It’s a commonly shared opinion that the majority of the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s villains aren’t so great. From having the same abilities as the heroes to being criminally underdeveloped, they’re almost uniformly bland.
The antagonists of Thor: The Dark World and Doctor Strange were one of the weakest links of the movies. But while more bad guys, like Ego (Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2), Vulture of Spider-Man: Homecoming and Hela in Thor: Ragnarok, are an improvement, they are hardly perfect. It is not the actors Marvel Studios casts that are the problem; they are some of the biggest and best names in Hollywood, after all. The issue is that the characters tend to be unrelatable and, well, boring. In short, the opposite of company’s much-loved superheroes.
How Would the Fox/Disney Deal Help Marvel Most?
Disney is currently in talks to buy some of 21st Century Fox’s assets, its film and television production studios. Following uncertainty about the state of negotiations, an agreement is now imminent, which means that Marvel’s parent company may reacquire the film rights to the X-Men, the Fantastic Four, and other characters.
While many fans long to see Wolverine and Storm fight with Captain America and Thor, it is the villains that hold the most promise for the MCU. Galactus and Doctor Doom are Fantastic Four foes, but they have a history with the entire Marvel Universe. The characters will strengthen Marvel Studios’ roster of villains.
Marvel Studios is rapidly running out of iconic villains, because Spider-Man, the X-Men and the Fantastic Four — all properties whose film rights are now controlled by other studios — possess the most colorful, most memorable rogues galleries. Loki and Ultron have tormented the MCU, and Thanos’ time in the spotlight finally arrives with Avengers: Infinity War and its 2019 sequel. But after Thanos, filmmakers will have to dig deep into Marvel’s history to find another marquee villain.
That’s where the Fox/Disney deal starts to get really interesting.
Look Upon the Face of Doom, and Tremble!
It’s a fact: Doctor Doom is one of the best villains in Marvel Comics, and superhero comics in general. What’s more, he could easily become the greatest foe ever seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While he’s traditionally a Fantastic Four villain, he could be brought into the fold as a world-threatening antagonist, as he brings together political leader, mad scientist, and sorcerer in one armored body. He’s a triple threat whose path could intersect with the likes of Black Panther, Captain America, Iron Man, Spider-Man and Doctor Strange just as logically as it could with the Fantastic Four. Just like in the comics.
He’s also the Supreme Lord of the fictional country of Latveria, where he’s viewed as a hero by his subjects. That would provide a fantastic dichotomy to explore in the wake of Captain America: Civil War, in which the actions of the Avengers were manipulated to turn public opinion against Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. That, in turn, led to the Sokovia Accords, global legislation designed to control the heroes. It makes sense for Doom to have been holding himself back, waiting for the Avengers to be in ruins before striking. The team will most certainly be in tatters after the events of Infinity War and its sequel. What better time for Doom to step onto the global stage?
Perhaps the most important aspect of Doom is that he has an origin story that parallels those of many heroes. But where the heroes are inspired to help others, Doom’s response to personal tragedy is to help himself. Doom would instantly become one of the more fully realized villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, which is precisely what it needs. The modern era of superhero movies learns toward big CGI villains (Ultron, Thanos, DC’s Steppenwolf), while fan-favorite villains like Loki are human (well, “human”), with a backstory we can relate to.
OK, So the Fantastic Four Are Pretty Great, Too
Introducing villains now controlled by Fox provides a clean and organic way to welcome some of Marvel’s biggest heroes home. It’s not outlandish to think that if Doctor Doom surfaces with an evil plan, the Fantastic Four wouldn’t be far behind. A world-threatening villain is a perfect way to introduce “new” heroes into the Marvel Cinematic Universe, initially as allies of the Avengers or the Guardians of the Galaxy. There are plenty of other iconic villains that Disney would likely acquire as part of the Fox deal, including Apocalypse, Magneto, and Kang the Conqueror, but Doctor Doom is an ideal start.
It all comes down to how Marvel Studios plans to develop and use villain. The studio could have the rights to every villain in the Marvel Universe, but if it doesn’t treat the characters properly, that simply won’t matter. That said, the caliber of Fox’s villains is so high, it’s difficult to see how they wouldn’t enrich the MCU. Yes, Fox has proved with its Fantastic Four films that it’s possible to get villains wrong (again and again), no matter how great they may be in the comics. But if Marvel Studios treats these villains as well as it does the heroes, the bad guys are bound to win over fans.