Sometimes it's good to be bad, and no one place is better to practice your villainous cackle than in Marvel’s MCU. Sure, there may be some issues of villain problems across its extensive slate of superhero films, but that doesn’t stop some beautiful bad guys and girls taking roles as antagonists.
Starting with Iron Man's Obadiah Stane and continuing through the likes of Red Skull, Loki, and Thanos, Marvel’s comic book source material has no shortage of criminals to stock its expanded universe. Since the MCU began in 2008, there has also been an abundance of attractive actors to test their sinister streak.
The DCEU may have Michael Shannon, Jesse Eisenberg, and Danny Huston, but let’s be honest, you’d rather curl up with Karen Gillan or Elizabeth Debicki any day of the week. As the MCU grows even larger, and we bring in alluring actors like Michael B. Jordan and Cate Blanchett, it looks like Kevin Feige is keeping his promise of introducing more A-list talent to Disney’s universe.
While Hollywood heartthrobs like Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, and the Chris trifecta (Hemsworth, Evans, Pratt) rule the roost, what about our unsung scoundrels?
Beauty may be in the eye of the beholder, but just who are the 17 Hottest MCU Villains, Ranked?
When your MCU alter ego is a mechanical murderess, there may be cause for concern, but if you are a star like Karen Gillan, there is no need to feel so blue. As the former protegee of warlord Thanos, it looks like even Nebula could be reforming her ways after the events of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2.
After finally forgiving her sister at the close of the movie, Nebula set off on an unknown path while promising to take on Thanos herself. Proposing more Nebula in the upcoming Infinity War, and a presumed role in the third Guardians film, we are expected to continue seeing the softer side of our sassy Smurfette.
Karen Gillan is best-known for her role as Doctor Who sidekick Amy Pond. Elsewhere, Gillan will be showing off a controversial amount of flesh for Jake Kasdan’s Jumanji reboot. Thankfully, sporting long ginger hair and a beaming smile, Gillan’s portrayal of a sweet Scottish lassie couldn’t be further from the real Nebula if she tried.
16 Aldrich Killian
From long-haired lab rat to sinister Extremis guinea pig, Guy Pearce’s stormed into Iron Man 3 as Killian Aldrich. Although Rebecca Hall’s Maya Hansen was meant to be the original villain of the peace, Marvel swapped her part and put the role of Big Bad on Pearce's muscular shoulders.
The suave Aussie put on a pair of heels as the fiery Felicia Jollygoodfellow in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert, but has since gone on to star in films like L.A. Confidential and Memento. He had a (very) brief role in The Hurt Locker, as well as playing King Edward VIII in The King’s Speech. More recently, he reprised his role as Peter Weyland in Ridley Scott’s sci-fi sequel Alien: Covenant.
As for Killian, the character grew from his humble roots and blossomed from ugly duckling into macho swan. After being ousted by Stark, Killian took a more sinister approach to his research to become an international terrorist, as well as creating the Mandarin persona. Although Iron Man 3 is regarded as a pretty average MCU entry, having Pearce to look at softened that blow slightly.
From Jack Nicholson to Leonardo Di Caprio we sure love a good "dad bod," and James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was no different. Flicking through the pages of Marvel’s comic books, you would imagine it is pretty hard to turn an anthropomorphic lump of rock into a sex symbol, but the MCU managed it.
Taking the role of Star-Lord’s deadbeat dad, Kurt Russell played the villainous Ego - part planet, part deity, part psychopath. Siring children across the entire galaxy, it seems that Ego had been putting Russell’s good looks to some extra-curricular uses. While his good genes live on in Pratt's Peter Quill, Ego met a grisly demise at the end of the film.
Rising to sex symbol status mainly thanks to his role of Snake Plissken in Escape From New York and its sequel, the 66-year-old has continued a stellar acting career and moved into Silver Fox territory. Sure, Ego wasn’t going to win any "Father of the Year" awards, but with that twinkle Russell’s eye, you can’t help but think that his wife, Goldie Hawn, is a very lucky lady.
14 Dottie Underwood
Is there anything sexier than a badass femme fatale that knows how to handle herself in a spot of bother? Staring down the crosshairs of a sniper, we have Dottie Underwood, the sultry foe of Peggy Carter.
Appearing in 10 episodes of Agent Carter, Bridget Regan was brilliant as the Red Room Academy graduate. As a Russian sleeper agent, Dottie was created to give Agent Carter a strong female antagonist, which worked perfectly with Hayley Atwell’s no-nonsense lead.
