Note: Some of the links below are affiliate links, meaning, at no additional cost to you, Fandom will earn a commission if you click through and make a purchase.
Everyone is wondering who the next overarching villain will be in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Instead of plumbing the depths of the Marvel wiki for potential candidates, we thought it might be worth looking back at the villains we’ve already seen. Why? The MCU has delivered an incredible amount of villains and they all have a number of different qualities, motivations, and attitudes worth examining.
And when thinking about the future of the MCU, it’s important to remember what’s come before and how that could influence where the series goes in regards to its big bad.
So, let’s look at some of the most notable villains in the MCU’s history and what aspects of theirs would be great to see in Phase Four’s eventual big bad.
The obvious villain we have to look at is the last big bad of the MCU: Thanos, the Mad Titan from Avengers: Infinity War and Endgame (Watch now on Disney+). He’s an imposing and powerful figure even before you find out he wants to murder half of the universe. It’s almost certain that Thanos will be used as some kind of inspiration for whoever the next great threat will be.
What to borrow: Ominous presence. The Phase Four big bad has to make you feel their importance by just appearing on screen. Thanos commands the room when he’s the focus of a movie, and the Phase Four big bad should do the same.
Loki, first introduced in Thor (Watch now on Disney+), is arguably the MCU villain that has had the most longevity and adoration from audiences. This alone is a reason to consider using him as some source of influence for Phase Four’s main antagonist.
What to borrow: Charm. Loki’s charisma is magnetic and it’s one of the reasons why fans have continued to find him a fascinating character. It’s clear that this facet of his personality is part of the reason why he’ll be headlining his own Disney+ series. The Phase Four big bad should be different from Thanos by being someone we kind of are in danger of finding personable.
Many of the MCU villains end up having some kind of history with Tony Stark, but the most intriguing one of those has got to be Ultron from Avengers: Age of Ultron (Watch now on Disney+). Created by Tony to be an AI that could protect the world, Ultron’s rebellious nature and ultimately nihilistic view towards humanity ended up creating one of the Avengers’ most deadly adversaries.
What to borrow: Unpredictability. Ultron was a scary villain because he was basically insane. Because of this, you never knew what he was going to do in any given scene. Phase Four’s main villain needs to be a character we are frightened of because we don’t know what they’re capable of or possibly even why they’re doing what they’re doing.
The MCU has had a number of villains who initially seem to be good only for them to reveal their true nature. One of the best of these has got to be Ego from Guardians of the Galaxy 2 (Watch now on Disney+). A kind, understanding man who only wanted to rejoin with his son, Ego’s real intentions were genocidal and horrific.
What to borrow: Warmth. Thanos is an incredibly chilly villain and the Phase Four baddie should be the complete opposite. Having an antagonist who is coming from a place of what seems like love will only make their diabolical plans that much more sinister.
When we talk about the absolute best MCU villains to date, Killmonger from Black Panther has got to be vying for the number one spot. Ruthless, aggressive, but with a backstory that hits incredibly hard, his motivations and anger are qualities that make him an outstanding antagonist.
What to borrow: Righteousness. Killmonger’s incentives come from a place that is hard to emotionally argue against. His methodology is what makes him a bad guy. Thanos also believed what he was doing was the right thing, but the Phase Four big bad shouldn’t approach it with the same cold detachment. Their reasons should burn with the same passion as Killmonger.
Though Iron Man 3‘s (Watch now on Disney+) use of the Mandarin is a controversial one, it’s a take that invites a ton of interesting debate. The Mandarin in the MCU is basically an invented figure that acts as a flamboyant mouthpiece for the real villain of Iron Man 3. And that exaggerated persona is one that leaves an impression.
What to borrow: Theatricality. Villains in comic book stories are traditionally very operatic characters, and the Phase Four heavy should be no exception. A lot of the MCU has approached characters with some sense of grounding, but the next major threat to our heroes should be someone who relishes in the costume drama of being a supervillain.
A cornerstone of the MCU was built upon making characters that audiences found incredibly enjoyable. One of the best of these has been Justin Hammer from Iron Man 2 (Watch now on Disney+), weapons developer and professional rival of Tony Stark. It’s a shame we haven’t seen much of him in the MCU, but there’s something the future Phase Four baddie could learn from him
What to borrow: Humor. It’d be great to see an overarching menace that’s actually funny! Thanos wasn’t exactly a font of hilarity and the MCU should switch gears with their next big bad. Having a master villain that’s both humorous and horrifying would be a great addition to the MCU’s villain roster.
Disney+ is the only place to stream your favorites from Disney and more. Watch now!