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Why are Marvel's film villains so hit and miss?

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Bishop89

Member
tumblr_ny5elqbDKp1uyuz3ro1_500.gif
cant get over how shit caps costume was in avengers
 

Firemind

Member
To answer the OP's question, I think the general problem that the Marvel film's (and comic book movies in general) have had when it comes to developing good villains for the screen, is that they often don't have much time to do so. When it comes to writing comic book movies, you usually have to work in the extra room to introduce fantastical concepts, in addition to laying the usual groundwork for introducing your main character, the supporting cast, establishing the world...etc, etc. This especially seems to be a problem with comic book movies that deal in origin stories, because you essentially have to devote the entire first Act of your movie towards detailing for your audience how the main character gets his or her larger than life powers, as well as how they learn to control them, how they eventually end up choosing the path of the hero, all that jazz.
Make a movie about anti-heroes/villains (see: Deadpool/Suicide Squad). Problem solved.
 
cant get over how shit caps costume was in avengers

I hate it so much. I know they want to sell action figures with these movies too but he really looks like a goddamn action figure. WS suit is probably still my favorite.

The villains feel hit and miss because many individual Marvel movies feel like they exist solely to set up the next (big) story in their plans so they come off like speed bumps than anything. For as much as I've enjoyed the output of the MCU at the same time sometimes I feel like they don't let their individual stuff "breathe," so to speak.
 

Toa TAK

Banned
Marvel should nab the rights to FF so we can FINALLY have The Maker/Ultimate Reed Richards.

I don't need Doom that much.
 
Honestly, what MCU has over the other studios is making society, government, organizations, or the heroes themselves compelling threats.

Maybe Winter Soldier and Pierce weren't as compelling (I can BS on that, Bucky is very compelling), but the threat of Hydra was very palpable in Winter Soldier and AOS. None of the organizations in the X-Men movies felt as compelling.

Killian wasn't that great, but Tony being his own worst enemy has been one of the best emotional arcs in the MCU. Can't think of any franchise with that long while enjoyable arc.

So I think there's value in the MCU having threats beyond the primary supervillain, but yeah, it's about time we get a real deal villain.
 
Speaking as someone who knows nothing about the comics, I am always surprised when I hear that people think Loki was a good villain in the movies. The character feels so silly to me.

I honestly think it has a lot to do with people loving Tom Hiddleston. I have yet to find Loki compelling in the least.

I'd much rather have seen Ultron stick around than Loki continue to be the only Marvel villain they haven't killed off in the first movie he appears in (ignoring Thanos, since he hasn't done jack shit yet).
 

Red

Member
Make a movie about anti-heroes/villains (see: Deadpool/Suicide Squad). Problem solved.
I would actually love a Loki movie. Something wholly from his perspective that shows more clearly why he feels persecuted, and why he believes he should have the throne. Something in line with the 2004 Loki miniseries would be great.
 

LakeEarth

Member
galactus-fantastic-four-tim-story-talks-about-why-he-made-galactus-a-cloud-jpeg-85893.jpg


Galactus: Giant cloud. ��

Fox: "We made Galactus a giant cloud, because a giant man in a suit is too ridiculous."

Marvel: "Here's a well armed talking raccoon. Everyone loved him and he made us millions in merchandising."

Not that Marvel has succeeded in making a great villain as of yet. A few goods, but no greats.
 

Bold One

Member
Ronan had no presence, when he shows up on screen you didn't feel any different, it was just..."oh its Ronan....".

It's also why people keep making fun of Thanos, no real presence or foreboding in any of his cameos.

I strongly disagree.

Who makes fun of Thanos?

His small scene in Guardians was bone chilling.... Incredible amount of presence

tumblr_n9ne6qyDKK1s2zaudo3_r1_500.gif
 
I honestly don’t get the hate for many of the villains for the MCU films, I mean I'm not saying they are perfect but I have enjoyed most.

