16. Alexander Pierce – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)
“You didn’t ask, you just did what had to be done. I can bring order to the lives of seven billion people by sacrificing twenty million.”
As the head of SHIELD (and Nick Fury’s superior), Alexander Pierce secretly works with Hydra, using the brainwashed Winter Soldier as his tool to bring about a new world order.
You don’t have to give Robert Redford much for him to steal every scene he’s in. He brings all the expected presence and charm to a character who is completely amoral but utterly convinced the atrocities he is about to sanction are the right thing to do for world security. The knowing casting of Redford playing it completely straight and providing much-needed gravitas as the villain in a comic book conspiracy thriller adds much value to Winter Soldier’s admittedly pretty hokey final act.
15. Kaecilius – Doctor Strange (2016)
“People think in terms of good and evil, but really, time is the true enemy of us all. Time kills everything.”
Kaecilius, a renegade master of the mystic arts, attempts to open the way to the Dark Dimension, allowing demon Dormamu to consume our reality and increase his great power.
Kaecilius only wants forbidden knowledge, and eternal life, and limitless power… actually he wants quite a bit. He’s the classic example of a wayward student gone wrong, and he would probably have turned out OK if the Ancient One had been a bit more supportive as a mentor.
Mads Mikkelsen always plays entertaining villains, and as well as being shown to be a deadly dark sorcerer here he brings a welcome sense of humour to his portrayal of Kaecilius (“Mr Doctor?” / “It’s Strange” / “Maybe, who am I to judge?”).
14. Hela – Thor: Ragnarok (2017)
“We were once the seat of absolute power in the cosmos. Our supremacy was unchallenged. Yet Odin stopped at nine realms. Our destiny is to rule over all others.”
Thor and Loki’s long-lost secret evil stepsister, Odin’s first-born and the Asgardian Goddess of Death returns to claim her throne and begin a new bloody conquest of the Nine Realms and beyond.
Incredibly, only the second female main antagonist in the MCU to date, Hela is born out of Odin’s days of warmongering and has Loki’s sense of superiority, young Thor’s bloodlust, and enough power to crush Mjolnir in her bare hand.
Cate Blanchett seems to relish playing a tyrant dressed like the lead singer of a metal band which makes it a shame all her colourful screen time is overshadowed by a final showdown against the heroes which is cut short by the deus ex machina arrival of “big monster” Surtur.
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13. 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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12. 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.
11. 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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