“How does Marvel do it?”
The definition of a villain is a character whose evil actions or motives are important to the plot. They deem their ideology or view of the world as correct and they will go to great lengths to achieve said goal. Collateral damage is a necessity for story lines that involve a hero and villain, but a character’s development is probably the most critical for a successful franchise run such as Marvel’s current trajectory.
Take in consideration how Marvel Comics have been able to make the transition from paperbacks to the big screen as Marvel Studios found a way to play with our heartstrings. By creating such personal and relatable backgrounds for some memorable villains in both their cinematic and television universes, they have created fan bases for their long hated villains simply by putting a heart with a name. Take a look at my top five list below for some memorable characters:
WARNING SPOILER ALERT: Some explanations may include bits and pieces of each character’s series or movie.
*Ranked from 5 (lowest) to 1 (highest) on most traumatic and morally conflicting stories:
5.) Kilgrave/Evil-Doer (“Jessica Jones” – Season 1 & 2): Within the first season of “Jessica Jones”, the original boogeyman of Marvel did his fair share of damage to some beloved “Defenders” of New York, including Luke Cage himself. Even though Kilgrave was in love with Jessica within the distant past of the series, he used a prolific mind control skill that no other MCU villain possessed to keep her at bay until she got away. The murderous behavior that this character exudes through this series is also balanced with some slight sharp and sarcastic humor. Like most Marvel series and movies, his background was certainly a key piece in his development as a character.
4.) Loki (“Thor”, “The Avengers”, “Thor: The Dark World”, “Thor: Ragnarok”): The famous sibling rivalry can probably be tied closely to the relationship that this character has with his brother Thor (even though adopted). Loki’s character has extensive emotional depth than most villains in the MCU and it shows in the most raw scenes when he does something bad and turns around and does something good. He always felt second best to Thor and anytime you’re second best to your sibling, you may consider to take some drastic measures just to prove your worth.
3.) Wilson Fisk/King Pin (“Daredevil” – Season 1): The Marvel TV universe had to jump start their series with a dominating character, besides their “anti-hero” in the Daredevil. Welcome Mr. Wilson Fisk also known as “King Pin”, who had a ridiculous hold on New York’s crime landscape before the other introductions of other Crime Lords. One of the more developed characters in the Marvel universe, he strongly believed that his motives and “heroic efforts” were for the better of the residents of New York. The love story that ensued during his reign as King Pin, along with his background story that was shown throughout the first season really made you feel connected with such an individual.
2.) Erik Stevens/Kilmonger (“Black Panther”): The young boy who was raised parent-less touch the hearts of many Marvel fans during the inception of “Black Panther”. The raw emotion that was being displayed by the vengeance that Kilmonger exhibited during this return to Wakanda was certainly award winning! His true intent of going back to his homeland was to secure the crown and use his new found power to help those who couldn’t help themselves. It’s almost like a modern-day Robin Hood yet, portrayed by a “villain” who can easily be seen as a “anti-hero”.
1.) Thanos (“The Avengers”, “Guardians of the Galaxy”, “The Avengers: Age of Ultron”, and “The Avengers – Infinity Wars”): If all you have to do is acquire a “mythical” Gauntlet, get a few infinity stones from the universe’s most powerful heroes and with a snap of your fingers, half of the entire universe turns into ashes… you sir or madam are a bad mofo! Yes, he couldn’t have done it without his henchmen to gain such supreme rule, but his intent on such feat wasn’t totally bad. If you don’t know his reasons to why, basically in a nutshell he felt that killing half of every living thing would save all species from self-destruction. His process was a little extreme, but he did have everybody in mind (or less), plus you add his personal experience of a self destructing planet, you’ll probably understand.
I can definitely name more ‘good-bad’ or ‘bad-good’ guys… From your Bush Master (“Luke Cage” – Season 2), to the beautiful Elektra (“Daredevil” – Season 2, and “The Defenders”) alllll the way to the likes of Vulture (“Spider-Man: Homecoming”) and even Tony Stark as Iron Man had his selfish moments but with good intentions (“Captain America: Civil War). The character development that Marvel uses is too good to be true and I believe that most fans appreciate such research and thought that goes into every single project.