Stane - Bridges was a lot of fun, played the corporate double crossing mentor very well
Abomination - Roth was enjoyable and did the part of someone comparable to Hulk fine
Whiplash - Underrated in my opinion, served as a mirror to what Tony would have become in his shoes: Father discredited and work 'stolen', forced into a life of crime and brought up to hate the Starks. Ultimately his main goal wasn’t to kill Tony but to discredit him and his abilities like Howard did to his own father.
Loki - One of the best they have, can switch between full on heel or go tweener if the position needs it. I also see him turning good down the line.
Red Skull - Played very well by Weaving, embodied the Hydra/Nazi attitude well and was again a mirror to Steve which helped emphasis his goodness.
Killian/Mandarin - Clever twist and thematically fits well, smart and a great long term plan put into place.
Malaketh - The real weak link, did his role but very little motivation and depth given.
Ronan - Simple premise but had enough gravitas to work. His demise was set up very well, throughout the film he is grand in his behaviour yet the silly and unorthodox Star Lord manages to strip that away momentarily and get the upper hand.
Cross - Again an enjoyable corporate enemy with the burned student angle. Enjoyed how insecure he was inside but used it to rub his successes in Pyms face constantly
Pearce - Perfect representation a politician pushing extra control over the people. Playing on people's fears to push his 'reasonable' argument that pre emotive action is best and in the best interest of the people, regardless of the innocents that get hurt or the government having too much control.
Ultron - A good take on the 'child rebelling against daddy' character, an extreme version of Stark.

What I think people really have a problem with is that most have been 'killed' which restricts them from coming back but as this is a movie series going back to previous villains can get boring (look at some of the hate for Loki).
 

Tesseract

Banned
Movies are hit or miss, you cannot expect a roll of consistent goodness when you hotswap writers and directors around so much.

The medium doesn't really lend itself to episodic content, not without significant turnarounds or cut corners.
 

Fury451

Banned
Ronan was such a shame. Completely bungled that character into a generic villain.

This is Marvel's biggest issue, but he hero characters have been compelling enough to ignore it somewhat, but looking back: Zola was probably the best villain they've used.

Completely wasted Thomas Kretchmann as a potential interesting villain with Baron Strucker too.
 
What these movies need is an arc where the villains actually win to some degree.

I doubt anyone would have the love for Darth Vader as a villain if he got blown up at the end of ANH, or hadn't successfully fucked over the heroes in ESB.

In these movies so far, the worst thing the villains do (outside of destruction/death of one city) is kill a loved one or a single hero. Any major setback for the heroes only lasts 20-30 minutes before the big fight at the end.
 
It's the downside to nailing the characters so often. One of the reasons the connected universe works so well is because they focus so much on the heroes and even those that don't get their own movies get paid attention to in the crossovers. As a result we end up getting less screen time devoted to developing villains and their motivations. Generally speaking, significant character development is pretty much exclusive to the protagonists.

Loki is the exception to the rule because he's been allowed to develop over multiple films. And even then, that came at the cost of Malekith as a character.

If Marvel was not so trigger-happy with killing their villains off then maybe we could have a more diverse roster of good villains for future films. I think this is something they desperately need to do going forward.
 

Schlep

Member
Daredevil made me strongly dislike Age of Ultron. After spending so much effort, writing, and time into developing Fisk as a villain where you may disagree with him, but you can see why he does what he does...to a robot that wants to kill everyone because the internet... dumb.
 

SpaceWolf

Banned
Daredevil made me strongly dislike Age of Ultron. After spending so much effort, writing, and time into developing Fisk into a villain where you may disagree with him, but you can see why he does what he does...to a robot that wants to kill everyone because the internet... dumb.

In all fairness though man, in a television series you have significantly more time to develop your central villain in comparison to a two hour movie.

I will agree though, Ultron was pretty poorly written. Why so many jokes, overly eccentric robot?
 

Shanlei91

Sonic handles my blue balls
Fisk and Killgrave have been the two best villains so far in the MCU. I want to say it's because those shows aren't trying to sell merchandising to kids but that would be making excuses.
 

Toxi

Banned
It's not Marvel movies, it's superhero movies in general. Outside Batman villains, Doctor Octavius, and Magneto, almost everything else is crap to forgettable. Nobody gives a shit about General Zod (beyond memes) or Lex Luthor or the Violator either.

