You know what time of year it is. We’re just a couple days away from the next installment in the Marvel Universe. Black Panther is set to debut date. While I, like most people, am just your ordinary joe, having to wait until the movie debuts nationwide, a few of the blessed ones were able to attend the premiere for the movie somewhere in Hollywood this past weekend.
The first reviews are in for the Ryan Coogler production, which is the first Marvel film to feature a predominantly African-American Cast. And so far, so good! There has been praise for the storyline, performances, visualization and scenery. One of the more consistent compliments of the film has been for Michael B. Jordan’s portrayal as the villian, Erik Killmonger. The praise has drawn some to conclude that Killmonger could possibly be the best villian to date that Marvel Films has put together in its growing film catalogue.
So I thought, why not take a look at some of the nemeses of the players that we have seen from Marvel so far. This is a bit problematic since I have yet to witness Jordan’s performance, but it will still be fun to get a bit of head start.
Played by Tom Hiddleston, the younger sibling of Thor has been both the ideal nemesis and perfect foil to the machismo that is the God of Thunder. Loki is the god of mischief, causing calamity and mild suffering wherever he travels. Loki’s ability to provide comedic relief at climatic moments was refreshing and infuriating through his early run in the Marvel universe. It was not until last year’s Thor: Ragnarok, the third installment of the Thor series, that we finally got a Loki character that is more evolved than wanting to see the demise of his brother or wanting to rule Asgard or Midgard (Earth). Ragnarok gave further detail into what fueled Loki’s further resentment of his brother—and essentially their father—aside from being the adopted black sheep of the family, and the normal sibling rivalry.
So far, all we know of Thanos is that he is the baddest man in the universe, has a cool throne chair that hovers off the ground and is a crummy dad who cares more for absolute power as opposed to raising kids not to be maniacs. All will be revealed in the coming months when the first part of Avengers: Infinity Wars hits theatres; but for now, we can only take the badassness that we’ve seen in trailers from hero squad’s nemesis, played by Josh Brolin, to be a more calculated Stone Cold Steve Austin impersonation with heavier makeup.
In my humble opinion, Ultron is one of the least favourable villians to date in the Marvel universe. Robot-gone-wild is an arc that has been recycled in cartoons and movies for most of my life. While Netflix’s Black Mirror nails this sentiment, I felt that the Marvel iteration came up a bit short. If you watched the second installment of the The Avengers: Age Of Ultron, you’ll be familiar with the robot that turned on its creators in a modern-day retelling of Frankenstein. Granted, Ultron is a formidable adversary in the comics; however, there is limited context given in the movie to the character borne from metal and programmed by Tony Stark and Bruce Banner.
There is something to be said about a character that has more butt to kick than lines to say in the entire movie. In Captain America: The Winter Soldier, we get introduced to someone of Captain America’s (AKA Steve Rogers) past. As the plot unfolds throughout the film, we come to understand the identity of the Winter Soldier is no other than Captain America’s former compatriot, Bucky Barnes, who now harnesses powers that rival that of the All-American hero himself.
What’s appealing about the Winter Soldier, aside from discovering his true identity, is the internal conflict that we get to see play out. Fighting with his perceived betrayal at the hands of Captain America (and the US Army) to his somewhat fond memories before undergoing his transformation into the perfect soldier, we see Barnes as a hired gun, bringing destruction to his target in the similar capacity as an army . I was glad that there was some substance to the arc of the film aside from wanting to take out the hero because that is the modus operandi of every superhero film.
Let me preface this selection by saying that I did not include the Toby Maguire or that other Spiderman franchises since neither plays into the continuity of the current MCU. It was an interesting choice in my humble opinion that the franchise started out with the Vulture as Spiderman’s first nemesis in last summer’s Spiderman: Homecoming.
Those familiar with the Saturday morning cartoon version of the villain would be a bit surprised to see that Vulture was not sucking the youth out of victims in an attack on aesthetics. Instead, he was more obsessed with salvaging alien components for personal gain and wealth. We also discover that the character played by Michael Keaton is a family man, looking out for the best interest of his loved ones. While alien treasures serve as motivation in his quest to swoop the earth for parts, my only hang up with putting Vulture on the villains list is that his intentions are not all that diabolical. Poaching alien technology from under the noses of The Avengers hardly sounds like the mantra of dangerous super villain.
In fact, I wrote a while ago that this was one of the more conflicting superhero films that I have watched to date because I felt more empathy for the Vulture than other would-be superhero murderers.
Let’s be upfront. There were a lot of Marvel Comics back in the day. I, for one, could only consume so many. So when I went to the theatre to watch Thor: Ragnarok, there was no preconception brought along from reading a comic book or watching a cartoon. Hela, as I would soon discover, was the crazy all-powerful sister of Thor and Loki—bloodlust being one of her dating profile qualities. Hela wages war on Asgard and its people, forcing her two other siblings to set aside their differences to unite against an enemy more powerful than them,
Hela was a change from the usual ‘bad guy’ in that, for one, she was a female and also more powerful than any male figure without needing support from anyone else in the storyline. Commanding an army of the living dead and having a giant Wolf as a pet, my introduction to the Queen of Asgard was that of “she’s the Captain now.”
The backstory given by Odin of how and why Hela was hellbent on destroying her homeland was good enough to appease viewers and justify this fight. However, when you build someone up as tyrant-to-be, it felt as though Hela was too far gone to be redeemed in a subsequent film in the same manner that Loki accomplished by the end of the final film. So as soon as we get introduced to Hela, she is taken away just as swiftly. Such is the life of a Hollywood villain.