In Stan Lee’s How to Draw Superheroes, the co-creator of some of the most famous bad guys in Marvel history wrote that “there is no such thing as a villain.”
“Each and every villain in comics, in movies, in novels — and especially in real life,” he added, “thinks of him- or herself as the good guy. The hero.” That’s probably true. But in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, there are many villains. True to Lee‘s perspective — which helped shaped Marvel in the first place — a fair number of them do not consider themselves to be villains. A character like Thanos truly believes that his actions, as brutal and painful as they may be, are necessary to preserve all life in the universe. (And, from a certain perspective, he might even have a point.)
To some, killing half of the universe might qualify Thanos as the worst of the worst in the MCU. To me, the “worst” Marvel baddies are not the ones who perform the most heinous activities; they’re the ones who ruin their movies with ludicrous schemes, campy acting, and clichéd backstories. (Sadly, even Stan the Man’s theory that villains think of themselves as the heroes of their own story has been used so many times now that it’s started to feel a little tired.)
Below, we’ve collected the ten worst villains from throughout the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s first four phases. They come from the far corners of the multiverse, and appear in both films and television shows. (Two are actually from a single movie, which does not bode well for its chances of getting a sequel.) Stan, your philosophy was wise, but the ten characters below are true Marvel villains…
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