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Big Bad / Marvel Cinematic Universe

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Loki: I have seen the true power of the Tesseract, and when I wield it—
Thor: Who showed you this power? Who controls the would-be-king?
— Thor realizes that someone else is controlling Loki, The Avengers

Just like the Marvel Universe, the Marvel Cinematic Universe has one huge Big-Bad Ensemble.

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Phase One

  • Iron Man: Obadiah Stane, a.k.a. Iron Monger, who is not only selling Stark weapons to terrorists under the table but is also trying to kill Tony and take over the company.
  • The Incredible Hulk: Initially General Thaddeus Ross, whose pursuit of Banner is the source of conflict in the first part of the movie, until he is superseded by Emil Blonsky, whose Blood Knight tendencies cause him to choose to become the Abomination and wind up being a bigger threat than The Hulk, at which point the Hulk and Ross end up in an Enemy Mine situation against him.
  • Iron Man 2: Ivan Vanko, a.k.a. Whiplash. Vanko's father was deported and died in disgrace thanks to Tony's, so he wants revenge — at a minimum, he feels that if he can shatter the perception of Iron Man being invincible, then that will draw in others who will finish the job. Justin Hammer is a Big Bad Wannabe, being incredibly jealous of Stark and willing to do anything to one-up him, but Vanko is the one in control at almost any given point.
  • Thor: Loki. After learning the Awful Truth that he's not really Odin's son and not even Asgardian, he lashes out trying to prove himself by getting Thor out of the way and trying to wipe out the Frost Giants (who may be an enemy race, but don't deserve genocide).
  • Captain America: The First Avenger: Johann Schmidt, a.k.a. the Red Skull. As head of HYDRA, he's the greatest threat and the one controlling the enemy forces of the movie.
  • The Avengers: Loki is the main antagonist and is still trying to prove himself; if he can't have the throne of Asgard then he'll conquer Earth and take that. However, he is just The Heavy for the Man Behind the Man and Greater-Scope Villain, Thanos.

Phase Two

  • Iron Man 3: The Mandarin is the source of the conflict from the getgo, being an anti-American terrorist. The twist is that the Mandarin seen in the movie is just an actor hired to provide cover for the activities of Aldrich Killian, the real Big Bad. Killian set up a fake enemy in order to manipulate the War on Terror and sell his technology to the US government; and he also wants personal revenge on Stark for humiliating him years prior.
  • Thor: The Dark World: Malekith the Accursed. The movie is a continuation of his war against Asgard, with the fate of several dimensions in the balance.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier: Alexander Pierce, who serves as the head of the conspiracy by HYDRA within S.H.I.E.L.D. and as The Man Behind the Man to the titular character.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Ronan the Accuser, a Kree fanatic who wants to destroy his race's longtime enemies, the Xandarians (despite the fact the two races just signed a peace treaty). While he's technically in service to Thanos, the latter barely shows up in the movie and Ronan ultimately turns on him once he gets the Infinity Stone.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron: Ultron himself, an insane AI who, in Wanda's words, "can't tell the difference between saving the world and destroying it."
  • Ant-Man: Darren Cross, a.k.a. Yellowjacket, whose plans to weaponize and sell the Pym Particle technology to terrorists are what set the plot in motion.

