The Villains of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

By now I’m sure you’ve seen a million and one posts about the best Marvel villain or the top 5 Marvel movie villains or the top 10 Marvel movie villains etc. I’m also sure you’ve seen and heard all the talk about Killmonger now being the best movie villain, overthrowing Loki and bringing us something different. I’m going to add to that discussion but I’m gonna try to come at it from a different but more specific point of view

I’m going to look at the two focal characters and let you know what makes each of them great villains, what makes them not so great….and then I’ll say who I feel is the better of the two (not necessarily who is the best MCU villain overall and I’ll explain why)

First up, Loki;

I’m sure we all know the story but Loki is the adopted son of Odin, (former) King of (former) Asgard and brother to thunder god Thor. He’s currently given us 4 movie appearances in Thor, Thor: The Dark World, Avengers and Thor Ragnarok (5 Films if you count the upcoming Infinity War)

So what makes Loki a great villain? If you recall Loki is one of the original villains of the universe. We had Ironmonger from Ironman, Red skull from captain America, Whiplash from Ironman 2 and Abomination from The Incredible Hulk if you count that (all dead)

Loki has been around for some time. It said a lot that Marvel decided to keep him, although part of that decision was probably inspired by Loki’s longevity in the comics and the fact that he is widely associated with Thor and vice versa. However, with Tom Hiddleston given a stellar performance, there are many more reasons why Loki is one of the greats.

Family Dynamics: Being the adopted son of a king and only finding this out after it’s been made clear that your older brother is the rightful heir to the throne probably doesn’t help. This is a big part of what makes Loki, Loki. While he has a strong relationship with is mother, he’s constantly seeking affirmation and acknowledgement from his father which he doesn’t get. On the other hand he sees his father constantly give Thor attention in the form of scolding, rebuking and reprimanding but Thor seems less than interested

I think this is something the audience could at least sympathise with because who hasn’t had one issue or another with their parents? It’s a very different driving factor for “villainy” compared to the movie selections of villains we had seen up to this point and afterwards for some time. Obadiah Stane was greedy, Red skull was too comic book like (in the wrong way), Abomination was insane and whiplash….well he just wanted his bird. Loki has real life issues that could be related to by the everyday person

Ambitions: Now here is where Loki is let down in my opinion. In a YouTube video I heard Loki more or less described as a spoilt child throwing his toys out of the pram when compared to killmonger and that is pretty much spot on. Loki was not next in line to rule Asgard and aside from that he probably wouldn’t have much going for him. However aside from that he “had it all”

He was the (adopted) son of the king of Asgard which places him in the royal family. Next to Thor and Odin he is the most powerful, influential person in Asgard (maybe in the whole 9 realms?) His only problem in life was that he was jealous of his brother? Relatability aside this isn’t much. This doesn’t define a villain. There needs to be something menacing and scary present for any character to be considered a villain

Even in avengers where Loki played a vital role again, he was basically doing so on behalf of Thanos, who he is clearly afraid of. So….yea, compared to other villains, in my opinion, Loki lacked in his ambition and intent. However his relatability and likeability more than make up for that

Next up, Killmonger:

So why is Killmonger so great. Well consider this first of all, in one film he’s already being compared to Loki who we’ve seen in 4 films. Also even if we only want to compare the first films of both villains (Thor and Black Panther) Killmonger with far less screen time accomplish more and had just as much of a dominating presence, maybe even more

Also there haven’t been too many villains who have, to borrow a wrestling term, “won clean” over the hero. Killmonger straight up beat T’Challa I’m a fair contest even when someone interfered to try and help him.

Family Dynamics: Having already discussed Loki we can now start making comparisons. As you’re aware, if you’ve seen Black Panther, you know that Killmonger is part of the Wakandan Panther tribe royal family. His father is the brother of the late former King T’Chaka, father of T’Challa, making them cousins. This also means that he has the right to challenge for the throne. In comparison to Loki he also has an interesting story here and you could argue it’s more interesting. Where Loki had that sibling rivalry being his driving force, Eric (Killmonger) was indirectly and unintentionally ostracized from the family and from Wakanda by T’Chaka’s actions. He’s now spent this whole time growing up and planning how he would return to Wakanda to, as he said, “Burn it all”

Eric has stronger motivations family wise but those aren’t even the motivations that Killmonger is praised for in this film. I would say though that although in my opinion the Wakanda royal family dynamic is more interesting than the Asgardian one with Loki, we at least got to see more of Loki in the family setting. We see times where his father Odin ignores him, showing more attention to Thor who, at the start at least, isn’t too interested

We “seemingly” see the build up and the point where Loki has finally had enough and decides to do what he does (first Thor film) you can then follow that thread, even though it’s off screen, to Loki’s decision to work for/with Thanos in order to conquer earth in the Avengers film. With Killmonger, although his back story is way more tragic, we skip right to the start of him enacting his plan of revenge and we are expected to fill in the gaps and to be fair this wasn’t an issue for me and I haven’t heard any complaints about this aspect of his character. It’s close but I’d give this one to Loki just because we have more of his story on screen

Ambition: So here is where most people start when they compare Killmonger with Loki. To keep it short and sweet we know that Killmonger came back to Wakanda to challenge for the throne so he could help arm the war dogs all over the world. His thinking here is that people of colour, specifically black people, have been oppressed over the world while Wakanda lived in peace and prosperity and did nothing to help

Killmonger did some really shady and wicked but you can’t argue his heart was at least heading in the right direction. He was angry with his family and he knows his father was betrayed by Wakanda “panther claws in his chest” but ultimately he wanted to make a difference to the world. Ask anyone and they’ll tell you that when they watched the film, at some point, they could empathise and sympathise with Killmonger. Also Black Panther is the first McU film (maybe even the first Heroes film) where the villain/bad guy changes the mind of the hero

So who wins the battle? For me it has to be Killmonger. Loki has the longevity, he’s a fan favourite for sure and he’s super relatable. He’s not just a comic book villain who wants to take over the world or just burn it. He has real relatable issues……However Killmonger’s goal is just better. It’s so much bigger than his personal revenge. Him getting what he wanted, even though he was going about it wrong, would have helped a whole lot of people. Also as mentioned earlier, he’s the first MCU villain to beat the hero clean in a one on one fight

It’s because of this and so many other reasons, that I rate Killmonger as a better villain than Loki. Is he the best villain overall? That’s another discussion for another time. Besides we’re still yet to meet Thanos properly. Do you agree? Is Killmonger a better villain than Loki? Is Loki still the favourite? Is there another villain who is the best? Comment below

Thanks for reading. Have a good one


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