A Redditor recently asked an important question of the internet: “Anyone else wish there were more female villains in the MCU movies?” As you might imagine, this set off a firestorm of responses ranging from the wildly inappropriate to questions about who is and isn’t a real villain, who will be joining the Marvel franchise soon, and who does and doesn’t count based on where in the timeline they appeared. For the purposes of this article, we’ll look at the entire MCU canon, which includes the Netflix and Disney Plus shows, but not the Hulu, ABC, and Fox ones. (Sorry about that, Runaways, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., The Gifted, and Cloak and Dagger. Not so sorry to you, Inhumans.)
There have been numerous female villains in the MCU so far, but we’d definitely like to see more. Let’s first take a look at who we’ve seen so far.
Wanda Maximoff aka The Scarlet Witch
First appearing in Avengers: Age of Ultron, Wanda and her short-lived brother Pietro are misled by Ultron to fight the Avengers but later change sides when they realize what Ultron’s ultimate goal is. In Civil War, Wanda takes the Captain America side (which makes her a villain to some, depending on your viewpoint) but it’s in her Disney Plus show WandaVision that her emotional breakdown due to the loss of Vision in Avengers: Endgame leads her to decidedly cross the line by taking over the minds and lives of a whole town full of people in order to play out her fantasies of a simpler life. Where she goes from here is up in the air, although if you’ve read the comics, then you know she becomes a universe-level threat in the House of M run.
Kathryn Hahn became a fan-favorite in WandaVision as Wanda and Vision’s annoyingly ever-present neighbor who ended up being revealed quite memorably as the secret manipulator of events. Considering how effed-up the situation created by Wanda was in the first place, is Agatha Harkness really a villain? Considering both her more positive role in comics history and the fact that she’s got a Disney Plus spinoff on the way, it seems that the MCU is going to point her more in the hero direction eventually.
Another gender-swapped character, Hannah John-Kamen plays Ava Starr, aka Ghost, in Ant-Man and The Wasp and really, can you blame her for going head-to-head with the heroes here? Considering her molecular instability, which allows her to “phase” through things, is going to kill her if she doesn’t immediately get her hands on some Pym tech, we think “or I die” is a good argument for being a thief. Although she’s definitely not big on the “listen to reason” thing, by the end she’s making amends with the Ant-family although the Blip might have interrupted the healing process for her condition. In the comics the character is usually more of an antihero, so we’ll keep her on our “probably going to be in the Thunderbolts movie” list for now.
Gender-swapped from the comics version, Olga Kurylenko takes on the role of the photographic reflexed mimic for 2021’s Black Widow, who turns out to be the mind-controlled daughter of the film’s primary baddie Dreykov (Ray Winstone). But after Natasha exposes her to the Red Dust, which frees the students/victims of the Red Room from their controlling chips, what sort of person will she become in the future? We’re betting on a shades-of-grey mercenary figure (see more on Thunderbolts later).
Once an Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. in addition to being Peggy Carter’s great-niece, Sharon Carter was revealed to also be the Power Broker, a criminal kingpin operating out of Madripoor (a fictional baddie mecca in the comics) in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier. We don’t really know what she went through between her final film appearance in Civil War and this Disney Plus series, but it presumably was not a positive experience considering she was on the run as a fugitive. By the end of the series, she helps the heroes, gets her pardon, and her wins old job back, but it’s also made clear that she’s not giving up being the Power Broker either and will use her government position to steal weapons. We’re expecting more villainous turns from Sharon Carter going forward ⏤ at least until Steve reappears someday and gives her a good talking-to.
Alaqua Cox plays Maya Lopez, aka Echo, in the new Disney Plus series Hawkeye and since she’s the head of the Russian Tracksuit Mafia (who work for a MUCH bigger boss…no spoilers), she definitely counts as a bad guy. Certainly willing to kill to get what she wants, and with the skills to do it, she makes for a nice antagonist for our two Hawkeyes in the series. But her need for revenge against Ronin, who killed her parents, turns out to be a bit misdirected and we see her confront the person who ordered the hit in the finale. It seems clear that she’s going to have to go job hunting, and whether that bodes for good or evil would seem more of a question if it wasn’t for the fact that she’s got her own Disney Plus spinoff series coming up.
Cate Blanchett takes the top spot as the MCU’s #1 out-and-out female villain with her delightful turn as Thor and Loki’s long-imprisoned sister Hela in Thor: Ragnarok. Calling herself “The Goddess of Death,” it’s hard to make a case for her having a good side, even if she is a bit justified at being pissed at Dad for sealing her up for thousands of years in Hel. I mean, she murders the Warriors Three. There’s no coming back from that, or her hat choices. She (presumably) dies in the end, but she’s the Goddess of Death, right? We’re betting on more Hela in the future, especially considering that Blanchett has expressed a willingness to return. Melissa McCarthy is playing a stage production version of her in the upcoming Thor: Love and Thunder, which you’d imagine would piss off the Goddess enough to return from the dead.
Contessa Valentina Allegra de Fontaine
With a name that doesn’t exactly roll off the tongue (thank goodness she goes by “Val”), Julia Louis-Dreyfus has already made this nefarious behind-the-scenes plotter a fan-favorite, appearing in The Falcon and the Winter Soldier approaching John Walker after his fall from grace to recruit him for…something. We also get to see her in a post-credits scene for Black Widow misleading Yelena Belova (Florence Pugh) and pointing out Hawkeye as the killer of her sister, Natasha. This lady is up to no good, but the question is why? We’re thinking that she’s going to be the Amanda Waller of the MCU, sort of the dark mirror of Nick Fury, recruiting some of these confused once-were-villains for what in the comics was a black-ops Avengers, The Thunderbolts. It’s often murky whose side she’s really on in the comics, so anything is possible here, but we’re pretty sure at this point that she isn’t a nice person.
Okay, we’re reaching at this point. There AREN’T a lot of high-profile female villains in the MCU so far that aren’t at least somewhat redeemed. Sure, you’ve got your Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) who was Thanos’ adopted daughter, but she’s dust now and never really had much of a developed character arc to begin with. There’s also Ayesha (Elizabeth Debicki) from Guardians of the Galaxy, who got pissed at the space heroes after Rocket tried to deal behind her back (we expect to see her again when Adam Warlock finally shows up after a post-credits scene from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 shows her crafting him). Or maybe even Elektra (Élodie Yung) will reappear more firmly down the path of darkness as her character traveled in the comics, now that we recently have had Netflix’s Daredevil series confirmed as canon. And will Shang-Chi’s sister Xu Xialing (Meng’er Zhang) use her new controlling interest in The Ten Rings organization for evil going forward? We’re guessing…probably.
There’s much to be seen and much to be speculated about as always within the ever-expanding walls of the MCU. For us, we’re just hoping Jameela Jamil as the huge bad guy Titania in the upcoming She-Hulk series literally knocks it out of the park.