Check out where your favorites are!
As I said with my MCU movies ranking, I will update this at the end of every year. Since there are so many new MCU projects, I can't update them constantly. This list especially, because each movie or show usually brings more than one villain. And, because of that, I made a rule. With the exception of Thor: Ragnarok, because all of the villains there are important, I only included one or two villains from each movie. Unless I deem them serviceable to the plot of the movie, they aren't in here. So I didn't include the Shocker. I didn't include Taserface. For No Way Home, I only included Green Goblin because I want someone from that movie, but all the villains are really from other movies. I didn't include Kro or Sprite. Besides Ragnarok, I chose the one or two most important villains from each movie and TV show. Navigate the links if you want to see a specific villain's placement.
Be sure to check out my MCU movies ranking!! If you like what you see here, I have a ton of other MCU and superhero content on the blog. Please consider subscribing so that you never miss a ranking or review. Also, come back later this week for all of my end-of-year rankings!! It's going to be fun. Click here for my review of Spider-Man: No Way Home and here for my ranking of every 2021 superhero movie and TV show.
Iron Monger / Abomination / Thunderbolt Ross / Whiplash / Justin Hammer / Loki / Red Skull / Arnim Zola / Aldrich Killian / Trevor Slattery / Malekith / Alexander Pierce / Crossbones / Ronan / Ultron / Yellowjacket / Helmut Zemo / Kaecilius / Dormammu / Ego / Ayesha / Vulture / Hela / The Grandmaster / Surtur / Killmonger / Ulysseus Klaue / Thanos / Ebony Maw / Ghost / Sonny Burch / Yon-Rogg / Mysterio / Agatha Harkness / Tyler Hayward / Karli Morgenthau / The Power Broker / General Dreykov / Taskmaster / Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine / Ravonna Renslayer / He Who Remains / The Mandarin / The Dweller-in-Darkness / Infinity Ultron / Ikaris / Arishem the Judge / Kingpin / Echo / Green Goblin
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50. Malekith the Accursed (Thor: The Dark World)
Malekith sucks. He is a terrible villain. He is the most generic and boring waste of a villain. It's a shame, because Christopher Eccleston is a good actor. Instead, he has tons of generic villain sayings, such as "Your world will be extinguished!" and "I will restore our world.". He is the low point of Marvel villains.
49. Trevor Slattery (Iron Man 3)
When I thought that he was the Mandarin, I liked Trevor Slattery as a villain. And then there was the reveal that he was a drunk idiot and wasn't actually the Mandarin. It was bad. And it makes him very low on the list. His inclusion in Shang-Chi was not good. It was funny at first, but eventually, it got old. So I am not a fan of this character.
48. Antonia Dreykov / Taskmaster (Black Widow)
The biggest disappointment since the Mandarin twist, I cannot believe how badly Taskmaster was done in Black Widow. In the comics, Anthony Masters is a dangerous villain that can mimic other heroes. In Black Widow, Taskmaster is a secondary character that only shows up for action scenes. No other defining traits. And they did not set the stage for Taskmaster showing up in future projects.
47. Aldrich Killian (Iron Man 3)
Right above the fact Mandarin is the seemingly real Mandarin. Aldrich Killian a loser. He is basically Syndrome from The Incredibles. Also, if you're going to replace Iron Man's most infamous foe, replace him with someone cool from the comics. Not this douche.
46. The Dweller-in-Darkness (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
Even though I love the MCU, I accept that it isn't perfect. And the big CGI spectacle battles do tend to annoy me from time to time. The Dweller-in-Darkness is just an underwhelming CGI boss to fight at the end. He's this screeching demon dragon that doesn't look remotely good. And his fight against The Great Protector is one of the things that made me not really like Shang-Chi.
45. Sharon Carter / The Power Broker (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier)
In one of the most obvious plot twists of all time, Sharon Carter turned out to be the Power Broker. Not your best reveal, Marvel. There seems to be more lined up for this character, but I don't really care about her in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, so she is very low on the list.
