If we forget about Black Widow and Falcon and the Winter Soldier moving release dates, WandaVision kicked off the Phase 4 slate for Marvel in January of this year. The excitement was palpable as we hadn’t seen a Marvel product since July 2, 2019 with Spider-Man Far From Home. That’s 18-months coupled with a 2020 from Hell that we just soon forget.
So, with Marvel’s Phase 4, 5 and 6 extending for likely another decade with various movies and Marvel TV shows on Disney+ in production and pre-production, the thoughts about what villains will be littering our cinematic landscape are on the minds of both the fans and Kevin Feige and the brass at Marvel Studios.
Official announcements and logic tell us that we will see the likes of Dr. Doom, Kang the Conqueror, the Red Hulk, Galactus and Magneto (although I’m still on Magneto overload thanks to Fox) and more. There were small critiques over the years that despite the brilliance of the MCU franchise, they had a bit of a villain problem. Thanos ‘snapped’ that critique (no pun intended) and there has been a few good one’s other than the Mad Titan, but a good villain is every bit as important as the protagonist, perhaps more important. There is little doubt that the villains that grace future endeavors and the casting of said baddies are of paramount importance going forward.
Fortunately, the MCU universe is vast and there are still many antagonists in the Marvel encyclopedia to choose from and here are some of the best obscure, and some not so obscure, villains we need to see in the MCU over the next decade. To be sure, the list could be longer.
The great fire demon from Muspelheim was last seen in Thor Ragnarok fulfilling the prophecy that was his purpose. In the comics, Surtur was prominent in the Thor comics on and off for years and from a visual standpoint, let’s be honest, there are far fewer things to see on-screen as awesome than a giant fire demon.
More importantly, in the comic universe, Surtur was responsible for the destruction of Beta Ray Bill’s home world and the galaxy in which his planet existed. What IF Surtur did not die in Ragnarok and, floating through the cosmos, he happens upon Beta Ray Bill’s home world. Considering we expect to see Beta Ray Bill show up in the MCU soon, this connection, even part of Beta Ray Bill’s origin story, could give Marvel a great excuse to use Surtur again and to a greater degree than we even saw in Thor Ragnarok.
No doubt the Spider-Man franchise is going quite well, and we finally saw Sony’s lone spinoff movie with Tom Hardy’s Venom gracing theatres in 2018 and the other Venom symbiote, Carnage, rearing it’s head in 2021 in the Venom sequel, Let There Be Carnage.
In the comics, Anti-Venom is a manifestation of Eddie Brock’s altered antibodies that bonded to his immune system. It’s all confusing but Venom, Carnage and Anti-Venom have significant backstories in the comics and the connections these entities have would provide a dangerous and complicated villain for Spider-Man (or another hero) in an upcoming Marvel saga.
The psionic, reality altering enemy of the X-Men and son to Moira MacTaggert first appeared in the Uncanny X-Men #125 in September of 1979. Proteus had only a few appearances in the comics over the years, but he was malevolent through and through. Further, his ability to possess others, with the by-produce of the person’s death after Proteus ‘wore out’ the energies of each person, would provide a perilous storyline with deadly stakes for any hero he comes up against. Further, Proteus’ reality altering skills would make for a stunning visual in the cinematic experience akin to the Ancient One of Doctor Strange fame but in a more grounded and deadly way.
Although not seemingly original after Ironman, Marvel appears to be looking into several storylines in the upcoming Phase 4 and Phase 5 hinting at more properties dealing with created technology in the vein of Iron-Man and War Machine. The Disney+ slate already includes both Iron Wars starring Don Cheadle as ‘Rhodey’ and Dominique Thorn playing Riri Williams, the 15-year-old billionaire inventor from MIT who will be starring in Ironheart.
Cheadle’s Iron Wars will likely loosely follow the 7-issue storyline from the comics that sees much of Tony Stark’s technology falling into enemy hands. We may see Justin Hammer again and why shouldn’t we? No doubt, Hammer Industries has detailed schematics of the suit Rhodey originally brought to him in Iron Man 2. Technically, the original War Machine armor and upgrades are from ‘Hammer Tech.’
In the comics, the Crimson Dynamo was connected to both Justin Hammer and the Iron Wars storyline. Interestingly, in the comics the first Crimson Dynamo was Anton Vanko, again from Iron Man 2 fame, played by Mickey Rourke. We know Vanko is still alive and the Crimson Dynamo’s connection to Russia could have intriguing implications to the MCU going forward especially considering Russian connections to the MCU in the upcoming Black Widow and perhaps a future Colossus as well as the Super Soldier program…the possibilities are endless. What If we saw some of that ‘Dire Wraith’ (meaning…alien) technology as seen in the most current incarnation of the Crimson Dynamo…could be cool!
