SERIOUSLY… SPOILER WARNING
With the closing of Endgame the MCU finds itself without two of it’s founding members, Iron Man and Captain America. Thor has gone full Big Lebowski and has also joined the Guardians of the Galaxy, Hemsworth signed on for Phase 4; Cap has gotten old and retired with the love of his life Peggy while also passing the Captain America mantle onto Sam/Falcon. Nat is gone, Vision is gone, Clint has retired (again), and Banner is healing from his use of the gauntlet. The Avengers have all but disbanded with each hero going their separate ways leaving the MCU in a “State of Uncertainty”. I put that in quotations because while the studio wants us to feel it’s uncertain, it’s all but uncertain. Doctor Strange, Black Panther, Spider-Man, Captain Marvel and the Guardians of the Galaxy all have another film confirmed along with a new Avengers film set to come out in 2022 (most likely), that will leave some time for them to establish a new big bad for the team to fight.
This week I want to take some time and highlight who the most prominent villain options are for the next phase of the MCU and what they could do. I will also give a very brief overview of each villain.
Here we go!
KANG THE CONQUEROR
With the introduction of time travel into the MCU, Kang is one of the fan favourites to become the next big bad that the Avengers must defeat. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1963 in The Fantastic Four.
Kang comes from the 31st century where time travel has been perfected and a council oversees all aspects of the timeline to prevent meddling by an outside force. Here’s where it gets confusing… Kang’s real name is Nathaniel Richards, a long possible descendant of Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic. He time jumps a lot between his time and ancient Egypt on Earth before he misses his mark when returning home and arrives on a worn torn planet he doesn’t recognize. He reinvents himself as Kang the Conqueror and resolves to take control of the Earth at an earlier point in the time stream to stop that future from happening. This puts him on a direct collision course with the Avengers and their heroics.
Kang represents the epitome of the MCU embracing the whole time travel concept. While some people didn’t enjoy or even understand the rules the MCU establishes in regards to time travel, Kang could help provide clarification. He could arrive and tell the Avengers that by their meddling with the stones and the time stream they’ve set something on a path that he needs to stop. Have him first become a begrudging ally and then have him turn villain when his machinations and actual plan of conquering is discovered. Like I said, this guy will only work if the MCU wants to fully embrace the upside aspect that time travel creates.
The Beyonder is a villain that could work within the context of the MCU but would take it on a very different path from the one they’re currently on. The Beyonder was originally created by Jim Shooter and Mike Zeck in 1984.
The Beyonder is an individual of massive cosmic power that can warp and shape reality to whatever he wants. He is classified as Agender, meaning he doesn’t have a singular gender but he has been drawn as a male and one of his aliases is Frank (no, not Frank Castle). His origin is complicated but here’s the cliff notes… Owen Reece accidentally accessed a pocket dimension called the “Beyond-Realm”, which is where he got his molecular manipulation powers; Owen Reece is Molecule Man in Marvel comics. While some of the energy escaped and gave Reece his powers, the rest gained sentience and became the Beyonder. The Beyonder is responsible for the Secret Wars story line from the 80’s where he created Battleworld and brought various villains and heroes there to fight to the death to determine who was the best.
He is a being of near unlimited power that can make whatever he can dream of. This would represent a significant threat for the Avengers to fight as he can make/remake anything he chooses. This would definitely lean into the cosmic side of the MCU but it would move it away from the track it’s currently on. While I would love to see Secret Wars played out on the big screen, there are not enough well established villains and heroes to really do it justice.
The Devourer of Worlds… ’nuff said.
But seriously, Galactus is the top choice for many now that Disney owns Fox and all of the characters previously owned by Fox (Fantastic Four, X-Men, Galactus, etc) have come home.
Galactus was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1966 and has been one of the big bad entities in the Marvel comic universe ever since. Possessing the Power Cosmic and an insatiable appetite for consuming planets, this guy is one not to be messed with. He is a cosmic entity of massive proportions that must feed on energy to survive. He was there at the birth of the Marvel comic universe and he will be there long after the heroes of the earth are gone. He is one of the constant forces meant to keep balance on a universal scale. He consumes energy rich planets to maintain the balance of life, something Thanos was trying to accomplish. Thanos once said that he “…is nothing compared to Galactus”.
