics knew some kind of villainous turn was coming for Mordo in Doctor Strange. While he spends most of the film as the titular hero's ally, the angry sorcerer abandons his friends after Strange makes his bargain with Dormammu. After the credits, we see Mordo become the nemesis he's long been in the comics, declaring there are "too many sorcerers" in the world. He begins his crusade by absorbing the mystical energy from Jonathan Pangborn, bringing back the man's disability.

Marvel might have known Mordo's impending villainy would be obvious — perhaps that is why they neglected to use his full moniker, the ultra-bad-sounding "Baron Mordo," in the movie. Fictional Barons are, possibly without any exception, always villains. Regardless, he's bound to prove a challenging antagonist for Benedict Cumberbatch's Doctor Strange to tackle in future movies. Plus, he's played by Chiwetel Ejiofor, whose talent is such that his presence in a movie justifies watching it. The Oscar-nominated actor is not only a superb performer, he is particularly great in villainous roles, as can be seen in films like the 2005 space epic Serenity and the bleak dystopian film of the following year, Children of Men

The Black Order (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)

Before we go any further, can we all just take a deep breath and bask in the joy that we are living in a time when the biggest movie of the year featured characters with names like Proxima Midnight and Corvus Glaive? Those are weird names even for superhero comics, and to get them in a film franchise that ten years ago only referred to Obadiah Stane as "Iron Monger" in the vaguest possible terms is a pretty incredible sign of progress.

Delightful names aside, the Black Order are perfectly serviceable henchmen. They manage to hit that Jaws-from-the-Bond-movies sweet spot of being threatening enough to present the heroes with a challenge and provide additional room for the action so that it's not just 40 people trying to punch Thanos at the same time, but not so threatening that they overshadow the actual villain of the piece. Each of them is distinct and visually menacing, and while Cull Obsidian doesn't do much beyond throwing his giant anchor around like a Guilty Gear character, Ebony Maw manages to come off as truly sinister and frightening.

Unfortunately, there's just not much for them to do. They're necessary for the plot, but we're never actually told anything about them — including most of those great names. They're visually striking and they serve a necessary purpose, but that's about it.

Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel)

Ronan was a religious zealot who co-opted a full-fledged Infinity Stone to continue his crusade to wipe out Xandar, but even without one of those awesomely powerful baubles, he's still one heck of a warrior; after all, he laid waste to Drax the Destroyer without even breaking a sweat. He also had the guts to stick it to Thanos, and actually walked away from the Mad Titan without much consequence.

The Guardians were no match for Ronan—Rocket Raccoon's super-gun left him unscathed, and the team's battle against Ronan's forces ended with the entire Xandarian fleet destroyed and Ronan reaching the planet's surface. Luckily, Star-Lord was able to actually control that Infinity Stone with the help of his team (and those sweet, sweet dance moves), and they used its immense power to blast the bad guy into oblivion.

Yellowjacket (Ant-Man)

The Marvel Cinematic Universe has a habit of introducing world-changing technology, then kind of ignoring it later on, and Corey Stoll's Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yellowjacket, played a key role in one of its biggest breakthroughs to date. Cross spent his entire career trying to follow in the footsteps of Hank Pym, finally cracking the code to duplicate the Pym Particles that allow the Ant-Man suit to shrink—though he doesn't realize it also messed with his brain chemistry in the process. 

Cross used the tech to murder indiscriminately, taking out an official who doubts his capabilities by shrinking him into a pile of goo and flushing him down the toilet, and to build his Yellowjacket battle suit, which he wore while duking it out with Scott Lang's Ant-Man in an epic battle that almost entirely takes place inside a briefcase and on a play table in Scott's daughter's bedroom. The Yellowjacket suit is an insanely dangerous piece of tech, and the man pulling the trigger was truly unhinged; thankfully, Ant-Man managed to short it out and shrink Cross into oblivion.

