Which MCU villain is the best?

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Which MCU villain is the best?

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The Marvel Cinematic Universe is full of big bad villains. From Abomination of the Incredible Hulk to Thanos of Infinity War, the MCU is filled to the brim with unique and powerful villains. But that begs the question: which villain is the best?

I have analyzed each villain from the MCU and ranked them based on their individual strength, intelligence, and influence. Keep in mind that these rankings are not based upon the villain’s success within their movies. It is simply based on their attributes. I have analyzed ever villain, including King Laufey of Thor’s Ice Giants, Crossbones from Captain America: Civil War, and even Surtur, the demon from Thor: Ragnarok. Keep in mind that if you haven’t seen all of the movies, there may be spoilers, so read with caution! So, let’s get started!

  1. Shocker

Shocker was a minor antagonist in Spider-Man: Homecoming. There were actually two separate Shockers, but neither one of them was very powerful. Shocker’s greatest physical asset is a Chitari taser he equips to his arm. This was able to blast back Spider-Man numerous times, and proved to be quite effective against standard foes. This made him an excellent thug. Unfortunately, Shocker lacked much intelligence and held no influence, being a subordinate of Vulture. Shocker may be a worthy foe for you and me, but against any superhero, he is little more than shark bait.

  1. Destroyer

The Destroyer was a minor antagonist of Thor. As the guardian of Asgard’s relic vault, the Destroyer is exactly what he sounds like: a destroyer. The Destroyer is one of the strongest enemies encountered in the MCU. He was able to kill human Thor in just one hit, and could only be destroyed when Thor’s hammer had been returned. However, the Destroyer has no intelligence for itself. It is essentially a robot with one assignment: to destroy. The Destroyer also has very little influence, as it only dwells within the vaults.

  1. Kaecilius and Justin Hammer

Kaecilius and Justin Hammer tied for 12th. Let’s analyze them individually.

 Justin Hammer was the secondary antagonist of Iron Man 2. He was the CEO of Hammer Industries, a corporation set on building an army of Iron-Man-esque robots. Hammer only scored as high as he did due to his large corporate influence. However, Hammer never gets into a fight and appears to be very naïve. He tries to command the primary antagonist, Whiplash, but never seems to realize that Whiplash was in control.

Kaecilius was the secondary antagonist of Doctor Strange. As a magic-wielding bandit, Kaecilius proved to be a formidable foe. Being one of the strongest magicians on Earth, Kaecilius was a force to be reckoned with. Unfortunately, Kaecilius was not very intelligent. He was smart enough to formulate a basic plan, but he held a very bruteish mindset. Additionally, he holds little influence beyond being a cult leader. Kaecilius probably would be a better villain, but he just appears to be a bully.

  1. Zemo and Nebula

Helmut Zemo and Nebula tied for 11th.

Nebula is the daughter of Thanos and secondary antagonist of Guardians of the Galaxy. Nebula was transformed into a sort of living weapon. Every time she lost a battle with her sister, Gamora, a piece of Nebula’s body was replaced with machinery. Thus, Nebula is an expert assassin and fighter. Unfortunately, much like Kaecilius, Nebula proves to be much more of a brute and less of a mastermind. She was not very intelligent and held little more influence than Kaecilius himself. Nebula had access to some of Thanos’s resources as well as Ronan’s followers.

Helmut Zemo was the primary antagonist of Captain America: Civil War. He crafted a master plan to turn the Avengers against each other and frame Bucky Barnes for the murder of several UN diplomats, including the king of Wakanda, father of Black Panther. Zemo’s intelligence is through the roof, making him an effective villain. Unfortunately, the mastermind posed little physical threat and acted as a complete rogue. Thus, he had no strength or influence.

  1. Winter Soldier, Vulture, Whiplash, Klaue, and King Laufey

There was a five way tie for 10th, between Vulture, Winter Soldier, Whiplash, Klaue, and King Laufey.

Laufey was a minor antagonist of Thor. An ice giant and king of the realm Jotunheim, Laufey was an intimidating villain, to say the least. Laufey proved to be a decently powerful enemy, but was killed relatively easily, in the grand scheme of things. Laufey has considerable influence, being the lord of one of the 9 Realms. He has an army of ice giants at his disposal. Laufey, however, seems to not be the hottest bulb around. His intelligence leaves something to be questioned. He appears to have a brute sense of violence, and is dead set on destruction. Luckily for the Avengers, he can’t seem to use his resources to his advantage.

