I haven’t been a big fan of the Academy Awards for years now, but I must admit I was very excited when Black Panther received an Oscar nomination for Best Picture. This is the first time a comic book film, a superhero film has been nominated for Best Picture at the Oscars. Even though I don’t consider the Oscars to be the standard by which excellence in film should necessarily be judged, it’s still a great feeling of validation to a lifelong comic book fan. Not to mention that it’s all too rare to see a big budget superhero film with a predominantly black cast that, as put so well by Marc Bernardin in his Entertainment Weekly cover story, Black Panther is a movie about celebrating “Excellence”. Which is all too rare. This movie’s cultural impact cannot be understated. Even putting all of that aside, Black Panther is just a great fucking movie that absolutely deserves this recognition.
So, With Black Panther nominated for Best Picture at the Academy Awards, on this episode we wanted to acknowledge that historic accomplishment as well as talk about other comic book films that deserved Oscar noms. We also discuss some of the upcoming DC films, like Birds of Prey. To top it all off, we try to figure out (if you could pick ANY character from ANY comic book universe) who would have the best chance in a face off against Thanos with The Infinity Gauntlet! All this and so much more on this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”! Enjoy! Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
With the sad passing of Stan Lee earlier this week, I wanted to offer personal reflection on this incredible storyteller and the impact he’s had on the lives of so many people. I felt the loss of Stan Lee like a kick in the gut. The characters he’s created have helped me through some of the hardest times in my life and inspired me to be a better man. Thank you for listening to my brief tribute to a creator that meant a great deal to me. My hope is that you’ll hear something that will resonate with you in some small way. Thanks again. Listen here or subscribe on Stitcher and iTunes:
Welcome back to Part 2 of my Fall Comic Book Preview! In Part 1, we looked at some of the notable and interesting comics and graphic novels coming from DC Comics this fall, today we’ll be looking some of the big comics being put out by Marvel in the coming weeks and months. There’s a lot of cool stuff coming out of the “House of Ideas” (one of Marvel’s long time nicknames) before the end of 2018. Including a comic book miniseries marking the 20th Anniversary of Marvel’s Marvel Knights imprint, shown in the article’s banner image above. The comic, Marvel Knights: 20th, will by written by Donny Cates and here’s an awesome cover for one of the issues from the project:
Below are just a few books that stuck out to me as being interesting and note worthy. However, these are only a few of the cool books coming out from Marvel soon, so make sure to keep your eyes open…
Writer: Jason Aaron
Artist: David Marquez, Andy Kubert, Ed McGuinness
Release Date: 11/14/18
In a massive milestone, Avengers has reached its landmark 700th issue. Jason Aaron is one of Marvel’s best writers, currently with one of the most interesting Avengers rosters in years on his kick ass Avengers title. Second only to perhaps Jonathan Hickman, Aaron excels at telling long, epic stories that pay off big time for loyal readers. With a milestone like issue #700, you can believe that this book will not only include some great Avengers nostalgia, but probably set up some big things to come for the series. Plus, you can’t beat that killer line up of artists working on this issue, so you can bet it will look fantastic.
As a cool side note, leading up to issue #700 The Avengers will be going up against The Submariner himself Namor!
Namor often plays the bad guy more than the good guy, so whenever he shows up sparks fly. Especially considering his longtime rivalry with current Avengers chair person, T’Challa: The Black Panther… Extermination
Writer: Ed Brisson
Artist: Pepe Larraz
Release Date: (Issues #1-2 Now Available) Issue #3 On Sale 9/26!
This miniseries has largely served the purpose of wiping the slate clean in the world of the X-Men. Ending many of the stories of the past few years for a new beginning. Most likely in an attempt to bring in new readers. The first few issues have been solid. This is the book to check out if you’re a lapsed X-Men fan looking for a place to jump back on the book.
Fantastic Four #5/ Fantastic Four: Wedding Special
Writer: Dan Slott
Artist: Adam Hughes, Mike Allred, Aaron Kuder, Laura Braga
Release Date: Fantastic Four: Wedding Special 12/12
Fantastic Four #5 12/26
I’ll keep this one short and sweet. Benjamin J. Grimm and His longtime girlfriend Alicia Masters are finally getting married. But what is a superhero wedding, especially a Fantastic Four wedding, without some crazy super villains crashing the party or some other catastrophic event making things more complicated for the happy couple and the rest of “Marvel’s First Family”? So far Dan slots re-launch of Fantastic Four has been pretty excellent so I definitely recommend checking this one out. Gail Simone will co-write the Wedding Special issue along with Slott. Plus, Johnny throwing Ben a bachelor party is worth the price of admission alone.