Surtur (Thor: Ragnarok)

There's nothing like a fiery demon hellbent (pun intended) on destroying everything and everyone in his path to bond Thor and friends towards a common goal. The addition of Surtur in Thor: Ragnarok helped to not only bring the team together, but literally leveled the playing field.

Diehard comics fans know Surtur is a major villain in Thor's world. In Thor: Ragnarok, however, he's almost an ancillary one—appearing only in the opening act and destructive finale. That's not to say he's not important to the story. In Norse mythology, the word "Ragnarok" points to the apocalyptic battle between gods that results in a world destroyed by fire.

While Surtur is indeed the monster all Asgardians fear, Thor and Loki summon him to invoke the Ragnarok prophecy. This defeats Hela, but at a price: his attack absolutely decimates Asgard—crumbling the city in the sky to dust.

Supreme Intelligence (Captain Marvel)

We're going to go out on a limb and guess that when Marvel talked to Annette Bening about playing a villain in Captain Marvel, they didn't open with, "You're going to be a giant, green disembodied head with a bunch of gross tendrils floating in some kind of goo." That's a fairly accurate description of the character's physical appearance in the comics — and probably not something that would have played well on screen. Instead of the floating head, Captain Marvel's creators chose to represent the artificial intelligence that rules the Kree Empire on a kind of psychic plane with Carol Danvers. Everyone who communes with the Supreme Intelligence sees someone different, and in Carol's case, the Intelligence appears as Mar-Vell, the Kree secret agent who dies to protect the Skrulls from the Kree.

 Unfortunately, we don't get to see a lot of the Supreme Intelligence, which is a real shame, because Bening is great as the powerful villain. As viewers, we spend a lot of time in Captain Marvel thinking the Skrulls are the bad guys — then, once the truth is revealed, it's Yon-Rogg who's the most visible villain. Perhaps in future installments of Captain Marvel's films, we'll see more of the Kree ruler in the bad guy driver's seat, giving the Supreme Intelligence a chance to get a better spot on this list.

Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)

There was every chance it would come off as silly, but Hugo Weaving's Red Skull easily stands out as one of the most original and terrifying baddies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. In The First Avenger, he commands his own Hydra-fied Nazi division, complete with insanely dangerous weapons powered by the Tesseract. He also has super-strength, thanks to a tainted attempt to recreate the Super Soldier serum that gave Captain America his powers, putting him at a comparable strength level. He was one of the first characters to see the potential of the Tesseract, and managed to weaponize it more than 60 years before S.H.I.E.L.D. started trying to figure it out in The Avengers. He was Captain America's first big bad, and served as a red-skulled baptism by fire to get Cap ready to face the challenges of the modern era.

Kaecilius (Doctor Strange)

He might've just been a disciple of Dormammu in the end, but Mads Mikkelsen's Kaecilius was plenty intimidating his own right—a highly-trained sorcerer who went rogue, left the Ancient One's order to try and take out the Masters of the Mystic Arts, and nearly succeeded. In Doctor Strange, Kaecilius manages to destroy two of the Sanctums and put the Ancient One's forces on the ropes, and shows his prowess with magic in a few excellent fights against Doctor Strange. Luckily, a quick-thinking Strange managed to briefly trap him in magical straightjacket (thanks to a few assists from the Cloak of Levitation). Even if he was technically the B-list baddie in Doctor Strange, he'll always be an A-lister to us.

The Tinkerer (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

The Tinkerer is exactly the kind of character that the MCU needed, for the same reason that he was exactly the kind of character that the comics needed.

When the movies were starting out, characters like Whiplash and Justin Hammer made a lot of sense — self-made evil geniuses who could use their own villainous technology to threaten the heroes. As they went on and expanded to bring in more and more heroes and villains, though, it makes sense that we'd get to someone who wasn't quite on their level, but who could still learn from and reverse engineer that sci-fi super-tech and make it more accessible to street-level bad guys.

He's certainly not the focus, but Phineas Mason's work alongside the Vulture and the Shockers is the subtle embodiment of the change that's gone on in those movies for the past decade, from a universe with superheroes in it.