Phase Three

  • Captain America: Civil War: While Iron Man is the main antagonist in a Good vs. Good situation, the actual villain manipulating the heroes against each other is Sokovian Colonel Helmut Zemo. Zemo lost his home and family to Ultron and wants to destroy the Avengers in revenge.
  • Doctor Strange (2016): Dormammu, an Eldritch Abomination who desires to draw all planes of existence into his Dark Dimension. The Heavy of the film is Kaecilius, who feels the Ancient One is hoarding power for herself and wants to cede the planet to Dormammu instead, as that will free humanity from the pain and suffering of death (or so he thinks).
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ayesha, leader of the Sovereign. Unlike most villains on this list, there's no grand Evil Plan; the Sovereign are proud, haughty, and they demand the utmost respect at all times, so it doesn't take long for the quasi-heroic "bunch of a-holes" to anger them enough to want to kill them. Like with Iron Man 3's Mandarin, this is a Red Herring. The true Big Bad is Ego the Living Planet, who wants his son Peter's help to consume all life and become a Living Universe.
  • Spider-Man: Homecoming: Adrian Toomes, a.k.a the Vulture. In a twist, he's actually not targeting anyone and is simply trying to do his job through criminal activity; Spider-Man is just the first one to stumble across his operations.
  • Thor: Ragnarok: Hela, a Sealed Evil in a Can whose seal broke when Odin died. She had once conquered the Nine Realms on Odin's behalf before she was imprisoned for her sociopathic bloodlust, and now she wants to continue where she left off.
  • Black Panther: Erik "Killmonger" Stevens, who seeks revenge on the Black Panther after his father was murdered. He also wants to take over Wakanda so that Wakanda can take over the rest of the world the way white colonizers had taken over Africa in the past.
  • Avengers: Infinity War: Thanos finally takes action after years of plotting behind the scenes. After his homeworld destroyed itself in an Overpopulation Crisis, he decided to prevent this from happening on other worlds by invading and wiping out half their populations. He's pursuing the Infinity Stones to be able to do this with a literal snap of his fingers instead of having to do it the slow way planet by planet.
  • Ant-Man and the Wasp: This movie has an unaffiliated Big-Bad Ensemble who both want to use Pym's technology—Ava Starr, a.k.a. Ghost, who wants to heal her current condition with it, and Sonny Burch, a black market dealer wanting to make a quick buck out of it.
  • Captain Marvel (2019): Talos, the commander of a group of shape-changing alien terrorists known as the Skrulls. With that said, this movie also involves the Kree; despite being presented as Carol's allies, the race has earned themselves a very bad reputation in prior films and TV, suggesting that it won't last and would likely devolve into Evil vs. Evil. Sure enough, the Kree are the actual villains here. The role of main antagonist is split between the Supreme Intelligence, who leads the civilization in conquering the galaxy; and Yon-Rogg, who is a personal foe to Carol (he abducted her from Earth and served as her mentor afterward) and did most of the actual work in the movie. The real shock is that, in defiance of their Always Chaotic Evil presentation in all other media, Talos and the Skrulls are completely innocent and only fighting in self-defense.
  • Avengers: Endgame: Thanos again; continuing from Infinity War. He managed to achieve his goal of killing half of the universe, so it's up to the Avengers to defeat him and restore those he killed. However, while they successfully defeat and kill him in the first act, he's already destroyed the Infinity Stones so they couldn't undo his work. As a result, the Avengers have to time travel to retrieve the Stones, but in the process gain the attention of a slightly younger version of Thanos, who follows them into the future in force to finish what his older self started.
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Like Ant-Man and the Wasp, this movie has a Big-Bad Ensemble. This time, it's the Elementals, a group of supernatural beings that can control fire, water and the earth. Only they aren't the main villains—instead, it's Quentin Beck, a.k.a. Mysterio. A disgraced employee from Stark Industries, Mysterio and a group of similarly disgraced employees created the Elementals with special effects and projectors so Mysterio could be the next Iron Man after Tony died—regardless of the casualties.

Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.
  • Season One: The Clairvoyant, real identity John Garrett, who serves as the mastermind of numerous plots by the Centipede Project actually a HYDRA sub-group throughout the season, all leading towards his plan to create his own private army of Super Soldiers.
  • Season Two:
    • The first half has Daniel Whitehall, a.k.a Werner Reinhardt, a HYDRA scientist experimenting on superhumans.
    • After Whitehall's death, the second half of the season devolves into a Big-Bad Ensemble that are all against Team Coulson and each other:
      • Dr. List, a high-ranking HYDRA officer who is picking up where Whitehall left off in experimenting on superhumans.
      • Robert Gonzales, the leader of a rival S.H.I.E.L.D. faction that doesn't recognize Coulson's authority and has a more aggressive attitude towards superhumans.
      • Jiaying, head elder of the Inhuman colony of Afterlife. After suffering at the hands of Whitehall's experiments, she's developed a hatred of normal humans and plans to start open war with them. She's also Skye's birth mother, making things personal.
  • Season Three: Hive, a body-stealing, mind-controlling Inhuman that's a borderline Humanoid Abomination and the inspiration for the founding of a cult that later developed into HYDRA; who wants to collect an army of Inhumans to conquer Earth. Most of the first half of the season featured Gideon Malick, the modern-day leader of the aforementioned cult, but Malick's goal was to retrieve Hive from exile and once that was done Hive quickly took over.
  • Season Four was split up into three separate-but-related arcs connected to a Tome of Eldritch Lore called the Darkhold, each with their own Big Bad:
    • 4a: Eli Morrow, who is willing to kill in pursuing godlike power from the Darkhold.
    • 4b: Dr. Holden Radcliffe, a Mad Scientist who also wants the knowledge of the Darkhold. Unlike Morrow, he says he wants the knowledge for the good of humanity, but his methods are just as suspect - he won't kill people, but he will kidnap them and replace them with Ridiculously Human Robots, and his idea of helping humanity is to plug everyone into a virtual simulation.
    • 4c: Aida, Radcliffe's robot assistant, who intends to continue his work but her Blue and Orange Morality means she crosses lines Radcliffe never would. Under her watch, the simulation has turned into an oppressive police state run by HYDRA, with herself at the top as "Madame Hydra". She also wants to Become A Real Girl, and uses the Darkhold to achieve this, but once she does so and starts experiencing emotions, she doesn't handle them all that well and becomes murderous.
  • Season Five has the looming threat of something that will destroy the Earth, which Team Coulson discovered when they traveled to a Bad Future. It's also revealed late in the season that the various threats are tied together by a Greater-Scope Villain group called the Confederacy, a conglomeration of alien races that exploit planets targeted by Thanos (see Avengers: Infinity War), with Taryan, the leader of the Kree faction of the Confederacy, serving as the Overarching Villain by connecting the future and present arcs.
    • For most of the season, the main antagonist is Brigadier General Hale. In this case, her threat comes from incompetence rather than malice; she wants to drive the Confederacy away with a show of force but being HYDRA gives her both access to superweapons and a lack of ability to use such weapons responsibly. She doesn't destroy the world, but puts all the pieces in play that lead to it.
    • In the final episodes, the events Hale put into motion cause Brigadier General Glenn Talbot to threaten and nearly destroy the world. Emotionally unstable thanks to brain damage, brainwashing, and the desire to atone for actions caused by the latter two, he jumps at the opportunity to give himself Gravity Master powers and thus becomes the MCU version of Graviton. Unfortunately, he gets Drunk with Power and insists he's a hero while not realizing the threat he's becoming (something which Taryan is all too happy to encourage). He's the one who shattered Earth in the Bad Future while trying to increase his power, and nearly did again before S.H.I.E.L.D. defeated him and changed the timeline.
    • Honorable mention goes to Kasius, Taryan's disgraced son who has enslaved the remains of humanity in the future. While the main villain for the first half of the season, he wasn't involved in destroying Earth and plot-wise simply provides extra obstacles in the way of S.H.I.E.L.D. getting back to their home time.
  • Season Six has a Big-Bad Ensemble going against each other, with S.H.I.E.L.D. and Earth in the crossfire:
    • Izel, an Energy Being from a dimension of fear and darkness. She's destroying planets using batlike creatures called the Shrike in an effort to find artifacts stolen from her realm, with which she intends to let her people through to this dimension so they can steal physical bodies from innocent people for themselves.
    • Sarge, who leads a guerilla campaign against Izel but has no problem killing bystanders in the way. And just to complicate things, It's Personal for S.H.I.E.L.D. because he's an Identical Stranger to the recently deceased Coulson. It's eventually revealed that he's another Energy Being named Pachakutiq and Izel's lover, having possessed a Coulson clone that was inadvertently created the previous season; his hatred of Izel is due to his memories being jumbled with Coulson's and misinterpreting the fragments. In the season finale, Pachakutiq overcomes whatever remains of Coulson's mind, and he and Izel become a Big Bad Duumvirate.
  • Season Seven: After being a lesser (but still serious) threat in Season Six, the S6 finale sets up the Chronicoms, an alien race who lost their planet to Izel and want to conquer Earth as their new homeworld.

