There’s been a fundamental shift in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. It began with the release of Thor: Ragnarok in November 2017, and gained a great deal of momentum in February 2018, when Black Panther arrived in cinemas. As of May 2018, however, it has reached something of a crescendo with the release of Avengers: Infinity War.
Is it emotional depth to which I refer? Perhaps the representation of those other white men, both in front of and behind the camera? Not this time. This time, I’m talking about villains. Much as we love the Marvel Cinematic Universe, it’s historically fumbled the ball when it comes to those with nefarious agendas. Previously, MCU baddies have been mildly unsettling – with a slight hint of intimidation, and the tiniest drop of menace. Where we’ve needed true evil, we’ve generally been left wanting.
Sure, Obadiah Stane of 2008’s Iron Man, and Red Skull of 2011’s Captain America: The First Avenger were compelling wrongdoers – and Ronan The Accuser of 2014’s Guardians Of The Galaxy was not the most pleasant of men – but other than those ne’er-do-wells, the only villain of real note in the MCU up until November 2017 has been Loki.
Plenty have wrought havoc. The Incredible Hulk’s Abomination certainly caused some damage, as did Iron Man 2’s Ivan Vanko and Justin Hammer. Iron Man 3’s Aldrich Killian kidnapped a prominent politician, and exposed Pepper Potts to dangerous substances. Thor: The Dark World’s Malekith trashed Greenwich in London, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier’s Alexander Pierce turned out to be using S.H.I.E.L.D to further the agenda of Hydra – with the help of Crossbones, and a brainwashed Bucky Barnes.