Topaz (Thor: Ragnarok)

Every great ruler needs someone beside them to carry their melting stick. In Thor: Ragnarok, that job goes to Topaz, played by Rachel House, the sadistic and unforgiving right-hand woman to the Grandmaster. She's a perfect match for her eccentric, airheaded boss: While he laughs and enjoys his games and acquisitions, Topaz stands ready nearby with his instruments of torture. Sometimes she doles out insults, and she makes it clear that she's always eager for the Grandmaster to melt, well ... anyone. She delights in watching her master destroy his victims, so much so that she occasionally tries to hand the melting stick off to him, even if he doesn't ask for it. 

 Unfortunately for the Grandmaster but thankfully for everyone else on Sakaar, Topaz does not survive Ragnarok. Distracted by the Grandmaster's ship's fireworks display, Topaz crashes into rocks while chasing Bruce Banner, Thor, and Valkyrie during their escape from Sakaar. Topaz's service to Grandmaster is clearly not forgotten — in one of Marvel's Team Darryl shorts, we see that the Grandmaster has erected a modest shrine to his former assistant/bodyguard in his new Los Angeles apartment.

The Prowler (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Of all the impressive things about Spider-Man: Homecoming, one of the most notable is just how many characters the filmmakers pulled in from the Marvel Universe. Beyond the main players like Spider-Man and the Vulture, this was a movie that had the Shocker, the Scorpion, Damage Control, the Tinkerer — even Jason Ionello, the kid who does the morning announcements at Midtown High, is pulled from Untold Tales of Spider-Man.

The best minor villain appearance by far is absolutely Aaron Davis, known in the comics as the Prowler. In the film, he's played by Donald Glover, who acts as the thoroughly unimpressed straight man to Peter Parker's "enhanced interrogation." It's one of the best comedic scenes in the entire MCU, but what really makes it special is Davis's mention of his nephew. As comics readers know, Davis's nephew is Miles Morales, the second Spider-Man.

As far as villainy goes, Davis doesn't accomplish much beyond a failed arms deal. Hinting at a future of the MCU that includes Miles, though? That's pretty cool.

Ravagers (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

Clearly, the Ravagers aren't all villains. At the end of Guardians of the Galaxy, plenty of them sacrifice themselves to save Xandar from Ronan the Accuser. But in the sequel, we see a darker side of these mercenaries. When Taserface takes over Yondu's Ravagers, everyone still loyal to Yondu is rewarded by being ejected into space as their former comrades laugh and wave. Most of them are also more than happy to abuse poor Baby Groot, and of all the survivors, only Kraglin refrains from trying to kill Yondu, Rocket, and Groot as they escape.

As villains, the Ravagers don't accomplish a lot, and without someone like Yondu or Nebula supporting them, they don't provide much of a challenge to the heroes. But while they may be cannon fodder, they're hilarious and devious cannon fodder who give us all a lot of laughs. Their deserved beatings — delivered by Rocket early in the film and by Yondu during his escape — provide some of the most fun sequences in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2.

Crossbones (Captain America: Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War)

Frank Grillo's Brock Rumlow started out as a member of Captain America's strike team in Winter Soldier, eventually revealing himself as a Hydra agent when the attempted takeover began. He was a part of that epic elevator fight with Cap in that film, but wound up on the wrong side of the shield—after getting the edge on Sam Wilson during their one-on-one fight, he failed to notice a crashing helicarrier coming right for him, which resulted in Rumlow's burned, broken body being hauled out of the wreckage once the battle was over.

It seemed like that could be the end for Crossbones, but he survived to take one last shot at Cap in Civil War. Rocking his own homemade-looking battle suit, he got a fantastic extended action set piece fighting Captain America and Black Widow, and even laid some bone-crunching punches on Cap thanks to his suit's capabilities. So filled with hate that he literally blew himself up with Cap beside him, his final attack was foiled when Scarlet Witch managed to relocate the blast—taking out a group of Wakandan diplomats and kicking off the events of Civil War in earnest.

