The Villains Of The MCU, From Worst To Best.

The Villains Of The MCU, From Worst To Best.

There has been a total of nine Marvel Cinematic Universe villains since 2008, and here I'll take a look at each one in some detail while ranking the worst to best. Hit the jump to see where I place them and if you agree/disagree with my choices.

In this editorial, I am going to examine the nine major villains appearing across the eight films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe from 2008 until now. Please read on to hear more!

Justin Hammer

In last place, we have the first of three lame, poorly written characters. Justin Hammer appeared in 2010's Iron Man 2. To start with, even in the comics Justin Hammer is a half-assed villain and the film version isn't much better, in fact it's worse. To be honest, it is due in part to the fact that this is a character that no one, I repeat NO ONE gives a {frick} about. He is not an iconic villain, hell even with Iron Man's sucky rogues gallery Hammer wouldn't even make the top ten Iron Man villains. But with that being said, the movie version isn't good at all. One reason being his generic story, plot and motives. He is jealous, that is all. So he decides to take it out on Stark who is superior in every way, but he fails at making good suits. So he hires a Russian prisoner to do it so he can take credit for it. In the end, all the drones get destroyed anyway. His story is so pathetic, he's one of the most pathetic villains I've ever watched on screen. Sam Rockwell is a good actor, and he did give a great performance which makes it bearable but his character is so lame I still hate it. Because nothing even remotely interesting or cool is done with him. Sure many of the Marvel Cinematic villains are one dimensional characters, but the rest have a handful of interesting powers and/or qualities to them. Justin Hammer does not, I respect Sam Rockwell as a great actor who performed quite well but his character sucked DONKEY BALLS!


Next, at eighth place we have the lame duck villain called Malekith. He appeared in 2013's Thor: The Dark World. The second of three really crappy villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Malekith from the comics is actually more or less a great character. I love his role in the recent God of Thunder series going for Thor. Chris Eccleston is really good in the role, and the final battle in London is pretty good. But he was just so one dimensional like most of the Marvel Cinematic villains, just worse than most of the others. I felt he was majorly underutilized and relatively lame overall. His plot is so thin, his motives unexplained. His character is so generic and boring. Yes, while he may have some good action scenes and great acting, he was so underutilized, one dimensional and poorly written that I hate him. This WAS NOT a good adaptation of a villain, Malekith completely sucks and as a character is completely trash. Thor: The Dark World was still more or less a good/great movie, but one thing is for sure: The film's villain was garbage.

Red Skull

At seventh place, we have Red Skull. Red Skull appeared in 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger. This is the last of the three crappy villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and probably the best. Red Skull is the best of the worst, but still terrible. Why? Well, I'm a big fan of Captain America (my fifth favorite of Marvel's heroes behind Hulk, Wolverine, Spider-Man and Daredevil) and to a much lesser extent his villains. I prefer The Winter Soldier over Red Skull as far as Captain America villains go, but Red Skull is the most iconic of the Cap villains. Red Skull from the comics is a fantastic villain because he is the yang to Cap's yin, or the other way around or whichever way you want. In the Marvel Universe, Captain America is basically all good and heroism incarnate while Red Skull is his polar opposite as he is essentially everything everything evil and villainous incarnate. Honestly, I felt like that side of him was not portrayed well at all. Of course changes from the source material are fine in comic book movies. But that's not the only reason why he sucked so badly. Nothing even remotely interesting or cool is done with his character, or any of the characters in that movie for that matter. Which is the primary reason why I have come to hate Captain America: The First Avenger as a film. Because all of the characters are wooden, lifeless and uninteresting. The same can be said for Red Skull. Yes Hugo Weaving is FANTASTIC in the role and his dialogue is pure poetry. But nothing is done with the character at all. Not to mention Marvel shoehorned Avengers hype elements into his story such as the tesseract. Which may have helped to expand the universe but ultimately helped to ruin the story at hand. Overall, Weaving was amazing in the role but the character is written horribly. Nothing even remotely interesting is done with him, he has no cool scenes. The final battle between him and Captain America is pathetic and one of the worst fight scenes I've ever seen and even worse because somewhere in the middle of the battle he randomly decides to disintegrate himself. What the hell?