The Return of Wolverine
Writer: Charles Soule
Artist: Steve McNiven
Release Date: Issue #1 On Sale Now!
This 5 Part miniseries marks the inevitable return of the one true Wolverine. C’mon did anyone think for a second that he wouldn’t be back within a few years or less? The problem is that he never really left. With Old Man Logan running around I The present day with the X-Men and Laura Kinney aka X-23 taking up the mantle of Wolverine, we never really felt the absence of the character. Another problem has been how his return has been handled. We had 4 tie in miniseries under the umbrella of “The Hunt For Wolverine”, setting up his return in the main “The Return of Wolverine” miniseries. Seems like a lot of money and time for readers to invest just to read the “The Return of Wolverine”. Having said that, I really enjoyed “The Death of Wolverine“ storyline miniseries a few years ago by Charles Soule and Steve McNiven. So at the very least, regardless of how you feel about the handling of deaths and resurrections in superhero comic books, I will bet “The Return of Wolverine” will at least be pretty entertaining.
Miles Morales: Spider-Man
Writer: Saladin Ahmed
Artist: Javier Garron
Release Date: Dec 2018
When Brian Michael Bendis moved on from Marvel to work over at DC, many fans wondered what the future held for some of the beloved characters Bendis created while working at Marvel. Like Miles Morales, Riri Williams, and Jessica Jones. Fortunately they’re all continuing on with new series’ from new writers and artists. Miles Morales is arguably the most influential, fan favorite character Bendis created while at Marvel (with the possible exception of Jessica Jones). Fortunately, Miles will live on in a new series, marking the first time the character starred in his own book not written by Bendis. Miles is one of my favorite Marvel characters and I really hope we get to see him in the MCU someday. I’m excited to see what a writer besides Bendis does with a solo book focused on Miles. This a character with limitless potential, so I’m excited to see someone else take a stab at my personal favorite Spider-Man (I know, I know let the hate mail flow in…).
Speaking of Riri Williams, Ironheart will be getting her own ongoing series from writer Eve Ewing in November. I’m also a big Ironheart fan, so this looks like it’s definitely going to be a book to grab as well.
Writer: Jason Aaron
Release Date: 10/17/18
Jason Aaron’s Thor run has consistently been one of the best books in the comic book industry for the last several years. One of the brilliant thing is Aaron has done in his epic Thor story is show Thor at vastly different points in his life. Including my personal favorite, Old King Thor. In the present, Thor continues to fight in The War Of Realms. A massive conflict across all ten realms spearheaded by Malekith The Accursed.
As has been the case throughout Aaron’s run, we look forward to the end of time, where All Father Thor and his 3 granddaughters have restored a long desolate Earth, including creating new human life. Thor is a very benevolent and hands on God to his people. Unfortunately the universe is dying, even the afterlife is gone. SPOILER ALERT FROM HERE IF YOU HAVEN’T READ THOR#1-5 (2018)!!!!!!!
As Thor searches the cosmos for any kind of flicker of hope that the Universe can be rekindled, he encounters a Phoenix possessed Wolverine! While Old King Thor is initially thrilled to see his old ally, he quickly realizes that the Logan he knew had long ago been consumed by The Phoenix and a Universe shaking battle ensues. During the fight, Wolverine tells Thor he shouldn’t have restarted life on Earth. Earth’s time was done and there are far worse things than The Phoenix Logan out there.
At which point, we cut back to Earth where a large spaceship has arrived. The Dragon, Fin Fang Foom and other old school Marvel monsters proclaim Earth’s destruction, but Thor’s granddaughters make easy work of them. Unfortunately, they’re not the terrible force Logan alluded to. Fin Fang Foom says he is but a herald for his omnipotent master…DOOM! At which point an all powerful DOOM descends from his ship and we see in addition to his normal powers, he’s wielding the powers of Doctor Strange, Iron Fist, Starbrand, and Ghost Rider!
The next chapter in the ongoing saga of Old King Thor will continue in Thor #6 released on 10/17, with Old King Thor and Old Man Phoenix facing off again DOOM!
Issue #7 returns the series focus to present day Thor.
Anyway, thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed Part 2 of my Fall Comic Book Preview!
I finally saw Ant-Man and The Wasp yesterday, and I realized something, Hope Van Dyne is my favorite female character in the MCU. Realizing that made me reflect on the role of women in the MCU.