Dormammu (Doctor Strange)

He's one of the biggest villains in Doctor Strange lore—and the MCU actually kept the extremely powerful ruler of the Dark Dimension relatively close to his comics counterpart, as Doctor Strange's trip to the Dark Dimension was practically a Steve Ditko panel brought to life. Dormammu is one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, loaded with universe-destroying power and on a mission to fuse our world with the Dark Dimension. He's so powerful that Doctor Strange had to simply outsmart him to save the world, trapping Dormammu in a time loop with him (where Dormammu killed him over and over) until he was forced to bargain for his freedom. It makes for one of the most clever finales in all of the MCU, and lands Dormammu high on our list of favorites.

Yon-Rogg (Captain Marvel)

The revelation that Yon-Rogg is actually the bad guy in Captain Marvel is the kind of twist that barely even needs a spoiler warning. It's almost a foregone conclusion from the moment that we find out "Vers" is actually test pilot Carol Danvers in flashbacks that start to poke holes in his version of Carol's origin. Here's the thing, though: That predictability doesn't make it bad.

What really makes it work is the same thing that we see in a lot of great MCU villains, going all the way back to Obadiah Stane: consistency of character. Yon-Rogg never changes; there's no dramatic heel turn or big reveal. He really does want Carol Danvers to be the best version of herself that she can be. You even get the sense at the end of the film that for all their photon-blasting combat, he still likes her as a person... or at least, the person he's been molding her to be to suit the needs of the ever-expanding Kree empire. The only thing that really separates them is that he has a vastly different idea of what that "best version" is.

This all comes to a head in their final confrontation, in which Yon-Rogg announces his pride in (and takes the credit for) Carol's newfound unstoppable power. That's the moment he goes from insidious to insufferable, and sets up what might be the most purely enjoyable defeat of a villain in MCU history. And really, isn't that what the villains are there for?

Nebula (Guardians of the Galaxy, Avengers: Endgame)

After one final, explosive tussle with Gamora, Nebula joins the side of the angels in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and helps both the Guardians and the Avengers in Avengers: Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame

But that's not true of every version of Nebula we meet. In fact, it's indirectly because of Nebula that Thanos gets to wage his final battle against the good guys in Endgame. When Nebula goes back in time to 2014 to help get the Orb, the Nebula of that time becomes aware of her. The 2014 Nebula isn't reformed — she's still loyally killing anything and everything her father tells her to kill, as well as harboring murderous jealousy towards Gamora. 

The 2014 Nebula is poignantly tragic, admittedly. Even when she's confronted by her future self, who is not only working on the side of the heroes, but has forged a relationship with her sister, the 2014 Nebula sees no way out. She clearly wants to be different, but as she tells the 2023 Nebula and Gamora, "He won't let me." She dies because of her refusal to change, which forces the 2023 Nebula to shoot her to save Gamora, even though the proof that she can change is literally standing in front of her.

Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)

When Marvel signed Robert Redford for a superhero movie, you knew it'd be an interesting role—and his turn as Alexander Pierce certainly delivered. He's introduced as the well-meaning Secretary of the World Security Council and old friend of Nick Fury, a hero who literally declined a Nobel Peace Prize...though it's eventually revealed Pierce has been pulling a lot of the strings in regards to Hydra's infiltration of S.H.I.E.L.D. 

It was Pierce who shepherded Project Insight, the program designed to create the networked helicarrier system everyone is fighting over in The Winter Soldier (and which Hydra planned to use to take over the country). He also planted bombs in the name tags of the other Security Council members, which he uses to brutally murder them when they challenge his takeover. He stayed evil to the end, too, uttering "hail Hydra" with his dying breath after Nick Fury put two rounds into his chest. Now that's hardcore.

