Almost 10 years worth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe have given us our fair share of good, compelling villains. Unfortunately, not all of them are great and for every Loki we get a Trevor. We here at Geekend Gladiators decided to list down the 10 Worst MCU villains ranked from bad to worst across the entire MCU, from the movies right down to the TV shows. Here’s are the very worst of the Marvel Big Baddies.
(You know what’s worse than these villains? SPOILERS! and there are quite a few in this article about the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Read at your own risk.)
10. BARON ZEMO
Appears In: Captain America: Civil War
Claim to shame: “Longing. Rusted. Seventeen. Daybreak. Furnace. Nine. Benign. Homecoming. One. Freight Car… Soldier? “
To be fair, Baron Zemo in the comics is a huge, prominent thorn in Captain America and the Avengers side. In the movies though, he is relegated to a plot device to keep the proceedings moving.
Unlike the villains on this list, Zemo did not offer up any ham-fisted, off-the-rails performance, but instead gave us a cerebral villain who was not given much to do but track down a Soviet Red Book and utter those infamous keywords over and over again.
We would, however, like to see more of Zemo in future MCU movies and have him more fleshed out and put into the villain spotlight a lot more.
Appears In: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Claim to shame: Dropping huge rocks on stuff to solve his problems
In the comics, Ultron was feared by the Avengers and had them reeling with every battle. He was an omni-present A. I. that is difficult to ever truly hold down and defeat. The MCU version, though, not so much. Ultron served as fodder for the second go-round of the Avengers and did little to really challenge them, not unlike Loki and his Chitauri squad.
The greatest disservice to his character however, is the almost cro-magnon level scheme he has going in Age of Ultron. “Me advanced Cybernetic Organism. Me drop rock on everyone’s head and humans go bye bye”. Sheesh.
Would we want the MCU to take him on again? We’ll say pass on this.
8. RED SKULL / JOHANN SCHIMDT
Appears In: Captain America: The First Avenger
Claim to shame: He’s Hitler. But not Hitler.
In the Comics, Red Skull is known to be one of the most notorious villains there is, being responsible for the Death of Captain America and torturing and tormenting the First Avenger at every turn. He has also recently become even more powerful after absorbing Prof. Xavier’s telekinesis because comics.
As for the MCU version, well, he’s pretty low on the list of Captain America villains. In the First Avenger, Red Skull was the main villain but aside from his run-of-the-mill “super villain, super-weapon” schtick he doesn’t do anything remotely significant to torment or even faze Steve Rogers. He just serves as the Evil Nazi dude doing things for Evil’s sake. i.e. Boring.
We’d really dig a revisit of Red Skull in future Captain America or MCU movies, and we’d love to have him along for a possible Secret Empire saga in the MCU. A gladiator can dream.
7. WHIPLASH / IVAN VANKO
Appears In: Iron Man 2
Claim to shame: “I. want. My. Bird.”
Ok, this is where things get a little out there. Whiplash was nothing more than a grunt in the Iron Man 2 movie who somehow, someway, was able to construct an arc reactor-powered suit to take on Tony Stark. It just didn’t sit right. Maybe it’s the execution, maybe it’s the story, or maybe it’s the fact that Whiplash is not really that compelling of a villain at all. Not even the distinguished Mickey Rourke couldn’t make the character work.
We would have preferred Whiplash be a tertiary villain, you know, the one who gets beat-up in the opening sequence of the movie and never to be heard of again. Because honestly, the hammy performance was just too much.
6. ALDRICH KILLIAN
Appears In: Iron Man 3
Claim to shame: “The early bird gets the worm, but it’s the second mouse that gets the cheese.”
Killian ranks this high on the worst villains list simply because of his motivations. For a person with the brains, he really does not have that much of an imagination or dream other than take down Tony Stark. Hell, he helped finance the extremis and make other technological advancements, but instead of using it for good, he would rather use it to get revenge for a slight that Tony made on New Year’s Eve.
On paper, his character looks really good. But then again, we’ve seen enough of this villain trope by this time, and its really just about time to put that to rest. Killian would have been better-off by having a deeper motivation and a better backstory than being slighted by the hero and seeking him out for revenge.
We’d rather have Killian buried in the back of our minds, rather than see him in future movies. After all, the MCU has perfected Killian’s story by introducing to us The Vulture.
5. JUSTIN HAMMER
Appears In: Iron Man 3
Are you seeing a trend here? Some of the weaker villains have come from the Iron Man movies, and Justin Hammer is another one of them.
So, where did it all go wrong? Is it the kooky-ness of Hammer’s portrayal? The lack of motivation other than bring down Stark Industries? Or is it those awful (or awesome) dance moves that got him on this list? Well, we would like to think it was all of them. Iron Man 2 was really a bad movie bogged down terribly by setting-up of all sorts of storylines for future Marvel movies– and the lame-o villains really didn’t help. Hammer could have really elevated this movie had he really posed a threat to Iron Man and Stark Industries, instead, he’s just like his prized invention the “Ex-Wife”, all bravado and no boom.
