The Marvel Cinematic Universe is packed with marketable heroes. We’ve seen A-list actors embody these characters both on TV and at the box office, forming the building blocks of the studio’s expansive (and lucrative) franchise. Yet even with all these popular heroes, Marvel often stumbles when it comes to its villains. Save for a handful of notable exceptions, most Marvel villains are one-note bad guys with fairly run-of-the-mill motivations.
When they truly nail it in the villain department though, it in turn boosts our heroes’ stories. Daredevil‘s first season was buoyed by the incomparable Vincent D’Onofrio as Wilson Fisk. Thor and The Avengers wouldn’t be nearly as effective films sans Tom Hiddleston’s depiction of Loki.
Conversely, poorly fleshed-out Marvel villains are what cause the likes of The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 to be lower-rung franchise films. All of this makes us ask a question: Which Marvel villains, both already-seen and yet-to-be-introduced outside of the comics, could carry their own TV series?
1. The Kingpin
This one’s the most obvious choice, although that doesn’t make it any less worth pointing out. Wilson Fisk was the crowning achievement of Daredevil‘s first season on Netflix. He was equal parts terrifying and sympathetic, echoing every bit of the criminal mastermind the Kingpin is in the comics.
D’Onofrio’s portrayal, though, was what really sold it. Everything from the talented actor’s speech mannerisms to his quiet rage conveyed a villain with more than enough depth and screen presence to carry his own standalone series.
2. The Winter Soldier
Bucky Barnes may be Captain America’s oldest, most trusted friend, but for a time, he was also a formidable foe. In the first Cap movie, Bucky fell off a moving train and down a cliff, and was presumed dead. We find out in The Winter Soldier that while he survived the fall, he lost an arm in the process and was found by Hydra agents.
He was later given a metal replacement arm, and subsequently brainwashed into becoming an obedient super-assassin. However, there’s a huge gap of unaccounted for time from the moment Bucky fell from the train to his appearance in The Winter Soldier. Even a one-season standalone series would go a long way toward filling that in.
Because Sebastian Stan, the actor who plays Bucky, wouldn’t cost nearly as much as Chris Evans or Robert Downey Jr. as Marvel villains, he’d be an entirely feasible option to sign on to the project. The only question mark would be whether or not Marvel wants to expand their network TV schedule, having recently downsized with the cancellation of Agent Carter and the axing of Marvel’s Most Wanted.
Galactus isn’t strictly speaking a Marvel villain; he’s owned by 20th Century Fox, but his presence in the publishing house’s comics still qualifies him for our list. Fox has bungled the Fantastic Four universe on three separate occasions, and messed that up in an even bigger way by making Galactus appear as a giant space cloud in Rise of the Silver Surfer.
Despite that, the Devourer of Worlds has always been a key character in Marvel’s comics, and qualifies himself among their greatest villains of all time. A full-on TV show could also bring the Silver Surfer back into the mix, and with the right showrunner, it might actually give Fox their first ever taste of success within the Fantastic Four franchise.
Bullseye has been tragically underutilized for a villain who counts himself among Daredevil‘s primary adversaries in the comics. This, of course, doesn’t mean Marvel doesn’t have plans to include him in later seasons of the Netflix series. But with a second season of Jessica Jones and debut seasons of Luke Cage, Iron Fist, The Punisher, and The Defenders all already on the schedule, it could be a while.
The character was last portrayed by Colin Farrell in Fox’s ill-fated Daredevil movie in 2003, and it is long overdue for a modern reboot. In terms of his character depth, Bullseye brings a lot to the table. His origin story paints him as a youth growing up in the Bronx with an abusive father, who he attempted to kill by starting a house fire. After subsequent years spent in foster care, he honed his skills as a marksman with perfect aim to become a Major League pitcher.
In his debut on the mound, he pitched a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth, was asked to come out of the game out of sheer boredom, and when his coach refused to pull him, he threw a ball at the next hitter’s head (killing the batter in the process). And all this is before he became Daredevil’s nemesis following years spent training Contras in Nicaragua.
Sabretooth is another iconic Marvel villain owned by Fox, but that doesn’t make him any less qualified to carry his own TV series. Liev Schreiber assumed the role in X-Men Origins: Wolverine, a movie that’s since been thrown out of the X-Men movie canon entirely.
Still, Sabretooth (or Victor Creed as he’s more commonly known) has always been an intriguing foil for Wolverine in the comics. The one interesting thing the Origins movie did was identify him as Logan’s brother and closest companion before he turned evil, and expanding that into a full series would go a long way toward fixing the film’s mistakes.
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