The Mandarin (Iron Man 3)

Ben Kingsley's character in Iron Man 3 wasn't actually the real Mandarin—and the "All Hail the King" one-shot short suggested the bona fide bad guy could still be out there, waiting to make his move—but that "fake" Mandarin still gave us the chills, at least until it was revealed that he's really just an out of work actor named Trevor Slattery who can barely be trusted with a six-pack of beer, much less a gun. 

Kingsley embodied much of the look and feel of what comics fans expected to see from the Mandarin, and his haunting delivery of lines like "You'll never see me coming" is a masterstroke in fear. It loses some luster by the end, but the Mandarin presented in the front half of that film is one of the scariest baddies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It might've all been a ruse, but it was effective.

The Grandmaster (Thor: Ragnarok)

When Thor is suddenly marooned on the junk planet Sakaar, he comes in contact with the larger-than-life character known as the Grandmaster. Aside from his comic-book origins, which make the dude 14 million years old (he's also the Collector's brother), the Grandmaster's introduction in Thor: Ragnarok adds some much-needed levity to Thor and Loki's dire situation.

Jeff Goldblum's addition to the MCU adds some Caesar Flickman-style antics amid the chaos, which finds Thor thrown into an event known as the Contest of Champions. While it's clear the Grandmaster acts as a power-hungry tyrant over the citizens of Sakaar, there's something that draws them all to this gladiator battle. And while Thor eventually teams up with Hulk—who's been stuck on the planet for quite some time—the Grandmaster does everything he can to keep the battle going no matter what. Obviously, he gets his comeuppance in the end. But something tells us this won't be the last we see of him.

Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger (Iron Man)

You have to respect where it all began, and Jeff Bridges' Obadiah Stane, a.k.a. Iron Monger, set the tone for the villains of the MCU in the first Iron Man film. Bridges' Stane is positively slimy, betraying Tony Stark and actually setting his entire hero's journey in action—so really, we can thank Stane for the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe. When his assassination attempt on Stark in the desert failed, Stane eventually donned the massive Iron Monger suit to try and finish the job himself. A lot has changed since Iron Monger stalked the skies, but his final fight with Iron Man had a brutal, messy feel that really let you feel the hate Stane had for Stark—and it still resonates, even in a world with heavy hitters like Thanos prowling around.

Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Look, Age of Ultron was great, but there's no doubt the film was hampered by the strain between director Joss Whedon and Marvel, as well as the fact that it was basically a stopgap story on the way to Infinity War. Despite all that, James Spader brought absolute terror to the metal menace that was Ultron, with a near-endless supply of robot bodies and a design that had comics fans geeking out. 

He's basically a big budget Black Mirror story brought to life, exemplifying how technology can be our greatest scourge, though Ultron does it with a wit that only Spader can provide, verbally sparring with Tony Stark better than most non-robot baddies. Like any great villain, Ultron also has a real point of view to his plan and motives. There's no doubt humans do cause a lot of problems, and looking at the facts, Ultron's final determination that humans and superheroes are what makes the world such a dangerous place makes its own twisted kind of sense.

Helmut Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)

The big-screen version of Captain America comics baddie Helmut Zemo in Civil War was a stark departure from what readers might've expected—including the absence of his distinctive purple outfit—but they gave the character more than enough added nuance to compensate. The most amazing thing about Zemo in Civil War is he's just an average guy—a smart guy, sure, but still a regular dude.

No superpowers. No gigantic master plan to take over the world. Just a man who wants revenge for the death of his family, and wise enough to realize the best way to take out the Avengers is to set them against one another. Sure, his plan does require a few leaps in logic, but it was refreshing to see a villain like Zemo brought to life in the MCU. He's a great reminder that it doesn't take world-smashing superpowers to give Earth's Mightiest Heroes a run for their money.

Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3)

Iron Man 3 is one of the most polarizing movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, featuring an epic fakeout that reveals Guy Pearce's Aldrich Killian is actually the big bad behind a mysterious rash of bombings and terrorist attacks sweeping the globe. His secret weapon? Extremis, a versatile technology that first showed up in the Iron Man comics and is reimagined here as a way to super-heat one's body and literally regrow limbs. 

