Marvel Cinematic Universe: What Makes A Good Villain?

Until recently, Marvel has had a serious villain problem in that they were essentially all the same and their goals rarely differed from some form of world destruction and mass death. Besides Loki, this is all they ever wanted which seems odd in such a successful universe where their heroes have been developed to a greater extent.

Loki’s reign of terror, occasional and brief as it’s been stems from knowing he was completely unwanted by his family and adopted, not because of love. But because one man thought it could bridge between two warring civilisations. He was wrong and Loki is soon revealed to be the villain. You can feel and share in his pain when he yells to Odin “TELL ME!” to Odin in Thor. These gut wrenching two words tells us all that we need to know about how he wants to be accepted but knows deep down never will be. Tom Hiddleston’s Shakespearean-esque performance gave Loki the depth required for someone who is a desperate as this and it’s something we’ve not seen much of in the MCU until recently.

So what exactly makes Loki so good at being bad? Why do we all almost side with Kilmmonger’s quest? Is Michael Keaton’s working class villain the perfect portrayal of what we would all do in his shoes? A villain is only as good as what he allows him or herself to be, this is what makes them who they are.

Evil Plot

As I mentioned, a lot of these plots include multiple deaths, destroying as much as possible and an end goal of taking over the world. After seeing this countless times, it has become a derivative plot device for multiple villains. Frankly, it’s boring! It’s where the MCU has suffered greatly, bad guys like Ronan the Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy) and Malekith (Thor: The Dark World) want control for no real reason besides power plus they weren’t exactly fully fleshed out characters so it just added to he boredom. 

Recently with Killmonger (Black Panther) and Vulture (Michael Keaton) it seems as if the MCU is doing away with these old tropes. Killmonger wanted what was rightfully his in Wakanda and Vulture was a working class man providing for his family whose lively hood was taken away from him from the higher ups. The pair of them were developed in smart quick ways within one film which goes to show that it is possible to do this. You not only have an vested interest in their personal missions, you sympathise with what they are going through and you almost want them to succeed.

Human Characteristics

The reason people love Loki so much isn’t because he’s so terrific at what he does, it’s because he does it with a cheeky grin across his face. Whether he’s concocting a plan, in the middle of a plot he’s hatched or just quipping to irritate someone, he has a sense of fun about it. It’s a personality trait which people gravitate towards, if you’re laid back, relaxed, seemingly happy, then you create more admiration for yourself. This is exactly what Loki does, whilst wanting his plans and schemes to succeed there’s an element of fun. He clearly enjoys being a trickster and despite being a mass murderer, we all still love him. 

Others were comparatively one dimensional, looking at Obadiah Stane (Iron Man), he transcends the norm before going full-on typical villain. He’s been wanting to be in charge of Stark Industries for years and when Howard Stark dies, this should have been shot. But when Tony returns to take over the empire, it thwarts any plans he had. It’s understandable but he then becomes far too generic and whilst his plan isn’t quite world domination, he still wants to rule via death and destruction.

Layered Personality

Having an original plot and some human characteristics will only get you so far. But where do these things come from? What makes you develop that scheme and make you more interesting than most? Well it’s all to do with the bad guy’s personality, it’s what gives each villain something that makes us relate to them. A perfect example of this is Vulture whose main goal is to be the breadwinner for his family. He’s an everyday hard working guy and when it’s taken away from him, it’s hard not to sympathise. Loki being in pain (we mostly see this in Thor and Avengers) is a trait that makes up seem more human. This side of his personality coming from what he’s known about his true parentage all this time. 

These villains are pretty diverse with cathartic performances but the one who, unlike others is understated is Zemo (Captain America: Civil War). He plots to tear the Avengers apart from the inside after his family are killed in Sokovia during the event of Age of Ultron. No doubt that they are to blame, but the best thing about this is how meticulous Zemo is in his plan and the calm manner in which he conducts himself. The complexity of his plot comes to a head with Captain America, Iron Man and Bucky all ending up in one place. It’s smart, ruthless and intentionally cruel. Above all of that, he like the best bad guys is human. He has a relatable tale and Daniel Brühl’s nuanced performance captures what a man can do with patience and determination.

In that all important final battle with your adversary, you need to have some qualities which redeem your character. Aspects about yourself which make you a lot more rounded than your bog standard villain. Killmonger, Loki, Zemo and Vulture all succeed in creating well-rounded, ambitious villains which is what I’m hoping for in Infinity War. We’ll have to find out what Thanos is holding when he comes knocking.