Galactus would definitely open up the MCU on a massive cosmic scale as this guy is something that all the galaxies in the Marvel comics universe fear and know. The only drawback to this guy is how incredibly powerful he is. There is no way that the Avengers would be able to beat him without introducing some new uber powerful members to the team.
This guy is my personal choice for where Phase 4 should go. He was created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby in 1968 and has been a main villain of the Fantastic 4 and the Avengers since his first printing.
Annihilus is an Arthrosian, which is a race of insectoid-like beings from the planet Arthros in the Negative Zone. They grow tough chitinous exo-skeletons that are capable of withstanding bullets and most physical attacks. Some of these beings are able to fly and while some are also able to breathe fire. Annihilus was one of the first Arthrosians to be created, but he is also the only one to discover their creators’ ( Tyannans) crashed ship and learn their secrets. He used this knowledge to become leader of the Arthrosians and eventual ruler of the entire Negative Zone (a universe parallel to the main Marvel universe composed entirely of Anti-matter). Annihilus has millions of insectoid soldiers which are referred to as an “Annihilation Wave”, which he has used to attack the main Marvel universe on more than one occasion, most notably the Annihilation event. Annihilus has many powers that make him a formidable enemy: Super strength, Super speed, Super reflexes and agility, his exoskeleton in nearly impervious to almost all physical damage, he can fly up to 150 mph and he can survive in the vacuum of space.
Annihilus would be a great villain to have the new team go up against because it would also open up a whole new aspect of the multiverse for the Avengers to explore. The only downside is that he is an uber powerful tyrant with a nameless/faceless army that is nearly endless (sound familiar?). I just really think that he would be unbelievably awesome to see on screen and for as strong and as ruthless as he is, he doesn’t get a lot of recognition.
If Annihilus is my first choice, Ultron is definitely my VERY close second choice. I know what you’re going to say “But Tristan, we already got Ultron in Age of Ultron and he wasn’t that good”. True, we did get him in Age of Ultron, but in my mind that wasn’t a good representation. James Spader killed it as the voice of Ultron, but they made him look too human and act too human. He is supposed to be an emotionless robot that is smarter than anyone else and who believes humanity had it’s time and needs to be gone.
“The savage monkeys are rage-filled and claustrophobic. Climbing over one another to nowhere. Confused by logic, they dismiss it. Choosing instead to bend their knees to the convenient fantasy of custom-built gods. 99.9% of these primate dullards are propped up by the accomplishments of the .1% of cerebral mutations who give them everything. And what do the fleas do with these advancements? They brutalize one another over imaginary deities. They slaughter their neighbors for resources, for conveniences. They are hopeless. Vicious. Filthy. Selfish. Fearful. A fungoso infection for which there is only one cure–The rage of Ultron” – Ultron
When Roy Thomas and John Buscema created him in 1968, I don’t think they realized the villain they were making. Every time that Ultron shows up he has upgraded himself somehow to make sure that he can’t be beaten the same way again. Each body that Ultron upgrades himself to has various different abilities and powers and it’s almost impossible to list them all. He stands as one of the greatest achievements of Hank Pym (yes Hank made him in the comics, not Tony) but also as one of the greatest threats to the universe as a whole. BRING HIM BACK!
Doctor Victor Von Doom is my third top choice for the new villain that vexes the Avengers, he was created in 1962 by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. He is primarily a villain of the Fantastic 4 but has gone against the Avengers on more than one occasion.
