Save us Captain America...you're our only hope!

Ok I admit, it sounds better with the original line...but points for originality, no?

Today I'm going to rant about a slightly worrying trend I've noticed when it comes to the Marvel Cinematic universe. Although this had been bothering me for over a year now, I am of the belief that one incident is merely a fluke and two is a coincidence. Its not until something happens three times that it becomes a pattern and a problem.

So what am I talking about? Villains. The last three Marvel villains have all fallen completely flat...and its all because of similar reasons. Lets go back a year.

***Spoilers for Thor: The Dark World are in this blog***

The Avengers

When this movie came out last year, the majority of people quickly haled it as the best comic book movie ever and while everyone is certainly entitled to their own opinion, I found the movie lacking.

Now - don't get me wrong. I loved it the first time too. It's a pretty fun movie going experience. The problem for me was, after multiple viewings inherent flaws became more and more apparently. For a great movie to be great...it should get better with multiple viewings, not worse.

One of the principle problems with Avengers (and the subject of this blog) was Loki and how he was handled. Now - don't get me wrong - this blog is in no way criticizing HIddleston's performance. He is easily one of the best (if not THE best) actor in the MCU right now...and that's saying something when we have guys like Robert Downey Jr and Idris Elba (who needs a bigger role!) among many others.

In the first Thor movie, we are introduced to Loki - a frost giant infant who is adopted by Odin as raised as an Asgardian. He soon learns of his origins learns his whole life has been a lie. At the heart of this lie is a very antagonist relationship with Thor, his brother. Although their love for each other is evident, its clear they had been raised as rivals according to Odin's will, as to compete for the thrown. He wants them to challenge each other and make each other better so one day one of them might be a true and proper king.

Its an age old story, two sons competing for their father's love. This story goes back to the bible and beyond. And told in a Thor/Loki setting? It was awesome. We learn of Loki's betrayal (as he sees it) by his father as to Loki's true origins. He feels like he's been mistreated his whole life and was lied too and was never going to be given a chance what he considers his birthright - the Throne of Asgard. But more than that, he also wants to show he is superior to both his brother and Father. Its not about killing them, its about showing that he - an evil Frost Giant - can be better than both of them.

Fast forward to Avengers and we have Loki, having failed to gain the Throne of Asgard, trying to take over the Earth instead. And this is where the problems begin. In my opinion it isn't simply Loki wanted a throne to rule...but that he wanted the ASGARD Throne...and he wanted to one-up his brother and father. I didn't understand why he would all of a sudden settle for Earth, the people of which he clearly despises.

I was willing to go for it at first however, mostly because I felt like it was perhaps going to be his rock-bottom if you will.

And then we learn Loki is nothing more than a puppet to Thanos.

WHAT!?!

Don't get me wrong. Thanos is a badass. We all know that. But as the movie universe had established him...I could not see someone of Loki's pride settling to be a mere pawn to Thanos, regardless of his power.

Moreover, for what reward? Earth? It means nothing to him in the first place. How am I suppose to believe Loki would do this?

And if that wasn't bad enough, his threat level as villain is completely undermined by one seen, where the Hulk smashes him around. I, like everyone in the threater, all chuckled when this first happened. The big bad villain just got owned in two seconds. It was funny and it was a good time. And then you realize that in no way could he ever be threatening to you anymore. You know everything going to be all right.

And all for the sake of a chuckle? That doesn't sit well with me. But it only happened once...so I was willing to forgive.

Ironman 3

And then this movie happened. The subject of great controversy among the comic book community, Ironman 3 continued this disturbing trend of making villains a joke.

Now, I am a pretty big movie fan and its very rare that something surprises me and given that it was almost laid out for you in the beginning with Tony's monologue, I think we all know Killian as going to be the final villain of the movie. IT was fairly obvious.

The problem is that we are first introduced to him as this complete cliche of a nerd, with bad hair, dorky glasses and an otherwise spazzy demeanor. This is the guy you're suppose to be fearing.

But we know it wasn't going to be revealed right away...so I guess we could work with it.

