On this episode of The World’s Best Podcast, we give our straight out of the theater reaction, to latest MCU film, Shang-Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings! While not a FULL SPOILER review, a few MAJOR SPOILERS get dropped in our discussion, so listener beware! Instead of the studio, we recorded this in our car, immediately after seeing the film, which is why there’s a little background noise. However, I did want to include some Easter Eggs, interesting background info, and connections to the rest of The MCU, that just might enrich your experience when seeing Shang-Chi.
One of the cool things about Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings, is that certain elements of the character’s history have been present in The MCU, all the way back to the first Iron Man film in 2008. None of this really counts as a spoiler, because it’s nothing that hasn’t been shown in the trailer. is nothing that you haven’t seen in the trailers. The Ten Rings is like a more mysterious, ninja HYDRA. I’m going to elaborate on how the organization was pulling the strings and making moves during some key moments in The MCU. The Ten Rings make their debut in the first MCU movie, Iron Man, in 2008. The Ten Rings were the terrorist organization that kidnapped Tony Stark at the beginning of the movie. They want him to make a weapons of mass destruction but instead Tony plans an escape by building his Mach 1 armor. With that Iron Man, and the MCU, was born.
In Iron Man 2, it’s revealed that, in a deleted scene, agents of The Ten Rings, helped Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash get past security and onto the race track, where ha attacked Tony in his race car during the Monaco Grand Prix.
Even in Ant-Man, towards the end of the film the current head of Pym Tech, Cross has finally been able to replicate his hands on Hank Pym’s shrinking technology. Cross, who’s a real sack if shit, intends to sell it to the highest bidders. Many shady buyers showed for the unveiling of the Yellowjacket, Cross’s version of the Ant-Man suit. Including Hydra, A.I.M., several agents of The Ten Rings. If you have Disney+ I’d also recommend checking out the short film All Hail The King, starring Ben Kingsley‘s character from Iron Man 3, Trevor Slattery. Not only is it a really fun little short, it also has a really cool connection to Shang Chi and The Legend of The Ten Rings.
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WandaVision has finally premiered on Disney+, officially kicking off Phase 4 of The Marvel Cinematic Universe. Marvel Entertainment has posted this very cool video to mark the occasion. The video shows how the Phase 3 films, which begins with Captain America: Civil War and ends with Spider-Man: Far From home. The video shows how some the Phase 3 films perfectly re-create iconic images and moments from the comic books source material and put them on the big screen. Take a look:
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Holy Fuck! Avengers: Endgame is finally here! I wanna say right up front that there will be absolutely NO SPOILERS in this article. However, we go into FULL SPOILERS in our deep dive review of Avengers: Endgame on this episode of The World’s Best Podcast! My Marvel Movie companion, Paul Sr. and I had a chance to see the movie a few days early, but we wanted to wait until at least some of our listeners had a chance to see the film, before we posted this SPOILER-RIFFIC review.
It so rare for movies to live up to the hype, but Endgame manages to surpass expectations. One of the many things fans love about comics, especially from DC and MARVEL, is the interconnected universes. You could be reading a Spider-Man comic and the X-Men or Iron Man or Daredevil would pop up. That was the ingredient that had been missing from superhero movies when the “Superhero Boom” began with movies like Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man and Singer’s X-Men.
It seems so obvious, but it was still brilliant. I remember seeing Iron Man for the first time and being blown away that SHIELD was in the movie. It seems so small now, in retrospect, but that little addition made it feel like the Marvel Universe (It was also the first appearance of fan favorite character, Agent Phil Coulson). Then of course there’s the immortal post credits scene from the first Iron Man film, when Tony meets Nick Fury which I’ve posted here below:
Building off the incredible success of IronMan and then creating 22 films that make this beautiful tapestry of a story, is mind blowing. The fact that out of the 22 films released so far, there have been so few missteps is astonishing. Even their weakest movies, and there’s only 3 or 4 like Thor: The Dark World, are pretty good or not bad at their worst. Everything else is more less gold.
The Russo Brothers, who’ve directed Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War, Avengers: Infinity War, and now Avengers: Endgame, absolutely stuck the landing with this movie, it’s a must see. The films directed by The Russo Brothers, Joe and Anthony, aired the 4 best films in The MCU. Who would’ve thought that guys who worked on TV shows like Community would go on to tell some of the most epic stories of our generation? For the record, I loved Community.
I think the real hero in all of this is Kevin Feige, the head of Marvel Studios. He was not only a massive fan of the source material, but he’d seen what mistakes other Marvel superhero films had made in the past and learned from them. So when it was time for Marvel Studios to start producing their own films, he knew what he was doing and he got the right people involved to work with them. Another huge kudos goes out to Casting Director Sarah Finn, who’s worked on almost all of the films, if not all of them. With maybe one or two exceptions out of literally hundreds, each character was a flawlessly cast. We owe a lot to her work as the reason these films came out so well.