Killian uses it to turn himself into a living weapon, capable of slashing through the most advanced Iron Man suits with his bare hands like they're made of nothing more than hot butter. His particular skillset makes for one of the most technically ambitious fight scenes in the MCU, with dozens of armored suits flying around and getting sliced to pieces by Killian. It's sometimes hard to believe any villain can truly go toe-to-toe with Tony Stark, but Killian made one heck of a run.

Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2)

Peter Quill's search for his father was a key part of the story in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, a journey that brought him face to face with Kurt Russell's Ego. It takes awhile for Ego to reveal that he's actually the villain of the film, but when the reveal comes, it's cosmic (literally). 

As far as sheer abilities, Ego is one of the most powerful villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right up there alongside the Mad Titan Thanos himself. Ego is essentially a god, encompassing an entire planet and capable of manifesting himself however he wishes. His master plan aims to expand his reach across most of the known universe, wiping out pretty much all other life in the process. The best part? Russell sells it so well that you really do understand where Ego's coming from, even if he is a psychopath who's killed hundreds of his own children in his quest for power. Ego redefined the concept of daddy issues—a tall order in a universe that already included Tony Stark.

Mysterio (Spider-Man: Far From Home)

Mysterio isn't the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but he might just be the cleverest. After ten years of movies inspired by comics, the MCU proved with Endgame that it was its own distinct version of the superhero universe. That meant that it could do things that the comics have never done, like jumping ahead five years, giving Tony Stark a kid, or having Thor pack on a few extra pounds from depression and a drinking problem. Then, in the first post-Endgame Marvel movie, as we're all still reeling and trying to figure out where these movies are going to go now, in comes Mysterio, with the promise of a multiverse that could take things to the next level. And then we find out that it's all just one big con.

The brilliant thing is that it's a con on the audience and the characters. Like Spider-Man, we've seen how weird and cosmic the MCU can get, and after watching the Ancient One palm-strike the Hulk's soul out of his body and explain how alternate timelines work, we're ready to believe anything. Even those of us who know everything about Mysterio from the comics — the people who know that illusions and con artistry are like the only thing that dude does — have to come to the theater that sliver of doubt that maybe these movies really are introducing a heroic version of the character from some alternate universe. Is it any weirder than having Rocket Raccoon and Proxima Midnight showing up?

Instead of being the way forward, Mysterio ties everything back to the very first Iron Man movie, and is one of the many things that make Far From Home the perfect epilogue to the Infinity Saga... and that's before you get to that mid-credits scene and what might be the worst thing that's ever happened to the MCU's Peter Parker. 

The Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)

Michael Keaton's Adrian Toomes, a.k.a. the Vulture, is one of the newer additions to the Marvel Cinematic Universe, but there's no doubt he's also one of the best. In rebooting Spider-Man for the third time in a decade, Marvel decided to dig a bit deeper into the Spidey canon to find a villain who hadn't already been done to death on the big screen (how many Goblins do we really need?), and landed on the Vulture for Spider-Man: Homecoming, and thanks to Keaton's menacing, blue-collar take on the character, he quickly became a fan favorite. 

In a universe of world-destroying monsters, the Vulture is decidedly street-level in his approach, but that's exactly what makes him work. The writers tweaked his backstory to make Toomes the father of Peter Parker's teenage crush, and he takes the "girlfriend's angry dad" trope to a whole new level. The effects team also did an amazing job with his armor and look, with the Vulture looking positively terrifying and inhuman when he's under that mask, stalking his prey.

Hela (Thor: Ragnarok)

Since her first appearance in the trailers for Thor: Ragnarok, it was pretty obvious that Cate Blanchett's Hela was going to leave an impression. We've never seen Thor face a villain like this one. Heck, we've never really seen a baddie such as Hela, the Goddess of Death in any of Marvel's offerings, or in Blanchett's varied career. Much like Loki before her, this Asgardian villain is someone audiences will immediately love to hate.