Whiplash is the primary antagonist of Iron Man 2. He is a rogue engineer who creates both weapons and robots. Whiplash gets major points for his intelligence, as he perfects the robot army of Justin Hammer, and is even able to override them for his own purposes. Additionally, his strength is considerable due to the weaponry he employs. He utilizes dual lightning whips and is often in a robot suit of his own. However, where Whiplash drops down is his influence. As an absolute rogue, much like Zemo, Whiplash has practically no influence whatsoever. The only influence he holds is over Justin Hammer himself, being able to intimidate and annoy the CEO to his slight advantage.

Ulysses Klaue first appeared in the movie Avengers: Age of Ultron, but was shown the spotlight as a secondary antagonist of Black Panther. In Age of Ultron, Klaue’s arm was cut off by Ultron himself. In Black Panther, Klaue has revealed to have a new, high-tech robotic arm. Coupled with his natural strength, Klaue becomes a powerful villain. Additionally, Klaue has street skills like none other. His intelligence is considerable. However, Klaue has little influence. He ruled a vibranium pirate crew, but overall has little influence in the MCU.

Vulture is the primary antagonist of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and proves to be a decent villain for Spider-Man. Overall, Vulture is a pretty balanced villain. He has decent strength, but is not the strongest baddy of the bunch. His forte is his intellect, using his brain to plan successful heists and modify Chitauri weapons from the original Avengers. Vulture also has a small crew of bandits that help him reach his goal, so his influence is not negligible. When paired up with the rest of the MCU, Vulture is fairly weak, but an excellent first challenge for our favorite web-slinger.

Bucky Barnes has had an intricate history. He first appeared in Captain America: the First Avenger, as Steve Roger’s best friend. Towards the end of the movie, he is lost and presumed dead. We later learned that he was captured by the organization HYDRA, and becomes converted into the Winter Soldier, an elite assassin serving HYDRA. He is eventually converted into an Avenger and helps the team, but in the meantime he serves as one of the two primary antagonists from Captain America: the Winter Soldier. Bucky is a powerful adversary, but has very little free thought and non-existent influence. Unfortunately for the Winter Soldier, Bucky is no more than a hollow shell of an elite assassin.

  1. Crossbones

Crossbones is one of the least known villains and a very minor antagonist in Captain America: Civil War. He was a member of S.H.I.E.L.D. and turned to HYDRA in Winter Soldier. He returned in Civil War as a bandit extraordinaire. As one of the few thugs to actually have clear suit of armor, Crossbones is immediately an intimidating villain. As a former S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Crossbones is an expert fighter, and stands toe-to-toe with several of the Avengers, including Black Widow. Crossbones is a mastermind in creating heists and breaks into a secure vault in Lagos, Nigeria, with ease. Additionally, he has a gang of armed criminals that follow his every command. Crossbones is quite the villain, but overall does not pair up to the rest on this list. For now, Crossbones appears to simply be the master bandit.

  1. Pierce, Abomination, and Malekith

The three-way tie for 8th was between Pierce, Abomination, and Malekith.

Alexander Pierce was the other primary antagonist from Captain America: Winter Soldier. Pierce was a head executive of S.H.I.E.L.D. until he led the HYDRA rebellion. Pierce was a physically weak villain, but certainly made up for it with his intellect and influence. Pierce proved to be a master planner, managing to pull off the emergence of HYDRA and the assassination of most of the S.H.I.E.L.D. executives. Additionally, his position within both S.H.I.E.L.D. and HYDRA gave him immense influence, technically overseeing such heroes as Nick Fury and the Avengers. In the end, however, he was captured by Nick Fury and Black Widow while his plan was crumbled by Captain America and Falcon.

Abomination was the primary antagonist of the Incredible Hulk. One of the original MCU villains, Abomination was a former Russian spy turned new Hulk. Abomination had very little influence. However, he had a decent intellect as a spy. His greatest asset, of course, is his massive strength. Abomination is only one of two villains that proved to be a real match against the Hulk (more on the other, later). Abomination is not a well-remembered villain, but his strength rockets his score.