Ironman 3 then introduces us to the Mandarin, played by Ben Kingsley. And he is doing everything a villain should be. Using modern themes of current day terrorist...this guy was nothing short of chilling with his video messages that were broadcasted over American TVs, without anyone being able to stop it. And the scene where he calls the president and shoots a guy on live TV? Chilling.

...and then Tony finds "The Mandarin" in his safe house...and we learn he is nothing more than a would be actor playing dress up.

WHAT!?!

I mean come on. You just took one of the best villainous scenes ever and completely undermined its threat level. You except us to take the rest of the movie seriously when you are turning your villains into jokes? Is the need to make the audience laugh that important? ...Come on Marvel!

But alas...this was only strike two...so I was slightly willing to forgive - especially because like most Marvel movies, the protagonist carry the movie well. Ironman could have bad villain after bad villain and it would still be a good time because he embodies the character (like many of their actors) so well.

Thor: The Dark World

And finally we get to the newest addition to the MCU.

And with it, we have another brilliant protagonist, Hemsworth as Thor...and even better because we see more of the Loki/Thor relationship, with them even coming to an understanding and working together. How awesome is that?

Except...the villain once again is a huge disappointment. And once again his threat level is undermined thanks to a scene in which Frigga basically wipes the floor with him, until Kurse shows up. Now don't get me wrong, I'm all for females kicking some ass (we need more of that in fact)...but if Thor's mommy can handle Malekith without sweating...how am I suppose to believe Thor is going to have any trouble with him?

And although they avoid making a joke out of the villain in this movie...they do not do a great job of establishing his motivations. Why is he trying to turn all nine realms into dark worlds? Clearly the Dark Elves can live on other planets. Moreover, isn't he threatening to destroy the universe? Why would you want to do that - you'd be killing yourself too. Maybe I need to watch the movie again...but I didn't get it.

Furthermore, as I stated, while they outright make a joke of this villain like the did to Loki in Avengers or Mandarin in Ironman 3, thanks to a number of characters who's only function is comedic relief, the final act is never really that threatening. How can I be worried the world is about to end when we keep cutting in between scenes with characters making funnies? I'm not saying you have to be dark and gritty to be a good villain, but you could at least take it a little more seriously when the world is about to end.

Looking Back

So with that, we have three movies in a row now released by Marvel/Disney that has otherwise deliver a very poor villain in my opinion. And while these movies are ultimately saved by the talent of the main characters (notably the heroes) this trend is nothing something I am liking. In my opinion the ultimate factor in what decides how good or how bad a comic book movie is, always comes back to the villain.

The two best comic book movies ever in my opinion, The Dark Knight and Ironman, are what they are because the villains were so awesome. To this day I still remember the sheer shock and awe in the theater as the Joker's "Home Video" is being watched by Bruce and Alfred. The laughing of the Joker as he murders a man on camera just to make an example was TERRIFYING...and oh so awesome.

To this day I still remember Obadiah Stane paralyzing Tony in his living room, as he slowly takes out Tony's arc reactor leaving him for dead. It was TERRIFYING...and oh so awesome. These villains motivations were made clear, the threat level was serious...and even though you know heroes ultimately have happy endings...there were times when you weren't so sure.

Marvel needs to go back to some of its earlier movies like Ironman and Thor and realize that they can't continue to undermine and make jokes of their villains. It just ruins such a huge aspect of the movie for viewers in my opinion.

Going Forward

Luckily, there appears to be hope on the horizon. I think we all saw the Captain America 2 trailer by now...and its looks terrific.

Specifically The Winter Soldier, who at first glance appears to be a very serious threat. Although the scenes of him are very short in nature, from what we can tell he leading some kind of war against SHIELD, blowing up things left and right...including a Hellicarrier.

And the final scene of the teaser trailer with The Winter Soldier turning around and catching Captain's shield likes its nothing?

Oh yeah.

Shit is getting real.

In Closing

I don't want this blog to come off as hating. I really don't. Because I personally think all three movies, Avengers, Ironman 3 and Thor: The Dark World were pretty solid movies, including their flaws. Marvel has done a fantastic job collecting talent to portray their characters. These guys are doing such a great job embodying their roles that we'd go see them regardless of good the movie is or isn't.

