The Vile and the Villainous
Baron Strucker: “It’s not a world of spies anymore, not even a world of heroes. This is the age of miracles, doctor. And there’s nothing more horrifying than a miracle.”
Captain America: The Winter Soldier
Heroes are defined by their villains. The MCU has built Thanos’ threat since The Avengers. Seven years and seventeen films since he was introduced, that arc is almost over. Finding a replacement villain will be difficult. I mean, who is your go-to when your last guy could warp reality?
The existing MCU doesn’t have anyone who matches Thanos’ power, but there are other options among the cunning manipulators, technological terrors, and magical powerhouses. These five Avengers villains might just be the MCU’s next Big Bad.
#5 The Thunderbolts
T’Challa: “Vengeance has consumed you. It’s consuming them. I am done letting it consume me. [he retracts his claws] Justice will come soon enough.”
Zemo: “Tell that to the dead”. [attempts suicide but is restrained by Black Panther]
T’Challa: “The living are not done with you yet.”
Captain America: Civil War
The year was 1997. The Avengers and the Fantastic Four had seemingly died in battle with the monster Onslaught. The world needed new champions after Marvel’s premier superheroes were destroyed. That was when The Thunderbolts appeared.
Led by patriotic swashbuckler Citizen V, The Thunderbolts introduced several new heroes, including the enigmatic Meteorite, size-shifter Atlas, aerial ace MACH 1, arrogant gadgeteer Techno, and skittish powerhouse Songbird. The team was a massive hit in-universe and quickly became as beloved as The Avengers. There was only one problem.
The Thunderbolts were villains.
More specifically, they were the latest incarnation of The Masters of Evil, led by the Nazi aristocrat Baron Zemo. The rest of the team were C and D-list villains. They planned to integrate themselves into the hero community and use the Avengers’ resources to conquer the world. The plan failed when MACH 1 and Songbird became real heroes and convinced the rest of the team to betray Zemo. The Thunderbolts have since become the Marvel equivalent of DC’s Suicide Squad.
Why It Would Work: Marvel fans have been clamoring for the Masters of Evil since The Avengers was announced. Zemo is still alive in the MCU, and The Avengers will be at least shaken up by Endgame. It’s time for The Thunderbolts to strike.
Chances of happening: 70%
[flames erupt around Thanos]
Thanos: “Hell’s Fire! What-?!”
Mephisto: “Precisely, ‘my liege’!”
Mephisto: [clawing at the Infinity Gauntlet] “Here to relieve you of your burden of supremacy.”The Infinity Gauntlet
Beating a mad Titan is one thing, but taking on the devil himself is quite another. Mephisto is an ancient demon with the power to warp reality. He delights in stealing souls, tormenting the damned, tempting heroes, all the standard devilish activities. He’s been killed several times, but will always be reborn while evil exists.
Mephisto’s crimes are too numerous to count. He created the Ghost Rider curse that forces good people to kill others for him. He turned Doctor Strange and The Avengers into demonic minions. Mephisto’s most infamous trick was manipulating Spider-Man into selling his marriage to save Aunt May’s life.
Why It Would Work: Mephisto is one of the few beings whose power rivals Thanos’. He is also an expert manipulator who could cause plenty of drama amongst the Avengers. Mephisto would also be a gateway for the technology-based heroes to begin encountering magic outside of Dr. Strange.
Chances of happening: 60%
#3 Kang the Conqueror
Minion: “Did the natives surrender?”
Kang: “They did not. Time to show the 21st century how I earned the title of Conqueror.”Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes, “The Man Who Stole Tomorrow!” (Season 1, Episode 17)
Some would consider the utopian 31st century to be paradise, but the renegade Kang found it an utterly boring hell. He stole a time machine and traveled to the future to obtain powerful weaponry. He returned and swiftly conquered the peaceful 31st century. Kang dubbed himself The Conqueror and began a campaign to conquer all of time.
He traveled to the 21st century where he battled The Avengers. They only defeated him because he was too honorable to cheat with his time traveling abilities. Kang returned time and again to fight them, even conquering the Earth on one occasion. Actually conquered the earth, with the U.N. and the Avengers signing declarations of surrender.
Time travel stories are hard to follow, and Kang’s is especially tough. His travels twisted the timeline like a pretzel and created an entire team of alternate Kangs. These include the Pharaoh Rama-Tut, Immortus, the Scarlet Centurion, and the heroic Iron Lad. The Kang versions hate each other and wage war whenever they cross paths.
Why It Would Work: A common theory about Avengers: Endgame is that the deaths from Infinity War will be undone via time travel. A team of heroes traveling through time and defeating a god-like Thanos would definitely attract Kang’s attention.
Chances of Happening: 80%
Thanos: “How may I serve you, my mistress?”
Death: “I tire of this universe. I wish for it to change.”
Thanos: “If it please you.”Marvel vs Capcom: Infinite
Death is the one being no one in the Marvel Universe wants to screw with. Often appearing as a skeletal woman, Death is in charge of collecting people once they die. While on a routine assignment, Death encountered a young killer who was instantly enamored with her and became a serial killer to see her again. This lovestruck fool was eventually known as Thanos, the Mad Titan.
Thanos and Death’s relationship is complicated. Thanos constantly kills to please his mistress, but she rarely acknowledges him. She refuses to speak to him, even when he used the Infinity Gauntlet to slaughter half the universe for her. Despite her silence and distance, Death cares about Thanos. Unfortunately, their relationship went from “It’s complicated” to “WTF” when Death and Deadpool fell in love.
Why It Would Work: Nearly everyone is sure that those killed in Infinity War will be resurrected. This would upset the natural balance and could lead Death to attack the Earth to set things right. With god-like powers and the ability to summon anyone who has ever died, Death would give the Marvel Universe one hell of a fight.
Chances of Happening: 60%
#1 Doctor Doom
Doctor Doom: “I am removing my mask, Killgrave. Within it is the circuitry that shields me from your power. I am totally vulnerable.”
Purple Man: “Then release me. [Doom doesn’t move] I-I said release me! [nada] Stand on your head! T-take a flying leap! KILL YOURSELF! [Doom still doesn’t move] I-impossible! Not this close! No one has a will that strong! No one…”
Doom: “Now, Zebediah Killgrave… who deserves to rule?”
The obvious pick for the MCU’s next Big Bad is Doctor Doom, the Lord of Latveria.
Victor Von Doom was a Latverian genius who traveled to America to study. He worked with another student named Reed Richards to build a device that could contact the afterlife. Doom activated the machine despite Richards warnings, only to be scarred when it exploded. Doom blamed Richards for his misfortune and traveled the world, learning black magic in his travels.
Doom eventually returned to Latveria and and overthrew its corrupt regime. He swiftly replaced it with his own tyrannical regime. Doctor Doom has since tried countless times to conquer the world. Or kill Reed Richards. Both are good for Doom.
While Doom is evil, he has a good reason for wanting to conquer the world. While traveling through time, Doom learned the only timelines where humanity was freed from injustice and want are the ones where he takes over the world. This isn’t bravado, either. Black Panther’s god Bast has confirmed that is the truth.
Why It Would Work: Doctor Doom is a complex villain who could easily be seen as both a hero and a villain. He is Doctor Strange’s magic peer, Iron Man’s equal in technology, and has an unrivaled will. Besides, Disney spent a lot of money to get all the Marvel characters that Fox controlled. Turning one of them into a household name as Phase 4’s Big Bad makes sense.
Chances of Happening: 80%
Which of these villains do you think will be the MCU’s Next Big Bad? Is there someone more deserving? Let us know in a comment.
Jared Bounacos has written for Movie Rewind since 2017.