‘Captain America: Civil War’ Screenwriters Comment On Marvel’s ‘Villain Problem’

Malekith Villain Problem HeaderOne of the few but fairly common complaints when it comes to Marvel Studios films is that they seem to lack in the villain department outside of a few characters. While speaking with JoBlo, Captain America: Civil War screenwriters Stephen McFeely & Christopher Markus shared their thoughts on the matter and how they are hoping that they won’t have the same issue with the upcoming (soon to be retitled) two-part Avengers: Infinity War.

If you think about it, I get the criticism, but the early phases were all origin stories. It tends to create a similar villain. When it is no longer an origin story, I think you might have a little bit more freedom to create different villains. I’m sensitive to the problem. I get it. But it wasn’t the Robert Redford story, it was Captain America: Winter Soldier. It wasn’t the Red Skull’s journey [in The First Avenger], it was the journey of one guy going from ninety pound weakling to American hero and then going into the ice. So in a 120-minute movie it is difficult, and Thanos will possibly change that, but you want time spent. Excuse me for going on a tangent but I love the Marvel Netflix shows because you have so much more time to spend with your villains. It’s literally minutes and hours spent. We have 120-minutes and Jessica Jones had how ever many it had.

Very hard to disagree with their statements regarding the TV villains as Grant Ward, Kilgrave and Wilson Fisk are some of the best villains in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. While I will agree some of the villains featured in the Phase Two films weren’t the strongest (looking at you Thor: The Dark World), I do think that Zemo will surprise some people. Here’s hoping Marvel Studios has some more great villains in store for the rest of their Phase Three films other than just ‘Thanos’. Sound off with your thoughts on the subject in the comments section below.

Source: JoBlo

Shawn Madden

Shawn Madden

I write stuff. Sometimes.

  • E C F’N W

    I liked the Red Skull. Thought Hugo Weaving did a great job.

    • Theclaw Yaww

      He was great but they didn’t develope his character enough

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    • Tyrell Antonio

      I agree and I’m still crossing my fingers for a comeback

      • I think Marvel knows Hugo doesn’t want to come back. He’s signed for more sequels, but Marvel has said before that they would never force anyone to be in their movies. That said, I agree 100% with you. He was the best part of TFA in my opinion.

        • Joseph

          He was not in The Force Awakens

          • TFA: The First Avenger. Wow.

          • Joseph

            Haha yeah, OBVIOUSLY. Just trying to teach you a lesson about making up your own acronyms for movies, especially when HUNDREDS of news sites have been using “TFA” in every single Star Wars article for the past year. And especially when no one refers to the first Captain America movie as “The First Avenger”. Since you love acronyms so much, here’s one for ya: SMDYLB.
            Have a nice day.

          • and why would I be mentioning a Star Wars movie in this thread? I guess I should assume people can’t connect the dots on their own.

  • If I may offer a suggestion?


    I get you only have so much time per movie but seriously: stop killing them. Bring them back. Have them resurface later.

    You can do these movies without killing every single villain, y’all.

    • Vegas82

      Yeah, one of the things that helps make villains great is their continuing actions. It’s rarely because of a single story.

      • Joseph

        Really? So multiple movies are needed to create a great complex villain? I’m trying to think of a villain that ONLY became great because of a sequel. I can’t really think of one? Most great villains make a lasting impression in the very FIRST movie they are in.

        • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

          Arnim Zola

          • Joseph

            Excuse me, but a talking computer is NOT A COMPLEX VILLAIN. What did Zola do? In the first movie he clearly had regrets about letting his boss use his research for world destruction. In the 2nd movie, all he did was give a long explanation to Cap and then self destructed. HOW is that a great complex villain??

          • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

            “I’m trying to think of a villain that ONLY became great because of a sequel.”

            He was just Red Skull’s underling in the first film. In the Winter Soldier he was the architect behind “new” Hydra and Project Insight. It’s BECAUSE he appeared so non-threatening that he was able to infiltrate SHIELD and revive Hydra. His actions led to the death of Howard and Maria Stark. He’s pretty terrifying. Also he didn’t self-destruct, his plan was to take Cap with him by ordering a missile strike on his own brain.