44. Sonny Burch (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
Sonny Burch is probably the most forgettable villain on this list. I honestly do not remember a single interesting thing about him. The villains that are lower than him have things I don't like about them, so Sonny Burch is higher because I just don't remember what he does.
43. Ivan Vanko / Whiplash (Iron Man 2)
Whiplash was weird. He spends most of the movie sitting around and complaining about his bird. He's a pretty quiet villain that kind of looks cool. But on the character front, he's very one-dimensional and formulaic.
42. General Dreykov (Black Widow)
Black Widow's primary antagonist was not really given the spotlight in the film. As a purely nasty and evil person, Dreykov works. He is a force that needs to be stopped. I think that was good. However, as an actual character, his motivations are underdeveloped and he isn't given enough screen time to really be imposing. I also don't like Ray Winstone, the actor. So he was not my favorite of the MCU villains.
41. Emil Blonsky / Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)
I've always liked Abomination more than other people. Yeah, he's pretty generic, but I think the fight he has with Hulk is actually really fun. I like Tim Roth's performance before he becomes the monster, and I'm interested to see what happens when he returns to the MCU in the upcoming TV show, She-Hulk.
40. Ava Starr / Ghost (Ant-Man and the Wasp)
On the other side, Ghost is one of the villains that I really don't like. I don't buy her turn near the end, which really makes her one of my least favorite. Her powers are cool, but something just doesn't mesh right. I also don't love Hannah John-Kamen's performance. This is not necessarily a character that I'd be interested in seeing again.
39. Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)
He stood up against Thanos. But that's the only thing that Ronan is good for. He is also really cliche (as are most of the villains in the bottom part of this list). He's a really forgettable and stupid villain that holds down Guardians of the Galaxy for me, personally.
38. Ayesha (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2)
Ayesha is weird. She is not a fan of the Guardians of the Galaxy, and she provided a nice subplot in Guardians 2. Otherwise, she doesn't really actually do anything, so I can't put her up very high.
37. Arishem the Judge (Eternals)
I love the design of Arishem, but besides that, I think everything else is pretty messy with this character. He's just a big CGI celestial that doesn't serve the plot that much. He's mostly used for exposition, and then he returns in the final minute or so of the film to kidnap Sersi and some more of the Eternals. I think he has the potential to be a good character in the future, but as of right now, he stays here.
36. Kaecilius (Doctor Strange)
Like Abomination, I've always liked Kaecilius. I've always liked Mads Mikkelsen in the stuff that he's in. He's always had an imposing screen presence in my opinion, which made me like Kaecilius more. But, like everyone else has been, he's really generic.
35. Ikaris (Eternals)
The Ikaris twist was probably my favorite part of Eternals, but that isn't a very high bar. I don't particularly like Richard Madden's performance, and I don't think his character is developed enough. He seems like he still genuinely cares about the rest of the Eternals while he is trying to murder them. After he does this, he gives up, apologizes, and kills himself. Really?
34. Brock Rumlow / Crossbones (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Captain America: Civil War)
Crossbones is a good villain. He's a grittier character and really causes the beginning of the Civil War between the Avengers. I love his short appearance in Endgame, but he's really just a second-in-command that doesn't get the screen time he deserves.
33. Surtur (Thor: Ragnarok)
Surtur is cool. He's only in two scenes, but both have really funny moments that involve him, which is strange, because he's a big, fiery demon monster. He destroyed Asgard, which gives him some leverage over everyone else. Him and Thanos are the only villains that complete their goals.
32. Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)
I liked Sam Rockwell a lot, which really contributes to my liking of this character. He is a much stronger villain than Whiplash, even though he isn't the main villain of Iron Man 2. He's a much more imposing threat throughout the film and doesn't spend the entire movie complaining about his bird.