Agent Carter

  • Season One: Dr. Ivchenko, real name Johann Fennhoff and known in the comics as Dr. Faustus, is revealed to be the one behind the theft of Howard Stark's inventions, as part of a larger Revenge by Proxy plan against Stark designed to end with releasing a Hate Plague on New York.
  • Season Two: Whitney Frost, comics codename Madame Masque, takes this position after being infected by Zero Matter and usurping control of the Council of Nine.

The Defenders Shows

  • Daredevil (2015):
    • Wilson Fisk in Season One. Matt spends the entire season stopping organized crime that is either being carried out by Fisk or by crime syndicates that have some level of association with Fisk.
    • Season Two has two largely separate storylines, each with its own main villain. In Elektra's storyline, it's Nobu Yoshioka, the previously deceased local leader of the Hand ninja clan that's trying to find and activate a supernatural "Black Sky" weapon, which turns out to be none other than Elektra herself. Over with the Punisher, the trail of those involved in his family's deaths ultimately leads back to a drug lord called the Blacksmith (real identity Colonel Ray Schoonover, Frank Castle's former commanding officer), who arranged the meeting of gangs in the first place and has murdered people involved to cover up his own activities. Fisk, who is incarcerated during the season, even turns up and gets a small subplot to bridge his story from season 1 to season 3.
    • Season Three has Wilson Fisk again, now trying to re-establish his criminal empire, defeat Daredevil, and cover up his crimes by manipulating and blackmailing FBI agents, chief among them Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter. Dex turns against Fisk in the finale, having undergone a psychotic break following the death of his obsession Julie.
  • Jessica Jones (2015):
    • Kilgrave in Season One. A hedonist who never developed a sense of restraint or empathy for others thanks to gaining Compelling Voice powers at a young age, he Mind Rapes everyone around him without a second thought. He's also obsessed with Jessica because she's the only one who escaped his control.
    • In Season Two, while Dr. Karl Malus and Alisa Jones, her long-lost mother, are the ones Jessica ends up going against for most of the season, most of the conflict instead derives from Trish, who's struggle to feel empowered ends up bringing IGH out of hiding to silence her search for them, thus bringing Jessica into contact with her mother and Malus. She and Jessica then end up bringing Inez Green to Jeri for safekeeping, causing Jeri's arc with Shane to happen, with Trish later giving Malcolm an IGH inhaler, reawakening his drug addiction. Then she tricks Malcolm into helping her kidnap Malus for him to give her powers, leading Malus to be Driven to Suicide, destroying Jessica and Malcolm's friendship, and causing Alisa to go on the warpath until she's gunned down by Trish herself, ending with Jessica severing all ties with Trish for killing her mother.
