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The Sociopath / Marvel Cinematic Universe

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For all the villains that the Marvel Cinematic Universe has provided, there were bound to be a number of sociopaths included in the ranks.

Film Examples

  • Johann Schmidt, aka Red Skull, from Captain America: The First Avenger. Superficially charming and friendly, but literally all he cares about is himself and power. Even the Nazi cause is meaningless to him; the Nazis were merely a means to an end and once he reveals as much, he cheerfully tells his “bosses” that their capital is one of the first places he’ll be blowing up for his Evil Plan. This backfires against him horribly in Avengers: Infinity War. After the events of The First Avenger, he was teleported to Vormir and given knowledge on how to get the Soul Stone... but it’s useless to him because you have to sacrifice the person you love most to get the stone. Schmidt never loved anybody except himself, so he’s left stuck on Vormir for eternity, unable to complete his life’s work or leave.
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  • Iron Man 3: Aldrich Killian, who starts a cell of superpowered suicide bombers because Tony Stark didn't meet with him nearly two decades beforehand.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy: Ronan the Accuser, a fanatic who believes his government has grown weak in making peace with Xandar, and actively defies them to try and commit genocide upon them.
  • Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2: Ego the Living Planet, who wishes to assimilate all life into himself because he was dissatisfied with his first encounters with other life. When he fell in love with Meredith Quill, he gave her brain cancer in order to keep his head clear. She was not the only mortal woman he slept with, as he needed a child for his scheme. Most of his children children are dead because they were useless to him without powers, and he tries to use Star-Lord as a battery when he defies him.
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  • Thor: Ragnarok: Hela, who assisted her father on his initial path of conquest, but betrays him the second he decides to stop. After escaping her imprisonment, she immediately continues with her scheme of multiversal domination, not caring how many have to die.
  • Killmonger in Black Panther is quite sociopathic. He manipulates the people he works with, then kills them the moment he's gotten what he wants. This includes gunning down the woman who was apparently in love with him without a moment's hesitation. Once he's become king of Wakanda and gotten the power of the Black Panther, he orders the grove of the heart-shaped herb burned so that no one may ever receive the same power, outright stating that he doesn't care what happens to the country after he's dead. And he reveals that his whole plan is to wage war on the entire world just to kill everyone who's ever made him feel unsafe.
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  • Captain Marvel (2019): The Supreme Intelligence is a charismatic AI who manipulates Captain Marvel into assisting in its attempt at completely wiping out the Skrulls largely out of disgust for them.
  • Thanos exemplifies Moral Sociopathy. He genuinely believes that his ideas are for the Greater Good of both his world and the wider universe, but his problem is that he's sociopathic and his ideas are utterly ruthless, with Thanos himself believing that the only reason others don't implement his plan is because they are either too blind to the hard reality of the situation or that they simply lack the strength of will to do what is necessary. When his 2014 self sees that people didn't appreciate his work in Avengers: Endgame, he see the issue as not that his methods were flawed, but that people weren't grateful. This leads him to try and kill all life and start over so that the universe would be grateful to him. The Russos even referred to his mindset as "benevolent sociopathy".
  • Spider-Man: Far From Home: Quentin Beck, the face of Mysterio is a petty, egotistical, and manipulative snake who has been killing hundreds of people around the world and then pretending to defeat the creatures responsible in a bid to be perceived as a hero. His only act of kindness is during his Evil Gloating as he praises the individual designers and technicians helping him to pull this off, but it's clear he's going to claim all the glory for himself. He briefly voices distress about the fact that a group of high schoolers have information that could unravel his scheme, but then immediately pins the blame on one of his underlings and goes after them anyway. His last act was to frame Spider-Man for his death and all the crimes leading up to it, and he also publicly exposes Spidey's true face and name, seeing to it that sixteen-year-old Peter Parker's life is ruined while he is remembered as a hero.