31. Yon-Rogg (Captain Marvel)
Yon-Rogg was fine, I guess. He's a pretty middle-of-the-road, boring villain. The final battle in Captain Marvel was strangely anti-climactic, so that holds him back. Jude Law was great, though. I'm being mean, but I truly don't mind Yon-Rogg.
30. Dormammu (Doctor Strange)
The Dormammu scene in Doctor Strange is one of the best scenes in the MCU. It does a great job of paying off something that was setup earlier in the film. It makes me like this character a lot more. I'd love to see him come back, because he only got one scene...which is also why he's not higher on the list.
29. Ravonna Renslayer (Loki)
Renslayer was an okay addition to Loki. She didn't really do anything that drastic. She kind of acts as the second-in-command to Kang, even though she doesn't know who he is. And her plot line left off on a cliffhanger, so maybe she will move up in season two of Loki.
28. Arnim Zola (Captain America: The First Avenger, Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
I love Zola's role in Winter Soldier. I think that that film elevates his character much more. The twist that S.H.I.E.L.D. is really HYDRA is fantastic, and that starts with this character right here. He doesn't really do much in First Avenger, but the way that he manipulated the government to become a Nazi terrorist group is incredible.
27. Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier, Black Widow)
I really, really like this character. I think she works as a symmetrical parallel to Nick Fury. She is this mysterious espionage figure that's recruiting anti-heroes to carry out missions. It's hard to tell whether she is good or bad yet, but the after-credits of Black Widow seemed to imply that she was a villainous character. I enjoy the way that Julia Louis-Dreyfus plays her as a wisecracking jokester. I'm excited to see more of Val in the future.
26. Infinity Ultron (What If...?)
For being the main antagonist of a show that doesn't have huge implications, I really liked Infinity Ultron. He's one of the scariest villains, because he's a combination of Ultron, Vision, and Thanos, three of the most powerful characters in the MCU. His power is insane, and the threat he poses to the multiverse is super cool. I don't thin he's explored enough, because What If...? wasn't a super long show that developed all of its characters, but he was a cool villain.
25. Director Tyler Hayward (WandaVision)
Tyler Hayward is this high because of his motivations. I love that he doesn't trust superheroes and the world anymore after the snap and return. The implications of Infinity War and Endgame are obviously going to be very present in phase four. He is the quintessential a-hole, but his being an a-hole makes sense.
24. Flag-Smasher / Karli Morgenthau (The Falcon and the Winter Soldier)
I liked her motivations and the effect that she had on Sam near the end of The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. One of my favorite things that we've seen post-Endgame is the effect that the Blip has had on the MCU, and both Karli and Hayward are products of Thanos' snap. If she had come before Killmonger, she'd be higher on this list, because they have a lot of similarities.
23. Wilson Fisk / Kingpin (Hawkeye)
If I am taking Daredevil into account, he'd probably be in the top five. But I'm not. At least not yet. Kingpin's inclusion in Hawkeye was extremely fun and I love that it ties the Marvel Netflix shows into the main MCU, but I thought his actual usage in the finale was a little bit underwhelming. For starters, we never see him interact with Clint Barton. He isn't really given a ton of screen time. And then Echo seemingly kills him in the waning moments on the series. Do I think he's really dead? No. But until we get confirmation that he's alive, I can't put him higher. When the Marvel Netflix shows are more tied into the MCU, he will probably shoot up because I can consider Daredevil when I'm ranking Kingpin.
22. General Thaddeus "Thunderbolt" Ross (The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: Civil War)
I've always thought Thunderbolt Ross was a really under-appreciated villain. This man is responsible for the events of Civil War. He has always been a looked-over threat in the Marvel Universe. He's supposed to make a return in Black Widow, so that could get his character higher. He has a lot in common with Tyler Hayward, and I like both of them.
21. Darren Cross / Yellowjacket (Ant-Man)
People don't like Yellowjacket. I never got that. I think he's cool. His look is great and I love Corey Stoll's performance. People say he's a re-tread of Obadiah Stane, but I completely disagree with that. Whenever he's on screen, I feel like he's dominating the spotlight. That's why I like him.
