The MCU’s Most Relevant Villains

The MCU has been home to some of the most recognizable and fascinating villains, such as the terrifying Thanos and Ultron, most of them having grand dreams of achieving incredible amounts of power and control over people, countries and the universe itself.



Related: Marvel Villains Ranked Worst To Best

Marvel may be more successful with its protagonist heroes than its villains in terms of audience appreciation and love for certain characters, but some villains have been given tragic backstories, redeemable traits, intricate motives, or a mix of all three, making them more relatable than others who just want world domination.

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Elena Belova

As the sister of the late Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), aka Black Widow, Yelena (Florence Poug) underwent the same kind of harsh and cruel training in the Red Room, where she committed acts of violence that certainly could be called mean, but they were mostly against her own will. Audiences were introduced to Yelena in 2019 Black of widow when she reunited with her long-lost sister as they worked together to rescue their fellow assassin prisoners from the clutches of General Dreykov.

Related: Florence Pugh’s best performances, from Lady Macbeth to Black Widow

Yelena shows a more playful side than her stoic older sister, which provides some of the film’s funniest moments and establishes a great sisterly dynamic between the two, exploring Natasha’s past and personality in ways not seen in previous films. After his death, Yelena is persuaded to track down the man she believes to be responsible, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), in an act of bitter revenge. His methods of dealing with grief are unhealthy to say the least, but his motivation to avenge his sister is understandable.

Nebula

A MCU villain who deserves her own spin-offNebula (Karen Gillan) is one of the franchise’s quintessential tragic figures, with his desperate desire for acceptance and love being the driving force behind his most unsavory actions, such as betraying Rocket and Groot as well as attempting to kill his own sister. via a spaceship. She spent most of her childhood being literally torn apart by her adoptive “father” Thanos, only to rebuild her with weapons and machinery when she fails to win in battle against Gamora.

Nebula naturally develops a deep resentment towards Gamora for inadvertently being the cause of so much of her suffering, culminating in an emotional outburst in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 where she expresses her anger at Gamora for letting Thanos treat her so cruelly and expressing that all she wanted was her sister’s support and love. The two soon begin to develop a better relationship and work together on a more heroic path, but it took enough some time for them to arrive at this place.

Erik Killmonger

It’s still pretty rare for a movie to introduce audiences to a villain whose motivations are more compelling than the hero’s, but that of Erik Killmonger (Michael B. Jordan) desire to share Wakandan technology to help oppressed people prove he is a MCU villain with a valid point, even if his methods are a bit brutal and bloody. His own father was a member of the Wakandan royal family who was murdered when Killmonger was a young child because of this cause, so it’s understandable that he would want to continue his father’s mission and avenge his tragic death.

Related: ‘Black Panther 2’: Release date, cast, filming details and everything we know so far

Killmonger makes a compelling point about Wakanda’s lack of responsibility and empathy to help people “like them” all over the world, even convincing the film’s main protagonist and hero, T’Challa (Chadwick Boseman) to open the borders of Wakanda at the end of the film. Killmonger’s desire to end racial injustice is beyond commendable, and his last words are some of the most heartbreaking in the entire MCU.

Helmut Zemo

Another character in search of justified revenge, that of Helmut Zemo (Daniel Brule) is motivated to destroy the Avengers following the catastrophic events of Avengers: Age of Ultron where his family was killed due to the full-scale fight between the superhero team and Ultron in Sokovia. Zemo is first introduced in Captain America: Civil War and goes to great lengths to end the Avengers by pitting Iron Man against Captain America.

The Avengers are truly responsible for the reckless and preventable death of Zemo’s family, whether they had good intentions or not, so his reasoning why the superhero team should no longer exist is pretty hard to argue. He is making a comeback in the Disney+ series The Falcon and the Winter Soldier and even teams up with the Avengers, providing the show with some killer dance moves that are enough to redeem it as a solid hero.

Wanda Maximoff

If there’s one character in the entire MCU who deserves a hug, it’s definitely Wanda Maximoff, (Elizabeth Olsen) because she probably experiences more grief and pain than anyone else. His parents are killed by a missile created by Tony Stark when she is very young, she then loses her brother – the last family she has – then has to kill the other most important person in her life, Vision, with her own powers, then has to watch him die again. It’s no surprise that she’s become a villain because seriously… she’s a plot of trauma for a person to go through.

In order to deal with this level of heavy and brutal grief, she holds an entire town hostage in a false reality that replicates the television shows that comforted her during the worst times of her life as one of the most extremes of escape. It also causes more chaos in Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness and gives in to his wrath as well as incredibly powerful abilities before supposedly sacrificing himself to save the universe. She is arguably Marvel’s most tragic figure and hopefully not the last we see of her.

NEXT: 10 Marvel Characters Who Have Returning Potential

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