Batman is basically the only Superhero film franchise where you can expect the villains to be good... And even then you had shit like Poison Ivy and the Riddler.
 
In all fairness though man, in a television series you have significantly more time to develop your central villain in comparison to a two hour movie.

I will agree though, Ultron was pretty poorly written. Why so many jokes, overly eccentric robot?

He was meant to reflect Tony
 
I will agree though, Ultron was pretty poorly written. Why so many jokes, overly eccentric robot?

Because he was designed by Tony Stark. It could have been explained better, but Ultron is essentially Tony's son and he inherits much of his personality from his father. We see that in his joking nature, and the firm belief that he knows what is right for the world. In the comics, this is specifically because Ultron's mind is based on the thought patterns of his creator Hank Pym, so Ultron is just as schizophrenic and damaged as his creator.

That point was not entirely explained in the movie, but we see in his interactions with Klaue, or when Wanda tells Steve why Tony acts the way he does ("Ultron can't see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that from?")

Some of Ultron's first words were straight out of Tony's mouth. He gets his entire reason for being from Tony's spiel to Banner about protecting the Earth from threats, he just twists it into his own vision because he considers humanity to be the #1 threat to the earth. It's a pretty clear motivation if you ask me.

As I mentioned above this is precisely a case of the villain's development taking a back seat to nailing the main characters, they did a good job with Natasha, Banner, Clint and Wanda in AoU, but unfortunately that meant less screen time that could have been devoted to further fleshing out Ultron and Strucker.
 
why dont people understand this?
'because he didn't look like the comics' is where most of the hate comes from I believe.

I also feel that a lot of the hate for characters comes from the fact many people can't grasp subtleties, just look at that guy who didn't realise cap was being lifted by wanda in that other thread. Unless you beat them over the head with exposition a lot of things that have been unsaid go missed and the character gets written off even if of there has been enough dialogue or visual ques to explain everything.
 

Schlep

Member
In all fairness though man, in a television series you have significantly more time to develop your central villain in comparison to a two hour movie.
I agree about TV vs. movies, but even for a movie it was bad and showed how lazy Marvel has gotten with their villains. Obadiah Stane was pretty one dimensional, but looked like the Mariana Trench compared to Ultron's rain puddle.
 

Toa TAK

Banned
Because he was designed by Tony Stark. It could have been explained better, but Ultron is essentially Tony's son and he inherits much of his personality from his father. We see that in his joking nature, and the firm belief that he knows what is right for the world. In the comics, this is specifically because Ultron's mind is based on the thought patterns of his creator Hank Pym, so Ultron is just as schizophrenic and damaged as his creator.

That point was not entirely explained in the movie, but we see in his interactions with Klaue, or when Wanda tells Steve why Tony acts the way he does ("Ultron can't see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that from?")

Some of Ultron's first words were straight out of Tony's mouth. He gets his entire reason for being from Tony's spiel to Banner about protecting the Earth from threats, he just twists it into his own vision because he considers humanity to be the #1 threat to the earth. It's a pretty clear motivation if you ask me.

As I mentioned above this is precisely a case of the villain's development taking a back seat to nailing the main characters, they did a good job with Natasha, Banner, Clint and Wanda in AoU, but unfortunately that meant less screen time that could have been devoted to further fleshing out Ultron and Strucker.

Excellent post.
 

watership

Member
Winter solider didnt even have a Villain

That's another reason why Winter Solider was so good. There doesn't have to be a moustache twirling big bad, when the story and events are what the characters have to deal with.

Marvel films haven't always had extremely well developed bad guys, and that is mostly because most of the films are about the protagonists. Considering how great many of the films are, I think that's okay.
 

Penguin

Member
At this point, I just realize they don't care to make em that interesting

And truth be told, it hasn't really hurt their movies so can't say they are wrong in that regard.

I just don't get excited for the foes anymore, it's a heroes' story. They are the WWE of comic book movies
 
When these movies give their heroes about as much development as you'd expect from a trailer, the villains don't stand a chance.

MCU flicks are about moving from point A to B to C as smoothly as possible, and not about stopping to smell the roses when it comes to character development. The characters only work when the actors have genuine charisma and chemistry to fill in the gaps.
 