I just want to bring up the fact that their last three movies have all been disappointed when it comes to the villain - perhaps the movies important part of any superhero movie in my opinion.

I don't think you have to be dark and gritty - and given the very well established tone of the MCU we know that's not going to happen anyway - but you HAVE to take your villains a little more seriously.

Yes, we ultimately know everything is going to be all right in the end. That's just how things work when it comes to fiction. Things get bad, things get worse and then they're ok. Everyone loves a happy ending.

But I should at least have some doubt throughout the course of the story...and I find myself never doubting things in these last three movies and it just leaves me wanting.

107 Comments
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Edited by TheAcidSkull

I don't agree about Avengers, Loki, while stomped by Hulk, was still a mischievous, intelligent villain who fought thor and had caused a lot of trouble.

The mandarin was a joke, so was malekith, that I agree with.

I have high hopes for captain america, i really hope he comes through.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

I don't agree about Avengers, Loki, while stomped by Hulk, was still a mischievous, intelligent villain who fought thor and had caused a lot of trouble.

The mandarin was a joke, so was malekith, that I agree with.

I have high hopes for captain america, i really hope he comes through.

My problem was that they undermined Loki's character by revealing that he was nothing more than a pawn.

I realize they want to set up Thanos for the finale, and that's fine...but you turn Thor's nemesis into a pawn in someone elses game and it just deflates him IMO.

Morever, ruling Earth was never his original motivation / goal in the first place.

The Hulk joke was really the cherry on top, not necessarily the basis of my argument.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@theacidskull said:

I don't agree about Avengers, Loki, while stomped by Hulk, was still a mischievous, intelligent villain who fought thor and had caused a lot of trouble.

The mandarin was a joke, so was malekith, that I agree with.

I have high hopes for captain america, i really hope he comes through.

My problem was that they undermined Loki's character by revealing that he was nothing more than a pawn.

I realize they want to set up Thanos for the finale, and that's fine...but you turn Thor's nemesis into a pawn in someone elses game and it just deflates him IMO.

Morever, ruling Earth was never his original motivation / goal in the first place.

The Hulk joke was really the cherry on top, not necessarily the basis of my argument.

I see. Still, Loki > Malekith and Mandarin BY MILES. :P

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@theacidskull: Oh, most definitely.

Malekith was better than Mandarin too. So hopefully Loki and Malekith were stumbles (with Mandarin being a fall on your face moment).

The Winter Soldier (what little we saw of him) looks awesome, so I'm still hopeful.

Posted by Wolverine08

*Gives applause* Pretty dope blog mate! I agree that the Marvel Cinematic Universe's biggest flaws have been their villains. They haven't been horrible or anything like that, but they are definitely in need of some improvement in depth, characterization, and motivation. Hope the MCU works on this.

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Posted by Fallschirmjager

*Gives applause* Pretty dope blog mate! I agree that the Marvel Cinematic Universe's biggest flaws have been their villains. They haven't been horrible or anything like that, but they are definitely in need of some improvement in depth, characterization, and motivation. Hope the MCU works on this.

Thanks.

And agreed.

Even look at movies outside of the MCU.

"Deadpool" in Wolverine: Origins? >_> UGH.

"Venom" in Spider-Man 3? UGH

And yet...any X-Men movie with Magneto....pretty damn good.

Doc Ock? Pretty damn good.

Villains have huge impact on the movies.

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@dragonborn_ct said:

Hm... Yeah, I agree with many points here. I'd like to add Bane too, he was a cool villain, one with very memorable lines but he got defeated in the most anti-climatic way possible.

Agreed. Both Bane and Talia were a bit of a let down after Ras, Scarecrow, Joker, and Two-Face

But that was an isolated incident so far. I felt Michael Shannon's Zod was brilliant.

Edited by Dragonborn_CT

@dragonborn_ct said:

Hm... Yeah, I agree with many points here. I'd like to add Bane too, he was a cool villain, one with very memorable lines but he got defeated in the most anti-climatic way possible.

