Warning! This article contains spoilers for Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
It’s often said that the best villains are the hero of their own story, and that’s certainly true of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever‘s villain Namor. After Namor has killed Ramonda and invaded her country, it’s easy to see why Shuri sees him as a bad guy. But from his own perspective, Namor is a strong leader who does whatever is necessary to protect his people.
Namor is one of the most compelling and sympathetic villains in the MCU, but he’s hardly the first Marvel movie villain to think he’s in the right.
In the final battle of Black Panther: Wakanda Forever, Shuri comes to the realization that she and her enemy Namor aren’t so different. They both lost their mother, they both learned that exacting revenge wouldn’t solve anything, and they’ll both do whatever it takes to protect their people.
From Shuri’s perspective, the undersea kingdom of Talokan poses a threat to Wakanda, but from Namor’s perspective, Wakanda poses a threat to Talokan.
9/10 Baron Zemo
It’s easy to root for a character who wants the people responsible to pay when their entire family is killed. After Baron Zemo lost everyone he cares about to the collateral damage of an Avengers battle, he became determined to tear Earth’s Mightiest Heroes apart.
Zemo is just a regular guy, but he manages to come closer to destroying the Avengers than their most powerful supervillains, because he uses their own lies and deception against them. He makes the Avengers look like the bad guys.
8/10 The Vulture
Black-market alien weapons trafficking isn’t Adrian Toomes’ first choice for a line of work. He tried to run a legitimate construction company, but he became bitter and desperate when his government contract to clean up after the Avengers was undermined by Tony Stark himself.
The Vulture keeps insisting that he’s only an illicit arms dealer to provide for his wife and daughter. He believes that he and Peter Parker are the same: a pair of average blue-collar guys who can’t rely on anyone but themselves.
7/10 The Scarlet Witch
Wanda Maximoff became one of the MCU’s most disturbing villains after being corrupted by the Darkhold in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. After sensing the presence of her imaginary sons across the multiverse, Wanda – in the guise of the Scarlet Witch – becomes narrow-mindedly determined to do whatever she has to in order to be reunited with her kids.
Some of the heinous things that Wanda does throughout the movie are unforgivable, like torturing sorcerers at Kamar-Taj and massacring the Illuminati on Earth-838, but as far as she’s concerned, it’s all means to an end.
6/10 Karli Morgenthau
Marvel explored the geopolitical impact of “The Snap” in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier as the world’s governments responded to all the refugees who were displaced by a cosmic dusting and a five-year time jump. A revolutionary organization known as the Flag-Smashers are determined to create a world without borders.
Although some people get killed along the way, Karli Morgenthau is convinced that the Flag-Smashers are doing the right thing to fix a broken civilization.
When Thanos sets out to collect the Infinity Stones, he plans to use them to wipe out half of all life in the universe. He believes that this will fix overpopulation and result in a fairer distribution of resources. It doesn’t matter how many times he hears that his plan is deranged and that there are other ways to achieve what he wants; the Mad Titan remains committed to this plan.
In Thanos’ eyes, he’s the hero of this story. The Russo brothers even framed Avengers: Infinity War with Thanos as the protagonist as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes float around him, desperate to prevent his universe-wide genocide.
The villain of Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings stays true to the “bad dad” trope of the MCU, but there’s a heartbreaking twist. Wenwu isn’t evil for the sake of being evil; he’s just blinded by the belief that he can bring his wife back from the dead.
No matter how many people tell him he’s being tricked by duplicitous demons, including his own kids, Wenwu remains determined to do what they want to resurrect her.
3/10 Yelena Belova
Introduced as Natasha Romanoff’s Soviet surrogate sister in the Black Widow movie, Yelena Belova is more of an antihero than a villain. But she’s been confirmed as a part of the MCU’s Thunderbolts line-up and she fills the role of secondary antagonist in the Hawkeye series when she’s sent to assassinate Clint Barton.
As far as Yelena is concerned, Clint is responsible for Nat’s death and she wants him to pay. The same story could’ve been told from Yelena’s perspective, presenting her as a vengeful protagonist.
2/10 Gorr The God Butcher
At the beginning of Thor: Love and Thunder, Gorr loses his people, wanders through the desert, and watches his daughter starve to death. Then, he’s mocked by the deity he spent his life worshipping, at which point he kills the god, decides that all gods must die, and becomes determined to wipe out godkind.
It’s easy to see where Gorr is coming from. The gods of the Marvel universe represent all-powerful, self-serving authorities, while Gorr represents the little people that they’re no longer interested in helping.
1/10 Eric Killmonger
Namor isn’t the first sympathetic villain that Ryan Coogler has introduced to the MCU. Like Heath Ledger’s Joker, the villain of the first Black Panther movie, Erik Killmonger, is a classic example of a baddie whose motivations are understandable, but whose methodology is questionable.
No one would disagree with Killmonger’s assertion that Wakanda should use its resources to fight colonialism and prejudice, but his focus on eye-for-an-eye punishment is debatable. After T’Chaka kills his father, it’s easy to take Killmonger’s side against Wakanda’s corruption.
NEXT: 10 Quotes That Prove Killmonger Was Right