When Loki and Thor are faced with the death of Odin, a spell is broken that unleashes Hela back to the place she once ruled: Asgard. The concept of a secret sister takes Thor and Loki off guard, naturally. As soon as Odin passes, she appears to the brothers and presents her plan to take her rightful place on Asgard's throne. To prove her point, she easily crushes Mjolnir, Thor's hammer.

The truth is eventually revealed that Hela once acted as Odin's executioner, leading the Asgardian army to victory over all Nine Realms. This secret history helps to elevate Hela to epic villain status. Not only is she extremely powerful, prompting Thor to assemble his "Revengers" to take her out, her motivations to rule come from a very real, justifiable place. Honestly, viewers may find it a bit tough—even for just a moment—not to root for her.

Erik Killmonger (Black Panther)

With the exception of outright Nazi monsters like the Red Skull, the Marvel movies tend to be pretty good about telling stories of villains with complicated, and even relatable motivations. Characters like Loki, the Vulture, even Hela, the literal goddess of death, have some pretty legitimate reasons for what they're doing, even if those reasons have led them down exactly the wrong path. None of them, however, come close to being as sympathetic as Erik Killmonger.

He essentially has a superhero's origin: His father is killed in front of him, his royal heritage is denied to him, and he uses those tragedies to motivate a relentless dedication, training himself to the peak of his abilities before seeking vengeance. That setup is a whole lot closer to Batman than it is to, say, Crossbones or Ultron. When you add in the fact that Killmonger specifically wants to address the continuing history of racism, it's hard not to admit that he makes some pretty good points.

But the key word there is "vengeance." For all of Killmonger's justifications, his major personal motivation is built around inflicting the same kind of pain that he experienced onto the world around him. Even if he's right, his goal is dominance rather than leadership, which makes him a true ideological opponent for T'Challa. It's one of the things that makes their final battle, in which they're both in nearly identical Black Panther costumes, so good: they're reflections of each other, both committed to fight to the death (and beyond) for their ideals without compromising who they are.

Loki (The Avengers)

Who else could it be? There's a reason Marvel Studios chose to use Loki as the main villain for The Avengers—he's one of the most compelling, calculated and charismatic villains ever brought to the big screen. There are some good reasons he's so formidable, too—before he went bad, Loki fought alongside Thor, so he has plenty of experience, and he has some mad trickster skills thanks to his cunning wit and mastery of the dark arts. He can also be positively ruthless, and will live in infamy as the man who pulled a fast one on Coulson and murdered everyone's favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent (he's since been resurrected on ABC's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., but still). Tom Hiddleston is so good at being bad that Marvel opted to keep him around long after his bid for supremacy was foiled at the hands of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. He's still no match for the Hulk—but who is?


Thanos is the villain of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Sure, Loki may have been the immediate threat back in Avengers, but Thanos was the one behind him, whose arrival on the screen was foreshadowed for the better part of the decade before he finally stepped into the spotlight, with devastating results.

The thing is, he's not just a mindlessly powerful threat. There's been a lot of character work put into the cinematic version of Thanos, which is especially impressive considering that most of it is shown to the audience in a movie that's also juggling story arcs for dozens of other characters at the same time. Through it all, though, he's shown to have the same quality that all the greatest villains share: he thinks he's right. He's the hero of his own story, the only one who can step up and save the universe from itself, and is willing to sacrifice whatever he needs to in pursuit of that goal. And after he accomplishes, true to his word, he retires to a quiet life, happy in the knowledge that he's done what no one else could to make the universe a better place.

There's just one problem. His "heroic solution" is genocide on a galactic scale that's all but unimaginable. The sacrifices he makes aren't his own, they're simply more murders that simply don't matter when they're stacked up against what he intends to do with the Infinity Stones. In the comics, Thanos has often been referred to as "the ultimate nihilist," but the MCU's version is the exact opposite. He believes very much in what he's doing, which makes him even more compelling... and more dangerous.