The X-Men have fought plenty of villains over the years, meaning their eventual arrival in the Marvel Cinematic Universe opens the doors to a lot of nefarious new characters. Many of them even have connections to other corners of the Marvel Universe, like Juggernaut’s history with the Thunderbolts or the connection between the Black Knight legacy and Exodus. One of their most bizarre baddies in particular might be perfect for the MCU exactly because of that expansive history.
Arcade might not reach the threat-levels of Kang or Thanos, but he’d make for a solid reoccurring villain in the MCU — a silly but dangerous antagonist who could challenge pretty much anyone in the universe. It’d also be an ideal role for Andy Samberg and a potentially great subversion of an archetype he’s explored frequently in his career.
Who Is the X-Men’s Arcade?
Arcade — introduced in Marvel Team-Up #65 by Chris Claremont and John Byrne — has fought much of the Marvel Universe at one time or another. He has become perhaps most infamous as an enemy of the X-Men, fighting multiple iterations of the team over the years. A twisted billionaire with a panache for creative slaughter, Arcade’s trap-lain lairs made him a world-famous assassin for upper-crust targets.
However, the superhero community proved particularly tricky, as his creations could never keep up with the mutants — leaving him to make more desperate plays for attention, such as kidnapping a number of young heroes and forcing them through a death tournament in Avengers Arena. He recently appeared in a story arc from Hellionscoming up against Mister Sinister’s team of “reformed” mutants and got a reminder just how dangerous this foppish fiend can really be.
Arcade is one of the X-Men’s goofiest villains, almost by design. His costume and affections are overtly performative. He’s a showman who is bored of regular deaths and wants to do something a bit more exciting, and that immature side easily feeds into a vicious mentality.
Arcade is someone who targets the psychology of his foes and would break all the toys rather than give them up, and his sudden ferocity gives him a shade of genuine danger. All of this sets him up as a potential very useful antagonist for the MCU. Arcade could become the ultimate recurring foes of the universe, someone who could challenge any hero in major or minor ways. On top of that, the ideal performer for that part has already perfected the “goofy manboy” archetype that would be necessary for the role: Andy Samberg.
Why Should Andy Samberg be Arcade?
Samberg rose to prominence as a featured cast member on Saturday Night Live, with his Lonely Island Digital Shorts becoming major breakout hits. Along with roles in films like Pop Star: Never Stop Never Stopping spirit Palm SpringsSamberg was played Brooklyn Nine-Nine’s central character, Jake Peralta, a brilliant but childish detective with the NYPD. In all of these roles, Samberg has hinted at a deeper well of vulnerability — often for comic effect — but his dramatic moments when they come are often just as powerful. Tweaking that vulnerability away from endearing to frightening could make him a deceptively terrifying villain in a project, and Arcade would be the perfect high-profile character to do that with.
Arcade might not be a Thanos-level villain, someone who could dominate the entire MCU, but he could make for a fun minor villain, someone who could challenge the heroes for a chapter in their overarching storylines. His versatility allows him to bedevil any hero. For instance, let Arcade show up in She-Hulk filing a patent on his kill-bots, or Daredevil: Born Again as one of the challenges thrown at Matt Murdock. He’d be a great outlandish antagonist for Deadpool to encounter, as well, now that he’s joining the MCU. He’d be especially perfect for an X-Men or New Mutants film, as Arcade’s traps could be a great means of showcasing a large range of characters and their abilities in quick succession, as well as how they operate as a team. Samberg’s particular brand of childish anger — dialed up to a villainous and even campy vibe — could be the ideal way to translate the minor villain from the comics into a potentially hilarious and dangerous threat for the films.