Trevor Slattery

At sixth place, we have Trevor Slattery. Who appeared in 2013's Iron Man 3. This really is where the list changes from absolute crap into just OKAY. The big twist in Iron Man 3 may have upset a lot of people, but personally I don't care if they change source material. Even more so when it's a character as lame as The Mandarin. Obviously he could have been handled way better but the version we got was kinda good. I thought that many of the scenes where we still believe he is The Mandarin were excellently scripted and even better acted out. Sir Ben Kingsley was certainly the man for the job as he delivers in both aspects of the character of Trevor Slattery. Ben Kingsley is great as "The Mandarin" as well as during the big moment where he reveals who he really is. Of course Trevor is a big letdown for all the "fans" of The Mandarin, but personally I've never been a fan of his so I really didn't care much. I wished this version would've stayed with the more menacing aura we saw in the first half of the film. I'm not saying Trevor Slattery is not a great villain by any means, just an OKAY one.

Aldrich Killian

At fifth place, I have the character called Aldrich Killian. Who appeared in 2013's Iron Man 3. Just like with Trevor Slattery, Aldrich Killian is a big letdown but not completely terrible. Obviously he's not the same as the comic book version of The Mandarin but he's an OKAY villain in his own right. As aforementioned in my paragraph about Trevor, I don't care about source material least of all a D-list character like The Mandarin. This is because I'm not really a fan of Iron Man from the comics, or a fan of most of his villains either. Although the "Demon in a Bottle" story arc is still one of my favorites. But overall I don't care about the fact that all of the Iron Man movie villains are vastly different from the comics. That said, I still don't think Killian was that great of a villain. I don't think he was bad, just alright. Because his motives are rather stupid and silly if you ask me. I mean Stark ditches him one time so he hates him forever? His character and story also felt a lot like a rehash of all the previous Iron Man movie villains. Think about it, he really is all three of them mashed together. He has the punk Stark wannabe part of him from Hammer, he has the power monger/control both sides part of him from Stane and he has the pissed and out for revenge part of him from Vanko. He is the same as all the previous villains. Which is why I don't think he was all that great. But visually he was a badass and completely different from all the rest. That part I liked.

Ivan Vanko

Next at fourth place, we have the escapee Russian prisoner/scientist called Ivan Vanko. (Yes, Ivan Vanko. as he is never actually referred to as Whiplash in the film) Who appeared in 2010's Iron Man 2. Ivan Vanko I feel gets more hate than he deserves. Of course he is still not a great villain, just alright but he is usually made out to be absolutely horrible. Which he is not. He is just alright, his plot makes sense and he has legitimate motivations unlike Aldrich Killian who just picked a random day to get pissed off at a random guy. Vanko had a legitimate story and legitimate motivations. His father Anton Vanko used to work with Iron Man's father Howard Stark. Together they developed the arc reactor concept/technology but then Howard booted Anton off of the project and took all the credit himself. Later in life when Anton dies, his son Ivan realizes his history with the Stark family and also realizes that if his father had the arc reactor he might have lived. So he develops a suit type thing of his own using the same technology, complete with energy whips that he uses. Ivan was great until the third act of the film, where he kinda disappears for a while and then is defeated in around 30 seconds at the end. Before that though, he was amazing. The opening scenes with him were great at setting him up. Then it took him to interesting places with the race track fight scene and then the prison scenes. Then again in his early dealings with Hammer. But then it all begins to fall apart. Overall in the first two acts of the film Ivan is great, but then the writers get really, REALLY lazy with him in the third act. Still an amazing performance from Mickey Rourke. Not particularly a great villain, just sort of good.

Iron Monger

Next at third place we have Obadiah Stane also called the Iron Monger. Who appeared in 2008's Iron Man. This is the next turning point of the list. This where it changes from just alright into pretty good. Iron Monger may be relatively weak when compared to the greats like Joker, Magneto, Green Goblin, etc. but I'd say he's easily the best villain in the Iron Man trilogy. Because he was actually pretty menacing, he had his whole plot laid out very well. He was a very cunning enemy, and in the end physically challenging too. Now although I have said that as far as the comics go, I am not really much of an Iron Man fan. I still loved the "Demon in a Bottle" story arc and it's because of that story line that I am a mild fan of Iron Monger and feel that he is the best of Iron Man's villains. That being said, I thought the film version did the character justice to a certain extent. I feel he could have been way better. But I loved Jeff Bridges' performance, his plot was well written and believe it or not I actually loved the final fight. That battle showed how epic Transformers could be if it had any heart at all.