TV Examples

  • Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.:
    • The Clairvoyant (aka John Garret) has several signs of sociopathy. He's extremely charismatic even to those who know his true nature, and is incredibly selfish in his attempts to gain power. He is willing to kill countless lives just to save himself. He plays up his accomplishments while cutting everyone down to bolster his own superiority. His former allies never suspected anything of him as he lied about his true affiliations.
    • Grant Ward ultimately subverts this. He is a Consummate Liar who doesn't even blink while casually betraying, torturing or killing people, but he is capable of feeling empathy and even love. Ward is aware of his heinous actions and the fact he is hurting people. He even feels guilt for doing them, but as his brother points out, he justifies his actions by blaming his victims, so he can stay blameless in his own mind. Daisy deduced that his problem isn't that he doesn't feel anything, he feels too much.
    • Dr. Daniel Whitehall is a truly disturbing example. He's a Mad Doctor who experiments on people in the most painful of ways, and continues using them even after it is apparent that they don't work mostly For the Evulz. He can be Faux Affably Evil and tends to remain calm even as he is getting arrested. He believes that "discovery requires experimentation" to an absolutely ruthless degree. He shows no empathy for the unfortunate victims of his experiments.
  • Cloak & Dagger (2018): D'Spayre (real name Andre Deschaine) ticks off all the boxes. He only cares about his own pain and is willing to cause others pain just so he can dull his migraines. He manipulates and lies to women to trick them into sex slavery so he can feed off that despair. He poses as a friendly counselor of a support group, but this is all to find more victims. He also thinks that helping 90% of the people who come to his support group makes up for the other 10% that he condemns to a life of suffering. And his grandiose sense of self-worth shows itself when he "realizes" that he could use his powers to attain godhood.

Netflix Examples

  • Daredevil (2015): The series has it's take on Bullseye, Benjamin "Dex" Poindexter. Although a supposedly upstanding FBI agent, if something of a Cowboy Cop, he's quickly established to feel no regret or remorse for the people he kills on the job, and goes out of his way to kill additional targets just for kicks. He's able to fool just about anybody with his superficially friendly behavior, is manipulative enough to con a police-trained psychologist, and can't take an ounce of criticism for his actions. Although he can form connections with a few people, it's mostly to give himself a "north star" to follow for guidance.
  • Jessica Jones (2015):
    • Kilgrave, the Big Bad of Season 1, is an evil mind-controller that exemplifies many symptoms of sociopathy. He treats people like rags to be used up discarded at his leisure and only cares about his momentary whims regardless of how it may affect his victims. He's extremely petty and will make people mutilate or kill themselves just for annoying him. He uses self-justification to make himself look like he's doing nothing wrong and even tries to blame his past of experimentation on his behavior, something that is called out several times. He claims to love Jessica, but he has to remind himself to call her a person after calling her a "thing." And the real reason he wants her back is because he can't actually control her anymore. Even when he's not using his mind control, he manipulates people through mundane methods. And despite being a Serial Rapist and Serial Killer by definition, he refuses to see himself as such since he doesn't psychically make anyone do anything.
    • Gregory Sallinger, the Big Bad of Season 3, is a Serial Killer who targets those he considers to be mediocrities as a means of making himself feel self-important.
  • The Punisher (2017):
    • Billy Russo plays with this. He claims to have truly cared for Frank and his family, but in the end was willing to keep his mouth shut on the fact that Rawlins planned to assassinate them all. There's also the fact that killing a man's as easy to him as breathing, and that he was willing to smuggle heroin from Afghanistan into the USA by way of stuffing the drugs into the bodies of those who were KIA. The tell-tale signs are when he plays Madani's grief like a fiddle and accidentally outs himself by not quite gauging the emotions and information right, all for adding a bit of of "I know and you don't" risk. And, truly not grocking why admitting to his deliberate inaction would never, ever work as an explanation for Frank.
      • Ben Barnes more or less describes him as one in an interview, noting that even if Russo does have a fondness or admiration for someone or something, at the end of the day he doesn't really understand how relationships or love "work" because he values himself above all else, and thus he'll throw anyone under the bus at the first opportunity to either save himself or acquire power.
    • His boss Bill Rawlins, aka Agent Orange, plays this much straighter to a disturbing degree. He's a sadistic Glory Hound who considers himself to be the most important person in the Cerebus operation. Even when people try to explain pragmatic and altruistic motives for doing things, he is genuinely puzzled by the idea of doing anything that wouldn't have a direct benefit to himself.
    • Dr. Krista Dumont displays that she's well matched for Russo in this regard. She's attracted to him because of his criminal ties and actively encourages his sociopathic behavior without displaying much issue with it.
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