The MCU Villain Showdown Pt: 6
We have already seen that this level of the bracket has more interesting match-ups than the first round. This side of the bracket is likely going to be more exciting with some of the biggest, most well developed figures in the game. Of course, whoever gets through is facing even steeper competition. Best get to it.
KAECIKIUS VS JOHANN SCHMIDT – ‘RED SKULL’
Successful Villainy: We’re going to have to examine this one closely, at a glance they both seem to have come pretty darn close to completing their goals. Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelson) did a number on the Sanctums and opened a portal to the Dark Dimension. Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) came equally close to his mission to wipe major cities off the map having gotten most of the way there before Captain America put a stop to him. To Solve this we’re to going look at the difficulties of their scheme. Red Skull staged a coup and formed a splinter faction during war time, while Kaecilius opposed a century’s old mystical order who patrolled the borders of the reality. Kaecilius wins this point just for the scale of the operation.
Fight!: Red Skull is a super-soldier who can go toe-to-toe with Captain America, but what does that do for him in terms of fighting a sorcerer? Kaecilius doesn’t posses limitless power however, and Red Skull’s resources and military strategic thinking could counter that fact. I started writing this section thinking Kaecilius would win but I think I’ve convinced myself otherwise. Point to Red Skull.
Who We Love to Hate: As talented as Mads Mikkelson is, he was overshadowed by Dormammu. It’ll be like if Adolf Hitler in a mech suit showed up at the end of Captain America: The First Avenger for the final showdown. Red Skull is an iconic villain played by one of the great villain actors of all time. Point to Red Skull.
Result: Looks like Red Skull stays in the game. Who’d have thought he’d be the one to make a surprise comeback.
N’JADAKA – ‘KILLMONGER’ VS THANOS
Successful Villainy: Killmonger’s (Michael B. Jordan) plan was a longwinded affair seeing him become a dangerous and respected mercenary who single-handedly staged a coup on a secret sci-fi country guarded by a super-hero king. And he did it. But Thanos (Josh Brolin) killed half the universe with a snap of his fingers and retired to a farm. Point to Thanos.
Fight!: Point to Thanos.
Who Will Love to Hate: We were really impressed with how well they imbued Thanos with an understandable motivation behind his batshit crazy plan, and we felt the the power behind him when he fought, and defeated, our heroes. Laying that out puts into perspective how damn cool Killmonger has to be to take this point.
Result: Killmonger is without a doubt among our absolutely favourite characters in this franchise but Thanos is the biggest bad.
CORNELL STOKES – ‘COTTONMOUTH’ VS HELMUT ZEMO
Successful Villainy: All you have to do is look at a trailer for Avengers: Endgame to see the ongoing impact of Zemo’s (Daniel Brühl) scheme against The Avengers. He broke the team so thoroughly that Captain American and Iron Man STILL haven’t patched things up. Cottonmouth (Mahershala Ali) had a fair crack at Luke Cage but was brought down by his own team. Zemo gets an easy point here.
Fight!: Zemo is a military man and will certainly be no slouch in a fight. This is in contrast to Cottonmouth’s more savage style learnt on the street. Zemo is more a tactician than a brawler, and Cottonmouth has his own resources to back him up. Cottonmouth wins this fight but he’s going to get hurt in the process.
Who We Love to Hate: Damn, this is going to be tough. We’ve got two actors we love playing interesting characters, easily considered alongside Killmonger as some of the best Marvel has to offer. Zemo mixed things up by giving us a more cerebral villain who dragged low-lying conflicts to the fore and tore the Avengers apart. Cottonmouth was a charming and vicious counterpoint to the sincere and powerful Luke Cage. What we can’t get past, though, is his character being replaced with a cheap copy and ‘lost brother’ reveal partway through the season. We’re going to settle on Zemo for this point.
Result: Damn, looks like Zemo is slipping through the brackets. He’s a slippery one.
ADRIAN TOOMES – ‘THE VULTUE’ VS EGO
Successful Villainy: Here are two very different villains with very different motivations. Following Loki’s attack on New York Adrian Toomes (Michael Keaton) saw his livelihood being taken from him in the name of national security. Leaving his morals at the door Toomes began stealing alien and classified technology to repurpose and sell to criminals. To this end he was successful enough to almost pull a job on Stark. Ego (Kurt Russell) is a celestial god who literally spread his speed across the universe in order to create a powered heir to continue his quest to turn everything into…well…him. After an endless amount of time he did produce Star-Lord but stumbled when Star-Lord brought a touch of humanity to the table.
This is a real tough call because it’s hard to compare their success on any scale. Ego had grander ambitions and the power to make it happen, but his whole plan collapses relatively early in the piece when Star-Lord rejects him. If Toomes was only interested in carving a niche for himself in the world and he set up a comfortable life for him and his family. We’re going to give it to him for the more relatable success.
Fight!: Easy point to Ego here. Vulture’s makeshift gadgets won’t even tickle Ego’s ability to shape and control matter.
Who We Love to Hate: Man, it’s good seeing Michael Keaton back in roles like this. He’s got a serious talent. It’s equally cool seeing Kurt Russell back in genre flicks. And a villain who can turn himself into David Hasselhoff is as funky as it gets. Ego is damn hard to sympathise with and despite all his power, Toomes is more menacing during one conversation in a car than Ego is in a whole movie. Point to Vulture.
Result: This was a tricky one, certainly one where I have no idea which way it’s going to fall. We’re happy with Vulture moving through to the next round though.