The Abomination

At second place, we have the hulking giant called The Abomination. Who appeared in 2008's The Incredible Hulk. Believe it or not, I actually loved the 2008 film The Incredible Hulk. It was truly a great movie, it had a strong character arc for both the hero and the villain. Along with great performances and a healthy dose of heart pounding action to boot. Great movie, underrated. But even more underrated is the film's villain. Why it receives it so much hate is beyond me, he actually did have strong character development. In the beginning he is chasing Banner and then views him transform into The Hulk. There, his lust for god-like power was born. So he was given a super serum and faces off against Hulk in round 2 at the college growing more jealous and hateful every day. Until finally he mixes the serum with Hulk's blood and becomes The Abomination and overpowers Hulk...until Hulk gets stronger of course. This is nothing special, but it is great in it's own way and it is pretty much down to the nose as far as closeness to the comics. The final battle gets so much hate, I don't know why. It was an epic brawl between two Hulks that has yet to be matched. Overall The Abomination when compared to the greats is nothing special but still really good in his own way.


Well here at first place, we have the Asgardian god of mischief, brother of Thor...Loki. Who appeared in the 2011 film Thor, the 2012 film The Avengers and the 2013 film Thor: The Dark World. Bet you didn't see that coming did ya? Just kidding, yes I realize that he's actually pretty overrated but he's still the best villain in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. He's the only truly great villain it has to offer, and the only one that even compares to the best of the Spider-Man, Batman and X-Men movie villains. Tom Hiddleston is an amazing actor and he gives an amazing performance as the god of mischief and magic. In the first Thor we got to see him develop as a character and find out who he truly is. In The Avengers we see him after he's figured himself out and is coming for Earth. In Thor 2 we see him almost come full circle back to being Thor's beloved brother. A great actor, with a big, strong character that so far has spanned three movies. Great design and action scenes make Loki by far the best villain in Marvel Cinematic Universe and the only one even COMPARABLE to the likes of Magneto, Joker, etc. Loki is a great character and the movies most certainly portray him excellently.

Thanks for reading friends, I must say that Winter Soldier has the potential to blow all of these away. But then again, we all thought the same thing about Mandarin and Malekith too. So I guess I'll just wait and see. Thanks for reading. Fire off in the usual place!
Posted By:
Member Since 9/20/2012
Filed Under "Fan Fic" 12/20/2013 Source: JJ63
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DanMcNice - 12/20/2013, 8:22 PM
You kiddin' me?

I think Justin Hammer is one of the best!!!
DefcoN - 12/20/2013, 8:25 PM
Good list, though I would have included Kurse somewhere in the middle. He's mainly been Malekith's henchman, but he definitely kicked more ass than this primary villain.
Bearjew - 12/20/2013, 8:45 PM
Malekith beats out Ivan Vanko, Trevor Slattery and Aldrich Killian. Some of the best villains are one-dimensional: Emperor Palpatine, ANY good James Bond villain, Thanos, as well as most comic book villains, revise this shit.
GuardianDevil - 12/20/2013, 8:51 PM
^Ive never said there was anything wrong with one dimensional villains. Villains that are one dimensional, under utilized and just suck are bad. Which is what Malekith is.

Palpatine, Green Goblin, Joker, etc. are examples of one dimensional villains that are still interesting and don't suck.
SmokinIndo - 12/20/2013, 9:35 PM
Stupid. Just plain dumb. How were elements shoe-horned into The First Avenger? You do realize that the Tesseract a.k.a the Cosmic Cube has been a staple of the Red Skull character since the sixties? If anything, it belonged in a Captain America movie and then was shoe-horned into the Avengers. Also, I'd like to add that the Red Skull is usually on the list of general audience's favorite comic book movie bad guys.
Bearjew - 12/20/2013, 9:41 PM
Wonder who Ant Man's villain is gonna be. Klaw maybe? Egghead? MODOK if done correctly could be terrifying.
DrDoom - 12/20/2013, 10:08 PM
Justin Hammer is amazing

Get outta here

Haters gonna hate
GuardianDevil - 12/20/2013, 11:13 PM
Hammer is "amazing" lol, that's ridiculous!