    • Gregory Sallinger in Season Three, an intelligent and mysterious serial killer who targets Jessica, calling her a 'cheater' and a 'fraud'. In the penultimate episode, while in custody, he gets attacked and killed by Trish. Trish becomes the main antagonist for the final episode, becoming a murderous masked vigilante that Jessica has to take down.
  • Luke Cage (2016):
    • Season One's enemy is Cornell "Cottonmouth" Stokes, a crime boss who was indirectly responsible for getting one of Luke's friends and mentors killed. After Cottonmouth dies, the main villain becomes Willis Stryker aka "Diamondback", Cottonmouth's arms supplier and someone who has a severe grudge against Luke. Acting as a second member in a Big Bad Duumvirate (for both villains) is Mariah Dillard, a Corrupt Politician who gets drawn in by being Cottonmouth's cousin.
    • Season Two keeps Mariah and Shades, and also adds another gangster, John "Bushmaster" McIver, who goes to war with them for control of Harlem.
  • Iron Fist (2017):
    • Season One has a Big-Bad Ensemble of Harold Meachum, Madame Gao, and Bakuto. The latter two are leaders of opposing factions of the Hand in an Enemy Civil War, while Harold is forced by the Hand to run Rand Enterprises on their behalf from behind-the-scenes but is itching to escape their control. Harold is also responsible for killing Danny's parents, making the conflict personal.
    • Season Two has a Big Bad Duumvirate of Davos and Joy Meachum, who are working together for revenge on Danny for their respective grudges against him. Midway through the season, however, Davos' obsession with purging crime from the city clashes with Joy's remaining morals, causing her to help Danny and his allies stop him. Also in the mix is Mary Walker, a mercenary hired by the pair to aid their plans, but whose own issues make her a Wild Card in the grand scheme of things.
  • The Defenders (2017): Alexandra, main leader of the Hand, is this for the first six episodes, until she's killed and supplanted by her Dragon, the Black Sky, AKA Elektra Natchios. The Hand's goal is to unearth a dragon skeleton underneath the Midland Circle building using the Iron Fist's power to maintain their immortality (the results of which would destroy New York due to structural failure), then use the Black Sky to invade K'un-Lun, kill the Iron Fist, and use the body of the immortal dragon Shou Lao to obtain an endless supply of dragon bones so they can live forever.
  • The Punisher (2017):
    • William J. Rawlins III (aka Agent Orange) and Billy Russo make up the Big Bad Duumvirate for Season 1, Rawlins having set up Colonel Schoonover's drug operation and using the money to finance illegal CIA operations, painting them as necessary to protect American interests. This also makes him the Greater-Scope Villain for the Punisher arc of Daredevil season 2. Russo is an associate who owns a private military company and uses his men to help silence anyone who could expose the corruption Rawlins and Russo himself were a part of. Interestingly, Rawlins believes he is the sole Big Bad who makes the plans, and that Russo is merely The Dragon who gets his hands dirty.
    • Season 2 has a Big-Bad Ensemble of Billy Russo and mysterious assassin John Pilgrim, though Pilgrim is actually just The Heavy for his bosses, Anderson and Eliza Schultz.