It’s been pretty well discussed among critics and fans that for a while the MCU had a female problem. Despite Black Widow having been introduced in the third (of 20 so far) MCU films, she took a long time to gain prominence in screen time, or plot relevance (I’m not sure we’ve even seen her have more screen time or relevance to the story, than anyone but Hawkeye). Fans were asking for a Black Widow film, and Marvel Studios’ response was something along the lines of “when it’s right we’ll do it”. which at the time probably felt like a cop-out, but they were having the same complaints made about having a non-white main character and they were giving the same response. At the time, it really felt like the MCU had a diversity problem, but in fairness they tried to address the problem. They quickly began to introduce characters like Sam Wilson as the Falcon, Rhodey to be War Machine/Iron Patriot started to have a larger role and more screen time, they added Scarlett Witch to the team, for example. Many argued this was a half measure, they were all secondary characters and not a solution to the problem. They were definitely steps in the right direction and they filled in some gaps. It was very clear that women and non-white males needed to be the titles characters of their own movies.
The MCU started using crossovers and the team films to be able to add new characters, layer their universe, and make it more three dimensional. In Civil War, we were introduced to the MCU version of Spider-Man and finally Black Panther. Pretty quickly, it was clear that both would be getting their own films, but the MCU as a single cohesive piece was more important, so they tend not to rush into things and it payed off.
Spider-Man: Homecoming was a big success, but Black Panther was a cultural phenomenon. Black Panther showed us that the MCU could handle a film with a non-white main character, a majority non-white cast, and come out with a critical and box office smash. Black Panther not only stood on its own two feet, but it absolutely crushed the competition. The two most prominent white characters are played by Andy Serkis and Martin Freeman. Both are well established actors, but they’re certainly not mega-stars like Tom Cruise or Matt Damon.
The second crucial thing Black Panther did, was almost double the MCU’s roster current of important, strong female characters. Prior to this what did we have? Scarlett Witch, is a decent character, but I personally don’t think she’s nearly as fleshed out as she could be. Black Widow, tends to be used more in her relationship with which ever male hero needs her (i.e. in Winter Soldier with Cap, or in Age of Ultron with Bruce/Hulk). Pepper? I think we’re all honestly surprised when Pepper pops up for a cameo anymore, but really she isn’t much more fleshed out than Friday. Jane Foster, might have been a good addition, except it seems that Natalie Portmant doesnt have much interest in playing Jane Foster anymore. So that’s not entirely the fault of the MCU. The only two pre-Black Panther characters that seemed to be totally realized and fleshed out female characters were Gamora and Hope Van Dyne. In Ant-Man, Hope is the most capable character, the main character arc belongs to Scott Lang.
In Black Panther, we got three really great female characters in; Shuri (who is strong willed, intelligent, competitive, funny); Nakia who almost forces T’Challa to play the ‘fawning love-interest’ character due to her commitment to bettering Africa and the world; and Okoye who is one of the fiercest normal humans in the MCU. Would you want to fight Okoye? Do you think you could outsmart Shuri on literally anything? Do you have more compassion for any group of people than Nakia does? They’re all incredible, and while they have their ‘defining’ attributes, they’re not only those things. Shuri is funny, and brave. Nakia is in love with T’Challa, but refuses to let that be her guiding principal. Okoye, despite being a total bad-ass is also a loving girlfriend/wife (they don’t really say) who also stands up to her love when he is on the wrong side.
Black Panther pushed us further toward the MCU ‘sweet spot. Now we have Ant-Man and The Wasp and it’s the first time in the MCU that a woman is one of the title characters. The Wasp does not disappoint. She’s the most bad-ass fighter in the film, she totally shows up Ant-Man and even the pseudo-villain Ghost. She’s a dedicated, intelligent woman trying to be reunited her mother.
Something Hope/Wasp and the women of Black Panther manage to do, is balance the characters between being what we want in super-heroes while not removing their femininity. They also don’t play on any female stereotypes or tropes. We don’t see any of the female characters being played as ’emotionally erratic,’ while also not playing them off as unfeeling. It’s a hard balance that Hollywood in general has difficulty was and the MCU has done pretty well avoiding those pitfalls. Which is really impressive considering that so far, all the directors in the MCU has been mad.
So what do I want to see when it comes to females in the MCU? That leads us to Captain Marvel. For Captain Marvel, we’re going to get our first female (solo) title character. We’re also going to get our first female director (co-director, but to be fair, Anna Boden has directed all of her films with her husband Ryan Fleck). I really want Captain Marvel to be great. I want it to be as great as Black Panther and a game changer in the same way Black Panther was. I want Captain Marvel to be an amazing character with depth, but also a total bad-ass. The DCEU had their only smash success to date with Wonder Woman because it’s a genuinely good film. I hope Captain Marvel is at least as good (perhaps with a better villain). Because Captain Marvel will not have the momentum of being the first like Wonder Woman was, but it does need to be successful. One of the major takeaways from Black Panther and Wonder Woman was that people respond to diversity in their entertainment. However, if a movie like Captain Marvel fails, Hollywood probably won’t learn the right lesson from it. They won’t say “oh Captain Marvel sucked, let’s try a Black Widow film instead!”, they’re more likely to say “oh maybe Wonder Woman was an anomaly and the audiences don’t really want female lead superhero movies.” It’s bullshit logic, but as I’ve written before Hollywood almost always learns the wrong lessons.