            We can disagree on the quality of the film, but I loved the film and the challenges Cap had to face in that film – all of which can be traced back to him, a bumbling scientist and inventor who I thought was a mere coward in the first film.

    • Carl

      Yeah, I want Red Skull to come back. As far as I’m concerned, he’s not dead, just teleported by the tesaract.

      I’d like to see where Abomination is as too, he’s not dead.

      • Chris Aytes

        Yeah. Red Skull never died. That’s not what the Tesaract does. When he disappears into the sky, there are visuals akin to the rainbow bridge.

      • Worldmind

        They’ve mentioned Emil Blomsky/Abomination in passing a few times on Agents of SHIELD, he’s locked up somewhere tight. They really should bring him back, Tim Roth’s great. Red Skull is definitely alive….somewhere. But Agent Smith didn’t want to come back to play him, I’m sure they could find someone else just as good for the role.

        • Carl

          Yeah I really liked how Blonsky played out as a character. I’d be ok if they had some formula to turn him human temporarily to allow Tim Roth to come back, work him into the story more and save some on the budget.

          Yeah, Hugo Weaving said he didn’t want to come back but that was long ago. I could see him having a change of heart. His career has gone south since then anyway. They could easily recast him as you said, very easily because of the make up.

          • Worldmind

            Christoph Waltz or Ben Mendelsohn?

      • Likely stuck at Universal along with hopes for a Solo Hulk movie.

    • Steve Steve

      I’m a big fan of the theory that Thanos will resurrect each villain that the infinity stones have taken. (Red Skull, Malekith, Ronan, Ultron)

      • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

        OMG you are right.

        4 stones have surfaced so far. Each killed a major villain.

      • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

        Though I’m not sure Malekith’s “fatality” was delivered by the Aether though.

    • Alex Rodriguez

      That just becomes boring. Do we REALLY want another movie with the Dark Elf, Ronin, Killian, Vanko etc? No, they’re B to C-list villains that would just take up time in sequels. Also, you can’t really re-use them because they want to move these stories forward, keeping them would hinder that. I have little problem with MCU villains, they serve their purpose nicely. I’ve only been let down with Red Skull, but besides that the rest are throwaway characters. There’s only a few exceptions like Loki, Ultron and Alexander Pierce (maybe even Bucky).

    • Chris Aytes

      Red Skull, Loki, Abomination, The Leader, Batroc, Klaw, Winter Soldier, Crossbones, Justin Hammer, the real Mandarin, Darren Cross (probably), Thanos (obviously), are all of the antagonists I can immediately think of that are still alive in the MCU, from the films alone. Most of them don’t end up dead. Even Ultron never really dies, as long as he’s backed-up somewhere.

      They really shouldn’t have killed Purple Man in Jessica Jones, though.

      So Whiplash, Killian, Obediah Stane, Ronan the Accuser, Malekith, and Pierce are dead (or presumed so), who else?

      Also, weird that it’s mostly villains from Iron Man films that end up dead.

      Then there’s actually a lot of villains that have appeared in SHIELD, Agent Carter, Daredevil, and Jessica Jones who are still walking around.

      • Worldmind

        You forgot Nebula, and she’ll be back in Vol.2 😉

      • Red Skull’s presumed dead unless and until they’re willing to recast the role, and almost no one else in that list has enough presence yet to carry a film as a lead antagonist aside from Thanos.

        WS is kinda not a villain anymore to boot.

        Thing is, there are “outs” so to speak, on how some of them could be brought back, but they’re using a lot of the big-names as starter villains and then ending them in one go.

        And the “real” Mandarin presents problems all his own now. We know he’s out there, but will they ever do anything with him? Will Marvel actually risk using him in Iron Man 4 after Iron Man 3? Will Iron Man 4 even happen? They kinda blew the opportunity with him really.

      • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

        …you think Darren Cross might still be alive!?

        Dude, he’d have died from the crushed arms alone. The suit probably caved in his skull before he even began entering the microverse. Red Skull can also be assumed to be dead, really. It’s sort of ambiguous but to say he’s “still alive” is a big stretch.

        Klaw hasn’t been in a movie proper, he’s been setup for Black Panther, really. Obviously I hope he survives that movie. Same can be said about Thanos.

        I hope Abomination and Leader both return but given the trouble Marvel’s been having with the film rights to Hulk related characters things are not looking good for them.

        Winter Soldier was an antagonist, not a villain. In that regard he’s similar to the Punisher. Ultimately he’s counted amongst the heroes.

        Batroc and Crossbones are small time given their characterisations in the MCU. Justin Hammer, too, and he would need a serious revamp before he can be the sole villain in a film. Remember, the problem is a lack of good villains.

        The real Mandarin never even appeared in any film and even his existence is only referenced in a One-Shot. So he doesn’t really contribute anything to the MCU’s Rogues Gallary

        So from your list that leaves Loki, the only one who doesn’t contribute to the “villain problem”.

        I agree with you that Kilgrave shouldn’t have been killed off. Also we really need Doom in the MCU.

        • Chris Aytes

          Yeah, I forgot about how Cross went out. Skull isn’t dead, though. It’s Red freakin’ Skull. He always finds a way to survive.

          • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

            New universe, new Red Skull. Unfortunately in the MCU his “survival” depends on if Hugo Weaving wants to return or not.

    • Joseph

      This excuse is overrated. Killing the villains is NOT the problem. A great villain makes a lasting impression on the very FIRST movie. You are spoiled by the Marvel formula of needing multiple movies just to develop one character. One movie is more than enough time to create a great villain when you have GOOD writers paired with great actors. JOKER. HANNIBAL. HANS GRUBER. T-1000 TERMIMATOR. BANE. ZOD.
      Those are just a few examples of a long list of awesome villains, who made a lasting impression in just the first few minutes of screen time. Killing them off is not the problem. They are poorly written, plain and simple. Ultron for example was just a big joke. Nothing he did or said makes you go “omgggg I can’t believe he just did/said that!” Villains are supposed to shock you.

    • Cheng “hemahemahema07” He

      Agreed. Many replies here said villains should make an impression in the first film and if they don’t, there is no problem in killing them off.

      However, the fact is, keeping them around breeds possibilities, they can shift and evolve, they can become smarter, crueller, more determined, focused, or crazier. They can become neutral or even heroes, or join forces with other villains and pose a far greater threat than they are on their own.

      You kill them? That’s it. Game over.

  • Chris W

    What an idiotic argument coming from a filmmaker. So if the movie isn’t about them, that means they can’t be interesting, well written, multi layered characters, with believable motivations? Right…

  • Jangabat

    I don’t know if this is the problem, personally, I found MoS’ Zod and the main villains from the Nolan movies to be very engaging, they all disappeared but still left an impact. I think they can still do better with what they have, unless it’s studio interference, but hey, I still enjoy the heroes at least.

  • Daniel

    One of my primary complaints about the MCU films is how mediocre most of them are. The villains (which are admittedly forgettable) are the least of their problems.

  • Chris Whitehead

    I dont buy it. You can get great villains in very little screen time. Darth Vader, The Emporer, Hannibal Lecter, The Child Catcher (chitty), Hans Gruber…do i need to go on?

  • Anthony Ngu

    “We want to write hero centric stories”bullshit a good villain is as important as the hero in telling a heroes tale. A good to great villain adds depth to the hero’s journey, helping the hero grow by triumphing over adversity, and forcing the hero to make tough choices you know building character.

  • Grant Ward LOL

    • Joseph

      Hahahaha. Yeah I can’t believe he shouted out Grant Ward as a great villain. What a joke.

  • Fate Jacket X

    Can’t say that Grant Ward is top choice these days.