He's good for laughs I suppose, no surprise seeing as in recent years the execs at Marvel Studios seem to think laughs are the top priority when making movies.
feedonatreefrog - 12/20/2013, 11:16 PM
Blasphemy. Hammer should be at the top.

MCU hasn't had the greatest villains yet, but at least Hammer was entertaining.

Justin Hammer 8/10
Loki 7/10
Red Skull 5/10
Iron Monger 5/10
Vanko 4/10
Abomination 4/10
Malekith 2/10
BaronZemo - 12/21/2013, 1:44 AM
Does Abomination recieve hate?
MightyZeus - 12/21/2013, 1:51 AM
Great list. I completely agree with your list. Although i would have placed Aldrich Killian and Trevor Slattery lower on the list. Alrich Killian was especially a cliche'd villain and his motives where certainly unclear as to what he wanted.
SmokinIndo - 12/21/2013, 4:58 AM

His motives were only unclear if you consider yourself part of the uneducated and uninformed herd of sheep that we call a society. Aldrich Killian was a fantastic villain who had a very profound plot to get rich off extremis by creating a homemade terrorist threat. What makes him an even more interesting villain is how he mirrors the real life war on terror, selling and promoting the fear of terrorist threats and quickly getting rich off the scare.

I'd place Killian and Trevor on the top of the list. At this point I could care less that it wasn't a 100 percent accurate portrayal. I've seen enough proof on this site to convince why an actual Mandarin with ten rings wouldn't have worked.
Odin - 12/21/2013, 5:24 AM
Red Skull should be higher.
charlie2094 - 12/21/2013, 5:46 AM
More or less agree with the list, really think all the villains have been disappointing in some regard, definitely Marvel's weakest area, especially given recently the mess Mandarin became and how awful Malekith was....making me worried about Winter Soldier and how they'll eventually handle Thanos...he's a very brutal brilliant villain, worried about Marvel tackling him

Think I'd maybe switch Hammer with Malekith...really hope Red Skull reappears so he can be redeemed, Cap's biggest villain deserves a good appearance
VIRILEMAN - 12/21/2013, 5:49 AM
Cool article, nice list. But I liked Justine Hammer! Who doesn't like Sam Rockwell? Go watch "Moon" and tell me that man isn't an awesome actor!

Nice to see Abomination so high up on the list.
Minty - 12/21/2013, 5:52 AM
Nice article JJ63, definitely agree on Loki and Abomination as top 2, Tim Roth owned as Blonsky.


HellsHammer - 12/21/2013, 5:57 AM
I thought Justin Hammer was the best part about IM 2.
ManDeth - 12/21/2013, 6:04 AM
You admit Malekith sucked but think Thor 2 was great? That doesn't add up. Thor 2 was just a bunch of scenes stuck together that added up to nothing.

The MCU has not had a decent villain yet. Not one.
And Loki is more like "Q" the mischievous, trouble making prankster from Star Trek than a real villain. And remember, Q killed a couple people at 1st before he became the guy who popped up on every Trek show just to say HI.

Weird how WB, Sony and FOX have had great CBM villains but not Marvel Studios.