If Captain Marvel has some great action set pieces and the character is as well developed and well acted as Hope Van Dyne, Okoye, Nakia, Shuri, and Gamora, I think they’ll have a hit on their hands. If that happens Hollywood will do more to replicate it. The MCU has done a great job creating this universe and I’m confident that Captain Marvel will not be an exception to that rule. I know I’m really excited.
Because, honestly? I love watching great women characters, especially when they kick ass. That’s so much more interesting to me than the damsel in distress. I don’t know maybe I’m not ‘alpha’ enough, but something I find attractive (not just on a romantic/sexual level, but attractive in a friend, or in my wife, or when I’m proud of my sister ) is characters/people who have passion. It’s what we admire about male characters right? You love that Tony Stark is pursuing (albeit awfully) the betterment of human kind through science, or that Captain America is passionate about the ideals of freedom and what America is supposed to be. Why wouldn’t we look for the same in our female characters? I never understood that.
So, what I want to see, is an excellent Captain Marvel movie, and if there is a love interest, I hope it’s not shoe-horned in. After that, I hope that Captain Marvel opens us up to more female lead films in the MCU. I’m patient, I know it won’t be overnight, but with a few more hits in Phase Four, and then they’ll be on a roll.
Like destiny and Thanos, it’s finally here… Avengers: Infinity War! So on this episode of “The World’s Best Podcast”, Paul Sr. and I have a FULL SPOILER discussion/Review of Marvel’s ultimate crossover event. This movie is fucking EPIC! This movie is a gift to all the Marvel fans who stayed with this franchise since Samuel L. Jackson told Tony Stark about The Avengers Inititive in the first Iron Man film . We discuss ALL the juicy details so make sure you check out the movie before listening to the podcast. Because this film fucking delivers big time! I hope you enjoy this episode, listen here or subscribe on iTunes:
You can buy the “Infinity Gauntlet” graphic novel here at our Amazon Affiliate link, which helps support the site, here:
Avengers: Infinity War is coming out in just a couple weeks, and it will very likely dominate the Box Office, this isn’t surprising, and if you’d asked someone a year or two ago, they’d have known then that it was likely. Right? Here is what was unlikely, but is now seeming incredibly likely:
Black Panther, will still be in the top 10 spots at the Box Office when Infinity War comes.
Never before, have we seen two MCU films (I’m not sure we’ve ever seen two films of the same franchise in general) dominate the box office at the same time, but we’re about to. So I wonder what this means for both films.
In case you’re unaware, Black Panther has not only been raking in more money on a week to week basis than almost any other film since it’s release, but it has been moving in on the all time earners. As of this past weekend, it took down Titanic, as the #3 earner domestically of all time. It currently stands at #10 globally of all time (not taking inflation into account), and is only $32 million from the #9 spot, and $41 million from the #8 spot, which when you’re looking at the fact that it made $8 million last week, seem a plausible outcome.
One thing, that I think could happen as Infinity War looms over us, is that I think it is possible, that Black Panther gets a resurgence in the week or so prior to Infinity War, after all, if you’re an MCU fan, and there’s a chance to watch the previous film in theaters, then the following day/week/whatever watch the most current, there’s a strong likelihood that you’ll take that. Will it be some massive swell that pushes Black Panther to the #1 spot on either the domestic or global lists? It seems unlikely (the domestic record is Star Wars: The Force Awakens at $936 million, to Black Panther’s $665 million; globally, Avatar has the record at $2.78 billion, while Black Panther is currently at $1.3 billion) but that doesn’t matter, because it’s potentially going to change a lot of things about how films are made. It bought legitimacy for so many different aspects that may have been overlooked before.
On the other hand, how will Black Panther affect Infinity War at the Box Office? My guess, is that it will help it. From the trailer, it appears that Wakanda is going to play a major role in the film, as well as including multiple characters from Black Panther in addition to the title character. If people loved Black Panther, they’re getting a sequel of sorts, while it’s still in theaters, and I think that will translate to big Box Office numbers, in addition to the fact that the previous 2 Avengers films have both ranked higher than BP so far in the global market, and let’s face it, whether it’s a good film or not, it’s got EVERYTHING, and so this film would have to be absolutely atrocious to not do amazing numbers in the Box Office.
