The MCU has written many villains as pure villains, looking for riches, fame, or something for personal gain at the expense of others. However, there have been some occasional villains who not only have compelling reasons, but perhaps somewhat understandably, view themselves, not as an antagonist, but as the hero of their own story.
However, the harmful effects of their actions made these characters a threat to society as a whole or to others. Although the films do not address the root problem or deal with the perspective of a villain, the need to be stopped by the character of the hero always holds true. The blurred line between what these characters consider victim and villain, lies in the pain they cause others.
Norman Osborne (Willem Dafoe) to an alternate character known as Green Goblin after exposure to a dangerous serum. Despite his severe flaws as an imperfect father and an arrogant scholar who let his ambitions spiral out of control, he is a decent man. On the other hand, Green Goblin has been portrayed as pure evil, thriving on chaos, violence, and manipulating others out of selfish motive.
Norman could be said to be the Elf within the confines but in fact Norman was said to have been a victim of Greene’s psychotic and sadistic tendencies that not only fed on Norman’s devious desires but thrived on controlling the coward within. The moment Norman was healed, the stunned look in his eyes would ask, “What did you do?” It was unfortunate.
loki (Tom Hiddleston) was first introduced as a bitter brother, seeking the throne at the expense of Thor. Although his actions led to Thor’s banishment, an outcome Loki had not expected, they did lead to the necessary recognition that Thor was unfit for the throne. Throughout the films, Loki seeks both acceptance and admiration from his adoptive family.
Although he is initially overwhelmed by the fact of his adoption, feeling like a pawn in his father’s game, he realizes his love for him, but still does not forget that he was taken for an ulterior motive. It was his poor self-image and feeling secondary to his brother who was always set up to lead, leading to Loki’s actions. As a victim of his own insecurities, he anticipates chaos to fit the only title he knows to be true – the god of mischief.
Eagle (Michael KeatonShe turns to a life of crime after being hard-pressed to find work. Faced with debt and no way to support his family, Vulture’s reasons were understandable and sympathetic.
Despite having strong family values and being a good man, he soon settled into a criminal life disregarding morals, instead opting to boost his earnings. He started out as a desperate man, and quickly turned into a circle, overshadowed by the sympathy he felt with his willingness to kill others.
Eric Killmonger (Michael B) was justifiably resentful towards Wakanda after being abandoned as a child. Watching the race-based xenophobia that persists into the modern era, Killmonger believes that he is not only a victim of the great injustice in his world but was also angry at the Wakanda who remained in seclusion, thriving with its resources.
His desire to give his people a better life stems from personal experience but his anger is self-serving as he chooses to ignore the opportunity to work in cooperation with the people of Wakanda. Furthermore, he shows little reluctance to kill others to achieve his goal, believing that his reign is the only solution that would bring any success.
zimo (Daniel BruhlHe was just a broken man, asking for retribution from those responsible for his family’s death. Zemo only wanted accountability from the esteemed heroes who failed to know how many were injured in their battle, and Zemo’s goal was not for personal gain. In fact, there wasn’t much for Zemo to gain even with The Avengers condescending, making his motivation sympathetic and reasonable.
However, Zemo did not regret much about the collateral damage that occurred while trying to break up the Avengers. The moment Zemo used the Winter Solider in his plans, including organizing a pre-planned attack on the UN that killed T-Chaka, it partially robbed him of the sympathy he felt. Zimo’s actions not only broke the Avengers, but led to the loss of lives, causing others the same pain that not only resented him, but fueled his actions.
Otto Octavius (Alfred MolinaHe was a very intelligent scientist, and he became Doctor Octopus After one of the experiments failed, it caused massive damage to his brain, leaving him in control of the tentacle-like arms that had fused into his body. Otto himself was not a villain, but a proud man whose ambitions got out of hand which led to a miscalculation.
The chip that was supposed to protect his higher functions and inhibitions was destroyed, leaving him helpless and unrestrained. Doc Ock can be said to be an unfettered version of Otto, revealing his darkest thoughts, desires, and urgency. However, when Peter tackles him in Spider-Man: No Way home, the pure content seen on his face illustrates the comfort he feels when re-experiencing the peace and in the calmness of his mind.
Bucky (Sebastian Stan) was brainwashed and armed as a hitman called Winter Solider. Being under the complete control of HYDRA, Bucky has become powerless and unable to control, let alone understand his actions.
To hold Bucky in bad faith or responsible for his actions is not fair, as Bucky has been robbed of his identity, autonomy, and free will. Winter Solider may have been a villain but the real villain was those who created this interface. Bucky himself was a helpless victim, and after being repeatedly tortured he lost his mind.
ava (Hana Jun Kamen) is not a villain, but a victim of a molecular imbalance that has sometimes done something bad to stay alive. Exploited for military purposes, Ava remains in control of her emotions as she does not eliminate her frustrations on Hank Pym despite her belief that he is responsible for her condition and the death of her parents.
She does no harm to people unless she, in a desperate plea not to die in appalling suffering, does not want to succumb to her circumstances. As her condition stabilizes, she wants to surrender herself, believing that she should be held responsible for her actions, and show her true character.
Wanda (Elizabeth OlsenHer childhood trauma portrayed her as a naïve and misguided victim until she finally corrects her mistakes, and she joins the Avengers to become a heroine. After losing the vision, Wanda’s grief creates a false sense of reality that would have destroyed itself had it not been for her power, which forced others to be a part of. Faced with the responsibility of those in Westview, she casts the spell that leads to the loss of her family.
Searching for her children in alternate worlds, Wanda takes extreme actions during the events of Doctor Strange 2. Not only were she violent, but the acts of mass murder she committed are hardly justifiable. Wanda’s evolution from victim to hero to villain blurs the lines that define this character. In essence, Wanda is a good person, but her desperate need for family becomes dangerous when she is out of reach. Wanda backed down after seeing her children retreat in fear. Although this did not undo the damage, or bring back those who lost their lives, it did rewrite her character’s story and possible future.
Written as one of the most complex villains, Wenwu (Tony LeungHe is blinded by the pursuit of power until he falls in love with Ying Li. After finding that his family deserved to grow old, Wenwu gave up on the Ten Rings. The loss of his wife at the hands of his enemies takes him back into the darkness as he recovers the rings. As grief clouded his better judgment, he trained Shang Qi, instilling fear in his children. As a blacksmith’s widower, he believes he can bring her back and complete his family.
When he unleashed Dweller in Darkness, it became clear that although he wasn’t a bad guy, he needed to stop him for the good of Ta Lo. As a multi-layered character whose motives were sympathetically sympathetic to, viewers were equally invested in both villain and hero, father and son. His sacrifice for Shang-Chi was a beautiful glimpse into the figure of the father and family man he was before the tragedy, showing that he is not evil – but a resentful man who has lost what he loves.
NEXT: The MCU’s Most Relatable Villains