There are many, many people who consider Thor 2 to be the worst MCU movie of all time; and I agree. Thor 2 was poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly received. One of the worst parts was the pathetic villain, Malekith. Malekith was the dark elf primary antagonist who was dead-set on retrieving the Reality Infinity Stone. He was brought down mostly by Thor’s human friends who were basically equipped with tripods. However, when I analyzed Malekith’s attributes, I realized that, in theory, Malekith is actually a pretty great villain. He has considerable strength. He may not have had many fights in the movie, but he appears to have experience fighting. Additionally, Malekith seems to have ample military knowledge and is able to plan successful attacks on Asgard. To top it all off, Malekith is the ruler of the dark elf empire, one of the most ancient and historically powerful empires in the universe. Malekith may serve as one of the least memorable antagonists and a pathetic enemy, but it turns out he is quite the adversary.

  1. Surtur

In 7th place lands Surtur. Surtur is a minor antagonist at the beginning and end of Thor: Ragnarok. He is a giant demon who’s destiny is to destroy Asgard. Spoiler alert: he succeeds, and kills Thor’s sister Hela in the process. Surtur has only enough influence to worm his way into a prophecy and is as dumb as a brick, but his colossal strength skyrockets his total score. With his gargantuan size and titanic sword, Surtur is able to destroy Asgard with one really good stab. At the beginning of the movie he is defeated easily by Thor, but at his best, not even the Goddess of Death can stand against Surtur.

  1. Killmonger, Red Skull, Yellow Jacket, Ronan, Ego

There was another five-way tie for 8th between Killmonger, Red Skull, Yellow Jack, Ronan, and Ego.

Killmonger was the primary antagonist of Black Panther and became quite the villain. His birth name N’Jadaka, Killmonger is the cousin of Black Panther and believes the throne of Wakanda should belong to himself. Killmonger is able to best Black Panther in a fair fight and is bestowed with the Black Panther strength as well as his own suit with identical powers. Thus, Killmonger has remarkable strength and fighting ability. He is able to best anyone he fights, and is only defeated when Black Panther is able to phase a sword through Killmonger’s armor. Additionally, Killmonger was able to craft a brilliant plan to seize the Wakandan throne, giving him immense influence. Killmonger is a very well balanced villain, but still not the best.

Ego: the Living Planet. Spoiler alert: Ego is Peter Quill’s father and the primary antagonist of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. He is a sentient planet who seeks to expand himself across the universe, assimilating all that exists into his essence. Ego is a very mysterious entity and has little influence, despite how much he would like. His plan, however, is well thought out and his ancient knowledge gives him very high intelligence. Additionally, he may not be very powerful everywhere, but on his planet, his power is nearly limitless. I wish we had seen a little more of Ego’s power, but for now he appears to be a solid, moderate villain.

Red Skull is the primary antagonist of Captain America: the First Avenger. He is the first supervillain, chronologically, in the MCU. Red Skull has a very similar skill set to Captain America. However, side effects of the serum gave Red Skull a hideous scarlet face resembling a skull. However, Red Skull is nevertheless a very capable villain. His strength is impressive, serving as more than a match for Captain America and never officially being defeated, as he was zapped away by the Tesseract. Additionally, his military mind and planning shows his formidable intellect. Finally, Red Skull is the original leader of HYDRA and a high ranking officer in Nazi Germany. Thus, Red Skull has impressive influence, to say the least. It is a shame we couldn’t experience more Red Skull, a truly underrated villain.

Yellow Jacket is the primary antagonist of Ant-Man. The underappreciated apprentice of Hank Pym, Darren Cross took over Pym’s company and reinvented the shrinking technology Pym had discovered. Cross then made a super suit using this technology: the Yellow Jacket. Yellow Jacket is made of titanium and equipped with lasers as well as the shrinking technology. Thus, he is a deadly opponent. Cross himself is not an especially good fighter, having ample trouble squaring off against Ant-Man. However, Ant-Man was unable to defeat him in a one-on-one fight, so points there. At the same time, Yellow Jacket was able to independently recreate one of the greatest science discoveries of all time. Needless to say, Cross’s intelligence is phenomenal. What’s more is his command of Cross Industries, formerly Pym’s company. His CEO status gives him ample influence. Yellow Jacket may be a one dimensional villain, but he is certainly a powerful one.