Known for her part as Mother Confessor Kahlan Amnell in ABC’s Legend of the Seeker, Regan later joined a multi-episode arc of CW’s Beauty & the Beast and starred in the fifth season of White Collar. Outside of the small screen, Regan’s roles have been reasonably limited, but she did nab a part in the first John Wick film.
Ironically, Regan's beauty attracted the attention of the comic book world before she even entered the MCU. Back before Gal Gadot was wielding her lasso of truth, Regan was the critic's choice to take on the role of Wonder Woman in the DCEU. Alas, we never got that far, so we will have to enjoy her as the dangerous Dottie instead.
13 Ronan The Accuser
The big, bad, blue guy from Hala, Ronan the Accuser was handy with a mallet, but was he as popular with the ladies? Not that you could tell, but behind all that azure face paint was lurking Ned from Pushing Daisies.
Played by actor Lee Pace, where else might we know the man who played radicalist Ronan? Well, away from resurrecting the dead in Pushing Daisies, Pace also practiced his Elvin to play Thranduil in The Hobbit trilogy, and played nomadic vampire Garett in The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn – Part 2. However, it was his part as Ned in Bryan Fuller’s comedy that earned the actor both Golden Globe and Daytime Emmy nominations. These days, he plays protagonist Joe MacMillan on AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire.
As a radical member of the Kree race, Ronan became the lead villain from 2014’s Guardians of the Galaxy, but ultimately, he couldn’t defeat the newly-formed Guardians. As Peter Quill and co. used the energy of the Power Stone to turn Ronan to dust, so were Pace's hopes of returning for the sequel.
Danish uber-hunk Mads Mikkelsen played fallen sorcerer Kaecillius in Doctor Strange. Mikkelsen has certainly developed a mean streak for playing villains.
Once a member of the Masters of the Mystic Arts, Kaecillius turned on the Ancient One and set out on his own nefarious plan to bring inter-dimensional demon Dormammu to Earth, hoping to bring about the end of days. Luckily, Benedict Cumberbatch’s titular doctor was on hand to give Kaecillius a dose of his own medicine.
Being honest, the ponytail was a little creepy, and we have seen Mads look better, but he could still cast a spell over us any day. Clearly having a thing for villains with eye problems, Mikkelsen also played the blood-eyed Le Chiffre in Sam Mendes’ Casino Royale.
However, if you fancy seeing a little more of Mads, he wasn’t shy of stripping off for the role of Dr. Hannibal Lecter in NBC’s Hannibal. As Bryan Fuller amped up the sexual tension between Mikkelsen and co-star Hugh Dancy, we were left with the ultimate cliffhanger when the show was canceled too soon.
While we all remember Jennifer Garner’s tumultuous time as Elektra - spanning Affleck’s Daredevil and her own spin-off - the MCU was obviously going to bring the character to its TV version of Matt Murdock. Enter Élodie Yung as the blade-wielding member of the Hand.
After being briefly mentioned by Foggy Nelson in season 1 of Daredevil, Elektra emerged as the perfect anti-hero of Season 2. Elektra stormed our TV screens as the girl raised by Stick, but when confronted by the Hand, she ultimately sacrificed herself to save Matt. Left with an ambiguous ending, Elektra was always set to return for the upcoming Defenders series.
Half Cambodian, half French, Yung is known for her part as Miriam Wu in The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, as well as playing Jinx in GI Joe: Retaliation, and the goddess Hathor in Gods of Egypt. Undoubtedly, her biggest role is as Elektra, and that is set to continue with the Defenders.
10 Justin Hammer
Justin Hammer may have been the snot-nosed little twerp you would love to punch, but that didn’t stop Sam Rockwell being some well-dressed eye candy on the set of Iron Man 2. Well, when your other option is Mickey Rourke, the decision isn’t too hard to make is it?
One of Rockwell’s earliest roles was as the equally unlikeable Wild Bill Wharton on The Green Mile, before moving to a larger part in sci-fi comedy Galaxy Quest. Since then, Rockwell has risen through the ranks of Hollywood, playing the (almost) solo actor in 2009’s Moon and the unhinged Billy Bickle in Seven Psychopaths.
As the sleazy competition to Tony Stark, Justin Hammer was a haphazard criminal whose tenure was only going to end one way. Decidedly younger than the Hammer of the comic books, Rockwell exuded enthusiasm as the dim-witted rival to Stark Enterprises. After his dealings with terrorist Ivan Vanko went south, Hammer was arrested for his crimes. However, with the villain still presumed to be behind bars, never say never to Rockwell’s return to the MCU as the shady businessman.