Keep. It. Reel.

Marvel Cinematic Universe: Alternative Artwork

Every time a new Marvel film comes out, the marketing is once again ramped up to an almost ridiculous level. Avengers: Infinity War is no exception with more than 30 posters released so far and another week to go until it’s release, who knows how many more we will see? Frankly I’m hoping none because the quality has been pretty poor. From the ensemble cast posters, the mini team-ups and the digitally enhanced individual images, it’s not hitting the notes which the trailers have.

A lot of the time independent artwork is much better than what we see being launched by the studio. It seems that it’s mainly to do with the fact that multiple people are having their say no matter how little they know about creating something visually pleasing to the eye. Here are just a few examples which are much better than the official posters. If you’d like to see more work like this, each piece has a link to the credited artist below.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Keep. It. Reel.

Avengers: Infinity War – Trailer Breakdown

It’s been 10 years in the making and when Marvel began with Iron Man in 2008, they had no idea where they were going. However, the consistent success and being able to go deeper with characters by developing their stories more, they have arrived at Infinity War. 

Classically, in the comic books, Civil War is bigger than Infinity War, however they’ve taken a different route when culminating these characters in one film. By the time it’s out, there will have been 18 films part of the MCU something that no one thought would happen. Here’s the trailer, I hope you enjoy it as much as I did.

Beginning with a statement from a number of the Avengers, it’s what Nick Fury said to get his team together in Avengers Assemble, desperately clinging onto what was left of his mostly disbanded team by telling them about a plan to bring together a group of remarkable individuals. A plan known as the Avenger Initiative. Fury, Iron Man, Vision, Thor, Black Widow all share lines from statement, as we see each of them in separate shots. During this montage there’s a human Vision in the form of Paul Bettany with Scarlett Witch, perhaps this is real however it’s more likely that it’s a dream sequence. In the comics they develop a relationship which is heavily hinted at here.

There’s also a confused looking Bruce Banner who seems to have crashed into Sanctum Sanctorum with Doctor Strange and Wong. There’s even a reunion between Banner and Black Widow hinted at, something we all can’t wait for. We then see Wong, Strange, Banner and Tony Stark again in New York’s Sanctum Sanctorum, shortly after Stark leaves and then a brief shot of Peter Parker and his Spidey sense kicking in as he see a round contraption in the skyline. 

Showing war torn streets and then Loki handing over the Tesseract to Thanos who reveals himself just as Spider-Man shows off his new suit which we first saw in Homecoming. Thor shows up, as does Steve Rogers (I have NO idea if I am to call him Captain America any more, should I? Is he Nomad now?? Not a clue!) as he dodges and grabs a spear thrown at him by Proxima Midnight, one of Thanos’ Black Order. It’s a welcome return for Rogers who comes out of the shadows sporting a sexy beard as Black Panther demands that someone gets him a shield.

During the trailer, we see plenty of fights and battles which is what you expect from a film with the word War in the title. There’s a team up including Rogers (long hair flowing as he runs and punches. I think I have a new man crush), Falcon, Okoye, War Machine, Hulk, Black Widow, Bucky and Black Panther an army with them. 

The Hulkbuster armour makes an unexpected reappearance and both Tony and Peter get beaten badly by Thanos himself. It’s a brutal trailer which gets worse for the Avengers as we see Vision’s stone being almost ripped out of his head and Thanos loads his Infinity Gauntlet with just a few stones. No scenes with Stark and Rogers, however it’s assumed that they have kissed and made up by now, but who knows how??

Frankly we see everyone including a brief teaser at the end with Thor with one eye meeting the Guardians of the Galaxy, however a couple of notable absences include Hawkeye and Ant-Man who have been Luke Skywalkered! It’ll be curious to see why they aren’t in the trailer, especially Ant-Man who isn’t in the ComicCon poster either.

All in all it’s a very interesting trailer, showing most of the characters we have all come to love battling Thanos and co. who has a power that they be never come up against before. Deaths of the Avengers, especially in its original line up are to be expected, however whether that’ll happen in 2018’s Infinity War or in the as yet Untitled Avengers 4 out in 2019 remains to be seen. 

The Russo brothers have taken the helm with this being their third MCU film once again working with writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. Avengers: Infinity War is set for an April 27th release in the UK and May 4th in the USA. 

Keep. It. Reel.