Ronan the Accuser was an intimidating villain. The primary antagonist of Guardians of the Galaxy, Ronan was a Kree (that’s a type of alien) fanatic who sought to destroy the planet of Xandar. His name was highly recognized and feared, giving him influence along with his personally army. He also had influence as he was working with Thanos. Ronan is also the first person to be able to wield the Power Infinity Stone without instantly dying. He had power before, but with this Infinity Stone, Ronan became nearly unstoppable. The goal of his final battle was simply to prevent him from touching the surface of Xandar. However, Ronan falls short when it comes to his intelligence. Ronan has poor diplomatic skills, breaking off ties with Thanos (a bad move) and not having the sense to just destroy everyone, rather waiting and allowing himself to be trapped. If Ronan were just a little smarter, he’d probably be higher on this list.

  1. Hela and Loki

Tied for 5th are the Asgardian siblings, Hela and Loki.

Hela is the sister of Loki and Thor and is the primary antagonist of Thor: Ragnarok. She is also the Goddess of Death. Needless to say, Hela is a powerful villain. But, I will say it anyway. Hela has the ability to conjure an unlimited number of knives of any size and shoot them with supreme accuracy. Her power is nearly unprecedented in the MCU, and she is able to destroy Thor’s hammer, Mjolnir, in an instant. She is able to kill the entire Asgardian army in a single scene. Additionally, she conjures up an army of undead warriors as well as her giant wolf, Fenrir. She effectively takes over Asgard, thus giving her plenty of influence within the 9 realms. To add to that, she is never defeated in battle. She is slain when Surtur destroys Asgard, but always manages to easily defeat her enemies, whether it be Thor, Loki, or Valkyrie. The only thing Hela may lack is intelligence. Her plan, going into Asgard, is to stab stab kill. But that’s all she needs, because it worked like a charm.

Loki is, thus far, the only villain to be the primary antagonist of two separate movies, Thor and Avengers. Loki is probably the most well known non-Avenger in the MCU, as he has appeared in the most films. As the God of Trickery, Loki has plenty of tricks up his sleeve. His strength isn’t amazing, but is still a very capable combatant. Raised in Asgard, he naturally has plenty of training. His biggest loss only came from the Hulk. However, he is not usually defeated at all. Often it is his mirror image that is destroyed, not Loki himself. This skyrockets his intelligence skill. He is one of the smartest fighters in the MCU, and crafts masterful plans to destroy Jotunheim, gain the Throne of Asgard, destroy the Avengers, etc. He is even able to brainwash heroes to join his side, mainly Hawkeye. To top it all off, his influence is phenomenal. As Prince of Asgard, he already has plenty of influence, but he gains even more when he impersonates Odin and takes over Asgard in Thor: the Dark World and Thor: Ragnarok. He gains even more influence in the first Avengers movie with his alliance with Thanos and an army of Chitauri at his disposal. Loki may be the God of Trickery, but his power is no joke.

  1. Mandarin and Dormammu

In 4th there was a tie between the Mandarin and Dormammu.

Dormammu was the primary antagonist of Doctor Strange and a celestial demon. Kaecilius attempts to summon Dormammu in Doctor Strange, and is successful. The only thing stopping Dormammu from unleashing terror upon the world is Doctor Strange’s bargain. So let’s analyze his stats. Dormammu’s influence is relatively small. All he can do is create a cult following and appear in ancient textbooks. He has the same influence as any other deity on Earth. However, Dormammu does have intelligence as he convinced Kaecilius to summon him and has ultimately crafted his plan to arrive on Earth and destroy it. However, where Dormammu really brings home the bacon is with his strength. Dormammu is quite possibly the strongest character thus far in the MCU. He is able to kill Doctor Strange countless times, only to meet him again thanks to the Time Infinity Stone. Dormammu has cosmic powers and, if it weren’t for Doctor Strange, would probably have destroyed the world. 