They say that beauty is skin deep, which will surely help the scarred Brock Rumlow, aka Crossbones. However, it still won’t bother a looker like Frank Grillo. Being one of the few MCU villains to survive their first entry into the universe, Grillo’s Crossbones meant big trouble for Captain America in The Winter Soldier and Civil War.
As an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D., Rumlow led Captain America’s S.T.R.I.K.E. team then turned to Hydra. His noticeable facelift came from a downed helicarrier that crashed into him during the Battle at the Triskelion, and after his cover was blown, he adopted the Crossbones moniker. Grillo also had a short, but explosive, role to play in last year’s Captain America: Civil War, where Crossbones was finally killed in a suicide bombing.
One of Grillo’s earliest roles was in Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, leading to other roles in films like survival film The Grey and political thriller Zero Dark Thirty. These days, the actor is known for his part as Sergeant Leo Barnes in The Purge films. There is currently no news on whether Grillo could/would return for the upcoming fourth movie.
Talk about being a golden girl. Elizabeth Debicki played Ayesha, the High Priestess of the Sovereign race in James Gunn’s Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. She may not have been an outer space deity, but Ayesha sure shone as the secondary scoundrel of Vol. 2. A little bit too uptight with their perfect society, the Sovereign species was less than happy with the ragtag gang of Guardians.
Debicki seems to have a mean streak built into her. Having previously played the vicious Victoria Vinciguerra in spy film The Man From U.N.C.L.E., Debicki is set for an even bigger presence in Hollywood. With upcoming roles in the third Cloverfield film - God Particle - as well as Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets and Peter Rabbit, we haven't heard the last of the Aussie just yet.
Also, with a foreshadowed return for Guardians Vol. 3, Ayesha seems destined to bring Adam Warlock to the MCU and up herself in the villain stakes. She may have been a stroppy drama queen, but Ayesha has big plans for the future of the franchise with her vengeful plot.
While he may not quite have the dashing looks of his adoptive brother Thor, Tom Hiddleston’s Loki still has the god-like beauty to pass as a member of Asgardian royalty. Since arriving into the MCU, Loki has become one of the franchise’s best-loved villains.
Although he may now be linked to playing 007, Hiddleston’s first big screen role was in British drama Unrelated in 2001. Attracting attention in the first decade of the noughties, Hiddleston's big breakthrough came when he was cast as Loki in 2011’s Thor, followed a year later when he reprised the role for Joss Whedon’s The Avengers. As the scorned brother of Thor, the god of mischief has been a malicious but merry villain of the MCU.
After surviving all his run-ins with Frost giants, the Incredible Hulk, and his Brother’s hammer, Loki still stands to play a big part in the future of the universe. We won’t have too long to wait, Hiddleston will be back to his old trickster tricks in Thor: Ragnarok. Seen alongside the nefarious Grandmaster and at the fall of Asgard, it looks like leopards really can’t change their spots.
It looks like there is some serious trouble brewing in the jungles of Wakanda, especially if Michael B. Jordan’s Erik Killmonger had anything to do with it. We all love a bad boy, and ogling Jordan on our screens in the upcoming Black Panther promises to be a treat.
Certainly a star on the rise, Michael B. Jordan is known for his parts in Friday Night Lights, The Wire, and Parenthood. However, he particularly caught Hollywood’s attention when starring alongside MCU newcomer Sylvester Stallone in the Rocky sequel, Creed.
Continuing to confuse Marvel fans, Jordan is leaving the Fox universe of superhero films with 2015’s maligned Fant4stic, and from hero to villain to play Killmonger. Let’s hope that his role as the Wakandan can light up fans more than his time as the Human Torch did.
As for Killmonger, his birth name was N'Jadaka and he found himself exiled from Wakanda alongside his family. In the comics, the exile happened after N'Jadaka’s father was forced to work for Ulysses Klaue and attempted to overthrow T’Challa. Given that Andy Serkis is reprising his part as Klaue from Age of Ultron, expect Black Panther to follow a similar path for Killmonger.
There is no denying the beauty of the 48-year-old Cate Blanchett. Some people seem destined to eventually join the world of superheroes, and someone with a CV as varied as Blanchett is just one of them.
Blanchett's entry into the MCU will be in Taika Waititi’s Thor: Ragnarok, where she will play Hela, the Asgardian Goddess of Death. The trailer already teases that Hela will smash Thor’s favorite toy - Mjölnir - then use her powers to bring down Asgard as a horned villainess. Pushing the MCU forward with another female-first villain, Hela hopes to solve a certain villain problem for the big screen adaptations.
