Superhero media have always relied on an important dynamic for their stories – the battle between good and evil. Heroes and villains always meet in battle, whether it’s for an entire galaxy or just a city. Some of the most recognizable heroes and villains in the current superhero landscape come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe, home to Iron Man, Thor, Spider-Man and more. But while MCU villains are popular, they are not treated or displayed as their heroic counterparts.
Villains – like Ultron or Red Skull – only appear in one movie and are expected to be fully trained in just one performance. This usually leads to the actions of the villains not feeling fully justified by the audience or fans. MCU has also not let villains go along with others in cross-over events that are similar Avengers series. Maybe if MCU gave their villains the same treatment and character strategy as their heroes, the resulting movies would feel more satisfying to fans.
Five years ago, it seemed like MCU would actually take the time to build up its villains — or at least Spider-Man. After the release of The Amazing Spider-Man 2 in 2014, Sony was ready to fund a spin-off movie focusing on a group of Spider-Man’s most infamous enemies — the Sinister Six. The group consists of villains already introduced through previous films like The Green Goblin and Electro, added Sony remakes of characters like Vulture, Sandman and Doctor Octopus and introduced Mysterio to the big screen for the first time. After the cancellation of The Amazing Spider-Man 3, The scary six the film also fell apart. While villains like Mysterio have been introduced in Disney’s official MCU in recent years, there have been no plans for a villain-focused film since Sinister Six.
While the MCU has focused on heroes, the DCEU has tried to make their own villainous strategy. David Ayers Suicide Squad – while it was divisive as it – showcased the great villains of Batman, Superman and other members of the Justice League. Some included characters were Deadshot, Harley Quinn, Captain Boomerang and of course The Joker. It remains one of the few films that focuses exclusively on the villains in comics rather than the heroes. DC brought villains to the screen again with Birds of prey, who not only focused on antagonists, but also let characters like Black Canary and The Huntress step into the role of heroes for once. The result is an entertaining and empowering story of female friendship that really showed everyone involved in the film. James Gunn The suicide group was the DC villain’s most recent outing, adding even more characters to the lineup as Bloodsport, Peacemaker and Blackguard.
However, there could be hope for villains in MCU’s latest fourth phase – but not by copying what Marvel has done with its heroes. It does not look like we’ll get a villain-centered movie on the scale The Avengers anytime soon, but villains can finally appear in more than one movie or movie series. It’s no secret now that Kang the Conqueror (portrayed by Jonathan Majors) is set to be the villain big enough to fill the gap in the MCU left by Thanos, and it looks like fans will get to know the time-traveling antagonist across of several events. He has already made his first appearance in one season of the season Loki as a variant of itself called He Who Remains, which keeps an eye on TVA and keeps its uglier variants in line.
But now an infinite number of Kangs have been released after the introduction of the multiverse in the last minutes of Loki. The multiverse allows Kang to appear anywhere, anytime, and fans will not have to wait long to see him again. Jonathan Majors has already been cast as Kang in the upcoming Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, and has been named the next “cross-movie villain” in MCU by Loki author Michael Waldron. Besides Kang, other phase four villains have begun to seep in, such as Gorr the God Butcher in Thor: Love and thunder and the return of Alfred Molina’s Doctor Octopus in Spider-Man: No way home.
The villains of the MCU’s past are unforgettable characters and have shaped the MCU cannon in countless ways. Without villains like Thanos or Loki, the movies that fans see in cinemas simply would not be the same. But the time has come for the backbone of MCU’s villains to be stronger and equal to the character arcs in their heroic counterparts. When that happens, fans will receive better movies and shows, creators will have more options, and villains will finally get their due.
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