With the release of Thor: Ragnarok, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is breaking new ground in terms of villainy. Though it is about to be a whole decade old, and though Ragnarok is the 16th film in the franchise, the MCU has never before featured a lead villain who’s also a woman. Sure, there have been fleeting glimpses of women with nefarious agendas before now – such as Brandt in Iron Man 3, for example, or Nebula in Guardians Of The Galaxy (before Gamora won her over in Vol 2.) – but every MCU film to date has had our heroes battling the embodiments of overly ambitious masculinity as the lead villains.
From 2008’s Iron Man, to 2017’s Spider-Man: Homecoming, we’ve seen film after film with literal bad guys prompting the action. Obadiah Stane, Abomination, Ivan Vanko, Justin Hammer, Loki, Thanos, Red Skull, Aldrich Killian, Malekith, The Winter Soldier, Crossbones, Ronan The Accuser, Ultron, Darren Cross, Helmut Zemo, Kaecilius, Dormammu, Ego, and The Vulture – each man as driven to cause chaos and destruction as the next. The Marvel Cinematic Universe, as it stands thus far, would seem to have us believe that women are simply not capable of such villainy – that they have no interest in power, other than the ‘good kind,’ which is bestowed upon them by male heroes, such as Pepper Potts being promoted to CEO of Stark Industries.
But, we know that this is nonsensical, and that is why Thor: Ragnarok is such a welcome and refreshing change. There are plenty of female villains to be found in the Marvel comic books source material, and plenty that can be added to the juggernaut film franchise. The question is, why’s it taken so long?