MCU Villains Always Lose (Eventually) But Not Because Heroes are Stronger

The Marvel Cinematic Universe sprawls over two dozen films, several television shows, decades’ worth of comics that they’re drawing from, and millions of fans dissecting every word, shot, action, and frame of everything they do.

However, beneath the Hollywood special effects and action scenes, the series is a tale about the importance of teamwork. This might be best displayed not only by the heroes who run the franchise but the villains who find themselves on the wrong side of it. 

The power of teamwork

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Going back to the first film of the MCU, we learned that one man, Tony Stark, had helped unleash an evil upon the world that he now must fight. Throughout the film, we see that he can take on another self-interested villain as he works alone to try to make the world a worse place. Still, it all culminates after the credits when Nick Fury recruits him to the Avengers.

Since then, the Avengers have been a testament to teamwork as well as a cautionary tale about what happens when a team shatters. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, and all the other heroes who have been introduced since then have been instilled some sense of teamwork in the process. Contrast that next to the villains, and it’s clear that teammates win out. 

From Iron Monger to Thanos, many of the series villains have gotten the upper hand on the Avengers through their brute force and self-interested need to take over the universe, but teammate ultimately wins out every time.

From Fascist supersoldiers of the 1940s to intergalactic gods who can destroy planets with a single snap, the MCU villains always learn that the power of teamwork trumps even their most diabolical notions of grandeur. 

Reddit recently discussed this trend and what it means going forward. 

There’s no “I” in TEAM

Kevin Feige
Kevin Feige | Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney

Fans on Reddit spoke about the role that teamwork plays in the greater MCU. Focusing on the fact that every villain seems to have his or her comeuppance without the team’s support, they spoke about how having many powerful beings who might have some flaws, too, can still come together and take on Dormammu, Hela, Thanos, or anyone else. As user u/dra39437 said, “They wouldn’t fight as a team! That’s what’s most important in these types of movies.” 

While villains have worked together, with Loki being a practical mercenary for several of the team’s most evil opponents, selfishness almost always wins. Thanos might have glimpses of empathy here and there, but without a team to reel him in and use his powers for good, he ultimately does what is wrong. Mortal enemies, like Killmonger, also fall under similar traps. 

Teamwork has, thus far, been the answer to most problems in the MCU. And even if the villains banded together, users like u/general-Insano don’t see how they could function. “They would only work together until a hero points out their selfish motives or that someone may backfire,” they wrote in response to the discourse. 

MCU villains coming together 

The MCU might be reckoning with this as we speak. Spider-Man 3 is shaping up to become one of the most important non-Avenger movies in the franchise thanks, in part, to its apparent addition of the Sinister Six.

This gang of superheroes, which has been rumored to have a role in the film, could give the MCU and its villains its first real counterpart when it comes to a team of powerful beings. 

How this plays out, however, is anyone’s guess. However, if the previous films have taught us anything, it’s that the heroes will come together. While the MCU now reaches boundless themes and allegories, teammate remains at its core, and it’s likely to do so for many years after, too.