Obviously, we really wouldn’t want to see him in future films. No amount of quick feet and slick dance moves can change that.
4. WOLFGANG VON STRUCKER
Appears In: Avengers: Age of Ultron
Claim to shame: “I’m a relevant Hydra official who dies off-screen!”
Wolfgang Von Strucker was one of the top officials of HYDRA during the MCU’s phase 1 and 2. During this time, he was instrumental in bringing down S.H.I.E.L.D. and acquiring the Scepter. The experimentation on Wanda and Pietro were also under his watch. A pretty good looking resumè.
So, where did it all go wrong? The fact that you are a high-ranking HYDRA official means that you should have at least garnered a piece of the spot-light, if not in the MCU movies, then at least on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. But the sad part is, he never got into the limelight and was sadly shunned to the side as merely name-drops or a phantom voice on the phone. What’s worse is that he gets killed-off by Ultron off-screen. Not really doing him justice here.
Seeing that he’s dead, we’d assume that that’s the last we’ve heard of him. It would be interesting to see if he could cross paths with our heroes if there were a flashback, or even in the Captain Marvel movie. Who knows?
Appears in: Thor 2: The Dark World
Claim to shame: “ I’m an obscure alien villain with too much make-up”
Malekith is leader of the Dark Elves in Thor: The Dark World. Obsessed with obtaining the Infinity Stone, Aether, Malekith led the Dark Elves into attacking Asgard, and ultimately Earth. Simple. Straight-forward. Lame.
What makes Malekith rank this low, or high, on the list (however you look at it), is the fact that he is just a regular bad guy looking to conquer the universe. Let’s face it, he’s just that forgettable. Add in the fact that Loki is very much involved in The Dark World, and you have a recipe for disappearing into obscurity.
2. RONAN THE ACCUSER
Appears In: Guardians of the Galaxy
Claim to shame: “ I’m an obscure alien villain with too much make-up too”
Ronan the Accuser is basically the main baddie in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1. Considering that the first Guardians movie had the tall order of introducing who the Guardians are, chances are that the villain would get the short end of the stick. This is what happened to Ronan in the movie.
While he was depicted as a brute force, even taking on Drax the Destroyer single-handedly, his story never developed. Instead, he was relegated as a glorified henchman doing the bidding of Thanos. Points have to given to Ronan for making a move for the Infinity Stone, but then again, to be distracted by a dancing Star-Lord really cancels that one out.
1.TREVOR “THE MANDARIN” SLATTERY
Apears In: Iron Man 3
Claim to shame: “I’m an actowre!”
The worst Marvel villain, hands-down, is Trevor Slattery, aka The Mandarin. Fans were teased with The Mandarin on Iron Man 3 after years of clamoring, and the fans were salivating with all the creepy things that he did. His video of terror left a taste of fear and terror even for viewers, and the build-up to him being the best villain in the MCU was there. The problem was, this was all a red-herring.
The now infamous “I’m an actor” scene left a bitter taste in the mouth for fans. Ben Kingsley had the fearsome Mandarin down to a tee before that time, and to have him as an actor was really a let-down. Basically, there was really no justification to have him as some dude acting out a bit, other than to have shock-value or a twist to a comic book movie. We really wish that the MCU went all out and had him as the big bad, as we stated, he really embodied the Mandarin.
Further, when the name the Mandarin is brought up to Iron Man fans, there is a certain respect there which shows that the Mandarin is more than worthy of bringing Iron Man to his knees and equaling him in battle. But in the movie, he is nothing but an actor. The later reveal that Killian is the “real” Mandarin further cheapened the name as Killian never really got to live-up to the name.
However, there seems to be a saving grace for Kingsley’s Slattery in Marvel’s One Shot All Hail the King. Slattery was the star of this One Shot and delivered more of Slattery’s actor romps, but with the further reveal that the real Mandarin enraged with Slattery’s portrayal.
We’d definitely dig it if the MCU were to revisit Slattery as the Mandarin, not as an actor, but as the real thing. Fingers-crossed.
So, there you have it, the list of the worst MCU villains to date. Do you agree or disagree? OH YEAH?! Well what do your lists look like? Let us know in the comment section below or jump over to our Facebook, Twitter , Youtube, and Instagram. or Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
Also please check out our other Marvel related content like When we last left the MCU or the All The Things you missed in Spider-Man Homecoming!
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Gino is the Gladiators’ resident TV and comicbook aficionado. He is Matt Murdock by profession in the day, without the vigilante crime fighting at night. He believes that the lightsaber is the best weapon during a zombie apocalypse.