This may be the best time for Phalanx to appear in the MCU. It’s true that in the comics, the Phalanx are a lifeform beyond earth, but with forays into the cosmic being commonplace, this is not far from possible. Nonetheless, even if Marvel maintained a terrestrial origin, the Phalanx were basically sentient weapons (sound familiar) with Borg like technology that could convert sentient beings into techno-organic lifeforms. Even if we move away from the Borg parallel, the sentient weapon version, Vision technology (likely collected over 5 years of study by SWORD), Iron Man tech etc. can all have a place in this terrifying forerunner to the Sentinel Program which then connects us to the X-Men.
THE SHADOW KING
With the advent of WandaVision and the upcoming multiverse lines, there is no doubt that alternate dimensions and demons are coming to the MCU. We know what the Darkhold is and where it came from and there is no doubt that these other dimensions will be explored as well as a darker side of the MCU in the form of the Sons of Midnight which means Ghost Rider and the various entities that frequent his comics.
The Shadow King has an evil guise but has also played roles in the human world for an incredibly long amount of time even working with Baron von Strucker back in the 1940’s. He battled both Professor Xavier and the X-Men but his connection does not stop there. While he ruled the Egyptian underworld as Amahl Farouk, a young thief named Ororo Monroe worked for him. We know her as the one who would become Storm of the X-Men. There are current rumors that Storm is already in the MCU and will have a Wakanda connection. This could be a great link to introduce her character as well as provide a powerful demon antagonist to the other storylines that Marvel is exploring.
The connections are so strong here that I dare to even list them. Although thus far, the Skrull’s have been characterized at being an ally to Earth it is against all sentient nature to not have variations within a population. With the coming ‘Secret Invasion,’ there is no doubt that either a remnant of the Skrull’s or the entire race may have a change of heart and the allies will soon become a minority.
Additionally, with the advent of the Fantastic Four coming soon, the time seems ripe to introduce the Super Skrull. First appearing in Fantastic Four #18 all the way back in 1963, the Super Skrull first combined the entirety of their powers but also claimed other abilities.
A warrior named Kl’rt was engineered by his race to enact revenge on the Fantastic Four after their failure of the Skrulls to conquer earth and their defeat by the Fantastic Four. There have been more than one Super Skrull and this dangerous warrior has crossed paths with the Avengers and Ms. Marvel in addition to the Fantastic Four.
TERRAX THE TAMER
Named Tyros from the planet Birj, Terrax became the most successful of the world devouring Galactus’ heralds, leading him to more planets to consume than any. Terrax first appeared to be the ideal herald, however he had no loyalty to Galactus and often used his time as the cosmic-wielding herald to subject planets and gain power for his own purpose.
His downfall came when he went to Manhattan and bargained with the Fantastic Four to kill Galactus. Galactus, low on power barely survived but stripped Terrax of his power.
Interestingly, Terrax had super-powers before being empowered by the power cosmic. His ability to control rock was greatly enhanced and with his battle axe, was perhaps the most formidable of Galactus’ heralds save the Siler Surfer. Terrax would be excellent to introduce in the cosmic storylines coming as Galactus’ current herald. He had likely the longest life, again save the Silver Surfer, of any other heralds in the comic book storylines. Should Marvel introduce the Silver Surfer (and they will), it would be best to introduce him already free of Galactus’ grasp so we can have two heralds for the price of one.
We have already seen two renditions in the movies thus far and the most recent was decent. However, in terms of sheer power and indestructability, very few ‘forces can wreak the kind of havoc than Juggernaut can and typically bests Colossus on most occasions.
Bullied by his father as a youngster, Cain Marko (a.k.a. the Juggernaut) was the stepbrother to Charles Xavier and was empowered by a demon that transformed Cain giving him superhuman strength and invulnerability. Despite the cinematic awe of the Juggernaut, he was a complex character who was an anti-hero at times, making amends with Charles Xavier at points throughout his comic run and joined the Thunderbolts at one point. Maybe too many horses on one team, but could you imagine the Red Hulk, the Abomination and Juggernaut on the same team?
Our ground level superheroes need foes too. Although not having any super-powers as it were, sometimes great writing and directing can give us dangerous yet complicated villains for our Luke Cage, Iron Fist and Daredevil’s of the world.
Sometimes, these witty, intelligence and well-planned characters can be the perfect break from the cosmic shattering entities that we’re used to.
His occupation in the Marvel Encyclopedia indicates ‘Assassin’ and ‘Playboy.’ Quite a combination. Arcade (real name unknown) is a billionaire and engineering genius. Tony Stark but an assassin. Sounds intriguing. He designs ‘murderworlds’ and kills his victims in traps and mazes, rarely makes money but enjoys the kill.
Arcade has tangled with Spider-Man and the X-Men in the past, but his character could be modified to fit a variety of Marvel properties in the future.
As I mentioned at the onset, in the hands of creative geniuses, the pantheon of bad guys in the MCU is long and even the most obscure and ridiculous of villains can be turned into something great like Michael Keaton’s Vulture. Despite that, I think there are some we need to see and would provide a reasonable and believable tie-in to what we see going on in the MCU today.