  • Maximus Boltagon, brother of King Black Bolt, launches a coup to take control of Attilan and upend its Fantastic Caste System. While his motives may seem noble in trying to end his society's Fantastic Racism, being on the receiving end of that racism for years has made him bitter and he ultimately tries to kill his family and hold all of Attilan hostage in order to hold onto the power he's gained.

Runaways (2017)

  • Where the comic features the kids' parents as a Big Bad Duumvirate, the show instead shifts focus onto Canon Foreigner Jonah, who has been the one manipulating the parents all along. To what end isn't clear, but he at least requires human sacrifices to sustain his youth.
  • Season 2 adds Jonah's wife and daughter into the mix, and reveals him to be the magistrate of an alien race called the Gibborim.

Cloak & Dagger (2018)

  • Season One has two unaffiliated main villains: Detective Connors is a Dirty Cop that killed Tyrone's brother, while Peter Scarborough is a Corrupt Corporate Executive that screwed over Tandy's family. Of the two, Scarborough is the bigger threat as his cutting corners on the safety measures of a citywide company project puts New Orleans at risk.
  • In Season Two, Andre Deschaine (the MCU counterpart of D'Spayre) feeds on others' despair and runs a sex trafficking ring to generate a constant supply.

  • Captain America: First Vengeance: The Red Skull is in charge of the HYDRA bases that Steve Rogers infiltrates during the mini-series. The comic also shows how Schmidt became a member of the SS and forced Erskine to develop the super-soldier serum for him by sending his family to a concentration camp.
  • The Avengers: Black Widow Strikes: Richard Frampton, a Ten Rings operative trying to rebuild the Jericho Missile, is the Greater-Scope Villain, while Sofia, a Russian assassin and mercenary who wants to kill Natasha to become the new "Black Widow", serves as The Heavy and a more personal opponent for Natasha.
  • Iron Man 3 Prelude: The Mandarin, who staged a series of terrorist attacks to obtain the War Machine armor from Rhodey. Notably, this is the real Mandarin and not the fake one that Trevor Slattery played during the event of Iron Man 3.
  • Captain America: The Winter Soldier Prelude: Baker is the leader of an unnamed terrorist cell that stole the Zodiac weapon from S.H.I.E.L.D.. He and his men infiltrate the Willis Tower and intended on unleashing the weapon once the building was open to the public.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Prelude: The first issue has Thanos, which shows how his abusive training turned Gamora and Nebula into the galaxy's deadliest assassins. The second issue has Zade Scraggot, a Stygian crime boss who hires Rocket and Groot to deliver a family of Scalluscs to him so he can harvest their shells and use them to decorate his bathroom.
  • Avengers: Operation HYDRA: Doctor Jensen, a high-ranking HYDRA scientist responsible for repurposing Chitauri weaponry for the foot-soldiers stationed at her base.
  • Avengers: Age of Ultron Prelude - This Scepter'd Isle: Baron Wolfgang von Strucker is one of the leaders of HYDRA and is responsible for taking Loki's scepter from S.H.I.E.L.D.. Strucker experimented on Sokovian rebels to test out the true potential of the scepter and ended up giving the Maximoffs their powers.
  • Ant-Man - Scott Lang: Small Time: Geoff Zorick was Scott's former boss at Vistacorp who was overcharging his customers illegally using outdated payment systems. He would eventually fire Scott for whistleblowing on his operation.
  • Doctor Strange Prelude: The two-issue print comic feature an unnamed witch and Chinese bandit Jiãó ào Zhànshì, both of whom steal dangerous mystical relics that threaten the lives of innocent civilians. The digital comic shows the Start of Darkness for Kaecilius and why he turned against the Ancient One in the first place.
  • Black Panther Prelude: Zanda and Douglas Scott are mercenaries-for-hire who take two Wakadans captive as the start a hostage situation in Paraguay.

    Video Games 
  • The Incredible Hulk: The Enclave organization share this role with Major Talbot, who serves as The Heavy to General Ross. Like in the movie, they are all supplanted by the Abomination by the end.
  • Iron Man 2: Kearson DeWitt and Ultimo form a Big Bad Duumvirate. DeWitt was the former head of Theoretical Weapons at Stark Industries, but was fired after Tony shut the entire weapons division down. Wanting revenge, DeWitt stole a copy of J.A.R.V.I.S's programing and modified it into the wrathful Ultimo. DeWitt then used his PROTEAN technology to fuse his body and consciousness with Ultimo, and tried to destroy Stark with one of his former weapons.
  • Thor: God of Thunder: Mangog, a Living Weapon that Odin sealed away centuries ago after it proved too powerful to control. Loki tricks Thor into unleashing Mangog in an attempt to discredit his brother and secure his place as the rightful heir of Asgard. Mangog proves to be too powerful for Loki to defeat and he is forced to work with Thor to take him down.
  • Captain America: Super Soldier: Dr. Zola is the main threat, with the Red Skull less involved in the game's story. It's Zola's attempt to replicate the super soldier serum and awaken the Sleeper that are the driving force of the plot.
  • Iron Man 3: M.O.D.O.K., aka Aldrich Killian. Before his death, Killian uploaded his consciousness into a new body, and sought revenge against Tony. Taking charge of AIM, M.O.D.O.K. stole the Extremis formula, and later uploaded himself into the mainframe of Stark Industries with the express purpose of framing Stark for numerous terrorist attacks.


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