The MCU Villain Showdown! Pt. 4
Spoilers up to and including Captain Marvel.
CORNELL STOKES – ‘COTTONMOUTH’ VS IVAN VANKO – ‘WHIPLASH’
Successful Villainy: Cottonmouth…wait, he hates that name…Stokes (Mahershala Ali) has a head start on this one being one of the most prominent and powerful gangsters in Harlem. The man has political clout, social standing and he generated fear among his followers. Whiplash (Mickey Rourke) did well for himself as well, as his primary goal was to make Tony Stark ‘bleed’. He certainly smacked Iron Man around…but when we get down to it his real goal was to get acknowledgement for his father’s work and the last time I checked only Tony Stark gets credit for the arc-reactor. So we’re giving this point to Cottonmouth.
Fight!: Maybe if this was a battle of the band this would go to Cottonmouth because that man is golden on the ivory, but as savage he is, Stokes ain’t got no super-powers. Whiplash has turned that arc-reactor into a new weapon. His electrified whips are going to shred Cottonmouth to pieces. The second point goes to Whiplash.
Who We Love to Hate: Look, Whiplash and Mickey Rourke are cool and all, but find us one Mahershala Ali role that we didn’t love. Moonlight and Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse are aming the highlights we’d put alongside his role in Luke Cage. His performance as Cottonmouth is one of the best depictions of villainy in the MCU and I can’t think of many we’d consider better than this. Point to Cottonmouth.
Result: Close call on this one, but 2 – 1 for Cottonmouth for the Mahershala Ali factor.
JUSTIN HAMMER VS HELMUT ZEMO
Successful Villainy: Sometimes the random draw gives us two equally powered meta-humans in the first round, sometimes it gives us two regular guys with big ideas. Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is a rival weapons industrialist to Stark who recruits Ivan Vanko to build suits to rival the Iron Man armour…which Iron Man and War Machine promptly take to pieces. Zemo (Daniel Brühl) is more insidious though. he wants to turn the Avengers against each other as revenge for losing his family in Solkovia, bringing to light deep seated divisions between Stark and Captain America. To this end he did extraordinarily well as the two won’t be seen on screen together until Avengers: Endgame. Point to Zemo.
Fight!: Um…well…this is hardly the most exciting showdown between villains. Not a super power between them. Zemo does have military experience and isn’t above using torture though, so this point goes to him.
Who We Love to Hate: Oh, this is going to Zemo. Hammer is weaselly smug and ineffective while Zemo is methodical, calculating and has a solid motivation. He’s the normal guy who broke up the world’s greatest superhero team through manipulation. Point Zemo.
Result: 3 – 0 to Zemo. Nobody likes Hammer.
ADRIAN TOOMES – ‘THE VULTURE’ VS THE FIVE FINGERS OF THE HAND
Successful Villainy: The Five Fingers of the Hand – Alexandra Reid, Madame Gao, Bakuto, Murakami and Sowande (Sigourney Weaver, Wai Ching Ho, Ramón Rodríguez, Yutaka Takeuchi and Babs Olusanmokun respectively) – have had a successful run managing much of the underworld of crime in New York while mining for dragon fossils in order to maintain their immortality. You’d think with a crime empire, an army of ninjas and immortality would make them unstoppable, especially as their only real goal was to maintain this status quo. With all that behind them they still got stomped by a ragtag group of vigilante super-heroes. Although The Vulture (Michael Keaton) achieved on a smaller scale he was more successful in fulfilling his goals. He wanted to make a living stealing, adapting and selling alien weapons and technology following the Battle of New York and he built an a fortune doing so. He managed to fly (ahem) under the radar so effectively and for so long that he pulled a near successful heist on Stark Industries before he was discovered and taken down. Point to The Vulture in support of blue collar workers.
Fight!: So Vulture has some cool wings and gadgets…but the Five Fingers of the Hand are immortal ninja warriors. Point to the Hand.
Who We Love to Hate: The Hand should have been much more memorable than they really were. They’re all colourful colours with decent performers. Yet it’s the Vulture, reimagined as a more mechanical, salt of the Earth type in Spider-Man: Homecoming who stands out more. It was a great return to the comic book cinematic world for Michael Keaton. Point to Vulture.
Result: We had a tough time, but Vulture is moving through to the next round with a 2 – 1 result.
EGO VS AVA STARR – ‘GHOST’
Successful Villainy: Well, I guess you couldn’t ask for two more different characters for this final bout in the opening brackets. Ghost (Hannah John-Kamen) isn’t acting out of any malicious intent, she just wants to stabilise her atoms and lead a normal physical existence. Unlike many people in this contest, she does manage this goal through the help of the Pyms. Ego (Kurt Russell) is a celestial, a cosmic god, who seeks to spread himself across all of known existence and create a legacy through procreation. Given he’s been working on this for countless lifetimes he does pretty good, creating a child in Peter Quill. He is ultimately stopped though…so we’re giving this round to Ghost. She actually fulfilled her personal mission.
Fight!: Ghost has the endlessly useful ability to phase through matter…but Ego is a planet and can manipulate matter…so I guess her power doesn’t matter. Point to Ego.
Who We Love to Hate: Ghost is, unfortunately, one of the least interesting villains in Phase 3 despite having a very well realised power set. Ego, on the other hand, is Kurt Russell, one of the coolest people on the planet. Point to Ego.
Result: Ego takes this with a 2 – 1 victory, mostly by dint of being Kurt Russell.