The One Thing That Goes Wrong With Every MCU Villain's Plan

List Rules
Vote up the plans that would have succeeded if not for one small mistake.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe - or is it the Marvel Cinematic Multiverse now? - is a wild, wonderful place, where accidental exposure to lethal doses of radiation is just as likely to give you superpowers as it is cancer, and there's always a chance that one of your parents was secretly a cosmic demigod. It's also an extremely dangerous and frightening place plagued by every type of “villain” imaginable, from greedy industrialists and superpowered gangsters, to maniacal robots, genocidal aliens, and power-mad goddesses.

With so many terrifying villains, including one who had the power to literally erase trillions upon trillions of lives with a snap of his fingers, it's surprising the MCU is still intact. Sure, half of all sentients likely suffer from post-Blip PTSD, and the Indian Ocean now has a monolithic corpse of a dead Celestial sticking out of it, but things are still relatively normal for the average person living in the MCU. Superheroes are often credited for wrecking the villains' nefarious plans, but more often than not the villains are foiled by their own lack of foresight, their overconfidence, or their incompetence. Here's our list of the one mistake that every MCU villain made that prevented them from achieving their goals.


  • Hela Didn't Count On Loki Releasing Surtur And Losing Her Powers As Asgard Was Destroyed
    Photo: Thor: Ragnarok / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Master Plan: For millennia, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) ruled the Nine Realms from his throne in Asgard. But the Allfather's dirty little secret was that he had used his own bloodthirsty daughter, Hela (Cate Blanchett), to achieve his crown, and then locked her away when he had no further use for her. When Odin died, Hela was released and immediately set about claiming the throne of Asgard so she could once again wage war on the Nine Realms and beyond.

    As Odin's firstborn, with powers tied directly to Asgard itself, Hela was far more powerful than any other Asgardian, including Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Loki (Tom Hiddleston). She destroyed Thor's enchanted hammer, Mjolnir, with her bare hands, and generated “Necro” weapons capable of killing Asgard's Einherjar and the Warriors Three with ease. With an army of undead warriors to serve her, Hela was an unparalleled threat to the cosmos (until Thanos united the Infinity Stones).

    Fatal Flaw: The only being capable of stopping Hela was the mighty fire demon, Surtur, Lord of Muspelheim, a creature destined to bring about Ragnarok, the twilight of the gods. Realizing that the destruction of Asgard was a small price to pay to stop Hela from laying waste to the Nine Realms, Thor and Loki conspired to resurrect Surtur. While Thor kept Hela busy, Loki placed the Crown of Surtur into the Eternal Flame and brought the towering figure back to life. Enraged, Surtur began cleaving at Asgard with the Twilight Sword, each slash weakening Hela until she finally fell beneath the blade herself and all of Asgard was destroyed. 

  • Thanos Didn't Count On The Avengers Using Time Travel Without The Time Stone
    Photo: Avengers: Endgame / Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures

    Master Plan: Thanos (Josh Brolin) grew up watching his planet of Titan be ravaged by poverty and unchecked overpopulation. He proposed that the solution to the problem was to wipe out half of the population so that the remaining population could thrive. The Titans destroyed themselves, but Thanos remained, building an army and putting his plan into action from planet to planet. Discovering the power of the Infinity Stones, Thanos realized he could easily accomplish his goals more easily if he acquired them.

    Despite opposition from the Guardians of the Galaxy and the Avengers, Thanos acquired all six stones: he wiped out the planet Xander for the Power Stone; killed Loki and countless Asgardians to claim the Space Stone; killed the Collector to get the Reality Stone; bartered with Dr. Strange for the Time Stone; ripped the Mind Stone from Vision's forehead; and sacrificed his adopted daughter, Gamora, to claim the Soul Stone. All Infinity Stones in hand, Thanos simply snapped his fingers and half of all life in the universe was “dusted.”

    Fatal Flaw: Thanos was a brilliant, ruthlessly relentless strategist who was able to counter the Avengers and Guardians at nearly every turn. He knew that it was “inevitable” that he achieve his goals, but he never considered that the heroes would figure out a way to undo what he had done. Developing a theory based on Scott Lang's (Paul Rudd) time in the Quantum Realm, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) created a functioning time machine. By pinpointing where the Infinity Stones were located in the past, the Avengers pulled off a “time heist” of the Stones and Hulk undid Thanos's “snap,” bringing back everyone and everything that had been dusted five years prior.

  • Obadiah Stane Failed To Account For Tony Stark's Spare Arc Reactor
    Photo: Iron Man / Paramount Pictures

    Master Plan: Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) spent years alongside Howard Stark (John Slattery) helping to build Stark Industries into a successful weapons manufacturer, so he was the natural successor when Howard passed away. However, when Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) was ready to take the reins, Stane was demoted to second-in-command and grew resentful. Determined to take control of the company, Obadiah hired a splinter cell of the Ten Rings terrorist network to kill Tony while he was in Afghanistan.

    When his first plan failed, Stane purchased the remnants of the Mark I Iron Man armor that Tony had created to escape the Ten Rings. Obadiah used Stark's designs to create his Iron Monger armor, which he hoped would prop up Stark Industries after Tony steered the company away from weapons. Unable to power his creation, Obadiah removed the Arc Reactor from Tony's chest and installed it in the Iron Monger armor, leaving Tony to suffer a slow, agonizing death.

    Fatal Flaw: Stane assumed that removing the Arc Reactor would not only help him power his armor - but kill Tony in the process. Had he but spent a few moments looking around Stark's workshop rather than gloating, Stane might have realized that Tony still had the original Arc Reactor he had created in Afghanistan. After finding Tony near death, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) inserted the original Arc Reactor into his chest cavity, saving his life. With his more powerful, more maneuverable new Mark III Iron Man armor, Tony, with the aid of Pepper, was able to thwart Obadiah's plans.

  • Master Plan: The creator of the first star, the Celestial being Arishem (voiced by David Kaye), brought light and life to the universe. To continue to propagate an expanding universe, more of his kind were needed. Celestials were “seeded” into the cores of planets, where they would develop as the population of sentient beings dwelling on the crust increased. When the populations reached critical mass, the Celestials would awaken and burst from the planets, utterly destroying them.

    To safeguard sentient populations so that they had time to develop and propagate, Arishem created the Deviants. When the Deviants strayed from their original purpose, Arishem created the Eternals to wipe them out and take over as the protectors. Synthetic beings who believed they were the gods of Olympus, the Eternals assigned to Earth faithfully hunted the Deviants for centuries while awaiting the rise of the Celestial Tiamut.

    Fatal Flaw: Though not “evil” in the classic sense of the word, for Arishem's plans to come to fruition and birth Tiamut, the Earth needed to be destroyed and billions of humans sacrificed. This was an acceptable calculus for the cold cosmic entity, but not for his Eternals, who came to love humanity after helping them develop over thousands of years. When Prime Eternal Ajak (Salma Hayek) confessed her love for humanity and intention to disobey Arishem, Ikaris (Richard Madden) betrayed her to a pack of Deviants and had her killed. Ajak's replacement, Sersi (Gemma Chan), felt the same way about humanity and, with several other Eternals, used the power of the “Uni-mind”  to stop the “Emergence” of Tiamut.