Agreed. Both Bane and Talia were a bit of a let down after Ras, Scarecrow, Joker, and Two-Face

But that was an isolated incident so far. I felt Michael Shannon's Zod was brilliant.

(crap I deleted my previous post, I wanted to add something more there :\)

I see... Zod was undeniable cool, he still holds as the best supervillain of 2013. DC had its own misfires with Paralax in Green Lantern back then :P

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Edited by Fallschirmjager

@dragonborn_ct: Agreed.

Every major studio has had a slip up, be they DC/WB, Fox, Sony or Marvel.

I just wanted to bring attention that Marvel/Disney has done it 3 times in a row now. And I'm a worried.

Posted by TheCannon

This is one of the best and most accurate blogs I've seen on this site (I disagree with the thing about Loki, but you're right about that scene with Hulk. That was just stupid). I really hope Cap gives us a good villain (unlike the previous MCU phase 2 movies) and is just a good movie (unlike the previous MCU phase 2 movies).

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@thecannon said:

This is one of the best and most accurate blogs I've seen on this site (I disagree with the thing about Loki, but you're right about that scene with Hulk. That was just stupid). I really hope Cap gives us a good villain (unlike the previous MCU phase 2 movies) and is just a good movie (unlike the previous MCU phase 2 movies).

Thanks!

And I'm all for levity, but I just don't think it should be at the villains' expense. I had no problems laughing in Ironman 1, but it was never at the expense of the villain(s).

Posted by Dragonborn_CT

@fallschirmjager: How badass you envision how the Winter Soldier should be in the movie (in the trailer, he catches Cap's shield being thrown at him from the behind)?

And how threatening the other villains you mentioned should have been in your opinion? I am curious.

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Posted by Fallschirmjager

@dragonborn_ct: Winter Soldier looks pretty menacing - with the facemask and the metal arm. The scene where he blows up the car looks awesome too.

Add in the character history and he could be very, very, awesome.

As far as the other villains. I really don't even know where to start with Mandarin. That whole thing was just a debacle.

Malekith I felt like his motivations needs to be fleshed out more and although I loved Frigga kicking some ass, I think she easily could have dispatched fodder Dark Elf soldiers instead of Malekith himself. That would have helped a lot more.

Edited by Deathstroke19

I haven't see Thor 2 yet but I'm hearing a lot of bad stuff about his villain. On the other hand i couldn't agree more about the mandarin. They totally ruined him and he still hade so much more potential. Loki, yeah i see what your getting at, but i thought he was WAY better then the mandarin. Although i Definitely agree about hulk destroying him and him being a pawn to Thanos lowering his threat level. But i hear in Thor 2 he had a lot of screen time as well so perhaps they revived the character. Anyway, great blog. I agree with mostly everything.

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@deathstroke19: Yes. Loki was back in Thor 2.

I won't go into detail since you haven't seen it.

Posted by Deathstroke19
Edited by Fallschirmjager

@deathstroke19: He served as an anti-hero for most of the movie.

But yeah. He was very threatening.

He and Thor pretty much carry the movie. Their scenes together are amazing.

Edited by Deathstroke19

@fallschirmjager: cool. I was hoping to see it last weekend but ended up just hanging out with my friends instead. Hopefully i will see it this weekend. Kurse looks BA.

Posted by The Stegman

@theacidskull said:

I don't agree about Avengers, Loki, while stomped by Hulk, was still a mischievous, intelligent villain who fought thor and had caused a lot of trouble.

The mandarin was a joke, so was malekith, that I agree with.

I have high hopes for captain america, i really hope he comes through.

My problem was that they undermined Loki's character by revealing that he was nothing more than a pawn.

I realize they want to set up Thanos for the finale, and that's fine...but you turn Thor's nemesis into a pawn in someone elses game and it just deflates him IMO.

Morever, ruling Earth was never his original motivation / goal in the first place.

The Hulk joke was really the cherry on top, not necessarily the basis of my argument.