The X-Men movies have been really good with there villains.

Future sentinels were such a legit that they had to change time.

Magneto has been so good he's been in most of the movies completed with an interesting background and again being a legit threat.

As crap as Origins was, sabertooth was very good In the movie and once again a legit threat for the hero
 

SpaceWolf

Banned
Because he was designed by Tony Stark. It could have been explained better, but Ultron is essentially Tony's son and he inherits much of his personality from his father. We see that in his joking nature, and the firm belief that he knows what is right for the world. In the comics, this is specifically because Ultron's mind is based on the thought patterns of his creator Hank Pym, so Ultron is just as schizophrenic and damaged as his creator.

That point was not entirely explained in the movie, but we see in his interactions with Klaue, or when Wanda tells Steve why Tony acts the way he does ("Ultron can't see the difference between saving the world and destroying it. Where do you think he gets that from?")

Some of Ultron's first words were straight out of Tony's mouth. He gets his entire reason for being from Tony's spiel to Banner about protecting the Earth from threats, he just twists it into his own vision because he considers humanity to be the #1 threat to the earth. It's a pretty clear motivation if you ask me.

As I mentioned above this is precisely a case of the villain's development taking a back seat to nailing the main characters, they did a good job with Natasha, Banner, Clint and Wanda in AoU, but unfortunately that meant less screen time that could have been devoted to further fleshing out Ultron and Strucker.

As much as I appreciate you taking the time to reply to my post in such detail, I'm not sure I'm entirely convinced by this.

First and foremost, I don't think a couple of very brief, throw-away lines in the film (such as the aforementioned Wanda line) is really enough to justify Ultron himself being considered a fully rounded, or even interesting character. Nor is the hypothesis that Tony Stark snarks a lot, therefore it would totally explain him creating a robot that also snarks, especially if that undoes the entire purpose of your villain...which is to convey a certain sense of menace throughout the narrative, to seem like a threatening and perhaps insurmountable obstacle for your central heroes.

Obviously this is completely subjective, but Ultron completely and utterly failed as a villain for me because he's a fairly aimless, ill-defined character who spends basically no time being developed outside of the Avengers briefly theorizing about his motivations hundreds of miles away. Is the majority of his moral outlook really defined by Tony Stark? Or is it just because he was a peace-keeping robot who's taking his duties a bit too literally? At the end of the day, an aimless character is an aimless character...and as much as you can try and explain that away, if your villain is presented as too "schizophrenic", they don't really shape up to be much of a character to invest yourself in. At the end of the day, a central villain in any movie has to serve a very specific function in your film, regardless of the kind of villain you're trying to create, and Ultron completely fails at that. He's not menacing, he's not interesting, he's not engaging on any level.

Counter the character with The Joker from The Dark Knight for example. He's very much also presented as a "schizophrenic' character who constantly cracks jokes, having defined himself against the central character, but in comparison, he's a much, much more developed character as well, with scenes that directly delve into his motivations and nihilistic motivations. There's a method to his madness, his plotting much more well-defined, and as a result that makes him an excellent villain. On the otherhand we have Ultron, who has about 50% of his dialogue relegated to overly goofy jokes, and the other 50% to rather labored metaphors that don't really go anywhere. Fans can try and justify why the character is the way he is as much as they like (on account the fact that, as you yourself admit, the movie never really bothers to do so)...but a flat unmemorable villain is still a flat, unmemorable villain, no matter what way you want to spin it.

Never read a comic-book with Ultron in my life though, so maybe he's presented the same way there. Still, I stand by my argument.

I'll give you this, though. Ultron's a far better villain in comparison to bloody Malekith, that's for sure.

owPVrky.jpg


Screw you, Malekith! What even was your plan anyway? Something...something...something about elves...and chaos? I don't...something, Kat Dennings.
 

poppabk

Cheeks Spread for Digital Only Future
Kind of weird that the TV shows have done so well; Kingpin and Kilgrave were both standouts in their respective casts.
The stakes are much lower (get Jessica back, take over hells kitchen) which allows the characters to have more nuance and be more relatable and believable. Plus of course all the extra time, but I think the 'normal' desires has a lot to do with it. Most of the DC villians being mentioned are not set on global annihilation.
 
