Some Fans Think Better Villains Would Have Made ‘Captain Marvel’ a Better Movie

With many people re-watching the Marvel movies while under stay-at-home orders, Captain Marvel is coming in for another look. Although the movie was a bigger success than many, including Brie Larson expected, it’s generally not considered one of the top MCU movies quality-wise.

One reason for that has been a factor that has been the major chink in Marvel Studios’ armor: weak villains. Fans like the work by the heroes in this movie, but the villains, despite being played by top talent, come up short. 

How did ‘Captain Marvel’ do last year?

Brie Larson
Captain Marvel | ROBYN BECK/AFP via Getty Images

Everybody knew that Avengers: Endgame and Spider-Man: Far from Home would be huge hits. Those heroes’ names are a virtual license to print money.

But Captain Marvel was more of a question mark. Despite being touted as having the most powerful MCU hero with an Oscar-winning actress playing her, Captain Marvel didn’t have the same kind of name recognition as the Avengers, Spider-Man, or to name a hero from the other team, Wonder Woman

So imagine a lot of people’s surprise when the movie turned out to be one of Marvel’s biggest hits. With a worldwide gross of $1.1 billion, it ranks eighth among the MCU’s movies, essentially tying with Spider-Man: Far From Home the same year, according to the box office site The Numbers. It even beat Wonder Woman, which had made $821 million worldwide the year before. 

On Rotten Tomatoes, it got a score of 78 percent, good enough for a Certified Fresh rating, but not in the top tier of MCU movies. David Sims of The Atlantic spoke for many when he wrote that the movie was “more of a solid building block for future endeavors than a must-see solo adventure.” 

Why do fans find the villains lacking?

On Reddit, a topic-starter said they were surprised to find Captain Marvel among their favorite MCU movies, but fans responded by keeping their praise for the movie in check. One said: “I really liked Captain Marvel and her dynamic with Fury, but didn’t love the movie. I feel like she needs a Winter Soldier-like movie to really nail her character. Glad you enjoyed it though.”

Captain Marvel’s methodology was to make people who seemed to be allies at first turn out to be villains, including the characters played by Annette Bening and  Jude Law. In fact, the villain pulled a switch on an entire race, presenting the Skrulls as the villains when they turned out to be the heroes.

Another fan got to the villain issue by saying “I thought the villains were kind of boring and bland. Jude Law wasn’t as good as I thought he’d be and the supreme villain lady at the end was pretty forgettable. Plus I think the movie suffered from not having a proper villain fight.”

Where do the Captain Marvel villains rank?

Though the Marvel Cinematic Universe has become the biggest franchise in the world, it didn’t get there without a few missteps. Almost from the beginning, fans and critics complained that villains weren’t Marvel’s strong suit.

More recently, Marvel earned high marks for Killmonger and  Thanos in particular, villains who were the heroes of their own stories. 

Collider ranked the MCU villains last year, putting Tom Hiddleston’s good guy/bad guy Loki at the top and Mickey Rourke’s Whiplash from Iron Man 2 at the bottom. Captain Marvel’s Yon-Rogg played by Jude Law, came in at number 16 out of 27, with the site writing, “one could maybe make the argument that he’s a stand-in for ‘Man Who Gaslights Woman Then Thinks She Owes Him for Helping Her,’ there’s simply not enough for Law to do for the film to really dig into anything of substance.”

By contrast, Thanos ranks number 4. Micheal Keaton’s Vulture from Spider-Man Homecoming is number 3, and Killmonger from Black Panther is 2. It will be interesting to see how the villains of Phase 4 rank when it has heroes like the Eternals and Shang-Chi, who are less well known.