The MCU Villains are Lame Rip-Offs of the Heroes

Over the last two years my wife and I embarked on the cinematic quest of watching all the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) movies. She had only seen a couple to that point, and although I had seen most of them it had been years since I checked in on them. The movies are always at least "fine" with only periodic exceptions. Occasionally some rise to the top like Iron Man and Guardians of the Galaxy, but in general they're all the same movie with different costumes.

When watching all 17 (!!!) movies in such a compressed timeframe you start to notice similarities. Talk of Tesseracts or Aethers or any of the Marvel MacGuffins is yawn-inducing; Jeremy Renner clearly has never seen one of these movies; every movie is now an exercise in utilizing different forms of punctuation.*

* Looking at the upcoming slate of MCU movies, my advice would be to buy stock in colons.

The biggest similarity among most the movies? The villains are the same as the hero in that respective movie. What I mean is, Iron Man fights an Iron Man-type thing, Hulk punches other Hulks, etc. I understand why this is a trope but after double-digit of these movies it's such...a...drag.

Don't believe me? Take a look for yourself in my Similarity Power Rankings. Let's start with least similar and work our way up. If you're like me you forgot about at least half of these villains, so hat tip to my extensive research (Wikipedia) for the refresher.

Guardians of the Galaxy (2014)

The villain: Ronan


What's his deal?: A Kree radical (don't worry about it) that wants to eradicate Xandarians (don't worry about it). Really into face paint.

How similar is he to the Guardians?: He has a spaceship. And thus ends the similarities.

Miscellaneous: Thanos gets an extended appearance in his Space La-Z-Boy. He'll finally get to do something of consequence in next year's Avengers: Infinity War after being teased as Marvel's Big Bad for over five years.

Similarity score: 0 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Spider-Man: Homecoming (2017)

The villain: Adrian Toomes, aka Vulture

What's his deal?: Arms dealer by day, family man by night.

How similar is he to Spider-Man?: They're different, including the fact that Vulture's "powers" are completely man-made, as opposed to Peter Parker's mutation via spider bite. Peter starts dating Toomes' daughter so their similarity score gets bumped up a notch.

Miscellaneous: Thor: Ragnarok is benefitting from recency bias, but Homecoming is the best Marvel movie this year.

Tom Holland is a delight.

Similarity score: 0.25 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Iron Man 3 (2013)

The villain: Aldrich Killian


What's his deal?: He turned himself into a seemingly un-killable lava monster. Kidnaps the president and cuts a deal with the Vice President to run the show, essentially.

How similar is he to Iron Man?: He's not!

Miscellaneous: The movie was better when you thought they killed off Gwyneth Paltrow.

Similarity score: 0.5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Thor: The Dark World (2013)

The villain: Malekith, a Dark Elf

What's his deal?: He wants to use the Aether to destroy all worlds. There's a lot of portals involved.

How similar is he to Thor?: Not very.

Miscellaneous: See, I remember enjoying this movie, but now I'm not sure. There are honestly so many portals, you guys.

Similarity score: /shrugs

Iron Man 2 (2010)

The villain: Mickey Rourke's Russian Accent (MRRA)


What's his deal?: MRRA's father reveals that he has the blueprints for the arc reactor, and that Tony Stark's successes could have easily belonged to MRRA's family. He wants revenge. And whips.

How similar is he to Iron Man?: His suit vest (?) is powered via the same technology but he's actually different enough. He can't fly, and other than whips his arsenal is severely lacking. The threat he poses is more that he eventually takes control of Tony's fleet of suits.

Miscellaneous: I saw this movie at a pre-screening thing in Santa Monica. Robert Downey Jr. was in attendance and said a few words to the audience. He legitimately thinks he's Tony Stark.

Similarity score: 2.5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Thor (2011)

The villain: Loki

What's his deal?: God of Mischief that just discovered he's Odin's adopted, rather than legitimate, son. He has a hand in banishing Thor to Earth. Has daddy issues.

How similar to is he to Thor?: In comparison to humans both are supremely powerful, but Thor would kick his ass in a one-on-one fight.

Miscellaneous: Anthony Hopkins, still getting checks. Speaking of, imagine being someone that thinks Westworld is good.

Similarity score: 3 out of 5 Infinity Stones

The Avengers (2012)

The villain: Loki, again

What's his deal?: This time, he wants to enslave Earth. He has space worms and a dope walking stick.

How similar is he to...everyone?: He's Thor's unwanted brother, and as previously established they're not all that similar. But I'm giving Marvel a penalty for using the same villain twice in the span of a year.

Miscellaneous: There's A LOT of random actors in this franchise, but for some reason Stellan Skarsgård always strikes me as the most random. Or Zachary Levi. Or Kat Dennings. The common thread? Thor. What a whack-a-doodle movie.

Similarity score: 4 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

The villain: Ultron


What's his deal?: J.A.R.V.I.S' former A.I. roommate that turns evil and wants to exterminate the human race because Earth needs cleansing. You know, a typical Wednesday.