Aldrich Killian, also known as the Mandarin, is the primary antagonist of Iron Man 3. The Mandarin is a nerd-turned-playboy genius who develops a deep hatred for Tony Stark. So what makes the Mandarin so powerful? He is an extremely well-balanced villain. His strength is intense, as he can shoot fire, create heat, and regenerate. The Mandarin is even blown up multiple times before he is actually killed. The Mandarin is also highly intelligent. He has been able to create highly regenerative plants and transferred that over to humans. He is also a great planner, being able to ambush Tony Stark’s house and bury Iron Man alive. Finally, the Mandarin is the CEO of Advanced Idea Mechanics (A.I.M.), a powerful technology company and terrorist organization. He may have played a small role in the MCU altogether, but Aldrich Killian is truly a force to be reckoned with.

  1. Ultron

Ultron is one of the most powerful supervillains in MCU history. As the primary antagonist of Avengers: Age of Ultron, the robot lord is nearly unparalleled in his abilities. When the Avengers acquired the staff Loki used in Avengers (given to him by Thanos), Tony Stark and Bruce Banner researched the scepter and used it to create Ultron, and defense protocol that would be able to defend the world against outside threats. Unfortunately for the Avengers, Ultron gained sentience and escaped, building new bodies for himself and seeking to wipe out all of humanity. Now, let’s analyze his specific abilities. Ultron has built a robot body more advanced than Iron Man made of vibranium. He usually uses melee attacks, resorting to fighting Captain America on top of a moving truck rather than zapping him to ashes. However, Ultron still scores extremely high on the strength scale. He also creates a powerful army of Ultrons and accesses the internet, giving him massive influence. Where Ultron really scores high is his intelligence. Ultron’s mind is a replica of the Mind Infinity Stone. Thus, Ultron’s intelligence is nearly limitless. He has the ability to analyze the entire world’s history in moments, and devises and elaborate plan to build a perfect body, which would later become Vision, and wipe out the world via meteor. All in all, Ultron is a villain of legendary proportions and would probably only be outmatched by our champion. But first, the runner up!

  1. Iron Monger

Here’s a surprise. As the first villain introduced in the MCU, the Iron Monger is the primary antagonist of Iron Man, kicking off the entire series! The Iron Monger’s identity is Obadiah Stane, one of Tony Stark’s closest friends and executive of Stark Industries. Stane turned on Tony Stark in order to take control of the company and continue making weapons for his allies. But just how did this seemingly random villain leap his way into 2nd place? Well, his Iron Monger suit is very similar to Iron Man’s. However, it is more powerful and is equipped with missiles and flamethrowers. In fact, he was never defeated by Iron Man. He was only defeated when Pepper Pots destroyed Stane’s massive arc reactor, electrocuting the villain. Stane also is very intelligent. He had some scientist friends help him recreate the arc reactor, but Stane himself rebuilt a powerful iron man suit without any original prints. Just from prior knowledge of Stark’s suit, he was able to build a new one. To top it all off, Stane is a top executive for Stark Industries, giving him massive influence. It just seems as though Iron Monger is the total package. Perhaps he wouldn’t pair up in a fight against most of his fellow villains, but it appears that, given this system, he earns his second place spot.

  1. Thanos

Surprise, surprise, Thanos is number one.  But why does the Mad Titan really deserve to be the best? As the primary antagonist of Avengers: Infinity War, Thanos packs way more than a punch. His strength is undeniable. Even without using the Infinity Gauntlet, he was able to beat the living daylights out of the Hulk in a fistfight. Nobody in the MCU has been able to accomplish such a feat, with the possible exception of Abomination. He can also crush enemy’s throats and tear through vibranium with his bare hands. On top of that, Thanos becomes increasingly more powerful each time he gains an Infinity Stone. With a full Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos is unstoppable. But it’s not just muscles that Thanos is packing. As a member of an advanced alien race, coupled with immortality, Thanos is incredibly intelligent. He sees the only solution to the Malthusian problem as the destruction of half the population. While this theory may not be the best in reality, he goes about the smartest way of doing it: using the Infinity Stones. On top of all of that, Thanos is an intergalactic warlord with multiple armies and powerful henchmen who serve his every desire. He has nearly risen to divine status. Thanos quite possibly has the most influence out of any MCU villain so far. If Thanos wants something, he will get it. Whether it be through fist, mind, or henchman, Thanos is able to get anything he wants. In fact, the entire premise of Avengers: Infinity War is preventing Thanos from retrieving all of the Infinity Stones. This leads to the last stroke in Thanos’s favor: he is the only villain to be completely victorious.

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