With Thanos’ story culminating in Avengers: Endgame, many people are wondering who the next big bad of Marvel’s MCU movies is going to be. Process of elimination cuts many villains out of the possibilities. Aside from Thanos, the MCU has already included Ultron, Loki, the Skrulls, Mysterio, Vulture, Hydra, Whiplash (and also Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo as they were all essentially rolled into Mickey Rourke’s character), Red Skull, Malekith, Iron Monger, Killmonger, YellowJacket, Winter Soldier, Baron Zemo, Ghost, Grandmaster, Collector, Abomination, Frost giants, Ego, Ronan, Dormammu, Hela, the Destroyer, Crossbones, Skurge, Ulysses Klaw, Surtur, Arnim Zola, and even Batroc.
So, we have to look deeper into Marvel’s throng of bad guys. Of those not yet seen, you can eliminate the lesser villains. People like Stilt-man and the Gibbon clearly aren’t much of a threat to the MCU. You must also discount those that have already been announced, or are expected, for upcoming movies, such as Taskmaster, Nightmare, Namor, and the real Mandarin. Now, of course Namor isn’t always a villain. Most of the time, actually, he’s a hero. However, the hint mentioned by Okaye in Endgame falls into the category where Namor tends to lose his temper and attack the surface world. When talking to Black Widow, Okaye mentioned underwater earthquakes. Namor will undoubtedly blame surface dwellers for the event (as he most often does).
Next, you need to cut those villainous characters that are generally designated to a specific character if that character isn’t getting their own movie any time soon, such as The Leader. Because, face it, the Hulk isn’t getting his own movie again any time soon. Finally, you have to eliminate those characters who, while amazing, just aren’t world level threats. For example, I’m rooting for Kraven to be the next Spider-man villain, but I don’t see him being a threat that shows up in anyone else’s movies. The same can be said for Bullseye (who will definitely go up against Daredevil), Sabretooth (who will end up fighting whoever takes over the role of Wolverine), the Sentinels (who will naturally be pitted against the X-Men), and Doctor Octopus (who will surely once again become a major on-screen threat at some point for Spidey). The Enchantress generally goes up against Thor, but I could see her being included as a villain for Scarlet Witch as well. Even as such, though, she won’t be a world level threat. There are still others in this category that don’t fall to just one hero typically, but either way, they just aren’t the type to create major problems, like the Absorbing Man or The Wrecking Crew.
So, yes, over the course of the past eleven years, Marvel has used many of their most well-known villains in their movies. However, there are still a good number of viable villains left to grace the silver screen with their evil presence. Actually, as characters like Spider-man, the X-Men, and Fantastic Four have all begun to be integrated into Marvel’s “MCU” movies as opposed to their own separate universes of movies, many of their villains that have appeared previously have yet to make the jump to the MCU. So, even though audiences have seen the likes of Magneto, Green Goblin, Dr. Doom, Galactus, and Apocalypse in the past, none of these guys have appeared in the MCU and so are ripe for the taking. That means the MCU hasn’t seen some of the best, or worst, villains to come out of Marvel Comics.
So, to that end, we’re ranking the villains most likely to manipulate and attack our beloved Marvel heroes.
10. Michael Korvac
Korvac has already been mentioned as a possible villain in Captain Marvel’s future. He’s an extremely powerful villain of the Marvel Comics universe. As a being of almost God-like powers, he’s nearly unstoppable. Yet, I don’t see him being more than a big bad for an installment of a solo hero movie, like Captain Marvel 2. He’s a good villain for Carol and will definitely push her to exert all her powers and wits to stop him. He just doesn’t have the cool factor to be the MCU’s next overarching big bad. Heck, he doesn’t even have a cool villain name. Try it on your tongue, “the next big bad of the MCU… is a guy named Mike.” Not happening.
M.O.D.O.K. stands for Mental Organism Designed Only for Killing. This guy is essentially a giant head that floats around and leads A.I.M, the one-time science branch of Hydra that eventually broke off into its own organization. While he is a big (no pun intended) character in Marvel Comics, he wouldn’t translate well to the realism that the MCU aims for unless his appearance was greatly altered. That being said, if they did alter M.O.D.O.K.’s look to be more realistic, his appearance in the MCU as the head of a Hydra-like organization with cool gadgets and weaponry could present a major problem to whoever he attacks. Look for a M.O.D.O.K. cartoon coming to Hulu soon.