I know what you’re thinking, “Didn’t the first trailer drop for the final film in a franchise Paul is obsessed with to an unhealthy degree? Why isn’t he on that like flies on shit!?” A very fair question. I’ll just say we have quite a bit on that in the very near future, so stay tuned…
Anyway, with just a few agonizing weeks until Avengers: Endgame hits theatres, it feels like the movie cant get here fast enough. In the meantime, I have some cool stuff to share to make the wait a little easier.
First off, Entertainment Weekly and their website EW.com always give fantastic coverage to genre entertainment. From Game of Thrones to Star Wars they always have some great content. The MCU is no exception, for their cover story this week they put out 6 exclusive covers featuring each of the founding Avengers. Check them out:
Another magazine, Empire, probably the best movie magazine in the world had this awesome cover of Thanos in full armor for this month’s issue:
Pretty cool right? We also had some light shed on some intriguing upcoming MCU projects. Marvel and Kevin Feige made some big announcements this week that made me VERY excited. Pretty much since I began reading comics, Hawkeye was always my favorite Avenger. In the Avengers comics, he’s a much more beloved character. To many comic book readers, Clint Barton is THE quintessential Avenger. Even more so than Cap or Iron Man.
Don’t get me wrong, I think Jeremy Renner is a great Hawkeye (Though I do think Jensen Ackles who passed on the role to continue playing Dean Winchester on Supernatural would be closer to the comic book interpretation). However, I do feel like audiences haven’t fallen in love with Hawkeye as much as other characters in the MCU. I don’t think this is Renner’s fault at all, I think he’s great with what he’s given. Any failures when it comes to Hawkeye lie with the writers and how they’ve chosen to use him in the stories.
I think Hawkeye really got his time to shine in Avengers: Age of Ultron. I know that’s one of the more divisive MCU films, but I love it. Hawkeye has some fantastic moments throughout the film, I’d even go so far as to say Hawkeye is the central Avenger in the movie. He even has a cool costume upgrade with a coat that harkened back to his classic comic book look.
A number of things stand out to show the audience his importance in the film: He has few great action sequences, I think they stepped up the archery tricks and showed off Hawkeye’s agility and acrobatic skills. More importantly, I loved the surprising look into his private life on his family’s farm, it’s the type of scene I adore in MCU movies. The Avengers. In one place. Together. Their chemistry is so real. I don’t care of it’s played for laughs or heavier dramatic scenes. I love seeing The Avengers put into situations where the chemistry between the characters shines and The Farm scenesfacilitate that. It’s sort of implied that he’s the rock on the team. He’s the guy who’s going to always show up and get the job done. Like Clint’s wife says “I see these guys, these… gods…” Clint replies “You don’t think they need me.” His wife says finally “I think they do, which is a lot scarier.”. The last thing I want to mention is one of my favorite scenes in the movie. At the beginning of The Ultron Offensive on Socaovia there this awesome scene/speech with Hawkeye and Wanda which you can watch here:
All of this has been a long winded way of saying that despite what some people think, Hawkeye is a great character. I always thought the ideal way to tell a fantastic Hawkeye story would be a TV series, like what they were doing on Netflix. Even though we’ve lost great characters like Daredevil to the Netflix purge, the good news is Jeremy Renner will be starring as Hawkeye in his own miniseries on Disney Plus. The more I hear about Disney Plus, the better it sounds. After all Disney does have all the good toys to play with. The Hawkeye series will be one of the first Marvel miniseries to launch with the new streaming service. The story will focus on Clint and his protege Kate Bishop. In the trailer for Endgame we see Hawkeye teaching a teenage girl archery. Is this his daughter? In the comics Kate Bishop isn’t related to Hawkeye. Will they change the character for this series and make Kate Bishop his daughter or will they introduce here as a completely new character? Time will tell.
Other miniseries announced for Disney Plus include Loki, a prequel taking place before his death at the hands of Thanos, this series will chronicle the trouble marking shenanigans and adventures of The God of Mischief over the several thousand years he’s been alive in the MCU. We also have a Vision & Scarlet Witch miniseries called WandaVision, which we know the least about right now.
