10. 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.
9. 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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8. 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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7. Scarlet Witch – Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness (2022)
“You break the rules and become a hero. I do it and I become the enemy. That doesn’t seem fair.”
A former Avenger turned grieving all-powerful mother who manipulates reality to her will using chaos magic, the Scarlet Witch Wanda Maximoff is one of (if not the) most powerful individuals we’ve seen in the MCU so far. She would have reduced Thanos to atoms in Avengers: Endgame if he hadn’t called in an airstrike to stop her after she returned from the blip, and she goes on to tear the seriously powerful Illuminati, including Professor X and Captain Marvel, to shreds while still wearing her pyjamas in Doctor Strange 2.
After her time putting the people of Westview under her spell to enact her happy fantasy ended, Wanda delved into a dark book of sorcery, the Darkhold, and it corrupted her and finally pushed her over the edge. In Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, the Scarlet Witch decides she is going to reach a dimension in which an alternative version of herself still has her beloved children no matter how many lives it costs across the multiverse.
You don’t need much to make her a seriously scary antagonist, but Elizabeth Olsen’s hurting, wrathful performance in combination with Sam Raimi’s employment of some classic horror imagery really works.
6. Ego – Guardians of the Galaxy Vol 2 (2017)
“The Expansion… the reason for my very existence would be over. So, I did what I had to do. But… it broke my heart to put that tumour in her head.”
Ego is a celestial god with a “small g” seeking to trigger “The Expansion” to turn thousands of planets into extensions of his consciousness, killing anything living on them in the process.
He’s the ultimate absentee dad driving around (well, flying through space) shagging anything that moves and leaving sons (chiefly Peter Quill) with expectations that will never be met.
The way he almost tempts Peter over to the dark side by being really cool and apparently finally willing to give him the time and attention he craves (the “playing catch” scene seals it) is malicious to the extreme. Turns out he just needs a second body with celestial DNA to kick off his galactic re-write. And, to cap it all, he killed Peter’s mum with cancer. What an a-hole!
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