Ultimately, if I’m wrong, and Infinity War somehow kills Black Panther’s momentum, it’s already done so well that it hardly matters, on the other hand, I do think that Infinity War could potentially hurt some of the films coming out in the month or two afterwards. Whether you think Solo is going to be good or not, Disney’s kind of taking a risk putting it a month after Infinity War. I do think Deadpool 2 is far enough away that it should be able to be successful regardless of the shadow that Infinity War casts (either way, chances are Josh Brolin has a good few months).
Marvel dropped the new and final Avengers: Infinity War trailer on us before we all have our minds blown when the movie comes out on April 27! So, I decided to do a trailer commentary! Pointing out interesting things from the comics, making predictions, and just giving my thoughts on the awesomeness that is this trailer. I pause a few times throughout the trailer to explain some more in depth concepts. You can just listen to my commentary on it’s own, but I highly recommend pulling up the trailer and following along with me as I go through the trailer. Man, April 27 can’t get here soon enough! I know there’s a lot of hype and a lot og high expectations, but I’m going to play the optimist and say this one is gonna live up to the hype. I have the trailer posted below ans my commentary posted after that. I’d love some feedback, so feel free to comment.
It first started around The Avengers. We had Loki light up the screen as one of cinema’s great big bads. Then Iron Man 3 came along with Aldrich Killian and “The Mandarin” (Which I actually thought was a smart way to deal with a potentially problematic villain). Maleketh in Thor: The Dark World was the nail in the coffin. The internet declared: “MARVEL HAS BAD VILLAINS!” Villains like Ronan The Accuser from Guardians of The Galaxy sealed the deal: Marvel has one dimensional, forgettable villains.
After seeing Marvel’s excellent new film, Black Panther, with two very different, but fantastic in different ways. I got to thinking about the villains in PHASE 3 and not only doe each film in Phase 3 has at least 1 great villain, but I’d like to argue that the entire premise that Marvel has weak villains is BULLSHIT!
But I’ll get back to that… First of BIG SPOILERS FOR ALL MCU FILMS SO FAR INCLUDING BLACK PANTHER! Like I said, Black Panther has two great villains. First, there’s Andy Serkis as Ulysses Klaw who we first saw in Avengers: Age of Ultron. Klaw is the “fun” villain. He’s got his awesome laser canon arm, blowing shit up. He’s laughing, having a good time. This is a guy who knows how to enjoy being an arms dealer in a world of aliens, gods, and superheroes. I often hate when villains “chew the scenery”, but when it’s done well like Serkis does here, it’s a blast to watch.
Then we have Michael B. Jordan as Eric Killmonger. I love Michael B. Jordan, so I was psyched when he was cast in Black Panther, but he’s so likable I just didn’t see him as a villain. He’s the type of guy I saw more as a hero than a villain. Man, was I wrong. Killmonger in this movie is NOT. FUCKING. AROUND. He’s a vicious, focused, terrifying motherfuker.
The scene when he faces T’Challa in The Falls for The Throne, you get the sense that T’Challa doesn’t really know what he’s dealing with. This is a man on a fucking mission. It was here where Killmonger reminded me of another great Phase 3 Marvel villain: Zemo. Zemo is the villain in Captain America: Civil War. He’s easy to forget because there’s so much dramatic eye catching stuff in that film. Zemo, like Killmonger when he faces T’Challa is just a man, not a god. But in Civil War, Zemo wins. He breaks The Avengers. The beauty of it, is what breaks The Avengers apart is the truth that Zemo exposes, their own lies and their own actions. Daniel Bruhl plays it perfectly. A grim man, on a grim mission.
On the Cosmic side of things we have the excellent Cate Blanchett as the best Thor villain, Hela (because at this point is Loki even really a villain?). She was charismatic, funny at times and she made you see a much darker side of Odin. I also think she could be the most powerful Marvel villain we’ve seen so far. I do not think we’ve seen the last of her, either. We don’t really see her die and in the comics one of the reasons Thanos is trying to assemble the Infinity Gauntlet is to impress the “thing” he loves, Death. In the comics, there’s an actual female personification of Death that Thanos is madly in love with. I think instead of trying to introduce a new character into an already massive cast, they’ll make Hela the object of Thanos’ affection. She kinda, sorta, basically is Death anyway. So that’s my theory.
Staying on the Cosmic side of the MCU, there’s Peter Quill’s extremely shitty father, Ego The Living Planet. Played perfectly by Kurt Russell, he never actually lies to Peter. He definitely omits very important facts, but he never outright lies. He’s the perfect space Dad! Except for the fact that he gave Peter’s mom a brain tumor. That’s a deal breaker. Before this big reveal, there are several smaller bad guys in the movie, but Kurt Russell is so disarming I found myself wondering who the hell the main villain for the movie was. So it’s real sucker punch when he reveals he planted the tumor that killed Peter’s mom. Tim Cuff, one of the site contributors thought Ego was his favorite MCU Villain. And what comic book fan didn’t love seeing the big face on The Planet when Rocket and Yondu are in orbit. Speaking of Yondu… FUCK! That’s the most heart breaking death we’ve seen in the MCU so far. “He may have been your father, boy. But I was your Daddy.” Goddammit it gets me every time!