One of only six actors to get an Academy Award nominations for playing the same role twice, for playing Elizabeth I in 1998’s Elizabeth and 2007’s Elizabeth: The Golden Age. Also remembered for her heroic part as the elfin Galadriel in Peter Jackson’s Middle Earth films, Blanchett's villainous streak was explored in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, Hanna, and Andy Serkis’ upcoming Jungle Book, as Kaa.
4 Grant Ward
The original bad boy of the small screen MCU, Grant Ward was the roguish rebel from Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. Brett Dalton gave us some serious phwoar factor in the show's first four seasons.
Trained by Bill Paxton’s maleficent John Garrett, Ward turned into the cold-blooded killer who infiltrated S.H.I.E.L.D. from the inside. After numerous dastardly deeds and murders, it seemed that Ward lost what little shred of humanity was left in him, which lead to a sense of mentor irony when Phil Coulson killed him. Even then, Dalton still returned through possession thanks to Hive and in the Framework virtual reality.
Although he had parts in Blue Bloods, Army Wives, and the National Geographic Channel's Killing Lincoln, Dalton will always be remembered for Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. There is really no wonder why he won "Male Breakout Star" at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards and also gathered himself quite the fan following.
He may not be the kind of silver fox we are used to, but the speedy villain Quicksilver could certainly pull off a tight-fitting t-shirt with ease. Aaron Taylor-Johnson brought Pietro Maximoff to life (albeit briefly) for a stint alongside the Avengers.
Taylor-Johnson has certainly bulked up from his days on the adaptation of Kick-Ass, moving into that buff Hollywood heartthrob phase. Starting in the likes of The Illusionist, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging, and Nowhere Boy, he then also starred alongside Olsen in Godzilla. Taylor-Johnson rightly won a slew of awards for his part as Ray Marcus in Tom Ford’s Nocturnal Animals.
The Maximoff twins were soon embroiled in the plans of Baron Strucker. While Wanda got her psychic abilities, Pietro got some super speed akin to DC’s The Flash - hence his moniker of Quicksilver. He's also one the few characters to actually perish and stay dead in the Marvelverse. Although Aaron is willing to reprise his role as Quicksilver, chance'd be a fine thing!
2 Scarlet Witch
Although the MCU may not be able to mention her daddy issues, Wanda Maximoff is a huge part of the current Avengers lineup. With Elizabeth Olsen taking on the role, Scarlet Witch looks to be going nowhere after Phase 3.
Originally introduced in a mid-credit scene Captain America: The Winter Soldier, forming a villainous duo with her brother Quicksilver, Wanda mellowed over the course of Avengers: Age of Ultron. She has since mirrored some of her comic book romance with the AI Vision, but we are still hoping the pair will be able to start a family. With a huge part in the upcoming third and fourth Avengers films, will there be a happy ending for Scarlet Witch?
As the younger sister of Mary-Kate and Ashley, Elizabeth Olsen was always going to have showbiz in her veins. Eventually branching out from the fame of her sister, Elizabeth forged a career of her own. Before entering the world of Marvel, Olsen had roles in Martha Marcy May Marlene, Red Lights, and the remake of Oldboy. However, despite a lead part in Godzilla, she will still be Scarlet Witch to most.
1 Bucky Barnes
Everyone loves a man in uniform, and leading Marvel’s cinematic slate in the attractive gene pool states, is there a better bad guy than Sebastian Stan’s Bucky Barnes? The metal-armed man no one would mind pulling out of the deep freeze has had quite the journey as the BFF of Captain America.
Taking on the name of the Winter Soldier, Stan has not only the looks but the comic book credentials to carry his own film. Serving alongside Chris Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger, it was just the start of Stan’s nine-picture deal. Given an expanded role in The Winter Soldier and Civil War, he will reprise playing Bucky for the upcoming "Infinity Saga." Part HYDRA puppet and part super soldier, you’d be lucky to know Bucky.
Starting on TV with an early role in Law & Order, the MCU arguably gave Stan much more mainstream appeal, but that isn’t to say he hasn’t had success elsewhere. With parts in Hot Tub Time Machine, Black Swan, and The Martian, Stan is sure to not just rely on his looks. Congratulations to the best of a bad bunch in the MCU!
Who do you think is the most attractive villain in the MCU? Sound off in the comments below!