As we’ve recently discussed, the villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have really let the franchise down. That’s not to say they’ve been bad enough to make the franchise poor, just that it would’ve been even better if its villains weren’t so drab and poorly depicted.
There have been exceptions – Loki, Red Skull, Ultron, and even Helmut Zemo, for example, were all good in their own way – but most of them have been terrible. That must improve in future movies to prevent an eventual backlash that might see fans lose interest in the franchise.
So what can be done to make the villains of the franchise better in the future? That’s what this article is going to be about. Here are ten ways the MCU can improve its villains.
Be More Faithful To The Comics
Look, nobody’s saying that every villain in every comic book movie should be a carbon copy of the version in the comic books – heck, some of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s best villains, like Loki and Ultron, are really quite different from their comic book counterparts – but making it so they’re completely unrecognizable in comparison to the source material is just silly.
The prime example is Iron Man 3’s depiction of the Mandarin. Instead of being a Chinese martial artist with ten alien rings of power, he was a bumbling British actor perpetrating a ruse so Aldrich Killian could do his evil thing.
That kind of thing causes an uproar among the fans. In the future, having villains that at least more closely resemble the characters they’re based on would be a good idea for Marvel Studios to take on board.
We mentioned Loki in this entry, and the next entry relates to Tom Hiddleston’s character, too.
Take Influence From Other Great Comic Book Movie Villains
This should be a no-brainer – look at past comic book movie villains and the formulas that worked for those, and try to emulate that formula with future villains.
That’s not to say that every villain should be a copy of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. Rather, every villain should aspire to use the best bits of Loki, Ian McKellen’s Magneto, Heath Ledger’s and Jack Nicholson’s Joker, Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus and other great examples as influences.
Incorporating elements of popular and brilliantly performed characters like those is a sure-fire way to guarantee that future villainous characters are just as successful on the big screen. Heck, it would even be a good idea to take influence from some TV villains, like Vincent D’Onofrio’s Kingpin and David Tennant’s Kilgrave!
Now let’s move on to a point about casting.
Pick The Actors More Carefully (And Stop Wasting Them)
There should be two rules regarding casting actors as villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe: 1) Pick the villain actors more carefully. 2) When great actors are cast in villainous roles, stop completely wasting them and give them a chance to make the villains in question their own.
Examples of bad casting have included the likes of Guy Pearce as Aldrich Killian/The Mandarin, Mickey Rourke as Ivan Vanko/Whiplash, Lee Pace as Ronan and Christopher Eccleston as Malekith – but it’s the underutilization of great actors that is Marvel Studios’ main problem.
The likes of Thomas Kretschmann as Baron Strucker, Djimon Hounsou as Korath, Frank Grillo as Crossbones and Ben Kingsley as Trevor Slattery/The Mandarin were all severely wasted in minor (or at least relatively minor) roles. If you’re going to cast big, talented actors, for goodness sake make the most of them!
Now, regarding how much of a threat the MCU’s villains have been, let’s move on to the next point.
Make Them Tougher
In a nutshell, the villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have been portrayed as being far too weak – and that has to change in order to improve the reception they get from fans and critics alike.
As viewers, we’ve rarely felt that the superheroes of the MCU were ever in any real danger – and that takes something away from a movie – because, in general, the villains haven’t been presented as powerful enough to defeat them.
Loki’s a great character, but having him manhandled by Hulk did nothing to suggest he was a threat to the entire Avengers roster. The Chitauri were losing in hand-to-hand combat against Black Widow and Hawkeye – how were we meant to believe they were a threat to the likes of Hulk and Thor? Malekith barely looked tough enough to hurt Thor when he had possession of an Infinity Stone, let alone without one. And the less said about Aldrich Killian, the better (Seriously, he couldn’t even fly! Why didn’t Iron Man just blast the crap out of him from afar?!).
Have Them Do Some Serious Damage
So far, no villain has really done anything truly devastating to the main characters of the Marvel Cinematic Universe – and that must change. And by this I mean actually having the balls to kill off a major hero.