Then we have my personal favorite from Phase 3 and maybe the whole MCU, Adrian Toomes (they never actually called him The Vuture in the movie) played by the absolutely fucking legendary Michael Keaton. The film opens days after the Chitauri Invasion, Toomes is a blue collar contractor and he and his crew are contracted by the city to help clean up the Chitauri tech left over from the invasion of New York, but are fucked over by the government and Stark Industries when they create a government division to handle these things called “Damage Control”. Keaton almost steals the whole movie. He’s super menacing, but clearing he’s a normal, loving, husband and father. He’s kind of the anti-Tony Stark, he has the high tech Vulture suits he uses for heists, he’s blue collar, Tony’s silver spoon.
Man, the scene Peter shows up at Liz’s to pick he up for the dance and Toomes, who we now realize is Liz’s dad, is my favorite sequence in the movie. In the car on the way to the dance, the way Keaton plays Toomes slowly realizing this kid is Spider-Man is phenomenal. Keaton is so fucking good in this role, I hope he pops up in future movies.
What makes a fantastic villain is that they think they’re the hero of the own story. That seems to be a common trend here with the Phase 3 villains. Several of the villains I’ve listed are ones that we easily sympathize with. Or maybe even think are right? When you find yourself siding with a villain more than the hero, an interesting story is being told. Killmonger, Zemo, Toomes, and even Hela to an extent all have very legitimate reasons for their actions.
Now the only outlier in Phase 3 is Doctor Strange. A very good movie, a solid origin flick, but the villain, Kaicillius, is pretty bland. It’s its cool seeing Strange facing down Dormammu in the final act, he’s more of a force of nature than a villain.
So, with the exception of Doctor Strange, it think I’ve made a pretty solid argument that the Marvel Phases 3 villains are pretty great. But I also said that I didn’t think Marvel even had a villain problem in the first place. So let’s quickly go through Phase 1 & 2 and it’s villains. I’m going to rate the quality of the villains themselves, NOT the movies:
The one that started it all. In more ways than one. It started the unfortunate “villain just being an evil version of the hero” trend. But it’s not a total loss, Jeff Bridges is fun in the role. The irony is that he’s more menacing as Obadiah Stane than he is when he’s in the Iron Monger suit. Also, what the fuck is his endgame once he gets the suit on? I also give them a bit more credit with this being their first film and they’re still finding their footing.
Villain: Obadiah Stane/Iron Monger
The Incredible Hulk
The lost, red headed step child of the MCU. Here we have The Abomination and General Ross. When it come to Ross, his reasoning for hating the Hulk/Banner so much is, here’s a badass military man who’s always in control and has never been afraid of a damn thing in his life. Then he’s there for the birth of The Hulk, an unstoppable monster that makes him completely helpless. For the first time in his life, he felt fear and The Hulk put it there. He want’s to kill the thing that put fear into him. He’s terrified of The Hulk and that’s why he hunts him with such vigor. He’s like Ahab, kind of. Ross of course pops up like a shit that just wont flush in Civil War.
Then there’s Tim Roth’s Abomination. There’s something to be said for seeing The Hulk just tear it the fuck up against his most monstrous and physically powerful adversary. Their fight through Harlem is fun, CGI madness. Like Ross, Emil Blonsky has the unique motivation of a military man. A man past his physical prime, who knows if he had the physical ability he had 20 years ago with the skills and tactical knowledge he’s learned since, he’d be a force to be reckoned with. Which leads to the series of events that turn him into The Abomination. He tries to become something like Captain America, but he turns himself into a monster instead. It’s important to remember that in the MCU the secret to creating super soldiers like Captain America died with the scientist who invented the procedure. People have been trying to perfect it for decades but . Captain America was the only real success, usually People end up with something more like the abomination. I actually think these are 2 pretty underrated and interesting villains .
Once Hulk beats The Abomination into submission, alive and unconscious, he just takes off! What the fuck were they gonna do if he woke up? It’s not like they have a prison cell designed to hold something like The Abomination just on hand, because I think they have a half hour TOPS before this fucking thing wakes up! They don’t make it clear here, but in the comic, unlike The Hulk, he doesn’t change back to a man. He’s a giant fucking death monster permanently (something tells me he’ll be cool with it). Then again maybe Ross does have something ready to go because he had JUST captured The Hulk. This is a dangerous fucking situation is all I’m saying!