Until I saw this list I had not realized how poor Marvel has been at villains. But they are more about comedy so they dont need them anyway.
subzero1077 - 12/21/2013, 6:05 AM
Wow I never realized how boring and lame all the MCU villains have been until you put it into a list.
Invictor - 12/21/2013, 6:12 AM
Trevor Slattery shouldn't even be considered a villain and if so, he should be at the bottom of this list.
Invictor - 12/21/2013, 6:14 AM
But I can say that Marvel does need to step their game up on villains. The Red Skull was very forgetful in The First Avenger.
l0rdleg0las - 12/21/2013, 6:22 AM
I'd move Hammer up the list. He was the only watchable part of IM2 aside from the 30 seconds of War Machine action.
averageBEAR - 12/21/2013, 6:25 AM
Aldrich killians motives where clear, he wanted to rule from behind the scenes hold war and terror in one hand, and the government in the other...the only reason tony was involved was because of happy, killian would have never attacked his home if happy wasn't acting stupid and followed savin
DrRockso - 12/21/2013, 6:28 AM
blackula - 12/21/2013, 6:31 AM
Red Skull is #2 if not 1, it's a toss up between him and Loki
DrRockso - 12/21/2013, 6:32 AM
Oh and Absorbing Man/David Banner freaked me the [frick] out
Jollem - 12/21/2013, 6:38 AM
nice list. ignore the flame troll with multiple user accounts
Darkknight23 - 12/21/2013, 6:43 AM
I think Sam Rockwell delivered the best performance in IM2. RDJ was of course RDJ, but outside of that Rockwell nailed it.

This list made me realize just how weak the MCU villains really are.
Dandy - 12/21/2013, 6:45 AM
I can't really agree with this list. First of all you're missing most of the secondary villains.For me it goes

1) Loki
2) Aldrich Killian
3) Red Skull
4) Iron Monger
5) The Abomination
6) Thunderbolt Ross
7) Laufey
8) Justin Hammer
9) Arnim Zola
10) Raza
11) Whiplash
12) Malekith
13) Kurse
14) Eric Savin
15) The Destroyer
16) Trevor Slattery

I personally really liked Justin Hammer and wouldn't mind seeing him again as the lead villain.
MyInnerDork - 12/21/2013, 6:50 AM
Yes it's an editorial so it's one person's opinion but Justin Hammer is BY FAR one of the best performances in Iron Man 2, hands down. I'd honestly put Abomination and Malekith at the bottom of this list and that's just my opinion.
TheOverlord - 12/21/2013, 6:50 AM
Hammer was great - great performance by the always reliable Rockwell, and an entertaining character. Trevor was the absolute worst, and Killian wasn't much better. IM3 would have been hella better (even with the controversial twist) had the villains just been better. Malekith was a little flat, but not bad. In fact, all of the others weren't bad.
Masterpace - 12/21/2013, 6:51 AM
MCU has no good Villains at all yet...Not talking about actors or their performance cause that is usually good but as being Villain goes they're crap.
Enphlieuwince - 12/21/2013, 6:54 AM
You used "sucked" and "lame" too much for me to take this seriously. You harped on the villain being too one dimensional as a negative, only to retract it in the comments. I can't knock you for having an opinion, but, if it's suppose to be an article, you should articulate your thoughts a little more clearly. Some specific example would have went a long way. Nice try though...
Tainted87 - 12/21/2013, 6:54 AM
You definitely missed Raza. He's Iron Man's most important villain in the MCU. And Laufey - the whole reason for Loki being Loki...

While I generally agree - I think a lot of things happened behind the scenes for Malekith. There's also an issue of his costume (which, let's face it, could have been so much better) restricting his movement a LOT. Christopher Eccleston could have done so much more if he didn't always looks so uncomfortable with all of the makeup and armor. I think we'd see more of him then, and much more of his motivations would have been explored.
Super12 - 12/21/2013, 6:55 AM
Justin Hammer was amazing, he stole the show in IM2! You really would put the Abomination over him? I have nothing against Abomination I really liked the movie and the final battle, but Hammer was an excellent jealous rival who I really want to see come back.
codydriscollsrightarm - 12/21/2013, 6:55 AM
MCU just can't do villains.

Loki is the only one who isn't boring and one dimensional, which is why he's in like every single MCU movie now.

Hammer was funny, but that's mostly because Rockwell is a badass actor.
AlexDeLarge87 - 12/21/2013, 6:56 AM
Iron Monger, Red Skull, Abomination and Killian have been my favorites so far.
GuardianDevil - 12/21/2013, 6:56 AM
That's coming from YOU? Intruder? Widely considered to be one the site's biggest trolls?
ibravosp5 - 12/21/2013, 7:03 AM
I really didn't see justin hammer as a villan in iron man 2. I knew he was but he didn't feel threatening at all, but however I did enjoy his character though.
Ocelot - 12/21/2013, 7:04 AM
The only good villains have been Loki, Blonsky, Stane and Raza.
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