X-Men: Apocalypse wasn’t well received by all who watched it, sure. However, the complex story line of Apocalypse and his deeply entrenched relationship with Scott and Nathan Summers wasn’t even touched upon. He’s a world ending threat that takes nearly all of Marvel’s merry mutants to stop him. Plus, his story reads like a sci-fi blockbuster akin to The Terminator with Nathan (Cable) coming back in time to stop him. Meanwhile, in the present, Scott (Cyclops) hates Apocalypse with a passion for causing him to lose his son. Little does Scott know, of course, that Nathan is his son! While I do not think Apocalypse will return to the big screen in the immediate future, I do believe he will be revisited further down the road in the X-Men’s future in the MCU.
7. Dark Phoenix
Much like Apocalypse, the Dark Phoenix has been done to varying levels of success already. There hasn’t been much time since the last installment (2019), so Jean Grey’s not likely to be turned to the dark side any time soon. Naturally, Jean will need to first be introduced as an X-Man once the merry mutants are brought into the MCU so that audiences can watch her transition. It’ll give Jean’s change, and its outcome, more gravitas. If Jean is used as an MCU big bad instead of just an X-Men villain, she could be the impetus to bring Avengers vs X-Men to the screen.
Galactus is a world eater, so he’s definitely a world level threat worthy of being an MCU big bad. However, the multi-movie threat of Thanos took a story structure that slowly introduced him a little at a time. Thanos had henchmen doing his bidding far ahead of his actual arrival. That structure lends itself well to Galactus in the form of his heralds, but besides that Galactus isn’t a fit. Save for Silver Surfer, Galactus’ other heralds would doubtfully pull a movie all to themselves as a main villain. Surfer, of course, isn’t a villain and so wouldn’t likely be seen as a bad guy for an entire movie. So, the slow introduction of Galactus would then be difficult as the big man himself would need to show rather quickly in order to keep audiences interested. Also, Galactus should involve the Fantastic Four and, as such, won’t likely be introduced in the MCU at all until they are. He’s enough of a problem that he could be a two-parter with heralds, including surfer, showing up and causing problems in a first part. Audiences would get to watch Surfer break free of Galactus’ hold and become the hero he truly is. The movie could end on a cliffhanger with Galactus’ arrival. He could then come in the next film as that movie’s main problem. Beyond that, though, I don’t see how the movie runners could feasibly extend the problem of Galactus out much further than that. Therefore, he’ll likely be a Fantastic Four villain only. Let’s all hope he shows up in person this time instead of as a gas cloud.
Magneto is undoubtedly one of the coolest villains of the Marvel Universe. He has an intricate, well written backstory making him all the more interesting. As the polar opposite of Charles Xavier, Magneto believes mutants should rule over humans and not simply live in peaceful coexistence. His past as a Holocaust survivor provides a realistic motivation for his goals of refusing to be subjugated. However, therein lies the problem. Magneto’s past is tied to WWII. When the first X-Men movie came out in 2000, Ian McKellan played an older Magneto. 19 years later, WWII veterans are turning 100. Even if he’d been a kid at the time of the Holocaust, Magneto would be an octogenarian, and it would be difficult to portray him as a strong villain in his prime over the course of the next five to ten years. This issue of being anchored to a real-world timeline is likely why the last few X-Men movies have all been set in previous decades. Also, while Magneto is the best X-Men villain and one of the best Marvel villains, he’s been overused since he’s appeared in every single X-Men movie. He’s ONE of their many villains, after all, not their only one. If he continued to be ever-present as he has been, it’d be better for his role to ebb and flow in its importance a bit more as Loki’s has in the Thor movies, not always commanding such a pivotal role. If done that way, he could be introduced in the first new X-Men movie, as he should be, and come up again later as an potential point of strife between the X-Men and the Avengers as he has been in the comics in the past. Once again, this conflict could produce the Avengers vs X-Men story line.