There are actually several other interesting loose ends in this movie. Like how the post credit scene with Ross and Stark in the bar at the end of the film doesn’t make sense, because in the larger context of the MCU because they were still trying to figure out what the MCU would be. But they retconned it in the Marvel One-Shot “The Consultant”.
Then there’s Tim Blake Nelson as Dr. Samuel Sterns who was helping Bruce to find a cure. He helps Blonsky make the final transformation into The Abomination. During the procedure he get a cut on the head and the Hulk’s blood drips into the wound. From there his head begins to bubble and grow.
Clearly this was meant to set up Hulk villain, The Leader. In the comics, Sterns’ transformation makes him super intelligent and he ends up looking something like this:
We never see hide nor hair from this guy again anywhere in the MCU so presumably he’s out there up to no good. Or he got hit by a bus…
Villain: General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross
Villain: Emil Blonsky/ The Abomination
Iron Man 2
Everybody shits on this movie, but I like it a lot. I agree Mickey Rourke is another shitty “evil version of the hero” villain. He’s actually the least interesting villain in that category. But Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer FUCKING. RULES. He is so fucking fun to watch in this movie. Here’s a guy who desperately wants to be Tony Stark, but just can’t quite pull it off. When it comes to villains, he saves this flick.
Villain: Ivan Vanko/Whiplash
Villain: Justin Hammer
Captain America: The First Avenger
When people first started talking about the “MCU Villain Problem”, I was like do you have fucking amnesia?! What about The Red Skull? They absolutely nail him. THIS is The Red Skull of the comics. Plus, Hugo Weaving playing Werner Herzog playing The Red Skull? Fucking genius ( This is true by the way, Weaving largely based The Red Skull on Herzog). The make-up effects are fantastic. This is a great Marvel villain, people. Also, to this day I’m certain he didn’t actually die at the and of the movie. He’s holding the Tesseract, The Space Stone, I just think he was transported across the galaxy and I’ve been waiting to see him return since. I’ve heard the Hugo Weaving isn’t too keen on reprising the role, but he’s already covered in The Red Skull make up, I’m sure there are plenty of great actors to fill his shoes. I could see them maybe bringing him back in Avengers: Infinity War, so we shall see
Villain: The Red Skull
Thor/ The Avengers
I’m going to skip right over Thor and Avengers because we all know Loki is the man.
Iron Man 3
Here’s Marvel’s first big standalone after The Avenger and they were scared people wouldn’t want to see the heroes apart now that we’d see the best of the best. They were wrong to be worried. This was a huge hit for Marvel. Unlike many people, I don’t hate “The Mandarin Twist”. Which was, as I said before a clever solution to a potentially problematic villain. The Mandarin was nothing but a pathetic rip off of the much better DC villain Ras Al Ghul. It’s hard to argue that Ben Kingsley is a great in the role. He sells the idea of The Mandarin as a terrorist and then is really fun to watch when we realize he’s just a drug addled British actor. For The Mandarin purists out there the last Marvel One-Shot “All Hail The King” should help to alleviate the pain.
Villain: The Mandarin
Grade: Guy Pierce – C-/ Ben Kingsley – B-
Thor: The Dark World
Malekith is the real lowest of the low. The blandest, most uninteresting Marvel villain in the MCU’s weakest film. It’ a shame because Christopher Eccelston played one of the most terrifying villains of all time as Raymond Calitri in Gone in Sixty Seconds (That’s kind of an inside joke, which I shouldn’t do). Fortunately there’s nowhere to go but up for both the MCU and the Thor movies. This is BY FAR the worst Marvel villain from any of the films.
Villain: Malekith The Accursed
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
I’m reluctant consider The Winter Soldier a villain in this film because he’s kind of more of a victim than anything else. Yes, he does some terrible things, but when I think of this film I don’t think of him as a villain. He’s Bucky, a hero in his own right and Cap’s friend turned brainwashed assassin. Ultimately he’s a very scary and effective human weapon for HYDRA. The fact that there are this many layers to the “villain” of the film speaks to how good both the movie and the character are.
Then we have the great Robert Redford who’s excellent as Alexander Pierce, one of the heads of HYDRA. Having one of the great American actors play a HYDRA agent who has infiltrated the highest levels of SHIELD is so fucking cool. This a role he could have easily phoned in, but he puts in a fantastic performance. Like all great villains, at certain points he kind of has you seeing where he’s coming from. I think this film is the moment when the geeks truly inherited the earth, when with his dying breath Robert Redford whispers “Hall Hydra“.