Too much time in the movies is focused on the heroes, especially since many involve origin stories. Then the movies keep adding in more crossover heroes, which takes up more screen time, that villains keep getting pushed to the side.
 
Yeah, that is the fundamental difference we're discussing here. In Marvel's films the heroes always get priority over the villains. So Joker's a good example to compare to considering how much screen time he gets compared to Ultron. Hell Batman himself was basically sidelined in that movie so Joker and Dent could get the spotlight. Which is a fine approach because they are two of comics' most iconic villains.

It's not how I would do things personally, but we are in agreement that it doesn't really excuse the shortcomings in Age of Ultron. Its just part of the problem. Ultron absolutely needed more screen time devoted to developing his motivations from his perspective, rather than being told through the assumptions and understandings of Tony, Wanda, Vision etc.

The initial scene of his birth and his subsequent attack on the Avengers' party was a great start, but for the rest of the movie the team is either hiding from or looking for Ultron and during that time, we get very little of him conveying his own feelings to the audience, it's more just minor character moments served to develop Wanda and Pietro instead.

There is enough to get his point across for sure, but I can see why it falls flat for some. Thankfully the external conflict in the movie is pretty simple. He's a bad jerk robot and the Avengers need to stop him, so a little bit of underdevelopment doesn't kill the whole thing.
 

a916

Member
Disney, do whatever you have to do

436789-doom_thr.jpg


To get this guy in the MCU.

It's not the villains that are to be blamed... it's the importance that Marvel, or lack therof, Marvel wants to put on them.

Ultra was great. Even amazing. I love the voice work by the guy from blacklist

Thought I was watching stand up comedy as him and Tony tripped overthemselves trying to tell jokes... also HATED the moustache twirling event near the end where he's flying away and Hulk jumps on and he goes "oh noo not you". As if you really need the Hulk to get over with the crowd any more that you have to cut the legs off another villain.
 

SpaceWolf

Banned
Yeah, that is the fundamental difference we're discussing here. In Marvel's films the heroes always get priority over the villains. So Joker's a good example to compare to considering how much screen time he gets compared to Ultron. Hell Batman himself was basically sidelined in that movie so Joker and Dent could get the spotlight. Which is a fine approach because they are two of comics' most iconic villains.

It's not how I would do things personally, but we are in agreement that it doesn't really excuse the shortcomings in Age of Ultron. Its just part of the problem. Ultron absolutely needed more screen time devoted to developing his motivations from his perspective, rather than being told through the assumptions and understandings of Tony, Wanda, Vision etc.

The initial scene of his birth and his subsequent attack on the Avengers' party was a great start, but for the rest of the movie the team is either hiding from or looking for Ultron and during that time, we get very little of him conveying his own feelings to the audience, it's more just minor character moments served to develop Wanda and Pietro instead.

There is enough to get his point across for sure, but I can see why it falls flat for some. Thankfully the external conflict in the movie is pretty simple. He's a bad jerk robot and the Avengers need to stop him, so a little bit of underdevelopment doesn't kill the whole thing.

Regardless of how some of us might feel about Ultron, looking forward to seeing how Baron Zemo stacks up in comparison, especially considering we haven't seen anything of the guy this close to Civil War's release.
 
Regardless of how some of us might feel about Ultron, looking forward to seeing how Baron Zemo stacks up in comparison, especially considering we haven't seen anything of the guy this close to Civil War's release.

There's a popular rumour (or it was confirmed somewhere and I missed it) that Zemo's role is more to set him up for future villainy, as the central conflict of the movie is between Tony and Steve. If Marvel continues to put the primary focus on the heroes (which isn't a bad thing) the very least they could do is not treat villains like a one-off, and let them survive to develop further over multiple films.

IMO the villains should be treated like the heroes in that they should be allowed to appear and develop across the entire MCU rather than just show up, get some minor development, and then get unceremoniously offed in one film. So far this is exclusive only to Loki and Thanos.

Would be really cool if Zemo made it out of CW and came back in Black Panther or at least Infinity War, and not get killed off screen like Strucker did.
 
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