Finally, we have The Falcon and The Winter Soldier, the team up series about Sam Wilson and Bucky Barnes. This is speculation on my part, but one way or another I strongly believe Steve Rogers is not going to make it out of Endgame. I think he’ll probably die or at the very least, be taken off the board in some way. Considering that Bucky Barnes and Sam Wilson have both carried the mantel of Captain America in the comic books in the past, I wouldn’t be surprised if this miniseries revolves around some kind of Who Wields The Shield concept. Who will be the next Captain America? Factoring in the two of them don’t like each other all that much, just makes it that much more interesting. It isn’t the best resolution, but we do have our first look a the logo for the miniseries, which I have posted below.
Along with The other MCU series I mentioned an animated What if? series is in the works. Like What if Peggy Carter beacame Captain America? or What of Loki was able to use Mjonir?
Disney + will be launching on November 12th for $6.99 per month or $69.99 for the year. In addition to the original content, 500 movies from the Disney library will be available along with 7,000 episodes of Disney TV shows. To put a cherry on top, The Mandelorian will premier on November 12th, available to watch the whole season as soon as the service launches. Disney + will also be the exclusive home to ALL EPISODES of The Simpsons, which is a big move from its current home on one of the FX apps. Fucking crazy, right? Below is photo of the homepage interface that will be broken up into 5 major categories: Disney, Pixar, Marvel, Star Wars, and National Geographic.
Bottom line is that a SPECTACULAR as everything we’ve seen from The MCU so far, I think thes type of annoucements as well as Kevin Fiege confirming that though it’s great to have the X-Men back home, it would be a mistake to rush them onto the MCU. Fiege explained that a 5 years plan is in place for the films AFTEREndgame. Let the good times rolll! EXCELSIOR!
As is so often the case, the biggest reveals from the year’s biggest movies come Toy marketing. Avengers: Endgame is no differentWeirdly this photo is from Orville Redenbacher. This is the best and clearest picture yet we’ve seen of (some) of the team post “The Snappening” or as it’s officially referred to at Marvel, The Decimation (which is grammatically incorrect, but sounds way cooler).
Note that only the six original Avengers are shown here. The original team from the first film. We know that Captain Marvel, Rocket, War Machine, Nebula, and Ant-man are all on the team in Avengers: Endgame. But it’s just one piece of promo art, so let’s not lose our goddamn minds. Gamespot.com had this official sysnopsis:
The Avengers will attemp to “undo Thanos’ actions and restore order to the universe once and for all, no matter what consequences may be in store.”
Oh, really? Thanks for the sysnopsis Marvel! Because I thought The Avengers were going to sit this one out!
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:
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:
Hopefully, I don’t need to catch you up on the history of the MCU, and I can just dive into what I want to see from Infinity War. This might be a pretty controversial take on it, and as always I’m very open to whatever they’re actually going to do, but this is what I would do if I were in charge.
I want to see Thanos, and his team lay waste to much of the MCU heroes. I don’t need to see him murder a bunch of them, (although I think we can agree there will likely be some major losses) but I want it to be a one-sided slaughter, I want the end of the second act to appear hopeless, like Han in carbonite, Luke handless level of hopeless. I want the audience to honestly be borderline upset at how poorly our heroes are doing.
Then as the third act begins, we see something falling towards the Earth, and it’s coming in too quick, and we see the heat trail as it burns through the atmosphere towards the ground, and it’s the Hulk who has been hurtling through space since whatever happens to the ship Thor and the Asgardians were on at the end of Ragnarok, and he slams into the ground, and is so pissed off from that ordeal, that he begins to pummel through each and every one of Thanos’ lackies and maybe they don’t win the fight (it seems as if this will not be the end since Avenger’s 4 comes out a year from now and originally was going to be Infinity War Part 2,) but he helps the team to at least hold off Thanos.
I’ve got to admit, with a 2 year-old who’s favorite phrase has been “Hulk Smash” ever since he saw Ragnarok, I want Hulk to not be in the film for long, but then come in and fuck shit up. I want to see Thanos over confident in his ability, and in his progress in destroying the Avengers and other assorted MCU heroes, and I want to have that moment everyone seems to have in the MCU where they think they know what’s going to happen, and then immediately realize they don’t have a clue. Hulk is amazing at delivering that moment, and I want him to give that to Thanos.
A big piece of speculation about the film has been that Thanos will not have all of the Infinity stones in this film, or at least not until the end of the film. I’m not sure how they cover him succeeding in getting the stones, and still have any kind of victory for the Avengers. It’s a plot point that seems—from a writing standpoint—to be insurmountable, but one that many seem to think is coming. If it’s coming, I hope it’s the very last moment, and I would enjoy seeing the Hulk have that same “oh shit” moment of realization that I want for Thanos. Then despite that, we see Hulk rampage forward, swing for a hit, and before it connects cut to black.
I want to see the Hulk smash, like he’s never smashed before…
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.