The Marvel Cinematic Universe began in 2008 with Iron Man and has been going strong for 13 years since. This stunning world of heroes and villains has been unfolding in front of our eyes for over a decade, and the characters are growing and changing, just as we all are.
Both the superheroes and the supervillains in the Marvel movies have layered personalities and rich backstories that make us feel for them. The stories of Marvel show us how quickly “good guys” can become “bad guys,” and vice-versa. They show us that sometimes, the good guys turn bad because something awful happened to them. And some of the films, of course, show us that the bad guys are really just bad to the bone.
Whether your favorite type of villain is the one with good intentions–or the one who’s just purely evil– Marvel has a character who will check all the boxes. These are the top five most iconic Marvel villains that I would choose to create a super-team of evil warriors. Choose your fighter that you would take into battle with you if you found yourself in the MCU–you have so many wonderfully malevolent options to pick from!
Film: Thor series
Played by: Cate Blanchett
The daughter of Odin, Hela, is the goddess of death. All she wants is to maintain her power over Asgard, putting her at odds with her younger brothers, Thor and Loki. As the firstborn child of Odin, she is especially powerful.
4. Winter Soldier (AKA Bucky Barnes)
Film: Captain America series
Played by: Sebastian Stan
World War II veteran James Buchanan “Bucky” Barnes was given a dose of Super Soldier Serum. While he was originally an ally of Captain America, HYDRA ultimately captures and brainwashes him. Knowing how good he once was, his alliance with dark forces make him an especially fascinating villain.
Film: Avengers series
Played by: Josh Brolin
Thanos’s main objective is to try to balance the universe by wiping out half of all life. His hunt for all the Infinity Stones is a part of this greater (and terrifying) goal. He is the father of Gamora and Nebula, and he forms alliances with Loki and Ronan the Accuser. He is deeply connected to several Marvel characters, making his savagery even scarier.
2. Erik Killmonger
Film: Black Panther
Played by: Michael B. Jordan
The Wakandan son of Prince N’Jobu, Erik Killmonger has a lifelong mission to take his cousin, T’Challa, off the throne of Wakanda. His training in the United States Navy help him to be fearless and disciplined in his quest.
Film: Avengers series
Played by: Tom Hiddleston
Loki–more formally known as Loki Laufeyson–was the biological son of Laufey. However, he was abandoned soon after he was born. Odin found him when he was young and brought him to Asgard, where he was raised as a prince along with Thor.
The heroes of the MCU wouldn’t be as iconic without these super-villains testing their limits. There is no good without evil in this cinematic universe, and these five Marvel villains are some of the best at pushing the Avengers to be stronger, wiser, and ultimately, better people.