More than twenty films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe have featured at least one villain in each film. In some, whole groups of villains have been suggested to fight Marvel superheroes. As a result, it can lead to villains of different stories as well as characteristics. There are many indifferent and truly vicious villains who are only meant for the audience to counter.
Among the best villains the MCU has introduced, meanwhile, are those with understandable motives. They may be about things in the worst ways, but their reasoning is somewhat justifiable, or their backstories are heartbreaking, making the audience feel sympathy with them.
Kaecilius (played masterfully by Mads Mikkelsen) was a gifted magician, much like Doctor Strange. As with many bad things, however, a tragic past led to the power spoiling Kaecilius and turning him into a villain. Kaecilius seeks to merge the kingdom of the earth with the dark dimension where there is no time, and therefore no death.
After losing his family, it is not difficult to understand why such a promise from the evil Dormammu struck him. Death and time can frighten people, and he believes that no one should suffer the losses he has suffered. Unfortunately, he strives to use dark magic to kill and destroy thanks to an empty promise by an evil entity.
Despite the somewhat controversial changes made to Taskmaster, it was terrible with Antonia Dreykov. She was a little girl when Natasha Romanoff caused the explosion that was supposed to kill her and her father, but both survived it, and Antonia was badly injured by the incident.
Instead of being a good father and helping her heal, Dreykov simply saw her as a tool. So, instead, she’s brainwashed to become the ultimate killer for the Red Chamber. No emotion, no control and no love from her own father makes her story one of the darkest and most twisted so far.
In many ways, Whiplash, also known as Ivan Vanko, was a victim of his father. While his father Anton was removed from the Arc Reactor project for good reasons, it led him to instill hatred for the Stark family in his own son. When Anton died in poverty while Stark was a superhero, it’s hard to blame him for wanting a refund.
However, Ivan Vanko shows a little heart, because he also happens to be a lover of birds and treats him with great care and respect. That said, what Whiplash is willing to do to take revenge is monstrous.
Unlike his cartoon, Thanos believes he helps the universe with his quest for Infinity Stones. After his race became extinct and his home world became a desolate wasteland, he had an indication that the universe was overpopulated with too few resources.
Thanos does have cause for concern, as resource depletion is a major threat. But rather than finding a solution for more resources, he defaults to genocide and wipes out half the population of the universe. The loss of his people really made him a monster, especially his younger self, as shown Avengers: Endgame where he enjoyed the idea of killing the Avengers.
6 Baron Zemo
Helmut Zemo shows the aftermath of the superhero fights that the audiences rejoice over. All that destruction has consequences and collateral damage: Zemo’s family is one of them. The fight against Ultron in Sokovia led to Zemo losing his entire family in the rubble.
As a result, Baron Zemo now has a hatred for superheroes, especially those with powers, and it’s hard to blame him for that. So he tried to destroy the Avengers from the inside out so they could kill each other Captain America: Civil War. Fans agreed that he was going out of line, but he had a point, so he returned as one of the best anti-heroes of the MCU in The falcon and the winter soldier.
Loki is the God of evil, but he is often misunderstood: his evil comes because of his neglected father Odin. Odin not only treated Thor better all their lives, but he also lied to Loki since coming to Asgard. Loki was an adopted Frost Giant raised as an Asgardian, who would be at least in part a bargaining chip with them.
This, coupled with the fact that he had lived for centuries behind the shadowy and arrogant Thor’s shadow, made him bitter. Fans sympathized with Loki, which led to a long character arc of him regaining his love for his adoptive family and becoming a sluggish hero. The character even justifies his own Disney + series.
4 The winter soldier
Currently, Bucky Barnes is known as a beloved hero as well as an Avenger. However, Bucky spends decades as the mysterious killer, known simply as the Winter Soldier, an agent of HYDRA. Bucky was tortured and experimented and deprived of his previous life and memory to become a super soldier.
This is of course tragic from several angles, as he was Captain America’s best friend, became a HYDRA agent and was forced to fight him. When Bucky also regains his memory, he also retains everything he did as the Winter Soldier, forcing him to remember the innocent lives he took for HYDRA.
Wakanda seems like the perfect place, but it is run by imperfect humans, like King T’Chaka who killed his own brother to protect his kingdom. However, he left his own cousin Erik alone, who sent the boy on a long journey to take revenge, kill his own family in Wakanda, and conquer the throne of T’Challa.
He wanted to make Wakanda the conquerors of the earth. Unfortunately, this made Erik of the similar monster he claimed he was fighting against. His hatred turned him into a murderer known as Killmonger, who only wanted to punish the world because it took everything away from him.
Like Zemo, Adrian Toomes was the victim of the heroes: he managed the cleanup staff to remove the mess the Avengers made during the Battle of New York. Unfortunately, he and his entire crew were disbanded by Tony Stark’s damage control division, which resulted in him being without a single cent of compensation without work.
All Toomes wants to do is keep his family happy, so out of anger he decides to put on a mask and become the Vulture, taking any technology from the effects of superhero battles to sell weapons to sell. Like all villains, he used his gifts in the wrong way, but he shows more humanity and even keeps the identity of Spider-Man secret as payment for saving his life. This is one of the many reasons why Vulture is considered the Spider-Man’s best MCU villain.
1 Xu Wenwu
Spoiler alert for Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings.
In Shang-Chi and the legend of the ten rings, Marvel fans got to know the real Mandarin, an immortal warrior named Xu Wenwu. At first it seems that he is a heartless warlord who leads the army of the ten rings to conquer the world using ten mystical rings on his arms. Throughout Shang-Chi, it is revealed that he reformed as a family man and became a good father and husband.
It was until his past caught up with him that turned him into the leader of the ten rings again. However, he is not the terrorist he used to be, but wants to reunite him and his children with his wife, even if it means killing the innocent. Eventually, however, his love for his family came to an end so that he could sacrifice himself to save Shang-Chi.
NEXT: 9 ways Shang-Chi differs from other MCU movies
10 movies we want to see in Sony’s Spider-Man universe
About the author