I agree, I hated how they treated Loki in Avengers. The entire film he felt like nothing more than a pawn and a pushover. You have Hulk beating him easily, you have Scarlet Widow outsmarting him like he's an idiot, you have him being told off by Tony Stark, and even Thanos' lackey, A LACKEY is getting all up in his face. Loki was nothing more than a pawn, and not even a good pawn. Look at Bane in TDKR. Yes, he too was working for someone else, but unlike Loki, he was an actual threat, he BEAT the hero, he held a city hostage for months, he was intimidating. Yes, I know Loki isn't supposed to be a brawler, but still, he's a god (by name) yet he seemed more like a...well..

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@the_stegman: Scarlet widow? :P

and she didn't outsmart Loki, Loki played her into thinking that hulk was being controlled.

As hulk roars we see loki smile as a sign of his accomplishment.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@the_stegman: Yeah, lots of good points.

Luckily I think his role in Thor 2 was much, much better handled.

Posted by The Stegman

@fallschirmjager: I loved Loki in Thor 2, honestly, he's the highlight of the film for me, and I wanna see how him impersonating Odin plays out, so many interesting things can come from that!

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@the_stegman said:

@fallschirmjager: I loved Loki in Thor 2, honestly, he's the highlight of the film for me, and I wanna see how him impersonating Odin plays out, so many interesting things can come from that!

Agreed.

His character progression was magnificent. I felt like he hit rock bottom in this movie and was ready to potentially redeem himself...and than that glimmer of hope is extinguished and we're reminded of his true nature.

The image of him sitting on the throne was chilling. And his line in the movie of "Trust my rage" - soooooo good.

Edited by Crom-Cruach

Very good points and I agree. But in this regard, there's another thing I want to point out. The movie universe hates magic and cosmic beings. Seriously, watch Thor 2, a supposedly all powerful millenia old dark elf that was a threat to Bor, Odin's father. who supposedly absorbed a source of power got killed because of metal poles a crazy dude who doesn't wear pants built in his basement? And a human scientist just makes fools of magical asgardian healers by understanding in seconds how they are trying to heal her?

Marvel really needs to start respecting cosmic powers and making them an actual worth to the universe. When cosmic power appears, it's fine to have a scene where humans just have to sit back and pray because this is totally out of their league.

Posted by SandMan_

I agree. Loki was a joke, Mandarin is forgettable an I've heard that. Malekeith is mediocre.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@crom_cruach: I don't think that is a problem to Marvel specifically. Galactus and Parallax were both handled very poorly.

But I agree with your point.

Edited by Crom-Cruach

@crom_cruach: I don't think that is a problem to Marvel specifically. Galactus and Parallax were both handled very poorly.

But I agree with your point.

Yeah they belong to fox studios. But still, this really pisses me off. To me few things break my suspension of disbelief as much as when a nobody punches way over his weight class so to speak. Malekith should have been able to stop these pole things with an afterthought.

Edited by Veshark

I've said it before, and I'll say it again:

Malekith blows. He's the worst MCU villain - period.

Even the less-well-regarded villains like Iron Monger, Abomination, or even Red Skull were more fleshed-out. At least we understood their motivations, at least they had charismatic personalities and while were somewhat generic - I wasn't bored. Even Mandarin, despite the questionable nature of its execution, at least had some vestige of humor and Aldrich Killian was a compelling-enough villain.

But Malekith just sucks. He's not a villain. He's a storytelling device. He's just there to serve as a threat to Thor and the Realms. Every single line of dialogue from Malekith is either techno-babble or exposition for the viewer. Nothing about his personality ever shines through, no unique quotes, no character tics, nothing. He has all the personality of a brick wall. Even when he was scarred by Thor, he didn't seem to care. His motivations are equally vague. As I'm not a Thor reader, I had no flipping clue why the Dark Elves wanted to return the world to darkness. What does that even mean? Why is this important?

Also, what separates the Dark Elves from the Frost Giants? Evil ancient race that fought with the Asgardians. They had a superweapon. They lost to the Asgardians, and now they want VENGEANCEZZ.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@veshark: I really like Iron Monger :3

The others as you say weren't bad either.