Victor was born in the small country of Latveria to his father Werner Von Doom and his mother Cynthia. Doom’s mother was killed by the demon Mephistocles (the one who made Johnny Blaze the Ghost Rider) when a deal they bartered went wrong. His father died when he fled with young Victor into the wilderness to escape their country. Victor resolved to learn all he could about magic and technology so that he could one day make Mephisto pay for what he did to his mother. He attended school in the USA where he met Reed Richards and Ben Grimm. Reed and Victor never really saw eye to eye and their intense rivalry began there at the university. He developed a machine that could project an astral form on oneself into another dimension, he was hoping to use it to free his mother from Mephisto. Reed went over his math and pointed out a flaw in some of his calculations, but Doom ignored him thinking Reed was trying to upstage him. The machine exploded scarring Doom’s body and his face and he was expelled from the school for unethical experimentations. He blamed Reed for his scarring and expulsion. He traveled the world and eventually found a Tibetan village that helped him to construct a suit of armour to protect himself. He returned to his homeland of Latveria and overthrew the government declaring himself king. He has used the resources of Latveria to help his experimentations and further his power.
Doom would make an amazing character to bring in to the mix, but the problem here is that in order for his story to be told properly, the Fantastic 4 need to be there. Kevin Feige has said that while there are plans to bring them and the X-Men into the MCU, it won’t happen for quite a few years yet (ball parking a 2024-2025 inclusion). Doom has made some great storylines, at the culmination of the MarvelNow! run on Avengers, Doom became God Doom. He had the power of the universe and Celestials at his disposal not to mention Molecule Man, that’s how he made the new Secret Wars. I think it would provide a really different dynamic, especially if they leaned into Doom being the Diplomatic leader of Latveria giving him diplomatic immunity from prosecution. Like I said, it’s a very cool idea, but it would need the Fantastic 4 to properly do it and that’s something that’s not likely to happen for a few years.
Norman Virgil Osborn was born in Hartford Connecticut to his mother and failed inventor of a father. Norman’s father was abusive and took out his frustrations on him. His father claims he was swindled out of money and inventions by business partners and that’s why he was a failure. Norman resolved to never be like his father and became obsessed with power and wealth. He was first created by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko in 1964 where he appeared as the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man.
Norman studied at Empire State University where he became good friends with Professor Mendel Stromm. They decided to go into business together following Norman’s graduation; and since Norman was fronting most of the money for the start up, they called the company Oscorp Chemical. Norman married his college sweetheart Emily Lyman and they had a son, Harold “Harry” Osborn. Emily grew very ill following Harry’s birth and died not soon after. Norman, unable to process his grief, threw himself into his work and left little time for Harry. Stromm was caught embezzling from Oscorp and was arrested making Norman the CEO of the whole company. When he was going through Stromm’s notes he found a serum that Stromm had developed that would make him superhumanly powerful. Before he could take it though, Harry found out what his father was doing and switched some of the chemicals because he was tired of being ignored. When the serum exploded in his face and Norman inhaled the fumes he was hospitalized. He woke from his coma thinking “more clearly than he ever had before”; but, the insanity was not far behind. He developed the persona of Green Goblin to kill Spider-Man to prove himself as someone who could unite all the gangs of New York under one ruler. Norman has been battling with his insanity ever since and has managed to beat it on a couple of occasions.
Norman like Doom would make for an interesting person for the Avengers to go against because he’s human. He doesn’t have an alien armada that can wipe out the Earth, all he has are his wits and a whole lot of influence, think Kingpin on steroids. Not only is he a super powerful business magnate, but he is also a supervillain in his off time. He has become the Director of SHIELD which he renamed to HAMMER, he has led the Thunderbolts and he has even led the Avengers (really a bunch of villains posing as the Avengers, actually called the Dark Avengers). The most recent story I read with him actually took place at the end of the Superior Spider-Man run where he became the Goblin King and nearly took over all of New York. The main issue for Osborn, is that he needs to be established as a Spider-Man villain first off, like Doom needs to be established by the Fantastic 4. Once they do that, then they can have him mucking stuff about for the Avengers, but since the new Spider-Man villain is Mysterio (from a parallel Earth apparently), that won’t happen for at least a few years.
There you have it, those are the most popular options for the big bad of the MCU for Phase 4. My top three are Annihilus, Ultron and Dr. Doom but Osborn is a close fourth. I just hope that whatever Kevin Feige has planned, it’s something that’s a worthy successor to the Infinity Saga. See you next week!