20. Ebony Maw (Avengers: Infinity War)
For the first half of Infinity War, Ebony Maw is a more villainous character than Thanos. I like the way that the character is written and I think he has some cool powers. The battle in New York for the Time Stone is really cool, and he's the main reason for that. I do like that they killed him off, because I think he was a character that got just the right amount of screen time.
19. Agatha Harkness (WandaVision)
Agatha was an interesting villain, because she was hidden for most of the series. There was always suspicion surrounding her and that reveal with the "Agatha All Along" sequence is incredible. Kathryn Hahn was great in this role, and I'm interested to see if we'll ever see more of this character. The likelihood is we won't, but who knows? If characters don't die, then they aren't really gone.
18. Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol. 2)
I like Ego. Actually, I don't. He's probably the villain I hate the most on this list. But I mean that as a compliment. He was crafted in a way that made you hate him so much by the end of the film, and that effect worked on me. Kurt Russell's seemingly innocent performance made him all the more terrifying.
17. Ulysseus Klaue (Avengers: Age of Ultron, Black Panther)
This character is all Andy Serkis. He is so energetic and fun, while being a horrible menace at the same time. Like Ebony Maw, Klaue is more of a threat than Killmonger for the first half of Black Panther. The outlandish antics and violent outbursts that he tends to have make him one of the more memorable villains inside of the MCU.
16. Maya Lopez / Echo (Hawkeye)
Maya Lopez is a cool character. Her deafness is a unique trait, and I loved the sound design attached to that. But her hatred for Hawkeye/Ronin is justified. When he was Ronin, Clint killed her father. That's an understandable motivation. Her ways of revenge are villainous, but she's not entirely evil. She's just angry. I like her turn in the finale, and I think it will be fun to see her in her own TV show.
15. Obadiah Stane / Iron Monger (Iron Man)
The first villain in the MCU still remains one of the best. Obadiah Stane is interesting, because he is inferior to Tony Stark, but he's fine with that. All he wants is to keep making weapons, which is what sets him off. The frustrated mentor became more of a trope after Iron Man, which, unfortunately, leaves this characters in the shadows more often than he deserves.
14. The Grandmaster (Thor: Ragnarok)
The Grandmaster is pure hilarity. Jeff Goldblum brings his calm and unique acting style to the MCU...and it works one hundred percent. He is hysterical and fits the vibe of Sakaar and of Ragnarok perfectly. His character may not be that interesting, but he sure is entertaining to watch.
13. Helmut Zemo (Captain America: Civil War)
I'm very excited to see Zemo return in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. He was the mastermind that made the Avengers collapse. His plan is one of the most fleshed out villain arcs in the MCU, and his motivations make sense. He isn't the most imposing of Marvel's villains, but he sure is one of the best.
12. He Who Remains (Loki)
Yes, I know. This character is incredibly high for having, like, ten minutes of total screen time. But I loved Jonathan Majors' introduction in Loki. I thought he was fun and cool, while also being secretly terrifying. The future with this character is going to be a fun one. I really do hope he's the main villain of the next MCU saga. I'd be all for that.
11. Alexander Pierce (Captain America: The Winter Soldier)
Alexander Pierce is the most underrated MCU villain. Just because he isn't a huge name in the comics doesn't mean he can't be a great antagonist in the movies. This man is the Lex Luthor of the Marvel Universe. He is a manipulative, evil, and really, really clever director of a huge organization that has tons of power. People love Luthor, so they should also love Pierce.
10. Johann Schmidt / Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)
This was a pretty solid adaptation of Captain America's arch nemesis. The makeup for this character was really great, and I thought he worked well as the evil Nazi captain that he was. I think that this character is a much better version of General Ludenhorff from Wonder Woman. His return in Infinity War and Endgame is admittedly strange, but he works in First Avenger real well.
9. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)
I've never understood the complaints for Ultron. In my opinion, he was the best part of the film. The implications that he's had on the rest of the MCU are huge. He indirectly causes both Civil War and WandaVision. I love the look of the character, James Spader's vocal performance, and his twisted view of the world. In a way, he was like a prototype for Thanos, albeit not as good.
8. Norman Osborn / Green Goblin (Spider-Man: No Way Home)
Green Goblin from the original Spider-Man is one of my favorite movie villains of all time, and I was so happy to see him return in No Way Home. Willem Dafoe's performance is just as insane and a lot scarier in this movie. This Green Goblin is the darkest version of the character so far, with him being more violent and unforgiving. I love the sudden shift in personality that happens at the end of the second act. And I love the pure glee that comes with being evil. Green Goblin is a great villain, and I'm glad that they maintained that in No Way Home.
7. Wenwu / The Mandarin (Shang-Chi and the Legend of the Ten Rings)
I loved The Mandarin. Easily the best part of Shang-Chi, he was clearly villainous and scary, but also cared for his family. He still acts as a father to Shang-Chi and Xu Xialing, but can also be menacing. His evil comes from a place of love. His redemptive arc in the finale is fantastic. I love that they show both the loving side and the scary side of this character. It makes him feel very complex and nuanced, and definitely one of the most complicated MCU villains.
6. Adrian Toomes / Vulture (Spider-Man: Homecoming)
Vulture was incredible. Most of the MCU villains want to take over some huge city or destroy the world. Vulture doesn't. He is a simple man that was screwed by the government and wants to provide for his family. His actions are illegal but his intentions are good. The twist involving him and the proceeding car ride are two of the best scenes in the MCU. Michael Keaton is great. I'm very excited to get this character back in future movies.
5. Quentin Beck / Mysterio (Spider-Man: Far From Home)
Mysterio is great. His plan to take advantage of people after the events of Endgame is really cool. Even though we already knew that Mysterio was going to be a villain, there was a nice twist there, and it makes you feel legitimately betrayed by this character. Jake Gyllenhaal's performance is fabulous and so convincing as both a good and bad guy. The sequences in the Mysterio-reality are the most visually stunning scenes in the MCU. I love this character and this movie.
4. Hela Odinsdottir (Thor: Ragnarok)
Hela was definitely one of the cooler villains in the universe. As soon as she appeared and crushed Thor's hammer, you knew that she was built different. She had some really intimidating and imposing moments, but she also had some funny moments. It's also great that she wasn't defeated by Thor. She was killed by another villain (Surtur). I thought that was really clever.
3. Loki Laufeyson (Thor, The Avengers)
Now we get into the top tier. Loki is not only one of the best villains in the MCU, he's one of the best of all time. His arc throughout the MCU is great. He starts off as a villain in both Thor and The Avengers. Then he becomes more of an anti-hero in the later movies. He worked for Thanos in The Avengers and then stood up to him in Infinity War. He goes through a complete character shift that is absolutely spectacular. I'm excited and a little nervous for the Loki TV show. We'll see.
2. Erik Stevens / Killmonger (Black Panther)
Killmonger was just incredible. The thing that makes him second best is that he made our heroes change. Black Panther opens Wakanda up to the rest of the world because Killmonger made him change. His motivations and intentions are reasonable. His actions aren't, but he definitely does a number on the Wakandans. I love Michael B. Jordan in this role. And I'm glad that this will be the only movie Killmonger appears in.
1. Thanos (Avengers: Infinity War, Avengers: Endgame)
Thanos is one of the best crafted characters ever. He is this huge purple space invader that wants to collect a bunch of objects so that he can essentially destroy the world...but the writers provided a compelling and realistic motivation for him to do this. Infinity War is basically a character study of Thanos, and since he's such a great character, I love Infinity War. I think, as time goes on, Thanos will make his way into the greatest villains of all time, along with Vader, Joker, Hannibal Lecter, and the rest of those characters.