And I agree with your description of him. The only meaningful thing he did was kill Frigga and even that is watered down cause she was kicking his ass until Kurse showed up.

And yeah...his motivations were not fleshed out at all.

Posted by Veshark

@veshark: I really like Iron Monger :3

The others as you say weren't bad either.

And I agree with your description of him. The only meaningful thing he did was kill Frigga and even that is watered down cause she was kicking his ass until Kurse showed up.

And yeah...his motivations were not fleshed out at all.

I really do too, simply because Jeff Bridges is a great charismatic actor, and he portrayed just the right amount of menace. Plus his armor looks effing badass. But let's be honest, he's not exactly the most memorable ;)

Yeah, Malekith couldn't even take Frigga.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@veshark: I thought he did pretty well. as mentioned in the OP, the scene where he paralyzes Tony and steals his Arc Reactor was awesome.

Posted by ULTRAstarkiller

I don't agree with your Avengers example but everythinf else I agree.

Posted by Rouflex

Loki is a Fangirl joke

Mandarin,Doom,Abomination are some Bad Jokes

and the rest are MEH

I rather Dc Villains.

Ps:I have high hopes for Thanos so dont make me quit watching your movies MARVEL!

Posted by Fallschirmjager

I don't agree with your Avengers example but everythinf else I agree.

Stegman summed it up better than I did. But he was completely mistreated in Avengers imo.

I agree, I hated how they treated Loki in Avengers. The entire film he felt like nothing more than a pawn and a pushover. You have Hulk beating him easily, you have Scarlet Widow outsmarting him like he's an idiot, you have him being told off by Tony Stark, and even Thanos' lackey, A LACKEY is getting all up in his face. Loki was nothing more than a pawn, and not even a good pawn. Look at Bane in TDKR. Yes, he too was working for someone else, but unlike Loki, he was an actual threat, he BEAT the hero, he held a city hostage for months, he was intimidating. Yes, I know Loki isn't supposed to be a brawler, but still, he's a god (by name) yet he seemed more like a...well..

Posted by War Killer

@fallschirmjager: I loved Loki in Thor 2, honestly, he's the highlight of the film for me, and I wanna see how him impersonating Odin plays out, so many interesting things can come from that!

Aside from a certain characters cameo, I thought that scene was amazing! It's just such a freakin' jaw-dropping ending and has you leaving the theater thinking "what the crap just happened?!"

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@rouflex said:

Loki is a Fangirl joke

Mandarin,Doom,Abomination are some Bad Jokes

and the rest are MEH

I rather Dc Villains.

Ps:I have high hopes for Thanos so dont make me quit watching your movies MARVEL!

emil was an awesome villain.

Posted by SandMan_
Edited by TheAcidSkull
Posted by Pyrogram

Some people can never just be happy.

Posted by Edamame

I can't wait for the upcoming Captain America film. I also consider Loki to be the best villain for live-action Marvel movies.

Posted by Fallschirmjager

@edamame: In Thor 1, yes. In Avengers? Not so much.

He's back in Thor 2 though, so yippie.

Posted by Edamame

@fallschirmjager: Did you think that Loki in The Avengers had a weak performance or?

Edited by Fallschirmjager

@edamame: No. Hiddleston's performance is always excellent.

Its the writing and direction of the character I felt was very poor.

Edited by Edamame
Posted by TheAcidSkull

@pyrogram said:

Some people can never just be happy.

Did you see thor 2?

Posted by Pyrogram

@theacidskull: Yeah, I thought it was quite entertaining. Only Marvel Movie which I have hated with IM3, but even that, was quite entertaining.

Posted by TheAcidSkull

@pyrogram said:

@theacidskull: Yeah, I thought it was quite entertaining. Only Marvel Movie which I have hated with IM3, but even that, was quite entertaining.

Entertaining? yeah, sure. Serious and interesting? Nope.

Thor too was a mediocre movie, one which didn't take itself seriously.

Posted by Pyrogram

@theacidskull: IM3 was even less serious. That was practically a movie based around comedy and comedy alone. Marvel need to address those issues.

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