How similar is it to...everyone?: Ultron is part Tony Stark, part J.A.R.V.I.S: it's wildly efficient and a total smartass. It isn't like any one individual, but when you combine the two parental influences it's almost an exact replica.

Miscellaneous: James Spader gives the best performance of the MCU series as Ultron's voice.

Similarity Score: 4.75 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Thor: Ragnarok (2017)

The villain: Hella, bro

What's her deal?: She's the Goddess of Death. She wants to reclaim the Asgardian throne and conquistador her way through the universe. And wouldn't you know it, she's also Thor's sister. She even holds the hammer for a moment, which nobody except Thor supposedly could do.

How similar is she to Thor?: The same, but more powerful.

Miscellaneous: After my wife and I saw this we couldn't stop talking about Cate Blanchett's rockin' bod in this movie. Every time she was on screen I felt doughier.

Similarity score: 4.95 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Iron Man (2008)

The villain: Obadiah Stane, aka Iron Monger

What's his deal?: He's a very undude-like, very bald Jeff Bridges. He ran Stark Industries with Tony Stark's dad and now runs the company with Tony. He wants Tony's newly-created arc reactor technology, because reasons.

How similar is he to Iron Man?: His suit is powered via the same technology as Tony's. He shoots missiles and can fly around and do all the same shit Iron Man has been doing for nine years.

Miscellaneous: Wasn't it refreshing when every MCU villain didn't want to blow up the world or send space worms through portals? God, I miss 2008.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

The Incredible Hulk (2008)

The villain: Emil Blonsky, aka Abomination (lol)


What's his deal?: Emil Blonsky takes some super soldier serum combined with gamma radiation and turns into Abomination so he can battle Hulk. I can't find the article where I read this, but several years ago someone at The AV Club described Abomination's appearance as a bony booger. I can't put it any better, frankly.

How similar is he to Hulk?: He's Hulk, but without the heart of gold.

Miscellaneous: RIP Tim Roth's career.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

The villain: Red Skull, a very fine person


What's his deal?: Former Nazi officer that wants to extend HYDRA's power and influence. Should probably upgrade to SPF 50.

How similar is he to Captain America?: He's a super solider, so, very.

Miscellaneous: Nazis as the villain? OK, Hollywood, sure thing. Nazis haven't been relevant for years.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014)

The villain: Nominally, the Winter Soldier

What's his deal?: He's Cap's former buddy Bucky Barnes, who was kidnapped and weaponized by HYDRA when they turned him into, you guessed it, a super soldier. You could argue that HYDRA, personified in this movie as Robert Redford's character, is the true villain. But Cap & Friends trade punches with the Winter Solider for most of the movie so that's what we're sticking with.

How similar is he to Captain America?: Same guy from the same time period.

Miscellaneous: This is the first MCU movie featuring Anthony Mackie's Falcon, who is only rivaled by Hawkeye for the title of Lamest Avenger.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Ant-Man (2015)

The villain: Yellowjacket *eyeroll emoji*

What's his deal?: It's basically the plot of Iron Man: bald guy runs company with somebody, becomes evil, fight's the hero with the same technology.

How similar is he to Ant-Man?: You could be something other than a bug, bro.

Miscellaneous: The title of the Ant-Man sequel is Ant-Man and the Wasp. We get it: you're bugs.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Doctor Strange (2016)

The villain: Kaecilius


What's his deal?: He's a rogue sorcerer that wants to summon a being that, essentially, freezes time, so he can live forever.

How similar is he to Doctor Strange?: He's a sorcerer that makes portals and shit. He's the same.

Miscellaneous: I'm tired.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Guardians of the Galaxy vol. 2 (2017)

The villain: Kurt Russell

What's his deal?: He's God. Or a god. Either way he visits each planet and fucks a member of a female species to see which species can support his heir. We discover that Peter Quill is his son, meaning Peter is quasi-immortal. Kurt Russell needs to use Peter to help cover the universe in himself. Basically a cumshot fetishist.

How similar is he to the Guardians?: He's the father of the Guardians' leader.

Miscellaneous: I am Groot.

Similarity score: 5 out of 5 Infinity Stones

Captain America: Civil War (2016)

The villain: Fucking everyone


What's their deal?: All the Avengers decide they want to punch each other at an airport. I mean, I get it. I've had to put up with TSA too!

/mugs for camera

/swings imaginary golf club into the sun

How similar are they to...everyone?: ERROR -- ERROR -- FULL SYSTEM FAILURE IN 10 SECONDS.

Miscellaneous: Civil War was generally well-received and people seemed to enjoy the famous airport fight I mentioned above. But let's be real, this movie is stupid as shit, especially the airport fight. What's the point in having a giant set piece battle where everyone is still more or less on the same side and you know there's no stakes? If Iron Man beheaded Captain America, well, it would be horrifying, but at least SOMETHING would have happened. Instead, you have CGI masturbation for 20 minutes on the back of a "Who watches the Watchmen?" theme that was already perfected by, well, Watchmen. Throw this movie in the trash.

We can spare Tom Holland. He's delightful.

Similarity score: 12 out of 5 Infinity Stones


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