17. Adrian Toomes/Vulture – Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)
“Those people, Pete, those people up there, the rich and the powerful, they do whatever they want. Guys like us, like you and me… they don’t care about us.”
Vulture is a self-made social riser orchestrating a series of heists to steal Stark technology and sell it to the highest-bidding criminals.
One of the only working-class villains in the MCU, Adrian Toomes starts off salvaging alien wreckages from the Battle of New York before being shut out of this lucrative business by SHIELD. He and his crew go on a spree, stealing from Stark weapon caches and employing the alien technology they managed to save.
He’s a robber in a wing-suit, but what makes him interesting aside from Michael Keaton’s scary performance is his personal connection to Peter Parker – they soon deduce each other’s secret identities and Spidey is left battling his crush’s dad atop of a disintegrating plane.
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16. Ikaris – Eternals (2021)
“Do you think it was easy to live with the truth? To know that one day all this would end? If we gave humanity the choice, how many of them would be willing to die so that billions more could be born?”
One of ten immortal Eternals created by intergalactic gods the Celestials to nurture intelligent life for a dark purpose – to use as an energy source to birth a new Celestial. With super strength, flight and energy projection powers, Ikaris is the most powerful of his group and one of only two of them that know their true mission.
Aside from wanting to bring about the extinction of all life on Earth, Ikaris’ most evil act is deceiving his family, for thousands of years. Only he and Ajak knew what the Celestials planned for humanity, and while their leader had her doubts Ikaris was a true fanatic devoted to his dogma whatever the cost, even murdering Ajak and encouraging the marauding deviants’ return.
15. Yon-Rogg – Captain Marvel (2019)
“I always told you… you’ll be ready the day you can knock me down as yourself. This is that moment. This is that moment, Vers! Turn off the light show and prove… prove to me you can beat me without…”
Yon-Rogg is the leader of Kree special forces team Star Force, and is responsible for indoctrinating an amnesiac Carol Danvers and orchestrating acts of genocide against the Skrull species at the behest of his synthetic leader, the Great Intelligence.
Yon-Rogg is a toxic bastard though-and-through. Jude Law, looking like his handsome self but with yellow eyes, plays him as a supportive (if patronising) mentor to Carol in the beginning before revealing himself to be a supremacist monster. He then has the gall gall to try and dictate how she should use her powers, making him among the most detestable MCU villains.
There are few moments as satisfying as watching Carol blasting him back into a cliff with a photon blast mid-mansplain.
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14. Aldrich Killian – Iron Man 3 (2013)
“They say his Lear was the toast of Croydon, wherever that is.”
Aldrich Killian is a shoes-and-no-socks creep inventor spurned by Tony Stark who manufactures a terrorist threat to the US in order to hold the world to ransom.
Aldrich Killian never forgives pre-kidnapping dickhead Tony Stark for abandoning him on a hotel roof in Switzerland. Stark’s promise to hear his pitch for a collective of scientists and inventors sharing their research for the good of mankind is not forthcoming, so he goes it alone and recruits Maya Hansen for her Extremis nanotechnology, which is weaponised for use as a custom terror threat. That threat is apparently spearheaded by The Mandarin, in reality a sozzled actor performing Killian’s threats on TV, before Killian himself reveals he is pulling the strings, has taken the Extremis virus, and can breathe fire, a cool and useful power he uses precisely once.
13. Quentin Beck/Mysterio – Spider-Man: Far From Home (2019)
“You’ll see, Peter. People… need to believe. And nowadays, they’ll believe anything.”
Mysterio is one of Tony Stark’s research and development technicians who masquerades as a superhero in order to gain control of Stark weaponry.
Tony Stark really needed to stop mistreating his employees earlier in his career, and maybe he would have if he’d known treating them all like garbage was fuelling a supervillain factory.
Mysterio is another father figure for Peter Parker who turns against him because he’s bitter about Tony Stark stealing credit for his inventions.
Jake Gyllenhaal’s portrayal of Quentin shifting before your eyes from decent human being to smarmy asshole is entertainingly wrong-footing, and his plan to gain the fame and adulation afforded to each Avenger without breaking a sweat – faking supervillain threats using holograms and Stark’s EDITH satellite weapon system – is a simple and selfish motivation for him, not to mention a particular insult to the idealistic Peter.
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12. Namor – Black Panther: Wakanda Forever (2022)
“Only the most broken people can be great leaders.”
Namor is the mutant ruler of the underwater nation of Talokan, a character prepared to wage war on the similarly secretive and isolationist Wakanda in order to protect his home and its resources from the cruel surface world.
Namor is a big-hitter, kidnapping the heir to the Wakandan throne, inflicting incalculable damage on Wakanda itself during an attack on their capital. In the process of flooding the city, he strikes an even more personal blow against the royal family.
And yet… you completely get where he’s coming from.
The ancestors of the Talokanil people, much like the Wakandans, were bestowed with special gifts via their proximity to rare mineral-infused flora. Growing gills and adapting to their ocean environment, their society developed at an accelerated rate as they lived in secret beneath the waves, until the CIA’s metallurgists stumbled across them. Namor just wants his people to be left alone, to not fall prey to the greed and exploitation so often demonstrated by the world’s most powerful nations over the centuries, and he’s more than prepared prepared to strike first, destroying and killing without restraint to achieve his aims.
Tenoch Huerta Mejía imbues Namor with charm, nuance and threat, and what a threat he proves to be with his superhuman speed, strength and command of the oceans (sounding familiar? He predates DC’s Aquaman). He’s able to easily fight off all comers while wearing green swimming trunks until the new Black Panther clips his wings and de-powers him by forcing a showdown in a desert landscape.
11. Norman Osborn/Green Goblin – Spider-Man: No Way Home (2021)
“I’ve watched you from deep behind Norman’s cowardly eyes, struggling to have everything you want while the world tries to make you choose. Gods don’t have to choose. We take.”
Brought over from another dimension by Doctor Strange’s miscast reality-altering spell, Norman Osborn was a brilliant military scientist driven to test his experimental enhanced strength serum on himself when his own company ousted him. Turned into the psychologically fractured and deadly Green Goblin, he seeks to take over this new world he finds himself in.
The best decision made in bringing the Goblin back is that the Power Rangers villain helmet is ditched early, allowing for Dafoe to showcase his full range of deranged facial expressions, grinning wider and wider as he is punched in the face by Spider-Man. He quickly proves himself one of the most formidable physical threats in the MCU but also decides to attack Peter Parker on an emotional front as well, taking those nearest and dearest from him and very nearly making him cross the line there is no turning back from.
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