Have a villain end the life of a major hero. Let’s see Captain America killed and his shield snapped in half. Let’s see Hulk casually backhanded into a coma. Let’s see Thor sent to Valhalla via a city-destroying energy blast.
The MCU might be produced under the jurisdiction of Disney, but serious damage doesn’t have to mean unsuitable for kids. Mufasa was killed in The Lion King, and that was fine, for example. Let’s make MCU audiences feel uneasy – as if they know a major character could die at any time. That would really add something to a movie.
Let’s now move on to another point about deaths.
Stop Killing Them Off So Fast
The vast majority of villains in Marvel Cinematic Universe are killed off within a single movie – and that’s a damn shame.
Iron Monger, Whiplash, Laufey, Aldrich Killian, Malekith, Kurse, Ronan, Korath, Ultron, Baron Strucker, and Darren Cross, for example, all died in the very first and only movie they appeared in. Why waste characters like that?
There’s no reason why villainous characters can’t be reused in future movies – there are so many new and exciting things that could be done with them in a second appearance – so this trend of killing them off immediately, which makes them look weak and hinders their character development enormously, has to stop.
Speaking of character development, let’s move on to our next point.
Develop Them More
The Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villains have suffered terribly, as a general rule, from a lack of character development – and that’s thanks in no small part to the aforementioned point about them being introduced and killed off within a single movie.
We never really properly got to know Malekith, Whiplash, Ronan, or Abomination. They were just thrown in front of us, we were told they were “bad”, and they were defeated without being developed in any meaningful way.
In future, villains should be given more detailed and interesting arcs, so that we know more about their motives, their origins, and their personalities – as we do with the heroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
Now let’s move on to a bold idea that could take influence from DC.
Focus Some Movies On Them
Almost universally, comic book movies have been focused on the superheroes of the respective universes, rather than on the supervillains. Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, Captain America, Hulk, Green Lantern, Iron Man, Thor, the Avengers, and the Guardians of the Galaxy are just some of the titular heroes from past movies.
This year, however, DC is releasing a movie about the Suicide Squad – a team of supervillains brought together to work as a government task force – and that’s something Marvel Studios could emulate in order to give their villains more screen time and character development.
Would any true Marvel fan complain about a movie following the time-travelling exploits of Kang the Conqueror? How fantastic would movie about the rise of Dormammu be? It’s something Marvel Studios really should be thinking about.
Let’s now continue with an idea that could be complicated, but undoubtedly worth looking into for Marvel Studios.
Strike A Deal With Fox
Let’s be honest; a lot of the best Marvel comic book villains are tied up in Fox Studios, thanks to the Fantastic Four movies and so forth, and that’s a real shame. If Marvel Studios could strike a deal to bring those characters over to the Marvel Cinematic Universe – like they did with Spider-Man and Sony – they could have some great villains on their hands.
The aforementioned Kang the Conqueror, Doctor Doom, Annihilus, the Skrulls, Galactus, Terrax, and Molecule Man are just some of the characters the MCU would acquire with such a deal – all of which would be awesome to see in Marvel Studios’ hands.
Doctor Doom in particular deserves an opportunity in the MCU after two horrific depictions under Fox’s control, while nobody would sniff at the idea of the Avengers and company taking on Galactus.
It’s time for the final entry, which we think would really improve the villains of the MCU.
Have Them Join Forces
The superheroes of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have united to form the Avengers, and they’re much stronger than they otherwise would be as a result – so why not do the same with the supervillains of the franchise?
Have Loki gather the likes of the Abomination, Helmut Zemo, Justin Hammer (who could, perhaps, rebuild Ultron to join the team), the real Mandarin, the Leader, Ulysses Klaue, and a returning Red Skull to take down the Avengers as a unit – how cool would that be??
A Masters of Evil movie (or at least an MCU version of the group), for instance, would be awesome. Get it done, Marvel Studios!
And that’s that! We hope you enjoyed this article, folks!
What do you think? Would these things help the Marvel Cinematic Universe improve its villains? What else would you do to make the MCU’s bad guys better? Have your say below!