Marvel Villains Who Need to Make a Movie Comeback

Tom Hiddleston as Loki
Tom Hiddleston as Loki | Marvel

The Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) may currently be one of the most recognized and lucrative big-screen film franchises, but one of the most common complaints fans have is that the films lack a collection of well-developed, memorable villains to rival beloved heroes like Iron Man, Captain America, and Thor.

Aside from Tom Hiddleston’s Loki — who has appeared in three films (so far) — the vast majority of baddies have yet to establish a significant ongoing threat (since Josh Brolin’s Thanos still remains mostly in the shadows). Now that darker characters like William Hurt’s General Ross have returned in Captain America: Civil War, perhaps the time is right for these five forgotten Marvel villains to stir up some more trouble.

1. Abomination (The Incredible Hulk)

Abomination in The Incredible Hulk
Abomination in The Incredible Hulk | Marvel

Due mostly to its modest box office performance and the eventual recasting of its title hero, The Incredible Hulk remains to be seen as the black sheep of the MCU. That film chronicled the evolution of soldier Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) into the monstrous Abomination, who ultimately comes to blows with the Hulk in the climax. Since then, we have learned that Blonsky is in the custody of S.H.I.E.L.D. but have yet to see him again. With General Ross finally making a return, perhaps Abomination could be right around the corner. Between those two and Tim Blake Nelson’s Samuel Sterns (who appeared on the verge of becoming Hulk villain The Leader), The Incredible Hulk is brimming with untapped potential for epic storytelling.

2. Justin Hammer (Iron Man 2)

Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2
Sam Rockwell in Iron Man 2 | Marvel

Time and again, Tony Stark appears to be facing off against darker versions of himself, whether it is another metallic-suited enemy (Iron Monger, Whiplash) or a cunning business opponent like Aldrich Killian or Justin Hammer. While Killian was apparently killed by the end of Iron Man 3, Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King revealed that Hammer (Sam Rockwell) is still in prison paying for his crimes alongside alleged Mandarin Trevor Slattery (more on him later). Although the MCU has tons of supernatural villains that could show up to battle the Avengers, someone like Hammer would make a fine addition to the ever-expanding world of the films, especially in more grounded releases like Captain America: Civil War.

3. Red Skull (Captain America: The First Avenger)

Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger
Hugo Weaving in Captain America: The First Avenger | Marvel

For years, rumors have swirled that Johann Schmidt aka the Red Skull (Hugo Weaving) would make his long-awaited return to the MCU. However, the leader of HYDRA hasn’t been seen since being sucked into a portal opened by the Tesseract and presumed dead. Given that the device — also known as the Cosmic Cube — has been revealed as one of the Infinity Stones, it’s quite possible that Red Skull could be in league with Thanos. If so, he may appear in the upcoming two-parter, Avengers: Infinity War. In any case, the character is simply too important to leave behind after a single film appearance, making him among the more inevitable villains on this list to reappear at some point.

4. The Mandarin (Iron Man 3)

Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3
Ben Kingsley in Iron Man 3 | Marvel

Technically, viewers have never met the real Mandarin, as the version depicted in Iron Man 3 (see above) turned out to be actor Trevor Slattery (Ben Kingsley), who was hired by Aldrich Killian to provide a scapegoat for his own Extremis-related crimes. Since then, Marvel One-Shot All Hail the King has established that the actual Mandarin remains at large and isn’t too pleased with Slattery’s false portrayal of his ways. This apparent about-face could very well have been instigated by the fan backlash regarding that particular controversial twist, but it also opens the door for Iron Man’s most famous foe to be realized on screen in a way that will live up to all the mystery and misdirection about his true nature.

5. Ultron (Avengers: Age of Ultron)

Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron
Ultron in Avengers: Age of Ultron | Marvel

When the trailers for Avengers: Age of Ultron came pouring in, it looked like the hyper-intelligent villain voiced by James Spader could break Marvel’s streak of subpar antagonists and rank among the very best. Unfortunately, the film itself was so overstuffed with other developments and subplots setting up future films like Captain America: Civil War, Thor: Ragnarok, and Black Panther that the character’s motives never had the time to fully develop. With Spader’s sinister voice and a truly menacing visage, Ultron should have been kept around for future installments but was summarily destroyed before the credits rolled. Here’s hoping that the cybernetic creation of Tony Stark and Bruce Banner may someday live again.

Follow Robert Yaniz Jr. on Twitter @CrookedTable

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