Annihilation is one of the coolest comic book story lines of all time, in my opinion. It read like a dark Star Wars story, with a ragtag group of heroes connecting up to take on impossible odds. Annihilus was taking over the entire universe, and all of Marvel’s space heroes, including Nova, Star-lord, Gamora, Drax, and others, had to come together to stop him. This story is actually what brought the team that became known as the Guardians of the Galaxy together. While there had been a Guardians of the Galaxy team before, it was set in the future and included none of the team members the world now knows and loves thanks to the successful movies. Annihilus caused the creation of this incarnation of the team by being a universal threat. I feel sure he’ll appear at some point. I would hope, though, that the MCU plays him similarly to how the Annihilation story did and keeps him in space and only going up against the space heroes of the MCU in a gritty, deadly battle. If done this way, the MCU could have two big bads simultaneously, one fighting the earthbound heroes while Annihilus fights the ones in space. With that as my hopeful expectation, I’m assuming Annihilus will not be the next villain to take on the next iteration of the Avengers.
Aside from Annihilus, Kang is the biggest villain on this list not to have been seen in a movie of their own, even if they weren’t movies in the MCU. As one of the biggest Avengers villains of all time, he deserves a big entrance into the MCU. Also, he’s a time traveler. So, the fact that the Avengers did some time traveling in Endgame could have attracted his attention, bringing him into the MCU. In three different incarnations throughout time, Kang has battled the Avengers as well as the Fantastic Four. He’s actually a descendant of Reed Richards himself. He’s a world conqueror and would present an issue for the entire MCU. There’s even a great story line called Avengers Forever in which Avengers members are plucked from different timelines to fight against him. That would be a wonderfully creative way to snag Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans back into their roles without affecting the end of the last Avengers movie. The only thing affecting Kang’s certain entrance into the MCU is that Norman Osborn and Dr. Doom have yet to jump to the MCU from their previous movie incarnations.
2. Norman Osborn (Green Goblin)
Many of this list that have appeared in previous movies weren’t done that well. Norman does not fall into that category. Willem Dafoe played him to maniacal perfection in the first Spider-man movie. Later “soft reboots” of Spider-man gave audiences another incarnation that, in my opinion, wasn’t as good as Dafoe’s but was still decent. What many don’t know about Osborn, though, is that he isn’t just a Spider-man villain anymore. Sure, he’s Spidey’s number 1 villain, but he’s branched out over the years and become a villain that has affected the entire Marvel Comics universe. He took over SHIELD, he created the Dark Avengers and led them in an Iron Man-like suit naming himself Iron Patriot. This role sent him head-to-head against Iron Man and all the Avengers on more than one occasion. Osborn even led an invasion into Thor’s Asgard! He’s evil and manipulative. He’s a perfect character to sew his seeds of evil slowly throughout the MCU before becoming the definitive problem himself in a culmination involving many characters from the MCU.
1. Dr. Doom
For a proper introduction into the MCU, Doom would need to come in with the Fantastic Four when they’re introduced. While he is a Marvel villain, he is an FF villain at his core. He’s the coin flip of Reed Richards. However, Doom has gone up against nearly every single Marvel character at some point. The best villains tend to be those that think they’re doing the right things and that they are not villainous at all. That concept fits Doom perfectly. He’s the hero of his own story at all times. The Marvel heroes just get in his way. As leader of his own country, Doom often abuses his power to get what he wants. He’s very much an “ends justifies the means” kind of character who will do the absolute worst things because they get him something he thinks he or his country needs. In addition to his ego-maniacal iron fisted stance on the world, he’s also quite powerful with an armored suit similar to Iron Man’s along with a control of magic that, at times, has pitted him against Dr. Strange. He’d make for a powerful enough villain that he could conceivably manipulate the MCU for a while before taking on all comers in a full out battle.
It may feel to some as if Avengers: Endgame hit a pinnacle that cannot be reached again. However, there are numerous story lines that were huge in comics that, if handled correctly, could be as exciting as the Infinity Gauntlet story line. The Secret Invasion of the Skrulls, Avengers vs X-Men, Avengers Forever, Age of Apocalypse, Annihilation, and Secret Wars all involved most Marvel characters and had many readers on the edges of their seats. The good thing about this list of villains still available to the MCU world of movies is that each of these story lines are still an option because they involved villains from this list! Kevin Feige, at the root of all he’s done for the MCU, is a fan of Marvel Comics. It’s almost as if he’s a kid getting to play with all the heroes and villains as action figures in his own personal sandbox. A guy like that isn’t going to let these stories go untold.
Who Will Be Marvel’s Next Big Villain?
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