We also have Rumlow AKA CROSSBONES as a solid piece of shit, soldier villain. Who we get to see again as Crossbones in Civil War. I think he’s the perfect muscle in this film to the brain that is Alexander Pierce.
Villain: The Winter Soldier
Villain: Alexander Pierce
Villain: Brock Rumlow AKA Crossbones
Guardians of the Galaxy
Here we have another pretty generic space villain. Very one dimensional. He wants to kill everyone on the planet Xandar because the Kree…something… ancient blood feud… something, something. Don’t get me wrong, Ronan is NOT a very good villain, but I kind of like him. He’s got a cool look. He’s light years better than Malekith, the last generics space villain we got. And call me out for drinking the Marvel Koolaid, but I love when he has to go get chewed out by Thanos. The whole thing had a very Darth Vader and The Emperor feel. Always a plus
Villain: Ronan The Accuser
Grade: C+ (That’s probably too high a score, but I like this guy for some reason)
Ant-Man continues the classic Marvel problem of the villain being an evil version of the hero. We also have the reverse Iron Man with the young buck trying to take the company away from old Michael Douglass’s Hank Pym. In Iron Man it was the older guy trying to steal the company. A lot of been there, done that here. Sure, the Yellowjacket suit is cool and Ant-Man has one of the best third acts of any Marvel film, but this just ain’t gonna cut it villain-wise.
Villain: Darren Cross AKA Yellowjacket
Avengers: Age of Ultron
I wanted to save this for last, even though technically Ant-Man came out after this film. I think Ultron is by far the most underrated villain in the MCU. James Spader plays him perfectly as this twisted reflection of Tony Stark. His “birth” scene, when he reveals himself to The Avengers in that Frankenstein’s Monster version of Stark’s drones, is creepy and memorable in the best ways. He’s a legitimate threat to the Avengers, which can be difficult. To be fair he should have been more of a “HOLY FUCK, HOW ARE WE GOING TO BEAT THIS UNSTOPPABLE BADASS WHO’S 10 STEPS AHEAD OF US?!!” Villain. But I think what we got really worked. Ultron isn’t Skynet. He’s not a cold, unfeeling machine. He wants to be human, but his emotions are all fucked up. He doesn’t understand why people can’t see what he’s trying to do for them.
To Ultron, Earth NEEDS an extinction level event so the surviving humans will become stronger. As Ulron says to the twins “As soon as the Earth settles, God throws a stone and believe me he’s winding up.” I think he’s talking about Thanos here. I don’t think he knew specifically what it was, but he new something big and bad was heading our way and we weren’t ready (I just wanna say other sites have been talking about similar ideas, but I’ve had this theory for awhile now). I also think it’s fascinating that he’s always talking about God, Faith, and Religion. I find it so fascinating and would love to know why Wheadon chose to have theology on the mind of a powerful A.I. so much. Besides the Red Skull and The Vulture, this is the villain I would most like to see return in a Marvel film. In addition to being one of my favorite scenes in the MCU, when Vision and the very last Ultron drone have that great conversation about humanity at the end of Age of Ultron. Ultron comes at Vision and Vision destroys him in blinding light using the Mind Stone in his head. OR DID HE?! Check out the scene here:
Earlier in the film, Vision does say earlier “I don’t want to kill Ultron. He’s unique.” Maybe Vision has some of Ultron’s code tucked away somewhere for safe keeping. As we all, know from the comics, Ultron always comes back…
So out of the 16 villains from PHASES 1 & 2 analyzed and graded here, 10 were at least a B- or higher. Of course, that’s just my personal analysis. I didn’t even get into the villains from the Netflix shows. You throw in villains like Kingpin, Killgrave, and Cottonmouth and the debate is OVER. BOOM.
I’d also like to point out that I’ve always said Marvel has the best heroes (with the exception of Batman) and DC has the best villains. Up until recently, Ive been a big DCEU defender in fact. But so far, Warner Bros., in one way or another (directly or indirectly) have managed to royally fuck up their 3 best villains: Lex Luthor, The Joker, and Darkseid. So, who really has the villain problem, hmm?
So there we have it, I’ve made my case. I hope I changed some hearts and minds. But you guys are the Judge in the end. Let me know what you think. I am right? Dead wrong? A complete idiot?.. well, we all know that last one’s true anyway. Let me know in the comments below or on our Facebook page World’s Best Media.
So much to love here… Just, as fans that fact that we’re getting this movie is mind blowing. I think Iron Man’s new armor looks very cool. EW is actually a great magazine for this kind of stuff. Very geek friendly. I get a lot of stuff from them. I know they have a whole exclusive article on the movie to go along with these covers, so it’s probably worth checking out. You can’t EW on iTunes through the App Store or anywhere magazines are sold.